News

2017

  • June 28, 2017 – Commission Publishes Resolution Supporting Civil Legal Aid Funding. The Equal Access to Justice Commission reaffirmed its support for civil legal aid funding through a formal resolution requesting that the North Carolina General Assembly reconsider its repeal of the Access to Civil Justice Act and its elimination of funding for legal aid providers through that act. Read the resolution here.
  • April 27, 2017 – Commission Releases 2016 Impact Report. The NC Equal Access to Justice Commission released the 2016 Impact Report this month highlighting accomplishments and activities of the Commission during the past year.
  • April 1, 2017 – Commission Celebrates the First Anniversary of the NC Pro Bono Resource Center. April 4th, 2016 saw the launch of the NC Pro Bono Resource Center with the hiring of Sylvia Novinsky at its helm. Exactly one year later, pro bono work in North Carolina is stronger for it. In the first year of the Resource Center, the state now has an online clearinghouse of more than 40 pro bono opportunities that makes it easy for an attorney volunteer to get involved, voluntary pro bono reporting is well underway, and legal service providers have a resource to implement new pro bono projects and recruit attorneys, such as the Wake County Expunction Project or the Power of Attorney Pro Bono Project. Further, through partnerships with local bars and Lawyers Mutual, attorneys across the state now know where to go if they have questions regarding pro bono legal service.\

2016

  • October 26-27, 2016 – Members Participate in the 2016 Legal Services Conference.  Members of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission shared their perspective and expertise during continuing legal education sessions offered at the 2016 NC Legal Services Conference on October 26-27, 2016 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Chief Judge Linda McGee moderated the View from the Bench panel with fellow judges, Judge Luis Olivera and Judge Paul Jones, to discuss access to justice from the perspective of the judiciary and approaches to ensuring access for low-income and self-represented litigants. Justice Cheri Beasley, Vice Chair of the Commission, gave remarks during the Awards Luncheon honoring legal aid staff. Afi Johnson-Parris of Ward Black Law participated in the panel discussion, Increasing Pro Bono Participation, reflecting on her efforts to do pro bono in her community and as a leader of her local bar, the Greensboro Bar Association.  Rick Glazier, Executive Director of the NC Justice Center, also participated in a panel discussion, Magnifying Our Marketing: How Being an Ambassador & Story Teller for Civil Legal Aid Makes Big Impacts for Clients.
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  • October 21, 2016 – Chief Justice Recognizes Outgoing Commission Members. During the last meeting of 2016, Chief Justice Mark Martin recognized outgoing Commission members Chief Judge Linda McGee, John McMillan and Kirk Warner.  Thank you all for your many years of dedicated service to the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission. 10-21-16-john-mcmillan-chief-judge-linda-mcgee-chief-justice-martin-jennifer-lechner-kirk-warner
  • July 19, 2016 – Interim Reports Released by the Commission on the Administration of Law & Justice.  This week, the Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice released interim reports detailing its work to date and inviting public comment.  Staff and members of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission have been involved in the Commission’s work, including making presentations and providing research to two committees.  The report includes recommendations (1) to restore funding for legal aid providers and (2) to support efforts to provide assistance for pro se litigants as undertaken by the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission. Comments on the report may be provided online at www.nccalj.org/interim-reports or in person at one of these four public meetings:
  • July 1, 2016 – 2015 Impact Report Released.  The NC Equal Access to Justice Commission released the 2015 Impact Report this month highlighting accomplishments and activities of the Commission during the past year.
  • March 18, 2016 – Commission Member Ann Warren Recognized as Charlotte’s 40 Under 40 for 2016.  Ann Warren, Associate General Counsel, Duke Energy, was recently named to Charlotte Business Journal’s 40 Under 40.  Each year Charlotte Business Journal selects 40 individuals under the age of 40 who are making major strides in their careers and having a positive impact on their communities. The class was recognized at a celebration on March 16 at the historic McGlohon Theater in Charlotte. Ann has served as a member of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission since 2014 and is the chair of the Pro Bono and Resource Development Committee.
  • March 1, 2016 – Sylvia Novinsky Named Director of N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center at Equal Access to Justice Commission. Chief Justice Mark D. Martin is pleased to announce that the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission has hired Sylvia Novinsky to serve as the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center Director.  “I could not be more excited to have Sylvia Novinsky as our first Pro Bono Resource Center Director,” said Chief Justice Martin. “As a national leader on pro bono, she will bring an unparalleled enthusiasm and professionalism to this new position.”  Read the full announcement welcoming Sylvia.
  • February 9, 2016 – Associate Justice Cheri Beasley Speaks to Graduating Students at UNC School of Law about Pro Bono.  On Tuesday, February 9, UNC School of Law Pro Bono Program hosted Practically Transitioned, a networking event for graduating students and alumni to connect and share about the importance of a lifelong commitment to pro bono service.  Associate Justice Cheri Beasley gave remarks, congratulating the class for reaching 90% participation in pro bono and encouraging them to continue to fulfill their professional obligation to assist those who cannot afford legal services.

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  • January 8, 2016 – Chief Justice Martin Presents Friend of the Court Award to Jerry Parnell.  NC Equal Access to Justice Commission founding member Jerry Parnell was presented the Friend of the Court Award at the Commission’s meeting on January 8. In addition to serving on the Commission since its establishment in 2006, Parnell also served as a founding member of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.  Read the article about the award.

  • January 4, 2016 – Commission Hiring Director of the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center.  The NC Equal Access to Justice Commission is hiring a Director of the NC Pro Bono Resource Center, a new initiative of the Commission to increase pro bono efforts statewide.  Applications should include a cover letter, resume, and list of at least three professional references, including contact information for each. Submit applications to Executive Director Jennifer Lechner at lechner@ncequalaccesstojustice.org no later than Friday, January 29, 2016.
  • January 1, 2016 – Commission Welcomes New Members.  Chief Justice Mark Martin has appointed eight new members to serve on the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission beginning January 1, 2016.  The Commission’s 25 members represent the judiciary, private bar, law schools, business and philanthropy communities, legal aid, and governmental entities.
    • Barbara Degen, Western Regional Manager, Legal Aid of North Carolina
    • Ronald L. Gibson, Partner, Ruff Bond Cobb Wade & Bethune L.L.P.
    • Rick Glazier, Executive Director, NC Justice Center
    • Joy Vermillion Heinsohn, Assistant Director, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
    • Charles Holton, Member, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP
    • The Honorable Lisa Y. Johnson-Tonkins, Clerk of Superior Court, Guilford County
    • Alan Parry, Partner, Parry Tyndall White
    • Judge Jan Samet, District Court Judge, District 18 (reappointed for a second three-year term)
    • McKinley Wooten, Deputy Director, Program Services, North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts

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.

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  • 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 http://www.probono.net/celebrateprobono/events/.

    Read the full press release regarding Pro Bono Week.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

2014

  • September 1, 2014 – NC State Bar Journal Features Commission’s Economic Impact Study.   Access to Justice Coordinator Mary Irvine authored an article, published in the NC State Bar Journal, The Bottom Line – Legal Services is a Good Investment, highlighting the economic impact of legal aid in North Carolina.  The article, beginning on page 18, reviews the Commission’s recent study which found that the work of civil legal aid across the state generated greater than $48 million in economic impact in 2012.
  • August 1, 2014 – NC Equal Access to Justice Commission Members Honor Chief Justice for Her Leadership.  Chief Justice Sarah Parker led her final meeting as Chair of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission on Friday, August 1.  Commission and committee members, past and present, gathered for a dessert reception following the August meeting to honor Justice Parker’s leadership of the Commission.  Released at the meeting, the 2009-2013 Summary Report reviews the accomplishments of the Commission during Chief Justice Parker’s tenure.

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  • February 4, 2014 – North Carolina Legal Services Providers Generate $48 Million in Economic Impact.  A recently released report finds the work of legal services providers across the state generated $48,775,276 in economic impact in 2012.  For more information, read the press release, full report and executive summary.
  • February 2, 2014 – Equal Access to Justice Commission Member George V. Hanna III Honored by North Carolina Bar Association.  The North Carolina Bar Association announced 2014 recipients of the Citizen Lawyer award including Commission member George Hanna III of Charlotte.  The award will be presented on Friday, June 20 at the NCBA Annual Meeting in Wilmington.
  • January 10, 2014 – 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 2012-2013.

2013

  • November 22, 2013 – Giving Tuesday Video Released.  Legal Aid of North Carolina and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont released a video today to promote giving to their Access to Justice campaigns on #GivingTuesday – a national day of giving.  To view the video, click here.  To share why you are giving, use #ncaccesstojustice or #GivingTuesday.
  • November 14, 2013 – NC Equal Access to Justice Commission Updates Cy Pres and Other Court Awards Manual for Attorneys and Judges.  The NC Equal Access to Justice Commission has revised its Cy Pres and Other Court Awards Manual to reflect recent Cy Pres and other awards to legal aid providers and IOLTA.  To view the revised manual, click here.
  • June 5, 2013 – NC Equal Access to Justice Commission Receives American Bar Association Innovation Grant. The Commission was selected in June to receive a 2013 Innovation Grant from the American Bar Association to develop a state-specific resource and referral website for veterans and pro bono attorneys representing veterans.  Grants are awarded to promote innovation by encouraging Access to Justice Commissions to develop and test innovative new projects replicable in other states and expand the scope of their ongoing activities into broad new areas beyond existing work.  For more information, click here.
  • February 25, 2013 – NC IOLTA Releases Domestic Violence Report.  The IOLTA program of the NC State Bar released its report to the General Assembly regarding the Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Act for  2011–12.  To view the report, click here.

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 needy 25,000 North Carolinians each year. Because of the current economic conditions so 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, by organizing those efforts; a reduction in LSC funding will also reduce pro bono.  To contact our Senators Burr and Hagan to encourage them to maintain LSC funding, use the following links: http://burr.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm ; http://hagan.senate.gov/contact/
  • 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.

2010

  • January 28, 2010 – NC Supreme Court approves Rule 6.1 on Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service.  To view the new rule, click here.

2009

  • October 30, 2009 – Equal Access to Justice Commission Members Participate in UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity Conference on October 30.  On October 30, 2009, the Poverty Center hosted a powerful conference on access to justice in civil cases.  Several Commission members, including Chief Justice Parker, were speakers at the event that explored the civil right to counsel.  More information about the event, can be found here.
  • October 14, 2009 – NC Equal Access to Justice Commission hosts Large Law Firm Pro Bono Summit on October 14.  The NC Equal Access to Justice Commission organized a large law firm Pro Bono Summit on October 14th.  More than 25 managing partners of large law firms and corporate legal counsel from around the state attended the event, held at the Charlotte School of Law.  They were joined pro bono coordinators, judges, bar leaders, legal aid providers and Commission members. Participants were invited by Chief Justice Sarah Parker and James Strother, General Counsel for Wells Fargo, both of whom spoke to the growing need of low-income people to secure legal representation on their cases in the civil justice system.  Esther Lardent, Founder and President of the Pro Bono Institute was the keynote speaker. The goal of the Summit was to re-energize and expand pro bono participation and leadership among large law firms and corporate legal departments in North Carolina.
  • October, 2009.  The North Carolina State Bar Council adopted a rule change to add $.50 per CLE credit hour to support the work of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission.
  • September 30, 2009 – Legal Services Corporation Releases Updated Report on the Justice Gap in America.  The Legal Services Corporation released “Documenting the Justice Gap in America,” projecting that nearly 1 million people who seek assistance in civil legal matters will be turned away.  Of particular note, the report finds that for every client served by LSC programs, another person who seeks help is turned away.  For more information and the full report, click here.
  • August 5, 2009 – Equal Access to Justice Commission member Jerry Parnell appointed to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.  The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary consists of 15 members – two members from the Ninth Circuit, one member from each of the other 12 federal judicial circuits and the chair.  The committee has been evaluating the professional qualifications of all persons nominated for appointment to the federal bench, including the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, the U.S. District Courts and the four territorial courts, for more than 50 years.  For more information, click here.
  • May 1, 2009 – Equal Access to Justice Commission member Representative Martha Alexander receives 2009 Liberty Bell Award from Mecklenburg County Bar.  N.C. Rep. Martha Alexander received the 2009 Liberty Bell Award on May 1, 2009 from the Mecklenburg County Bar Association.  The award is given annually to a nonlawyer for community service that has strengthened the American system of freedom under the law. The award was given at the bar’s Law Day celebration at the Hilton Hotel.
  • March 1, 2009 – North Carolina Bar Association Presents $100,000 Gift to Legal Aid of North Carolina.  The North Carolina Bar Association, in response to the ongoing economic downturn and its impact on Legal Aid of North Carolina, voted today to award a one-time unrestricted gift in the amount of $100,000 to LANC.  For more information, click here.
  • January 22, 2009 – Equal Access to Justice Commission Member Senator Dan Clodfelter Honored by North Carolina Bar Association.  The North Carolina Bar Association honored Sen. Clodfelter during a special recognition luncheon on January 22.  For more information, click here.