Community invited to complete Legal Needs Study

Posted on October 23, 2020

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Raleigh, N.C. (October, 2020) – The NC Equal Access to Justice Commission and the Equal Justice Alliance have launched a comprehensive study and survey of residents across the state to help obtain additional information and inform efforts related to civil legal needs and programs in our community. The study will help to gain a more detailed understanding of how race, gender, age, disability and other factors affect the depth and type of civil legal problems people experience.

The public is encouraged to complete the survey here.

More than 2 million North Carolinians are eligible for the services of legal aid providers. Civil legal problems impact the most basic human needs: housing, health care, safety, economic stability, and family structure, among others. Legal aid providers help meet these fundamental needs through providing expert representation in the areas of domestic violence protection, divorce, child custody, housing, consumer protection, employment, veterans’ benefits, and health.

“North Carolina’s civil legal needs have not been systematically evaluated since 2003. It is so important that we get a better understanding of the gaps in availability of services and what resources are needed to address unmet legal needs,” said NC Equal Access to Justice Commission Advisory Committee Chair Anita Earls, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina. “We want to hear from people who may have needed an attorney for any type of civil legal issue. Your experiences will help inform legal aid providers and stakeholder organizations seeking to guarantee equal access to the courts.”

Earlier this year, the Equal Access to Justice Commission and the Equal Justice Alliance partnered with UNCG’s Center for Housing and Community Studies to conduct the study that will identify legal needs of low-income communities and document current resources and services available to meet those needs. They have already conducted interviews, focus groups and a survey of legal providers as well as a statistical analysis of court records.
Dr. Stephen Sills, the lead researcher, explains, “this study provides data and analysis that will be useful in identifying disparities in access to legal services by geographic, racial, gender and other demographic characteristics, telling us who gets help and who does not. If you live in North Carolina, please take this survey and help us in our efforts to improve legal services across the state.”

Residents in North Carolina can take the survey, which takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, over the next six weeks. After completing the survey, participants may register to be included in a sweepstakes drawing for one of ten $100 gift cards. Community groups, nonprofits, churches, advocacy organizations, and others are also encouraged to share the survey to help ensure a diverse and high response rate.
A final report for both the study and survey is expected to be presented to the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission Advisory Committee in early 2021.

The survey can be accessed online at

About NC Equal Access to Justice Commission
The 30-member North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission is chaired by Supreme Court of North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. Its mission is to expand access to civil legal representation for people of modest means in North Carolina. The Commission works with court, bar and community leaders to develop new methods and strategies to address unmet legal needs.

About North Carolina Equal Justice Alliance
The North Carolina Equal Justice Alliance provides central coordination of a sustained, comprehensive, integrated, statewide system to provide the most effective legal services to people in poverty in North Carolina. The members of the Equal Justice Alliance are Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Council for Children’s Rights, Disability Rights North Carolina, Financial Protection Law Center, Land Loss Prevention Project, Legal Aid of North Carolina, North Carolina Bar Foundation, North Carolina Justice Center, North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation, North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, Inc., North Carolina State Bar Plan for Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) and Pisgah Legal Services.

About UNC Greensboro Center for Housing and Community Studies
The Center for Housing and Community Studies (CHCS) is a community-engaged and applied research center at UNC Greensboro specializing in geospatial research, multi-modal data collection, and mixed-method analysis. The Center uses these skills to develop community-informed solutions to social problems addressing housing and neighborhood issues for governments, nonprofits, foundations, and institutions of higher education. UNC Greensboro, located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, is 1 of only 50 doctoral institutions recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for both higher research activity and community engagement. Founded in 1891 and one of the original three UNC System institutions, UNC Greensboro is one of the most diverse universities in the state with 20,000+ students, and 3,000+ faculty and staff members representing 90+ nationalities.

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