Presidential Action on Immigration


LSSP applauds the recent executive action taken by the President; it is a much needed step to stabilize many immigrants and protect immigrant families. Ultimately, these actions will strengthen our community and benefit North Carolina as much of this vulnerable population is able to come forward and lawfully participate in our economy. Through the lives of our immigrant clients and their families, we bear witness to the broken immigration system. LSSP welcomes the President’s action for our nation and the individuals it will impact.

For low-income and indigent immigrant families, the biggest impact of the President’s action will be the extension of Deferred Action to the immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children and lawful permanent residents. The opportunity for these parents to live without the fear of removal and to legally work will be a positive step towards alleviating poverty within our community and fighting the exploitation of a whole class of workers.

LSSP also anticipates the benefit of the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that aids young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children. This program has already eliminated the fear of deportation for many children in our community and given them the ability to work and create a more stable life. This has led to an environment where entire families are more secure and more connected in our community.

Real people’s lives will be made more secure and more hopeful.

Real families will have a fair chance to remain together.

These are tangible changes that will only strengthen and support our community.

LSSP is working with local and statewide partners to address the impact that this action will have on immigrants living in our state and community. We encourage those individuals and families who may benefit from this action to be aware of unscrupulous and fraudulent practices by individuals, often called “notarios,” claiming to offer legal assistance. The immigrant community should be aware of these risks and take necessary steps to avoid notario fraud.

The President’s action is a critical first step and will be significant in the lives of millions of immigrants living in and impacting our community. We must continue this work and continue to address broader immigration challenges.


Learn more about our legal services for immigrants.

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Debt Collection and Older Americans


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office for Older Americans has released “A snapshot of debt collection complaints submitted by older consumers.”  The CFPB received approximately 25,800 complaints consumers aged 62 or older between July 2013 and September 2014, of which more than one-third concerned debt collection, surpassing complaints about all other consumer issues.

Issues elderly consumers contacted the CFPB about included:

  • Demands for payment of debts not owed;
  • Aggressive communications and abusive language from collectors;
  • Inability to identify the debt being collected;
  • Difficulty obtaining accurate and trustworthy information about alleged debts;
  • Attempts to collect on medical bills covered by insurance or while the consumer is attempting to correct billing mistakes or waiting for providers and insurers to resolve disputes;
  • Attempts to collect debts of deceased family members, even after collectors were told that the surviving consumer is not personally responsible for the debt or that there is no money left in the estate; and
  • Threats of wage and benefit garnishment or arrest and imprisonment if no payment is made.

For elderly consumers who are having troubles with debt collectors, the CFPB website features information on how to get more information about a debt the consumer doesn’t recognize; how to dispute an alleged debt; how stop harassing or offensive calls; and federal benefits and debt collection.

Learn more about our consumer protection services.

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LSSP expands veterans legal services to Cabarrus and Union Counties

_MG_8943 copyWith record numbers of veterans returning from war and many of them facing unemployment and rising poverty rates in North Carolina, Charlotte nonprofit Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LSSP) works in the community to serve lower-income veterans struggling with issues like homelessness, health issues and financial instability. LSSP’s Veterans Legal Services Project now, with United Way support, is able to offer civil legal assistance to lower-income veterans in Cabarrus and Union Counties in addition to its existing Mecklenburg County services for issues such as Veterans Affairs disability appeals and discharge upgrades as well as other civil legal needs, including employment, tax and consumer issues.

“Those who serve make great sacrifices for our country,” Robert Davis, Veterans Legal Services Project attorney, said. “They are asked to leave their families and put their lives at risk. At Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, we respect the sacrifices veterans have made and the measure of restoration our services can provide.”

Davis heads up the project with the understanding that the stresses veterans and their families encounter often make them susceptible to adversity after they leave the military. Many of the veterans the project serves face difficulties like losing their homes, health or income in addition to being denied or delayed from receiving vital benefits. The project’s staff is dedicated to serving those who cannot afford a lawyer and helping them secure the assistance they cannot afford to be without.

Since LSSP’s Veterans Legal Services Project began in 2012 in Mecklenburg County, it has served more than 700 veterans in a variety of civil legal matters. The nonprofit’s legal support seeks to stabilize veterans by providing them with the education, advice and representation needed to maintain health, home and income. For little to no cost to the veteran, the project advocates for veterans in partnership with existing nonprofits in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Union Counties and local Veterans Services Offices.

“We are excited about expanding our program to Cabarrus and Union Counties,” Davis said. “We believe these services fill a big need for veterans.”

Veterans or immediate family members of veterans in need of civil legal assistance can call LSSP’s Veterans Legal Services Project’s direct hotline at 704-808-4144 for more information.

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Storied Streets: Free Screening

Storied Streets: Free Screening

You can help Solve the Puzzle this November during National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Month!

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Homeless Services Network (HSN) will host a free screening of a new documentary film on homelessness during National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Month. The film, Storied Streets, shows the many faces of homelessness and tells the stories of homeless people in their own words. Click here to watch a clip of the movie:

Sunday, November 16, at 7:30 p.m.  Doors open at 7:00 p.m. A live-streaming Q & A will follow the film at 8:30 p.m.

Light refreshments will be served.


Tate Hall, Central Piedmont Community College
1206 Elizabeth Ave., Overcash, 2nd floor

Free parking, including disability parking, is available in the Employee/Theater parking lot on 4th St. For campus map: map.

For more information:
Ron Clark: 980-938-4210 or
Lisa Marshall: 980-938-4240 or
Sharon Kugelmass: 980-314-2969 or

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Repossession Without the Repo Man


Repossession Without the Repo Man: Starter Interrupt Devices

More than $145 billion in subprime auto loans were issued in the first three months of 2014.  Subprime loans—which accounted for around 25% of all new auto loans in 2013—are those made to borrowers with credit scores of 640 or lower, typically at high interest rates, some exceeding 29%. Because involuntary repossession is costly to the lender who has a security interest in your vehicle and may leave lenders open to legal claims as a result of “breaching the peace” when they repossess, many subprime car lenders have started using a new device called a “starter interrupt device” to remotely “repossess” cars.

Starter interrupt devices, which are legal in North Carolina, are attached to a car usually at the time of purchase. When a lender believes a loan agreement default has occurred because the consumer missed a payment, failed to maintain insurance on the vehicle or had the car stolen, for example, the new technology allows the lender to remotely track and disable the vehicle by computer or smartphone. A car in which the device has been activated may fail to start, emit a loud alarm or both.

Although lenders claim that they use the devices only when borrowers default on a loan, a recent New York Times article described a repo man showing off an electronic map of nearly 900 borrowers’ cars and quoted a device manufacturer saying that he had lost business as a result of his company’s policy against activating the GPS tracking feature on its products before borrowers fall behind. The same article explained how another manufacturer provides its customers with analysis of borrowers’ movements prior to any missed payments by the borrower.

Privacy and consumer advocates have raised concerns about drivers stranded far from home, the safety of escapees from domestic violence, cars suddenly disabled in moving traffic, and conflicts with state laws and contractual provisions controlling repossession and when a default is deemed to have occurred. Many times, a lender may jump the gun and mistakenly repossess prior to default or after waiving its right to default by habitually accepting late and partial payments from the borrower.

The starter interrupt device is also subject to deliberate abuse. In 2010, for example, a vengeful ex-employee broke into an Austin, TX dealership’s web-based vehicle immobilization-system and activated the devices on more than 100 vehicles whose owners’ loans were not in default.

To determine when you are in default in North Carolina, you should always check your security agreement, which should describe the circumstances that constitute default. If the dealership or lender insists on attaching a starter interruption device before you can take out the car loan, shop around for another lender who won’t require it. Starter interruption devices almost always put a consumer at a disadvantage when it comes to car loans.

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Access to Justice Pro Bono Video



Celebrate 2014



During the 2014 National Pro Bono Celebration Week, the LSSP-LANC Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program is proud to highlight the great work that our pro bono attorneys are doing for our clients. Hear from a few of our pro bono attorneys on why they think pro bono legal services are so critical to those in need in our community.


Each year, pro bono attorneys in Mecklenburg County generously donate their time to serving hundreds of clients through Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte’s Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program. A pro bono attorney can make the difference to a family facing homelessness; a mother escaping abuse; or a veteran or senior in need of end-of-life planning. Thank you to our pro bono attorneys for providing people in our community with the civil legal services they need to access justice!

Learn how you can help people in our community access justice by becoming a pro bono attorney in the Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program:

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National Pro Bono Celebration 2014 at LSSP

In the past year, nearly 300 local private attorneys in Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte’s Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program donated more than 5,000 hours of pro bono legal services to those in need in our community. During National Pro Bono Celebration, we would like to honor our pro bono attorneys who generously give their time to make an impact in our client’s lives. For a client facing life-altering circumstances, a pro bono attorney can be the champion who allows him or her to access the justice needed to maintain dignity, health, stability and safety. LSSP, LANC and their clients are grateful for the work of pro bono attorneys!

Thank you, pro bono attorneys!


Follow our social media this week for more Pro Bono Celebration!

Facebook                Twitter                    LinkedIn                    YouTube


Meck A to J Pro Bono Email Banner


Learn how you can help through the Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program.

Learn more about National Pro Bono Celebration, sponsored by the American Bar Association and Pro Bono Net.

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LSSP paralegal-advocate Ellen Hamilton honored by national coalition

100 Black Women 041

Photo: LSSP paralegal-advocate Ellen Hamilton is recognized as the 2014 Honoree for Excellence in Advocacy for Civic Engagement by Gloria Kelly, president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Queen City Metropolitan Chapter. Photo by NCBW.

LSSP paralegal-advocate Ellen Hamilton was recognized by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.‘s Queen City Metropolitan Chapter at its My Sister’s Keeper Brunch on September 20, 2014. Ellen was selected as this year’s Honoree for Excellence in Advocacy for Civic Engagement. Congratulations, Ellen!

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LSSP Wins Top Nonprofit Award


LSSP wins 2014 Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Award from N.C. Center for Nonprofits

RALEIGH, N.C. – Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, based in Charlotte, received the state’s highest honor for nonprofits today from the N.C. Center for Nonprofits. The Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Awards recognize organizations that use exemplary nonprofit practices to be good stewards of the community’s trust and funds. The Center presented the award at its statewide conference in Research Triangle Park attended by 800 nonprofit, business, and government leaders.

“The legal system is not always fair to low-wage workers, minorities, children, the elderly, immigrants, and veterans,” says Ken Schorr, executive director of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LSSP).

“Our mission is to provide a ‘full measure of justice for those in need,’ not a fraction of justice, not part or half,” says Schorr. “We use our skills as lawyers, through the legal system, to protect basic human rights and meet basic human needs such as safety, shelter, and access to health care.”

“We selected LSSP for being a masterful ‘first responder’ when low-income North Carolinians face new problems in the legal system and for working creatively with other nonprofits to find solutions,” says Jane Kendall, president of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits. “It sees the problem and then springs into action to work with nonprofits, government agencies, and for-profit businesses to address it.”

“LSSP provides excellent services to individuals and families, but it also has found other ways to help millions more people across the state,” says Kendall. “It works for positive legislation and administrative actions that focus on the root causes of poverty. When necessary, it also initiates litigation to enforce the laws and to assist even more North Carolinians.”

“Figuring out how to get the most impact for the community from limited dollars is the hallmark of an effective nonprofit,” says Emily Zimmern, chair of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits’ Board of Directors and the president and CEO of the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte.

“LSSP is extremely adept at getting attorneys to provide top-quality legal assistance for its clients at no charge. These are attorneys in law firms and corporations that are usually paid hundreds of dollars per hour,” says Zimmern. LSSP supplements its staff of 13 attorneys and 7 paralegals with a pro bono program that taps the expertise of 100 attorneys that contributed 1,514 hours last year alone.

For 47 years, LSSP has provided advice and legal representation for eligible individuals and groups in the Charlotte area and west-central North Carolina. Its programs range from assistance with taxes and unemployment insurance to consumer protection for clients facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, or unfair trade practices. It also educates the community about legal barriers that low-income residents face, and it helps its clients to use self-help solutions and find economic opportunities whenever possible.

True to its mission, LSSP is always on the lookout for new problems facing its clients. In early 2012, for example, it noticed that more veterans were experiencing legal problems in seeking the medical benefits promised to them. This was exacerbated by backlogs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Research that year through Charlotte Bridge Home identified the many challenges facing
veterans, including that 20% of veterans in Mecklenburg County were homeless. This included both young and elderly veterans.

Long before the public was aware of the administrative logjams at the VA, LSSP launched the Veterans Legal Services Project in July of 2012. The Project focuses attention and resources on those in Mecklenburg County who have returned from military service. It helps with disability claims and appeals for disabilities and pensions, as well as housing, employment law, other legal and consumer protections.

LSSP’s outreach to the veteran community has included legal clinics in partnerships with the W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury, comprehensive services to homeless veterans through Community Link, and the NC Veterans Pro Bono Network. It has trained more than 75 attorneys to represent veterans on a pro bono basis.

LSSP often uses this ripple effect to multiply the impact of its efforts. It collaborates with
dozens of other nonprofits, as well as government agencies and businesses, to take a
comprehensive approach to assisting people that cannot get full access to the legal system.
Last year, LSSP again sprung to action to help in the effort to enroll North Carolinians in health insurance plans. With a navigator grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LSSP worked as part of a consortium of 10 nonprofits to help individuals and small employers shop for, select, and enroll in qualified health plans and access tax credits and subsidies. The consortium was led by Community Care of N.C.

As reported nationally, North Carolina was among the states in the federal exchange with the highest enrollment numbers, due in part to the swift action of LSSP and many other nonprofits across the state.

“Each year, LSSP serves 2,400 families facing a crisis of safety, shelter, health, or income,” says Schorr. “But, we are nowhere near having the resources to meet the needs of the more than 300,000 people eligible and in need of legal assistance but unable to afford private lawyers.”
Ted Fillette of Charlotte is assistant director of Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) which
works closely with LSSP. Fillette says, “With 12,000 eligible clients for every staff attorney of LSSP and LANC, we have to prioritize our services. We focus on the essentials for sustaining life: income, shelter, and safety.”

Attorney Bill Farthing is president of LSSP’s Board of Directors and a partner at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP in Charlotte. He says, “The keys to LSSP’s success are an absolute focus on the mission, mutual trust and respect among the board and the executive staff, and a board that holds itself accountable for fulfilling its responsibilities.”

LSSP’s board members regularly assess their collective performance, as well as the performance of individual board members and the executive director.

“These are the kinds of sound practices that effective nonprofits use,” says CPA Walter Davenport of Raleigh, who serves as Treasurer of the N.C. Center. “The N.C. Center for Nonprofits provides sample policies to make it easier for organizations to conduct these kinds of assessments and to adopt the policies and practices they need to follow.”

“Nonprofit leaders have to continue to earn the community’s trust every day. Sound practices in their governance and management help them maintain this public trust.” said Zimmern. “The Center lifts up these good practices and trains nonprofits to do things the right way.”

Presenting the Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Award to Schorr and Farthing were Davenport, Kendall, and Trisha Lester, senior vice president of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits. Other LSSP attendees were Teresa Falzone, chief financial officer; Katya Riasanovsky, director of pro bono services; and Brittney Coleman, director of development.

Special guests included Jennifer Lechner of High Point and Evelyn Pursley and Mary Irvine of Raleigh. Lechner nominated LSSP for the award. She is executive director of the N.C. Equal Access to Justice Commission of the N.C. Supreme Court, and Irvine is its Access to Justice coordinator. Pursley is executive director of the N.C. State Bar’s IOLTA program.

The N.C. Center for Nonprofits established the awards in 2005. Prudential Financial, Inc. has sponsored them since 2008. The Center gives each winner $500 for professional development for its board and staff, a commemorative work by Durham artist Galia Goodman, and extensive recognition with nonprofit leaders across the state and with the winners’ local, state, and federal elected officials.

The other 2014 Award winners are El Futuro in Durham and Financial Pathways of the Piedmont in Winston-Salem.

On Friday, the Center’s conference at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Research Triangle Park will feature an in-depth workshop on “Adaptive Leadership” by Jeffrey Lawrence and Sherry Hakimi of Cambridge Leadership Associates. They will use the model of adaptive leadership developed by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. Friday’s in-depth workshops on “Nonprofit Sustainability” and “The 2014 Legal Update” are sold out.

Founded in 1990, the Center works to enrich North Carolina’s communities and economy through a strong nonprofit sector and nonprofit voice. It serves as an information center on effective practices in nonprofit organizations, a statewide learning network for nonprofit board and staff members, and an advocate for the nonprofit sector as a whole. It is the leading voice for nonprofit organizations across the state.

For more information on the N.C. Center for Nonprofits, its statewide conference, or this award, contact Trisha Lester, senior vice president, at,  919-790-1555 ext. 104, or 919-971-5423 (cell). Also visit its website at

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ACA Latino Summit 9-23-14

Latino Summit Aims to Bridge Affordable Care Act Insurance Barriers

Local health organizations join forces to engage community leaders during Hispanic Heritage Month, encouraging them to spread the word about getting covered

CHARLOTTE - In an effort to bridge the barriers Latinos have faced in learning about new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act, Camino Community Center, Get Covered America and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont will host a Latino Affordable Care Act Summit at Camino Community Center on Tuesday, September 23, at 5:30 p.m. The summit takes place during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on September 15.

With the second open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace approaching in November, the organizations will educate Mecklenburg County Latino community leaders about Affordable Care Act insurance and encourage them to have conversations about affordable healthcare options with members of their community.  They would like uninsured Latinos to be informed about how to find, use, and keep new health care options available under the Affordable Care Act.

Effectively engaging the Latino community is very important to the organizations, as research shows there is need for more education. After the first open enrollment period Enroll America and PerryUndem conducted a national survey, finding that the Latino community has faced significant obstacles to learning about the healthcare options available to them. Among Latinos who remain uninsured, 41% believed that they would not be able to afford health insurance—but 78% did not know about the opportunities for financial assistance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. A quarter of uninsured Latinos believed they wouldn’t be eligible for coverage, even though they can enroll if they have legal immigration status. And although Latinos who got covered benefitted from the availability of in-person assistance, 66% did not know they could receive free expert help with the enrollment process in their community.

About Get Covered America and Enroll America

Get Covered America is a national campaign of Enroll America that is focused on educating consumers about the benefits of health coverage and the new health insurance available under the Affordable Care Act. With operations in 11 states (AZ, FL, GA, IL, MI, NC, NJ, OH, PA, TN, and TX), our grassroots team is powered by passionate staff and volunteers with one motivating goal: to give Americans the information they need to choose an affordable health insurance plan that’s right for them and their families.

Enroll America is the nation’s leading health care enrollment coalition, bringing together community and health organizations, businesses and others to inform consumers about the new health coverage options and how to enroll in them. It is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

About Legal Services of Southern Piedmont

Legal Services of Southern Piedmont’s mission is to ensure a full measure of justice for those in need, providing a wide range of civil legal assistance to eligible low-income persons in the Charlotte metropolitan area and west-central N.C. LSSP accomplishes its mission through a variety of legal advocacy strategies including individual advice and representation, community education and outreach, representation of groups, self-help remedies, collaboration with other agencies, community economic development, legislative and administrative advocacy, and impact litigation.

***** Please RSVP by emailing *****

What: Affordable Care Act Insurance Latino Summit

Where: Camino Community Center, 133 Stetson Dr., Charlotte 28262

When: Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Who:  Get Covered America staff and volunteers
Legal Services of Southern Piedmont
Camino Community Center
Charlotte Latino Community leaders

Local contact: Madison Hardee

How: To RSVP or for more details, please e-mail

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