Equal Justice Alliance


       Financial Protection Law Center

The Equal Justice Alliance is the collaborative planning and coordination council of providers of civil legal assistance in North Carolina to increase legislative support for equal access to civil legal proceedings. The Equal Justice Alliance was initially funded by an IOLTA grant and by contributions from the member organizations.


The mission of the Equal Justice Alliance is to provide central coordination of a sustained, comprehensive, integrated, statewide system to provide the most effective legal services to people in poverty in North Carolina.


The members of the Equal Justice Alliance are:

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (formerly known as Legal Services of Southern Piedmont)

Disability Rights of North Carolina

Financial Protection Law Center


Land Loss Prevention Project

Legal Aid of North Carolina

NC Bar Association Foundation 

NC Justice Center

NC Legal Education Assistance Foundation

NC Prisoner Legal Services, Inc.

Pisgah Legal Services


The Equal Justice Alliance recently hosted the 2016 Legal Services Conference on October 26-27, 2016 at the Greensboro Marriott.  The conference featured a keynote address by Anita Earls of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, reception at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, and View from the Bench plenary with Chief Judge Linda McGee, Judge Paul Jones and Judge Lou Olivera.  Don Saunders, Vice President of Legal Services at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, gave closing remarks on Thursday afternoon.

During the Pillars of Justice Awards luncheon on Thursday, the legal services community bestowed three awards recognizing dedicated service on behalf of low-income North Carolinians in need. The late Nancy Street posthumously received the Willis E. Williams Client Community Service Award.  Until her untimely death in 2015, Ms. Street served on Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Board of Directors and Clients Council and was also an active community volunteer in her mountain community.  Diane Wardlow, chair of the Clients Council, presented the award.


Diane Wardlow, Chair of the Clients Council, with Celia Pistolis, Chair of the Equal Justice Alliance and Assistant Director of Litigation, Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Pamela D. Hemphill of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Morganton office received the John Lea Support Staff Award for Outstanding Service and Support.  Ms. Hemphill has worked in the Morganton office for 37 years in a variety of roles, starting as an administrative assistant and currently serving as Private Attorney Involvement Coordinator.  Pam is also a certified paralegal and advocates for clients at unemployment hearings.  Ms. Hemphill is a dedicated community volunteer and leader, who has served on many boards and helped to found nonprofit organizations in Burke County.  George Hausen, Executive Director of Legal Aid of North Carolina, presented the award.


Pamela D. Hemphill, recipient of the John Lea Support Staff Award.

Kenneth Schorr of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (formerly known as Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LSSP)) received the Julian T. Pierce Award for Outstanding Advocacy.   Since 1988, Mr. Schorr has served as the Executive Director of LSSP, navigating the organization through the loss of federal funding and reorganization of the legal services community in North Carolina.  During his tenure, he has led fundraising and organizational expansion to support a staff of now more than 40 advocates.  Ken has also held a number of leadership roles in the state and national legal aid community including service as Chair of the Equal Justice Alliance and Founding President of the North Carolina Justice Center.  Dick Taylor, President/CEO of North Carolina Advocates for Justice and former Executive Director of Legal Services of North Carolina, presented the award to Ken Schorr.


Dick Taylor presenting the Pierce Award to Ken Schorr.

The Alliance would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous support of the conference: Advocates for Justice, John Vail Law PLLC, Lawyers Mutual, LexisNexis, the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission, and Thomson Reuters.


Director of the Equal Justice Alliance

Mary Irvine

Director, Equal Access to Justice Alliance

Email: irvine@ncequalaccesstojustice.org

Mary Irvine is the Executive Director of the NC Equal Justice Alliance.

Mary began her career at the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers, a statewide association of philanthropic foundations and giving programs.  Following law school, Mary practiced family law at a small firm in Chapel Hill and also worked with the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, conducting research, programming, and outreach to raise awareness of poverty and related issues.

Mary received both her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Spanish and her law degree from UNC Chapel Hill.  Mary is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association and serves on the Pro Bono Activities Committee.  She is also the chair of the Pro Bono Alumni Board at UNC School of Law and a member of the UNC Law Alumni Association Board of Directors. Mary, husband Nick, and son Cormac live in Raleigh.


For more information about the Equal Justice Alliance, please contact Executive Director Mary Irvine at 919.706.4435 or irvine@ncequalaccesstojustice.org.

Copyright © 2015 by NC Equal Access to Justice Commission. All Rights Reserved.