News from 2012

North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission 2012

  • June 25, 2012 – NC Equal Access to Justice Commission Publishes Cy Pres and Other Court Awards Manual for Attorneys and Judges.  The use of the Cy Pres Doctrine in class action settlements allows the court to distribute unclaimed and residual funds to charitable organizations that have a positive connection to either the case itself or the class. Legal aid organizations across the country are often the deserving recipients of these awards, as they exist for the benefit of the members of the disadvantaged class. The distribution of funds to legal aid providers can also occur through mediation, arbitration, and settlement agreements. These strategies, along with Cy Pres awards, can be valuable sources of funding for legal aid providers. In the face of budget cuts, these funds have become more important than ever to ensure justice for all residents of North Carolina. This guide outlines strategies and analyzes court awards to educate  judges and attorneys of the importance of such awards to legal aid organizations. The manual includes information on different types of court awards, tips for structuring award agreements, examples of awards, and a primer on how to structure a Cy Pres settlement.  To view the manual, click here.
  • NC Equal Access to Justice Commission Encourages Congress to Maintain Full Funding for Legal Services Corporation.  North Carolina’s one LSC grantee, Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC), receives over $10 million in LSC funding. This funding allows LANC to provide much-needed legal services to over 25,000 North Carolinians each year. Because of the current economic conditions a reduction in funding would be catastrophic to the people of North Carolina.  The proposed cut would have significant consequences in our state as Legal Aid of North Carolina’s funding would decrease immediately by almost $2 million this fiscal year.  LANC would be required to cut more than 70 jobs and close 5 field offices.  At a time when the demand and need for LANC’s services is rising, its reduced resources would require them to turn away an additional 6,000 households.  LSC funding provides essential legal assistance to North Carolina residents dealing with home foreclosures, veterans returning from military service, domestic violence victims, and others in need of civil legal services. Private and corporate lawyers in North Carolina are doing their part, donating thousands of hours of pro bono service annually; however, legal service programs in North Carolina provide the foundation for all our pro bono efforts, so a reduction in LSC funding will also reduce pro bono.  Contact our Senators Burr and Hagan to encourage them to maintain LSC funding.
  • January, 2012 – NC Equal Access to Justice Commission Convenes Resource Development Planning Meeting.  Chief Justice Sarah Parker, chair of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission, invited bar and legal aid leaders to an all-day session in mid-January to discuss how legal community leaders could help increase private bar giving to legal aid.  Meredith McBurney, ABA and MIE fundraising consultant, was the featured speaker.