Seeking Domestic Violence/ Family Law Attorney

Pisgah Legal Services is a community-based non-profit governed by a local Board of Directors. PLS’ annual budget consists of individual contributions and grants from governments, United Ways, Interest On Lawyers Trust Accounts, and foundations. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Pisgah Legal Services’ primary service area includes six WNC counties, in a mostly rural setting. The organization has offices in Asheville, Hendersonville, Rutherfordton, Brevard, and Marshall. With a dedicated staff of sixty, including attorneys and support staff, and an active pro bono panel of 300 private attorneys, the program serves more than 15,000 people per year to meet their basic needs, primarily in housing, public benefits, domestic violence prevention, health care, and consumer law.

Nature of Position: PLS is seeking a domestic violence / family law N.C. licensed attorney to work out of our Asheville office. The domestic violence team helps victims of domestic violence escape domestic violence and live independent of their abusers and strives to provide holistic services to clients including and beyond the initial protective order.

Responsibilities
• Representation and advice to clients in prevention of domestic violence and other poverty law cases.
• Preventive legal education and outreach.
• Some travel within sixty miles of our offices.
• This attorney will also be responsible for keeping abreast of developments in the law and disseminating information to staff, volunteer attorneys and the public.
• Handle a caseload of domestic violence prevention cases, involving frequent 50B, divorce, and custody litigation. Work with domestic violence prevention agencies in the six counties. Some travel within 60 miles is required. Caseload may change in the future to include homelessness prevention and other types of poverty law.

Qualifications
• N.C. licensed attorney
• Spanish language skills would be an asset
• Experience in addressing problems associated with domestic violence, family law, foreclosure prevention, and other areas of poverty law.

Salary/ Benefits
Salary ranges from $48,500 – $92,000 depending on experience. Excellent fringe benefits, including 401(k) retirement plan, as well as life, health, and disability insurance.

To Apply
E-mail resumé and cover letter describing relevant experience to employment@pisgahlegal.org. PLS invites all applicants to include in their cover letter a statement about how your unique background and/or experiences might contribute to the diversity, cultural vitality, and perspective of our staff and legal services practice.

Pisgah Legal Services is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Racial minorities, women, the elderly, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Contact:

employment@pisgahlegal.org

Stone and Christy Law Firm Awarded Statewide Pro Bono Service Award

Americans believe equal justice under the law is a right, not a privilege. In fact, the last four words of our Pledge of Allegiance are “justice for all.”

But justice is not always accessible to many in our community. It is well-known that if you commit a crime in U.S., then the court will appoint an attorney to represent you if you are unable to afford one.

But what happens if you are trying to escape an abusive spouse, or you are facing eviction and homelessness, or you are the victim of a predatory lender who has cleaned out your bank account? In the U.S. there is no guarantee of legal representation in the civil legal system, even if you face a legal problem that impacts your safety, your livelihood, your health or your family. If you can’t afford to pay an attorney for help, it’s likely you would have to navigate the complex civil justice system alone and unprepared.

In our country many must rely on free legal aid programs and pro bono legal help when they face a life-altering civil legal problem. Pro bono publico means “for the public good,” and the American Bar Association says that lawyers should aspire to contribute at least 50 hours of free or “pro bono” legal services per year, to help people of limited means or nonprofit organizations that serve people in poverty. While the ABA recommends that each lawyer commit at least 50 hours of pro bono service a year, there are lawyers that generously give even more time.

LLawyers at the Black Mountain law firm of Stone and Christy provide hundreds of hours of free legal help to our neighbors in Western NC each year. The NC Bar Association recognized their exemplary service by awarding them the statewide 2019 Law Firm Pro Bono Service Award. The firm was honored during the 2019 NCBA Annual Meeting Awards Dinner on Thursday, June 20th. It is well deserved recognition, as the law firm’s four attorneys provided 455 hours of pro bono service last year alone and have provided thousands of hours in the past two decades. Staff attorney Bryant Webster is quick to point out that some of these hours were accumulated through multiple years.

The firm’s four attorneys are William Christy, James Ellis, Barrett McFatter, and Bryant Webster. Three out of these four attorneys have been together for close to 20 years, with McFatter being the most recent addition to the firm, joining in 2014. They are supported by firm staff Donna Farr, Carrie Maresh and Tori Deal.
“We like being a small firm,” says Christy. “We have deliberately stayed at four attorneys.” Webster adds, “We jokingly say we’re the mega-firm in Black Mountain.”

The people they serve as pro bono clients come to them through a variety of channels. Some are formerly paying clients who are unable to continue affording an attorney due to severe life changes. The attorneys continue to represent them regardless of ability to pay. They also receive pro bono case referrals from nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services.

Pisgah Legal Services provides free civil legal aid to more than 16,000 low-income people across WNC each year to solve housing problems, stop domestic violence and child abuse, secure health care and income, and address other urgent needs. But with more than 200 calls a week from people in crisis, the nonprofit’s 25 staff attorneys cannot begin to meet all of the needs in the community.

Pisgah Legal Services depends on volunteer attorneys to donate their time and expertise to take on legal cases for clients living in poverty. More than 300 private attorneys volunteer their time through The Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer (MAVL) Program, a partnership between the private bar and Pisgah Legal Services (PLS). Last year these attorney volunteers donated 3,993 hours of pro bono service to help PLS clients.
The relationship between the nonprofit and Stone & Christy is seamless, as they both provide valuable resources for people in need. “We are able to meet clients through Pisgah Legal and have them go through a screening process,” says Webster. “We get the guarantee that they cannot afford an attorney, Pisgah Legal gets to serve more people through our volunteer work and most importantly, the client gets the help they need. It works beautifully.”

Webster gives an example of a client he recently worked with: “I had a client whom I represented through Pisgah Legal’s MAVL program. She worked for her husband’s business and he never reported her income except as his own. Unfortunately, she suffered a series of strokes and needed to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. But when she applied there was no record of her earned income. I connected with some lawyers I knew from Pisgah Legal, and together we got her qualified for Medicaid, food benefits, disability payments and so on. I am still working with her. She cannot make it without help.”

Attorney James Ellis adds, “I enjoy working with our pro bono clients through Pisgah Legal because it keeps me grounded. The situations they are in are tough and are made worse when they don’t have resources. Our clients are doing the best they can and we’re here to help.”

The firm is known for keeping pro bono clients for many years, or as Webster describes it, “adopting them.” One client recently wrote Christy a letter where she stated her appreciation “for the years you put up with me and helped me with my legal problems. It’s been around 12 or 14 years. Thank you so much for everything and your patience with me.”

“It’s the most satisfying work we do,” says Christy. “The clients are in difficult situations and are extremely grateful for the help. People need representation because the system will just run you over.”

Justice Matters Tour

Join our Justice Matters Tour on Thursday, May 30, from 11 am to 12:15 pm at our office at 62 Charlotte Street in Asheville to learn about Pisgah Legal’s essential work throughout Western North Carolina.

This interactive tour delves into how we address issues of domestic violence, housing, immigration, access to healthcare, and community economic development. We’ll meet different members of Pisgah Legal’s team and discuss diverse avenues for community members to get more involved.

Click here to RSVP for this Justice Matters Tour. Email benf@pisgahlegal.org if you have any questions or if you’re interested but can’t make it this time around.

Seeking Chief Operations Officer

Chief Operations Officer

Pisgah Legal Services is a community-based non-profit corporation governed by a local Board of Directors. PLS’ annual budget of $5.4 million from a multitude of funding sources. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina (WNC), Pisgah Legal Services’ primary service area includes eight WNC counties, in a mostly rural setting. The organization has offices in Asheville, Hendersonville, Rutherfordton, Brevard, and Marshall. With a dedicated staff of sixty-six, including twenty-five attorneys and supporting staff, and an active pro bono panel of 300 private attorneys, the program provides free services to more than 16,000 people per year to meet their basic needs, primarily in the poverty law areas of housing, public benefits, domestic violence prevention, health care, immigration, and consumer law.

Reporting to the executive director (ED), the Chief Operating Officer (COO) will have primarily internal, yet some external responsibilities, to include directing the work of the firm, grant management, program administration, and support for mid-level managers. The COO will partner closely with the ED to chart PLS’s future growth and strategic response to demand for client services that far outstrips PLS resources. In general, the COO will oversee the operations of PLS programs as directed by the ED so that the ED can focus more on external relations, planning, and fundraising.

Major Responsibilities
• Directs all programs and internal operations, including how applicants for assistance access services, setting priorities, developing and expanding programs, grant reporting and program oversight, information technology, and use of office space and resources
• Oversees measurement of program results, including effective systems to gather data to increase and track the flow of cases commensurate with resources and potential resources
• Works with the Executive Director, the Human Resources Director, and supervisors in hiring, evaluating, disciplining, and terminating staff
• Oversees program sustainability, growth, and development including collaborating with grant proposals, developing policies and procedures, and volunteer management
• Supervises and delegates management tasks to the Managing Attorneys and the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer Program/ Volunteer Director aka Director of Community Engagement – and provides coverage for them when necessary
• Leads annual planning for program goals and objectives, evaluates progress and effectiveness of program staff, and ensures high standards of advocacy through individual work, teamwork, and accountability.
• Evaluates and tracks the progress of program activities and results as well as the performance of Managing Attorneys, the Director of Community Engagement, and Program Directors
• Provides regular reports to the Executive Director and the Program Committee of the Board of Directors, regarding specific programs, highlighting areas of excellence, areas of concern, and opportunities or needs to adjust programs
• Works with the Human Resources Director to ensure excellence and consistency throughout the organization including staff onboarding processes, leadership development, and a wide array of necessary training
• Leads the identification of best practices and improves internal systems with an eye toward future needs and budget realities
• Leads other team members to improve internal communications and standard operating procedures
• Helps to set the policy advocacy agenda for staff and volunteers
• Represents Pisgah Legal Services in external relations as needed

Qualifications
• Licensed attorney experienced in poverty law, N.C. law license or eligibility to obtain such a license by comity is preferred
• Passionate about the Pisgah Legal Services mission and impact
• Six or more years in a management position in legal services program, other nonprofit organization(s), private law firm, or government agency
• Track record of delivering superior results, commanding respect as a trusted leader, and assuming leadership roles
• Willing to hold staff members accountable to realistic objectives in a demanding environment
• Successful in roles requiring execution of multiple tasks while responding to multiple priorities
• Proven ability to work with drive, efficiency, and flexibility
• Demonstrated ability to build and maintain relationships with a wide array of people – junior and senior, for-profit and nonprofit, and from diverse backgrounds
• Outstanding communication and interpersonal skills
• Remains focused in the face of pressure and delivers against timelines
• Able to work extra hours as work demands may require

Salary/ Benefits
Salary $90,000 – $120,000 based on six years’ or more experience. Excellent fringe benefits, including 401(k), as well as life, health, and disability insurance.

To Apply
E-mail resumé and cover letter describing relevant experience to employment@pisgahlegal.org. PLS invites all applicants to include in their cover letter a statement about how your unique background and/or experiences might contribute to the diversity, cultural vitality, and perspective of our staff and legal services practice.

Pisgah Legal Services is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Racial minorities, women, the elderly, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Contact:

employment@pisgahlegal.org

Join Us to Celebrate the Impact You Make Through Pro Bono

The Buncombe County Bar will host its annual Pro Bono Celebration on Wednesday, May 15th at 12:30pm at Celine & Company’s “On Broadway” venue in downtown Asheville.

Please join us as we honor and appreciate all of the incredibly generous volunteer attorneys in our community. This year we will highlight the contributions of: Alex Gomes, Natalie Gray, Lance Martin, and Eleanor Powers.

Be sure to register for the May Bar lunch in order to join us for this celebration and lunch.