LANCMobile: Legal Aid of North Carolina Brings its Services Directly to the Community

LANCMobile
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In the American justice system, there exists a critical gap where the civil legal needs of low-income individuals often go unmet. While criminal defendants have a constitutional right to legal representation, those facing civil matters do not enjoy the same privilege.

According to a recent study, 92% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans in a year received inadequate or no legal help. In North Carolina alone, 18% of the population, approximately two million people, are eligible for Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) services, yet are unable to access them, often due to geographical barriers.

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In response to these challenges, LANC introduced LANCMobile, a mobile services intake unit.

LANCMobile was born out of a pressing need exacerbated by natural disasters. In 2021, Tropical Storm Fred wreaked havoc in the Western part of North Carolina, leaving behind a trail of destruction and despair. Recognizing the challenges faced by disaster survivors, LANC secured a grant from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to aid those affected. This grant facilitated the creation of LANCMobile to serve disaster-stricken areas and address broader issues of legal deserts and rural community neglect.

Innovation Lab

The challenges faced by low-income families in accessing legal aid are multifaceted. Limited resources, geographical barriers, and systemic inefficiencies hinder their ability to seek justice. To tackle these issues head-on, LANC established the Innovation Lab, a hub for transformative solutions. Leveraging human-centered design and collaboration, the lab seeks to bridge the justice gap by reimagining service delivery.

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While LANCMobile was initially conceived as a response to disaster relief needs, LANC and its Innovation Lab aim to broaden the scope of LANCMobile’s services. Looking beyond just disaster-related services, LANC seeks to extend its reach with all its services to underserved rural communities across North Carolina. These communities, often described as legal deserts, lack access to essential legal resources, with fewer than one attorney for every 1,000 residents.

“A primary purpose of the Innovation Lab is to develop cost-effective ways to deliver legal help in the sparsely populated areas of our state,” said Scheree Gilchrist, chief innovation officer at LANC. “We are expanding the project beyond disaster relief to include general service delivery in rural areas and other ‘legal deserts’ across the state.”

LANCMobile is not merely about providing legal services; it is about removing barriers that hinder access to justice. Through data-driven strategies, LANC and its Innovation Lab will identify rural communities most in need and devise tailored solutions to overcome communication, infrastructure, and service accessibility challenges. Through technology and community partnerships, LANCMobile aims to facilitate client intake, referrals, legal advice, representation, outreach, and education in areas where legal aid is scarce.

Sustainable Legal Services

LANCMobile’s evolution from a disaster relief tool to a sustainable legal services model underscores LANC’s commitment to innovation and making a lasting impact in the communities it serves. By incorporating lessons learned from disaster relief efforts, LANC will lay the groundwork for a robust, community-driven approach to legal aid. LANCMobile not only addresses immediate needs but also fosters a culture of community engagement, empowering rural communities to assert their rights and access legal resources.

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Comments 1

  1. Reid Carroll says:

    I need help terrible bad!!

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