Pro Bono Service Recognition

At the November Bar lunch, the following attorneys were recognized for their outstanding pro bono service through the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer Program, which is a partnership between the Buncombe County Bar and Pisgah Legal Services.

  • Jessica Leaven of Grimes Teich Anderson has been helping a Spanish-speaking client who has faced serious workplace discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. Jessica has provided representation for this client since May 2018 and has already contributed 60 hours of pro bono legal help in this ongoing case.
  • Jenna Blackwell contributed 55 hours of free legal services to help a survivor of domestic abuse secure a divorce from her abusive ex-husband and settle an equitable distribution claim.
  • Heather Newton has taken 4 cases in the past two months to advise clients on short-term disability, and responds very quickly to take these cases from Pisgah Legal whenever needed.

Pro bono attorneys are making an amazing difference in our neighbors lives through their compassionate and generous service!

Poverty Law Attorney – Avery/ Mitchell/ Yancey

Poverty Law Attorney – Avery/ Mitchell/ Yancey

Pisgah Legal Services is a community-based, non-profit law firm which provides free civil legal assistance to low-income people in western North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. PLS directly serves 16,000+ people annually and provides community education and outreach to many other low-income people.

PLS is seeking a full-time N.C. licensed attorney to handle poverty law cases in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties. Legal aid experience preferred. Passion for promoting justice and overcoming barriers facing low-income people, being a creative and zealous attorney and a team-player and demonstrated commitment to achieving lasting results for clients and low-income communities are all important.

Responsibilities

• Commitment to PLS’ mission, values and vision.
• Represent and advise clients in judicial and administrative hearings in landlord/tenant, consumer, public benefits, domestic violence, community economic development and other poverty law areas as needed.
• Availability to work in rural locations and attend court in Avery, Yancey and Mitchell counties.
• Conduct client interviews with trauma-informed approach; advise and represent clients in Small Claims, District and Superior courts or administrative proceedings as appropriate. (This may include representation, preparation for self-representation, obtaining continuances for assessment, and referring cases to other PLS staff attorneys.)
• Document all work in Legal Server case management software.
• Organize and conduct outreach and educational presentations.
• Establish branch office(s) within service area.
• Develop and maintain relationships with communities and other non-profit agencies, government officials, government employees, community leaders and others.
• Travel within our service area and also to meetings or conferences in other parts of NC.
• Adhere to program priorities and case handling policies, procedures and standards of practice, as well as the highest professional and ethical standards.
• Keep abreast of developments in the law and disseminate information to staff, volunteer attorneys and the public.
• Work with volunteers and Development Team as needed.

Qualifications

• N.C. licensed attorney
• Demonstrated commitment to serving low-income people and communities.
• Demonstrated skills at socio-economic and cultural sensitivity and the realization and sensitivity to work with someone who is angry, upset, or ill persons.
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
• Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work well with teams and independently.
• Fluency in Spanish would be an asset.

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 committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.

Contact:

employment@pisgahlegal.org

Domestic Violence Attorney

Domestic Violence Attorney – Hendersonville

Pisgah Legal Services is a community-based non-profit corporation governed by a local Board of Directors. PLS has an 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, Spruce Pine, and Marshall. With a dedicated staff of sixty-six, including twenty-seven attorneys plus 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.

PLS is seeking a domestic violence / family law N.C. licensed attorney to work out of our Hendersonville office. The domestic violence team helps victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child maltreatment escape domestic violence and live independent of their abusers. PLS provides holistic services to clients including and beyond the initial protective order including assistance in family law cases and other legal remedies.

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 but is not required
• Experience in addressing problems associated with domestic violence, family law, foreclosure prevention, and other areas of poverty.

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

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.”