10th Annual Pisgah Legal Justice Forum Oct. 1st

Pisgah Legal Services’ 10th Annual Justice Forum will be held online for the first time on October 1st. Clint Smith, Ph.D., is the featured speaker, and he will be speaking via Zoom about racial justice. The Advance Online Reception begins at 6:00pm, followed by the Online Forum at 7:00pm.

Tickets to the Pre-Event Virtual Reception are $25/person and will include a poetry reading by Clint Smith and a musical performance by local musician Kat Williams. The Forum is free. Advance registration is required. To register or purchase tickets, visit www.pisgahlegal.org/justiceforum or call Ally Wilson at 210-3444.

Clint Smith uses his experience as an award-winning poet and teacher to share personal stories of justice, community, and education. He illuminates how we can all find the courage to create change, overcome challenges, and unite ourselves through the power of the collective voice.

His two TED Talks, The Danger of Silence and How to Raise a Black Son in America have been viewed more than seven million times. He was named to the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list as well as Ebony Magazine’s 2017 Power 100 list.

Smith is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, a Cave Canem Fellow, a Callaloo Fellow, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State.

His first full-length collection of poetry, Counting Descent, won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. His other writing has been published in The New YorkerThe GuardianBoston ReviewAmerican Poetry ReviewHarvard Educational Review, and he has just joined The Atlantic as a staff writer.

Smith earned his Ph.D. in Education at Harvard University, a B.A. in English from Davidson College and is an alumnus of the New Orleans Public School System.

Since 1978, nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services has provided free civil legal aid to help people with low incomes seek justice and meet their basic needs. Pisgah Legal provides a broad array of legal services in 11 WNC counties, and offers health and immigration law services in 18 counties. Last year PLS served more than 18,000 people across the mountain region.

PLS has offices in Asheville, Burnsville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Marshall, and Rutherfordton and has added staff in 2020 to serve the people of Macon and Jackson counties. Pisgah Legal has 32 attorneys on staff and relies heavily on the pro bono legal services of approximately 300 volunteer attorneys.

This is the 10th year Pisgah Legal Services has hosted this this annual event to call for justice, draw attention to the plight of people struggling to make ends meet in WNC and to continue the conversation about pressing local and national issues. Former speakers include: Jose Antonio VargasMatthew DesmondMarian Wright EdelmanPeter Edelman and Sister Simone Campbell.

WNC COVID Legal Hotline

It’s not too late to sign up to help with the WNC COVID Legal Hotline scheduled for this Thursday, May 21st between 8am – 2pm  Through the hotline, volunteer attorneys will provide legal information and guidance to callers who may have been affected by the pandemic. More information about the Hotline here: https://www.pisgahlegal.org/wnc-covid-legal-hotline/ and attorney sign up for a two-hour shift here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/western-north-carolina-covid-19-virtual-legal-hotline-may-21-2020-registration-103338987694. Thank you to everyone who has already signed up to talk with callers from across the region.

Volunteers Needed for WNC COVID Legal Hotline on May 21

The Buncombe County Bar, Pisgah Legal Services, Legal Aid of NC, and the North Carolina Bar Foundation are partnering to host the first WNC COVID Legal Hotline on Thursday, May 21st from 8am to 2pm. This will be a legal hotline somewhat like the annual “Call 4 All” event hosted by the NCBA. Anyone in WNC can call in and speak with an attorney volunteer about their legal questions related to COVID. We will not screen for income but we are highlighting basic needs issues in our event publicity. We will use an app called Telzio that all volunteers will put on their phones and then calls can easily be sent to the appropriate volunteer.

We need volunteer “call operators” and volunteer attorneys to do 2-hour shifts during the event. Call operators will be the first point of contact on the calls and ask for the individual’s name, county and legal matter, in order to forward the caller to the appropriate attorney. We will have groupings of attorneys available to assist with various legal matters – e.g., housing, consumer, family, etc. If you volunteer as an attorney for this event you can designate which legal practice area you want handle on calls.

Please sign up for a shift at the links below. Contact John Noor at jnoor@roberts-stevens.com or Katie Russell Miller at katierm@pisgahlegal.org with questions.

Sign Up Here for a Call Operator Shift

Sign Up Here for a Hotline Attorney Shift

Jim Barrett and Matt Roberson Recognized by NC Bar Association


The North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) is recognizing the selfless contributions of Pisgah Legal Services Executive Director Jim Barrett and volunteer attorney Matt Roberson, by bestowing upon them top awards that reflect their outstanding work to help people in need by providing free, civil legal aid.

Jim Barrett is receiving the 2020 Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award, which is given to  a lawyer who is employed full-time by a legal services program in NC, and who has made an exemplary contribution to provide legal assistance to help meet the needs of the people living in poverty. Jim has devoted 37 years to Pisgah Legal Services, with more than 27 of those years at its helm. Under his leadership, PLS has grown to 70 employees providing vital anti-poverty services to more than 18,000 people.

Matt Roberson is the recipient of the 2020 William L. Thorp Pro Bono Award, given to an NC attorney who has provided exemplary legal services without a fee to a client or client group that could not otherwise afford legal counsel. Roberson is an attorney with McGuire, Wood & Bissette Law Firm in  Asheville. He has volunteered with Pisgah Legal Services since 2004. Since that time, he has donated more than 1,150 hours of pro bono legal services in 66 legal cases to help vulnerable local families secure safety from domestic violence, avoid eviction, foreclosure and homelessness, and stop creditor harassment and abuse.

Katie Russell Miller, who coordinates Pisgah Legal’s volunteer attorney program says, “Jim and Matt are two attorneys whose generosity and dedication inspire others to work for justice in our region. Jim has truly made it his life’s work to increase access to justice for people living in poverty in our region. And Matt is a volunteer attorney who never ceases to amaze us with his willingness to contribute his time and expertise to be an advocate for his neighbors.”

Congratulations and thank you to Jim and Matt!

Job Opening – Program Coordinator for Mtn. Area Volunteer Lawyer Program

Pisgah Legal Services is hiring for the position of Program Coordinator of the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer (MAVL) Program. The MAVL Program is a partnership between the Buncombe County Bar and Pisgah Legal Services to provide pro bono opportunities to local attorneys. The program coordinator works with Pisgah Legal staff, volunteer attorneys and Pisgah Legal clients to coordinate the referral of clients to volunteer attorneys for help. The program coordinator also has the opportunity to work on creative projects to provide legal aid in community settings, and to help recruit, train and appreciate our terrific and generous volunteers. Pisgah Legal Services is committed to increasing equity within our organization and in our region and we strongly encourage candidates of color to apply. Here’s an online link to the job posting: https://www.pisgahlegal.org/mavlcoorindator/.

For those of you who know the current MAVL Program Coordinator Tara Reynolds, we wanted to share that she and her husband are moving to NYC early this summer, where he will do his medical residency and Tara will begin law school. We will miss Tara a good deal!

Please take a moment to share this job posting with folks who might be interested. We hope to begin interviewing at the end of April. Thank you!