top of page

Nationally, 92% of civil legal problems receive insufficient or no help.

"Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit."

- Federalist 51, James Madison

Did You Know?

NC Access to Justice Stats

Fact #1

LSC’s April 2022 report shows that 92% of the civil legal problems of low-income Americans did not receive any or enough legal help. Nearly 74% of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal problem in the previous year. Additionally, 40%-60% of middle-income Americans cannot afford a lawyer.

Fact #4

$12,875 is the median annual income for a legal aid client, and 33% of their clients earn less than $10,000. Even when income requirements are met, LANC reported in 2018, they can only serve 1 in 10 households due to budgetary and human resources constraints.

Fact #2

In 2021, Legal Services Corporation reported that Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) reported that 16.9% of the state’s population (1,741,235 people) were eligible for Legal Aid services, but a lack of resources meant that (LANC) could only help about 55,165 individuals in 22,000 cases. COVID-19 has worsened outcomes.


Fact #5

Legal Aid employs 230 lawyers and 400 staff members and serves over 40,000 people each year.


There is only one legal aid attorney for every 7,500 North Carolinians eligible for legal services, compared to one private lawyer for every 400 North Carolina residents.

Fact #3

As of 2023, the income cutoff to receive assistance from Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) is $18,225 for one person and $37,500 for a family of four. These income limits are only slightly above minimum wage. Income eligibility thresholds are 125% of the 2023 Federal Poverty Guidelines set by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services.

Fact #6

If every single one of the 1.3 million licensed lawyers in the U.S. were to take on civil legal problems, they’d each have to put in 180 pro bono hours (1.5 months) each year! The current average amount of pro bono hours is 55 among the 52% of lawyers who report hours nationally.

Justice Gap Reports

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

- Martin Luther King


Access to justice is high stakes. It impacts fundamental needs like food, shelter, and safety, especially during crises. In North Carolina, urgent civil legal needs include issues like eviction, divorce, debt collection, domestic violence, foreclosure, child custody, and guardianship. Millions of Americans, particularly those with low and middle incomes, face these challenges daily, often without legal guidance or representation.

Recent studies, including the 2022 Justice Gap Study by the Legal Services Corporation and UNC Greensboro's 2021 Civil Legal Needs Assessment, commissioned by the Equal Justice Alliance and the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, highlight the growing justice gap. This gap, which the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified, underscores the urgent need for accessible legal support in our communities. Click here to view the full North Carolina report and supporting data. The executive summary is below. 

National Report


North Carolina Report

legal needs assessment.png
Justice Gap Reports
279241182_1306969403159606_2522573796656015154_n_edited_edited (1).jpg
Non-Lawyer Legal Services Podcast

Closing the Justice Gap

"The First Duty of Society Is Justice."

- Alexander Hamilton

Regulatory reform in the legal sector is essential for addressing the needs of society and improving access to justice. Such reforms can significantly transform the legal landscape, making it more inclusive and responsive to the population's diverse needs. In the following sections, we explore four types of reforms that the North Carolina Justice for All Project (JFAP) supports and that have been tried successfully in other jurisdictions. These reforms aim to bridge gaps in civil legal assistance, fostering innovation in legal services and ensuring that the civil justice system is accessible to everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic background or individual needs.

Allied Legal Professionals
Licensed Paraprofessionals

An Allied Legal Professional is a type of legal practitioner trained to provide specific legal services to the public in areas such as family law or estate planning, without the need for attorney supervision. These professionals hold a limited license, allowing them to offer legal advice, prepare legal documents, and assist clients with legal procedures at a more affordable cost than traditional lawyers. This role was created to address the growing access to justice gap, especially for low- and middle-income individuals who may find the cost of full legal representation prohibitive. Allied Legal Professionals play a crucial role in bridging this gap, making legal services more accessible and affordable while ensuring competent legal assistance. Visit the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) for more information.

Regulatory Sandboxes
Legal Innovations / Justice Tech

A regulatory sandbox is an experimental framework that allows startups and other businesses to test innovative products, services, or business models in a controlled environment under regulatory supervision. This concept, primarily used in the financial and legal sectors, enables companies to explore and develop new technologies and approaches without the full weight of regulatory compliance, while still protecting consumer interests. Sandboxes provide valuable insights for regulators to adapt and update regulations in response to technological advancements and market changes. This approach fosters innovation, drives economic growth, and helps in developing more effective and consumer-friendly regulations. As an example, visit Utah's Legal Regulatory Sandbox for more information.

Community Justice Workers
Lay Advocates

A Community Justice Worker is a grassroots legal aide who provides essential legal support and guidance within their community, particularly focusing on underserved and marginalized populations. These workers offer a range of services, including legal education, basic legal advice, assistance in navigating legal processes, and advocacy. Their role is crucial in enhancing access to justice, as they bridge the gap between the community and the legal system. By empowering individuals with knowledge about their legal rights and available resources, Community Justice Workers play a key role in promoting legal literacy, resolving conflicts, and ensuring that legal support is more accessible and tailored to the specific needs of their community. As an example, visit Alaska Legal Services Corporation for more information.

Court Navigators
Courthouse Guidance and Support

A court navigator is a non-lawyer professional trained to assist self-represented litigants in navigating the complexities of the court system. Their role includes providing information on court procedures, helping with paperwork, clarifying legal terminology, and offering general guidance without giving legal advice. Court navigators enhance access to justice by making the legal process more approachable and understandable, especially for those who cannot afford legal representation or find the legal system intimidating. By bridging the gap between the public and the legal system, court navigators contribute to a more equitable and efficient judicial process, ensuring fairer outcomes and a more user-friendly experience for litigants. As an example, visit the New York City Court Navigator website for more information.

Innovations to Close Justice Gap

Redefining Access to Justice



Utah Supreme Court,

Justice Constandinos "Deno" Himonas

2015 - 2022


"We cannot volunteer ourselves across the access-to-justice gap. We have spent billions of dollars trying this approach. It hasn’t worked. And hammering away at the problem with the same tools is Einstein’s very definition of insanity. What is needed is a market-based approach that simultaneously respects and protects consumer needs."

State-Sponsored Regulatory Studies

North Carolina Government
Research Highlights Need for
Legal Services Regulatory Reform

"The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens."


-Thomas Jefferson


Two extensive studies conducted in North Carolina have underscored the urgent need for reform in legal service delivery, spotlighting the justice gap. The Legal Professionalism Committee under the 2015-2017 North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice (NCCALJ) and the 2020-2022 North Carolina State Bar Issues Subcommittee on Regulatory Change, including founders S.M. Kernodle-Hodges and Alicia Mitchell-Mercer, proposed changes to enable more categories of legal service providers. Despite these well-defined recommendations, the pace of progress remains sluggish.


After the pivotal 2022 report urging significant regulatory reform, the North Carolina State Bar's establishment of a permanent 'Access to Justice' committee appears more focused on continuous study rather than taking action. Nearly a decade after the commencement of the NCCALJ study, it's time to be responsive to the needs of North Carolinians. Our goal is clear: to champion these reforms, striving to expand access to legal services and close the justice gap for all residents of North Carolina. Click here to learn more about our co-founders' prior work with the North Carolina State Bar Issues Subcommittee on Regulatory Change.

JFAP in the Media

JFAP in the News

Receive JFAP Updates

Join our email list and get updates concerning our regulatory initiatives.

Thanks for submitting!


Our offices are located in Raleigh and Charlotte. For the appropriate mailing address, please email us.


Passionate about access to justice? Volunteering is a great way to get involved. No legal experience is required.


Are you a leader or educator who wants to teach your group more about access to justice and regulatory reform? We can help. 

Contact Us
bottom of page