The organizations listed below provide legal information or, in some cases, legal representation. These referrals are not an endorsement of any organization or website.
Resources Associated with Duke Law
- Duke Law School's Clinics
The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence
The North Carolina Center works in conjunction with Innocence Projects at both Duke and UNC Law Schools in providing assistance to inmates making claims of actual innocence. The assistance is limited to those convicted of North Carolina crimes who have already concluded their direct appeals from the convictions.
Resources in North Carolina
Legal Aid of North Carolina
Most of the legal services organizations in North Carolina are a part of, or affiliated with, Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC). These legal services organizations serve low-income people who reside in the counties assigned to each local office. Legal Services handles only civil cases (not criminal cases). Typical cases are landlord-tenant disputes, denial of government benefits, domestic violence and consumer disputes; however, each local office makes its own decisions about which types of cases it can accept. The client's income in most cases must be below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. Due to limited funds and staff, these offices are not able to handle all cases presented to them. LANC also has a Farmworkers Unit, a Mental Health unit, an Environmental Law Project, a Domestic Violence Program, and a Battered Immigrant Project.
Counties served: All 100 counties in North Carolina are served. The LANC - Durham office serves Durham, Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance, and Warren. Go to the LANC website to see which office serves your county.
Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont
Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LSSP) provides legal assistance in civil matters to low-income persons in the Charlotte area and in west-central North Carolina. (Legal Aid of North Carolina - Charlotte also provides civil legal assistance in the Charlotte area. See Legal Aid of North Carolina for that contact information.)
Pisgah Legal Services
This office, located in Asheville with an office in Hendersonville, formerly received federal funds to provide legal services and was part of Legal Services of North Carolina. It is now an independent legal aid organization. Its primary service area includes seven counties: Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Polk, Rutherford, Transylvania and Yancey Counties, and it provides limited services in seventeen Western North Carolina counties. Buncombe and surrounding counties are also served by another organization -- the Asheville office of Legal Aid of North Carolina. That office serves indigent clients in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Polk, Rutherford, and Transylvania counties.
Disability Rights North Carolina (formerly known as Carolina Legal Assistance)
This office provides legal representation for those with physical and mental disabilities. It is based in Raleigh and serves clients statewide.
Child Support Enforcement
State governments provide help to parents seeking child support. In North Carolina, it is available in the NC Division of Social Services and in social services or special "IV-D Child Support Enforcement" offices around the state.
Public Defenders and the NC Office of Indigent Defense Services
People accused of crime have a constitutional right to an attorney and an attorney will be appointed for those who cannot afford to pay. In some locations, Public Defenders are available and in other parts of the country, private attorneys are appointed to represent the accused. In North Carolina, the system is administered by the NC Office of Defense Services.
North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services
"The mission of North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, Inc. (NCPLS) is to provide legal services to people incarcerated in North Carolina to ensure that all prisoners are treated humanely and in accordance with the law. NCPLS strives to provide legal services of the highest quality in an efficient and effective way."
NC Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project
This office represents farmers facing loss of land. It is based in Durham, but serves clients statewide. It is "a nonprofit, public interest law firm created by the NC Association of Black Lawyers to use legal expertise, community education, and advocacy skills to help land owners who face legal, economic and environmental challenges to their land ownership."
Council for Children's Rights (a merger of the former the Children’s Law Center and Council for Children)
404 E. Trade Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-0242
This organization has more than 30 attorneys who work "primarily in the areas of special education, abuse and neglect, mental health, custody, domestic violence and juvenile justice."
Southern Environmental Law Center
"Founded in 1986 as a small groups of attorneys working on strategic cases to enforce environmental laws, SELC has grown into a multifaceted organization that is handling several broad-band, regional conservation initiatives to strengthen environmental protection laws and policies throughout the south and beyond."
North Carolina Justice Center
Budget & Tax Center | Immigrants Legal Assistance Project | NC Health Access Coalition | North Carolina Education & Law Project
The Justice Center is home to a diverse team of professionals that employs four main strategies to fight poverty and promote economic and social justice: litigation, research and policy analysis, legislative advocacy, and grassroots education and action. While Justice Center advocates maintain specialized knowledge and expertise in dozens on specific fields, we have five on-going substantive and strategy-based projects: Budget & Tax Center; NC Education & Law Project; NC Health Access Coalition; and the Immigrants Legal Assistance Project.
American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina
Generally, the ACLU takes selected cases focusing "on instances where government has infringed upon a person's privacy, religion, or speech or where the government has not followed proper procedures." See the ACLU's instructions on how to submit a request for help.
The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits
A 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization assisting other nonprofits to serve the people of North Carolina. It is a statewide network for boards and staff, an information center (including legal information) and "an advocate for the nonprofit sector as a whole."
The Consumer Protection Division
This division of the North Carolina Attorney General's Office takes and investigates complaints by consumers. Any aggrieved consumer can contact this office, regardless of their income level. Those calling will be asked to complete a form about their complaint. For further information, call (919) 733-7741.
North Carolina Bar Association
A voluntary legal professional organization for North Carolina attorneys. The Bar Association serves both its attorney members and the public (and has a Lawyer Referral Service for finding an attorney in North Carolina, as described above). NCBA publishes pamphlets on an array of legal topics.
North Carolina Advocates for Justice (formerly the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers)
A voluntary member organization of North Carolina trial lawyers. Its website includes links to federal and North Carolina court opinions; federal and North Carolina government sites and a wide variety of law-related sites, including search engines, comprehensive research sites, and brochures and legal information for lay people. In 2007, it started NC Free Legal Help to provide 10 minutes of free time with its attorneys who provide general information about the law.
NC LEAP (North Carolina Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program)
NC LEAP is a project of the North Carolina Bar Association and the NCBA Foundation that provides free legal services to low-wealth entrepreneurs who are in the process of starting or expanding their businesses through: direct legal representation, small business legal clinics and production of self-help materials. NC LEAP fills a critical gap in technical services for entrepreneurs across the state by providing a full-range of pro bono business and transactional legal services. NC LEAP attorneys are volunteers and experts in their fields who want to give back to their communities.
Finding a Lawyer in Private Practice
The North Carolina Bar Association sponsors a Lawyer Referral Service (919)-677-8574 or (800)-662-7660. People referred by this service commit to paying $30 for the first 30 minute consultation.
Most lawyers in private practice limit their practice to a few areas of law. To find a lawyer practicing the type of law for which you need assistance and located in your geographic area, you may: 1) ask knowledgeable friends for a suggestion; 2) look under Attorneys in the Yellow Pages (following the general listing for Attorneys, there are usually listings by types of law that lawyers advertise as their practice area); 3) use the Lawyer Referral Service.
American Bar Association
The largest voluntary professional association in the world, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about law, programs to assist lawyers and judges and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public. Its website includes a state by state listing of legal services and pro bono programs providing free legal assistance to the poor as well as public interest organizations and resource centers across the country.
American Civil Liberties Union
The ACLU is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest organization devoted to protecting the civil liberties of all Americans. Its web site provides links to its affiliates nationwide.
The Equal Justice Network
The Equal Justice Network is an on-line meeting place, information source, and connection mechanism for lawyers and to other advocates involved in efforts to provide civil legal assistance to low-income people.
Legal Services Corporation
A private, nonprofit corporation established by Congress in 1974 to assure equal access to justice under the law for all Americans. Its website contains a map and list of the hundreds of local legal aid programs funded by LSC serving every county in the nation.
National Legal Aid & Defender Association
A nonprofit membership organization devoted to advocating equal access to justice for all Americans. Its website includes an extensive list of national organizations providing civil and criminal (including death penalty) assistance and substantive legal information.
Pine Tree Legal Assistance
A Maine legal services organization whose website provides links to legal services organizations organized by state and much more legal information.
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
TLPJ is a national public interest law firm that litigates cases aimed at creating a more just society. Its website contains links to national public interest organizations.
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
The National Center for Law and Economic Justice advances the cause of economic justice for low-income families, individuals and communities across the country.