Local legal aid nonprofits Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Legal Aid of North Carolina, Charlotte hosted their eighth annual Justice for All Luncheon March 25 at the Westin Hotel with keynote speaker Sheri Lynch to highlight the need for and the work of ensuring access to justice for the Charlotte area’s low-income community.
A record attendance of more than 640 guests heard an address by Lynch, in addition to legal aid leaders from LSSP and LANC, stressing the importance of serving low-income families and individuals whose basic human rights are threatened by their inability to pay for legal representation in civil legal matters. Supporters at the lunch heard the stories of North Carolinians protected from domestic violence, institutionalization and homelessness through the work of these organizations and their partners.
“When it comes to expanding justice for the poor and access to justice for all, it is our obligation and our privilege to make our system work for everyone,” Lynch said at the event. “Supporting the mission of LANC and LSSP offers us a means of doing just that, right here, in our own community. And, as a community, as a system, we will only ever be as sound, as whole, as good as the most powerless, the most vulnerable among us.”
LSSP’s legal work focuses on helping its low-income clients meet their basic human needs, ensuring that low-income children, families and the disabled have access to quality health care and benefits, preserving income and protecting financial stability of low income families, and providing targeted legal assistance for people with special needs such as children, elderly and disabled persons, immigrants, veterans and people living with HIV/AIDS.
“With approximately 12,000 eligible clients for every staff attorney of LSSP and LANC, we have to prioritize our services,” LANC, Charlotte Senior Managing Attorney Ted Fillette said at the event. “We focus on the essentials for sustaining life: income, shelter and safety.”
LANC, Charlotte seeks to protect victims of domestic violence; help workers remove barriers to employment by expunging their obsolete criminal records; preserve homes, automobiles and other essential properties that are subject to seizure and sale; and help tenants prevent homelessness by preventing unlawful evictions and helping them get necessary repairs for safe and habitable housing.
“Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Legal Aid of North Carolina work in close partnership with many private lawyers, other advocates and organizations in the community to serve people who cannot afford to hire private attorneys,” LSSP Executive Director Ken Schorr said. “It is only through this collaboration that low-income people in our community have access to the legal system and legal representation when they need it to preserve essential income, access to health care, family integrity and financial stability.”
The event raised nearly $90,000 for the nonprofits’ work of ensuring access to justice in the Charlotte area. Sponsors for the event were Bank of America, Duke Energy, Discover Ready, Defender Capital and Huron Legal.