Arrogant attorney stereotypes aside, there is a problem with the legal profession. Lawyers are constantly sharing news about the job market for lawyers and it isn’t good. In fact, the Great Depression wasn’t this hard on lawyers. Many lawyers are willing to work for someone else for free just to get experience. I’ve been that sole practitioner trying to help folk who can’t afford it. I wanted to help, but giving assistance away for free has costs- lawyers have overhead too. Young lawyers are working in non-legal areas so they can pay their student loans or put food on the table, but people need lawyers and can’t find them. This is a broken system.
The fact is that there is a lot of work for lawyers, but not a lot of jobs. What we do at R2JNC is try to turn lemons into lemonade by facilitating pro bono activities for lawyers. We want to bridge the gap between those who can help and those who need it.
Roads to Justice NC’s fundamental goal is to help women to solve problems for themselves. Most people understand that problems are multifaceted, but normally lawyers keep their solutions within a legal framework. We are able to work from as many different angles as necessary with the benefit of understanding the legal issues. Sometimes legal solutions are best, but often they aren’t. We’re here to help women find out what works best for them.
Legal Aid of North Carolina is closing 3 offices, including Henderson, which was the closest office to Warren County where we have been working. They are eliminating 30 positions in addition to the office closures. Legal Aid was already turning away half of the qualified potential clients as it was.
Despite more people falling into poverty, and more need for legal aid, the organization had to make tough decisions. They chose to close offices in rural counties. This isn’t because they are not needed, it’s because they had to make strategic choices based on where they could most easily reach the most people.
There are likely many more cuts ahead, as the recent federal budget cuts are predicted to cause another 26% reduction in funding.
This is why R2JNC is needed more than ever. We are going to work with Legal Aid and other organizations to make sure their programs stretch as far as they can. Hopefully we will see a change in funding where Legal Aid will be able to reach more folk who need their help.
Today I had a fantastic meeting with the Director of Career and Legal Programs, Beth Vasquez at the Women’s Center in Chapel Hill. We talked about potential areas for collaboration, as our goals are very similar, though our approach and focus differ.
One of the many things they offer is Legal Information Service, which is a hotline where people from all over North Carolina can schedule appointments for 15 minutes phone calls with attorneys. Like us, they offer information, not representation. The hotline number is (919) 968-4610.
R2JNC is excited to announce our first legal clinic for women in Warren County on September 1, 2011. Jennifer Wyatt, a licensed attorney in North Carolina and our executive director, as well as other attorney volunteers will be there to provide free legal, limited legal advice and legal information.* We are partnering with Citizens Against Domestic Violence. CADV will be hosting the clinic at their office at 123 W. Main St. in Warrenton, right next to the courthouse. We will be there from 1 pm until around 6 pm.
For more information, email us at jennnifer -at- roadstojustice.org or contact Citizens Against Domestic Violence at (252)257-6781.
* We are not providing legal representation, but helpful information and referrals.
I’ve been heading out to Warren County for a few months now, and gotten to know the folks at Citizens Against Domestic Violence.
Executive director Scott O’Neal grew up in Warren County and has an intimate understanding of the community. (Link to article about him in the local Warren Record) I’ve seen him take on a variety of tasks to keep hope alive for domestic violence victims hope alive. Melinda Pope, the Victim Services/Court Advocate is a strong woman fighting for those people she serves. She came to our roundtable in May and talked to us about some of her ideas for workshops.
I’ll be talking more about the organization, as we are working together on outreach and an upcoming legal clinic.
They run a thrift store, and their offices share the building. I found this to be a great idea. Especially in small towns, people see where everyone else is going. Due to their location, an individual can appear to either be shopping or dropping off goods for the store. It is also right next to the Warren County Courthouse, which cuts down on travel time immensely.
Here’s their contact info:
24 Hour Crisis Hotline: English (252) 257-992, Spanish (252)213-8005
123 S. Main St., P.O. Box 938, Warrenton, NC 27589
Phone (252) 257-6781
Trivia Alert – The building they use was built in 1835!
Recent data shows that racial segregation isn’t just people of different racial and ethnic groups living in different places – it is about how such living patterns create and perpetuate inequality. Researchers at Brown University found that the average black or Hispanic household earning over $75,000 lives in a poorer neighborhood than the average white resident earning under $40,000. When looking at school quality, the team found that the average black elementary student attends a school that ranks at about the 35th percentile in the state, while the average white student’s school is at the 60th percentile. Relevant to No Child Left Behind policies, even if 10% or 20% of the lowest performing schools were closed, and the students magically relocated to average schools, the resulting racial disparities would be only modestly different.
You can read the full report and access the data used in this study here: