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Looking Beyond Lawyers to Bridge the Civil Access to Justice Gap: Petition for Redress of Grievances Pursuant to N.C. Const. Art. I, § 12, Policy Analysis & Legislative Proposal

Civil access to justice is a cornerstone of democratic societies and is fundamental to protecting individual rights, promoting social stability, and fostering economic development. Our civil legal system allows individuals and communities to seek remedies for violations of their rights, hold those accountable for harm caused, and resolve disputes fairly and efficiently. This contributes to fairness, equality, and trust in the legal system and drives economic growth by creating a level playing field for all participants.

However, the current regulatory structure in North Carolina, which governs the practice of law, hinders the ability of skilled individuals to assist the many who cannot afford a lawyer and are facing the access to justice gap. This issue has been recognized by state leaders and studied by various commissions and committees for over a decade, yet few changes have been made to North Carolina's regulatory structure (unauthorized practice of law statutes or "UPL" statutes) to ease this crisis.

Access to justice is urgent. Every day millions of North Carolinians face civil legal problems without a lawyer and very few resources, if any, to help them navigate our complex civil legal system. Every day people lose their children, jobs, and homes while the legal profession contemplates how to manage the access to justice crisis without making any significant changes to the way we have always done things. While we respect the ongoing study of access to justice issues in North Carolina, at some point, we must take action. The North Carolina Justice for All Project believes that the right time to make a change is now. 

Given the exclusive authority of the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) to change the unauthorized practice of law statutes, we submitted our petition for redress to members of the NCGA on February 16, 2023. Our policy analysis and legislative proposal detail four alternatives to address the access to justice crisis and recommends two: licensing legal practitioners, and liberalizing N.C. Gen. Stat. § 84 for legal aid and pro bono service providers. We firmly believe that the NCGA should adopt these recommendations to alleviate the access to justice crisis and ensure that all citizens have meaningful access to our civil legal system.

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Legislative Proposal
Letters of Support

Access-to-Justice Champions and Policy Experts
Supporting Our Proposal

Justice Richard Dietz Discusses
Regulatory Reform with JFAP

In this video, we feature an informative discussion with Justice Richard Dietz, who shares his personal experiences and insights on the access to justice gap in North Carolina.

Civil legal problems such as evictions, divorce, and other life-changing matters often leave people struggling alone because they cannot afford a lawyer. This video sheds light on the fact that access to justice is a high-stakes issue, which determines whether basic human needs for food, clothing, and shelter will be met.

Join us in our mission to bring about positive changes to North Carolina's access to justice crisis. Watch this video and learn about NCJFAP's proposal to help fix the problem. We believe that affordable legal services are in the best interest of North Carolinians, the court system, and the justice system as a whole.

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