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Who We Are

Advocating for Equality, Efficiency, and Fairness
in the North Carolina Legal System

The North Carolina Justice for All Project (JFAP) is a non-profit advocacy association committed to expanding access to justice across the state. We strive to empower individuals by championing reform in the legal profession and educating the public, legal community, and other stakeholders on the pressing issues that greatly impact the lives of North Carolinians.


Our team is made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those with experience in family law and other areas of people law, public sector work, law enforcement, and victim advocacy. We are united by our personal experiences of trying to assist those caught in civil legal disputes with nowhere to turn to. We witness firsthand the failures of the legal system and the ways in which justice is often only attainable for those who can afford it.


To address this crisis, we propose innovative policy alternatives and advocate for the utilization of professionals other than attorneys to serve the public effectively in certain areas of the law. We are committed to fighting for the millions of North Carolinians who cannot afford a lawyer, do not qualify for legal aid or pro bono services, and have nowhere else to turn when they have a legal need. Join us in our mission to ensure that justice is truly for all in North Carolina.




Ensure that all North Carolinians have access to a reliable, fair, efficient, and socially responsible legal system.



Advocate for innovative policy measures that can help close the access to justice gap.

Core Values

Public Good: Working to enhance the rule of law, public access to the justice system, the efficiency of the judicial system, and the standard of legal representation.

Civic Leadership: Advocating for the right of all North Carolinians, regardless of income, to have access to legal representation.


Empathy: Recognizing that "Equal Justice Under Law" cannot exist until all North Carolinians have fair and equal access to meaningful legal assistance and the judicial system.


Our Story

Each member of the North Carolina Justice for All Project has a unique story that inspired their involvement in our organization. Some members have worked in public service for many years. Others have experience working in family law or other areas of people law. Still, others have worked or volunteered in victim advocacy or have personal stories of friends, loved ones, and even strangers who were in the midst of a legal crisis with nowhere to turn. Collectively, we looked around and saw a legal system that failed to serve the public. Justice seemed to be for sale for a price higher than most could pay. Who would take a stand against a broken system? If not us, who? If not now, when?



Our flagship project is our pending proposal for limited licensing. That concept is similar to the medical industry's licensing of nurse practitioners nearly fifty years ago. Adopting our proposal would create alternative legal service providers that could assist the public with legal issues that may not require an attorney. Our proposal envisions lowered costs and increased accessibility to legal services for the public.


Although our primary focus at this time is licensing Legal Practitioners, we also advocate for other types of regulatory reform, such as a regulatory sandbox, court navigators, otherwise liberalizing UPL, and a regulatory sandbox to allow for innovative partnerships with the tech, mental health, and other industries that will increase access to justice.


Affordable legal services are in the best interest of North Carolinians, the court system, and the justice system as a whole. It is time for the legal profession to evolve to serve the broader needs of society. Our current system places the interests of lawyers over the public's legal needs to the detriment of millions of North Carolina residents.


Note that a wide range of medical providers and mental health providers can aid the sick and support mental health. In the legal profession, 9 in 10 legal providers are lawyers. In the medical field, 8 in 10 medical providers are not licensed doctors (i.e., nurse practitioners, physician assistants, phlebotomists). To quote Camille Stell of Lawyers Mutual in her article on legal deserts, "Where are all the other resources that our citizens need to deal with problems that impact their lives in no less devasting ways than sickness? Where can they turn?"


Help us create accessible options that will improve legal outcomes for our communities. ​

Meet the JFAP Team


S.M. Kernodle-Hodges


  • LinkedIn

S. M. Kernodle-Hodges currently holds two significant roles in the legal field. She works as a Legal Project Manager at Tolliver, Richardson & Kernodle, LLC. Additionally, she serves as the Program Coordinator for the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission's Legal Support Center in Wake County. This center was founded in January 2023 to offer legal assistance and justice access to the community.

Kernodle-Hodges has an impressive educational background. She holds an A.S. in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration from Patrick Henry Community College, a Bachelor of Science in Sociology/Criminal Justice from Averett University, and a graduate certificate from Duke University's Law Studies Paralegal Program. These educational achievements provide her with substantial knowledge and experience for her work.

Beyond her education, Kernodle-Hodges possesses over ten years of experience as a criminal justice official, contributing valuable insights to her field. She holds various certifications, including North Carolina Certified Municipal Clerk, Superior and Federal Court Mediator, and Victim Services Practitioner.

Committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, Kernodle-Hodges graduated from the University of South Florida's DEI program. Her dedication to these principles is evident in her professional roles and interactions.

Kernodle-Hodges not only dedicates herself to her work but also actively contributes to the legal community. In 2023, she received the Outstanding Paralegal Pro Bono Service Award. She serves as a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem, advocating for children's best interests in legal proceedings. Additionally, she holds leadership roles as Co-Chair of the Utilization and Pro Bono Committees for the North Carolina Bar Association, Paralegal Division, and as a Board Member of the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification.

For more information about Kernodle-Hodges and her professional background, you can refer to her LinkedIn profile.


Alicia Mitchell-Mercer


  • LinkedIn

Alicia Mitchell-Mercer is the Director of Project Management at Lex Project Management Consulting Group. She also works as a Hybrid Project Manager/Paralegal at a well-known litigation law firm in Charlotte, North Carolina. She's actively involved as a FINRA Securities Arbitrator, handling securities dispute resolutions with a very active caseload.

Mitchell-Mercer has a strong track record in the legal community. She served on the NCBA Internet and Regulations Task Force in 2016 and held roles such as Council Member and Chair of various committees, including Communications, Publications, and Technology. She currently leads the Utilization Committee. She was also part of the former NC State Bar Subcommittee that studied Regulatory Change from 2021 to 2022. Her contributions have earned her awards like the NC Judicial Branch Service Award for her Guardian ad Litem service and the 2021 Distinguished Paralegal Award from the North Carolina Bar Association.

Mitchell-Mercer's impact extends to the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), where she served on the Board of Directors in 2021-2022 and chaired the Continuing Education Council. With a focus on enhancing access to justice in North Carolina, she's now pursuing a doctorate in public policy and administration, leading her to step back from some previous roles.

In 2023, Mitchell-Mercer was appointed as a Special Advisor to the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission by Justice Richard Dietz, underlining her influence. She has also collaborated with the IAALS on important publications like "Allied Legal Professionals: A National Framework for Program Growth" (June 6, 2023) and "The Landscape of Allied Legal Professional Programs in the United States" (November 16, 2022). She was the author of the NCJFAP Legislative Proposal, which garnered support from the US DOJ, the American Bar Foundation, and many other organizations.

For more about Mitchell-Mercer's professional background, her LinkedIn profile provides further information.

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