News from 2015

North  Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission 2015

  • November 6, 2015 – Equal Justice Alliance Presents to the Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice.Members of the Equal Justice Alliance presented to the Civil Justice Committee of the Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice on Friday, November 6, 2015.  Chair Celia Pistolis of Legal Aid of North Carolina and Vice-Chair Rick Glazier of the NC Justice Center presented on the network of legal aid organizations statewide and recommendations to improve the civil justice system for the benefit of all, including the low-income clients that legal aid providers represent.  View the presentation.
  • October 16, 2015 – Chief Justice Recognizes Outgoing Commission Members.  During the last meeting of 2015, Chief Justice Mark Martin recognized outgoing Commission members George R. Hausen, Jr., Jerry Parnell, and Carol Allen White.  Other Commission members who will complete their terms this year include Joseph D. Crocker and Richard M. Taylor, Jr.

  • October 1, 2015 – NC missing good investment by cutting civil legal aid. The News & Observer published an editorial from Commission member Kirk Warner describing the role of legal aid in reducing poverty and calling for greater investment in legal aid.  “Resources are at the heart of access to justice, and we need to make funding for civil legal aid a priority.”  Read the full article.
  • September 29, 2015 – Legal Aid of North Carolina struggling with cuts to budget.The Winston-Salem Journal reported on the recent layoffs at Legal Aid of North Carolina after years of state funding cuts that have decreased state support of legal aid by more than 50%.  Mary Irvine, Access to Justice Coordinator, was quoted on the impact for those most in need of legal services.  Read the full article.
  • September 28, 2015– Commission Releases 2014 Impact Report.  The NC Equal Access to Justice Commission released the 2014 Impact Report this month highlighting accomplishments and activities of the Commission during the past year.
  • September 4, 2015 – National Pro Bono Week Celebration.Members of the North Carolina access to justice community are putting the focus on pro bono as part of the National Pro Bono Week Celebration during October 25-31. During Pro Bono Week, North Carolina legal aid programs, bar associations, law firms, law schools, and others will celebrate pro bono by recognizing volunteers, offering training, providing pro bono legal services at clinics, hosting events to raise money for legal aid, and raising awareness of the need for pro bono.  For more information about events in your area, visit
  • September 1, 2015 – North Carolina State Bar Fall Journal on Access to Justice.The Fall 2015 edition of the North Carolina State Bar Journal was a special issue dedicated to access to justice.  The Journal included introductory remarks from Chief Justice Mark Martin urging the profession and broader community to continue efforts to promote access to justice.  Other articles highlight: Rule 6.1; the efforts of legal aid programs to address the crisis of unaccompanied immigrant minors in need of legal representation; representation of veterans to ensure they receive benefits they have earned; the work of the North Carolina Court System to implement language access standards and services statewide; legal aid to protect consumers; and pro bono services in rural areas.   The Commission thanks Commission member Nancy Norelli for her role in developing this in-depth look at access to justice statewide and the many article writers for their contributions.  Read the full Journal issue.
  • June 6, 2015 – Commission Member Kirk Warner Honored as Tar Heel of the Week for Pro Bono Efforts. Kirk Warner was recognized by the News & Observer as Tar Heel of the Week for his efforts to assist veterans by offering legal support to find housing, get medical treatment, and access veterans benefits.  Kirk serves as the Chair of the NC Bar Association’s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and also serves as a member of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission.  Read the full article honoring Kirk.
  • May 7-9, 2015 – Commission Members Attend 2015 Equal Justice Conference.  Members of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission attended the 2015 Equal Justice Conference in Austin, Texas in early May and participated in the National Access to Justice Meeting on Saturday, May 9.  On Saturday, the Honorable Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York, delivered the keynote address.
  • February 13, 2015 – Staff and Commission Member Present on Pro Bono at Festival of Legal Learning. Commission member Sylvia Novinsky, Executive Director Jennifer Lechner, and Access to Justice Coordinator Mary Irvine presented at the 2015 Festival of Legal Learning on February 13, 2015.  The event is hosted each year by the University of North Carolina School of Law.  The presentation focused on pro bono in North Carolina including the results of a recent survey to identify opportunities and barriers to pro bono service among lawyers.
  • January 24, 2015 – Chief Justice Recognizes Outgoing Commission Members, Welcomes New Members.During the first meeting of 2015, Chief Justice Mark Martin recognized outgoing Commission members Reid Calwell Adams, Anita Earls, George V. Hanna III, Rebecca Henderson, Thomas A. Kelley III, Melinda Lawrence, Kenneth Schorr, and Willis Williams.  New members starting in 2015 include The Honorable Cheri L. Beasley, Jim  Barrett, William P. Farthing Jr., Dean Sylvia Novinsky, Afi Johnson-Parris, Dean J. Rich Leonard, Bill Rowe, and Ann Warren.

  • January 12, 2015– NC IOLTA Releases Domestic Violence Report.  The IOLTA program of the NC State Bar released its report to the General Assembly, Combating Domestic Violence with Legal Services, regarding the Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Act for 2013-2014.
  • January 5, 2015 – Commission Welcomes New Chair, Chief Justice Mark Martin– Chief Justice Mark D. Martin was installed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina at a swearing-in ceremony on January 5, 2015 and joins the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission as Chair.  Chief Justice Martin was appointed in August by Governor Pat McCrory to fill the vacancy created following the retirement of Chief Justice Sarah Parker and was subsequently elected in November for an eight-year term as Chief Justice beginning January 1, 2015.