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Client Complaints
The primary area where applicants for our services will find information regarding how to get legal assistance from LANC.

Client Complaints

​​​​​​​​​HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT

When you apply for legal assistance and are denied or found ineligible to receive legal services, you may make a complaint. At any time, if you are not satisfied with the services being provided to you, you may make a complaint.

Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) has a Client Grievance Policy for making complaints about the services provided or appealing denials of assistance. Please ask to talk with the Senior Managing Attorney (of the LANC office that serves you) about the Client Grievance Policy.

Also, you may submit your complaint in writing to: Executive Director, Legal Aid of North Carolina, P.O. Box 26087, Raleigh, NC 27611.

PART 1621 - CLIENT GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

I. General (overview)

Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) has established the following client grievance procedure in accordance with Part 1621 of the Legal Services Corporation Act. This procedure is designed to ensure that LANC will be accountable to those persons it is expected to serve and will provide legal assistance as required by the Act. This client grievance procedure is intended for the use and benefit of applicants for legal assistance and for LANC clients and is not for the use or benefit of third parties who may have complaints about LANC. LANC intends for this procedure to foster effective communication and to help ensure, to the extent possible, the provision of an effective remedy for resolving complaints.

A. LANC shall establish a Client Grievance Committee, composed of 3 lawyer members and 2 client members from the LANC Board of Directors. In accordance with this procedure, the Committee will review appeals regarding complaints by applicants about the denial of legal assistance or complaints by clients about the manner or quality of legal assistance after attempts to resolve such complaints by appropriate staff have failed.

B. LANC will employ various practical means to ensure that applicants denied services and persons who become clients know their rights under this complaint process and how a complaint may be filed timely. These methods are not exclusive and management may utilize other practical means to achieve this purpose. Such means may include but are not limited to:

1. The prominent posting of the notice attached to this policy ("How to File a Complaint") in the waiting rooms of field offices. This notice will be in English ("How to File a Complaint") and Spanish ("Como Hacer una Queja") and provide information to applicants/clients on how to file a complaint about the denial of assistance and/or the manner or quality of legal assistance.

2. The LANC Retainer Agreement will include a statement informing clients about their right to complain to the Senior Managing Attorney in a field office.

3. The posting of a notice about the complaint procedure on the LANC website.

4. As appropriate, LANC staff members will, in a timely manner, inform applicants or clients orally or in writing about how to file a complaint and the complaint procedure.

C. All information furnished to LANC by an applicant for legal assistance or a client in the course of representation shall be kept in the respective applicant or client file and treated as confidential.

D. Applicants and clients may submit their initial complaints orally or in writing to the appropriate Senior Managing Attorney. Applicants who have been denied legal services and wish to file a complaint must do so within thirty (30) calendar days after being informed of said denial. Clients who have complaints about the manner or quality of legal services and wish to file a complaint must do so at any time before a case is closed or within 30 calendar days after the case has been closed.

E. Written complaints shall be submitted on forms provided by LANC that include a statement waiving confidentiality of the information provided. These forms and instructions will be available in English and Spanish versions. If any applicant or client refuses to sign the waiver included on the complaint forms, then the complaint will not be processed under this policy.

F. If the Senior Managing Attorney and/or local office staff are unable to resolve the complaint in a manner acceptable to the applicant or client, then the applicant or client shall be informed about this grievance policy and provided the attached forms including instructions on how to appeal to the Executive Director.

G. The Senior Managing Attorney or designee will document in writing the nature of the complaint, the steps taken to resolve the same, and whether the applicant or client will appeal to the Executive Director. This complaint file will also include any other pertinent written information related to the complaint.

H. When the deadlines in this policy refer to calendar days and the last day to take action falls on a designated holiday, Saturday or Sunday, then the last day to act will be the following weekday.

I. Any client or applicant who fails to comply with the deadlines set out in this policy may request that the Chair of the Client Grievance Committee waive those deadlines upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances substantiated by proper documentation. Within fourteen (14) calendar days of the receipt of such a request, the Chair in its discretion will render a decision. The Chair will reduce the decision to writing and send it to the client or applicant within five (5) business days. This decision is final and cannot be appealed to the full LANC Board.

II. Appeal of Applicant’s Complaint About Denial of Legal Assistance

A. If an applicant disagrees with the Senior Managing Attorney’s response to the applicant’s complaint about the denial of assistance, then the applicant may appeal by filing an oral or written statement within fifteen (15) calendar days after the applicant has been notified of the Senior Managing Attorney’s response. If appropriate, the Senior Managing Attorney or designee will assist the applicant with preparing the written statement or otherwise transcribing the oral statement to the Applicant Complaint about Denial of Assistance form.

B. The written statement will be mailed or otherwise submitted to the Executive Director of LANC. The Executive Director or designee will confer with the applicant promptly and render a decision in writing to the applicant in a timely manner. The written decision will inform the applicant how to appeal the decision to the Chair of the Client Grievance Committee and include a statement setting out the deadline for filing such an appeal. The appeal form attached to this policy (Appeal of Decision) will be enclosed with the written decision.

C. If the applicant disagrees with the Executive Director’s decision, then the applicant may appeal to the Chair of the Client Grievance Committee of the LANC Board by filing a written statement on the Appeal of Decision form within fifteen (15) calendar days of the date of the decision. If appropriate, the Executive Director or designee will assist the client in completing the appeal form.

D. The appeal will be forwarded to the Chair of the Client Grievance Committee, who will apply discretion to determine if it is practical for the Executive Director’s decision to be reviewed. If the Chair determines that it is not practical to review the Executive Director’s decision, then that decision will be final and cannot be appealed to the full LANC Board.

E. If the Chair determines that it is practical to review the Executive Director’s decision, then the Chair will review the appeal by either conferring with the applicant or reviewing the applicant’s complaint file. The Chair will send a written decision to the applicant within fourteen (14) calendar days after receipt of the appeal. The Chair’s decision is final and cannot be appealed to the full LANC Board.

F. The Secretary of the LANC Board will maintain a complete record of each applicant appeal presented to the Chair of the Client Grievance Committee.

III. Appeal of Client Complaint about Manner or Quality of Legal Assistance

A. If a client disagrees with the Senior Managing Attorney’s response to the client’s complaint about the manner or quality of legal assistance that has been rendered, then the client may appeal by filing an oral or written statement within fifteen (15) calendar days after the client has been notified of the Senior Managing Attorney’s response. If appropriate, the Senior Managing Attorney or designee will assist the client in preparing the written statement or otherwise transcribing the oral statement on the "Client Complaint about Manner or Quality of Legal Assistance" form (English) or the "Queja de Cliente sobre La Manera y La Calidad de la Asistencia Legal" form (Spanish).

B. The written statement will be mailed or otherwise submitted to the Executive Director of LANC. The Executive Director or designee will investigate the complaint promptly and render a decision in writing to the client in a timely manner. The written decision will inform the client about how to appeal and include a statement setting out the deadline for filing such an appeal. The appeal form attached to this policy [Appeal of Decision form ("Apelación del la Decisión" form)] will be enclosed with the written decision.

C. If the client disagrees with the Executive Director’s decision, then the client may appeal that decision to the Client Grievance Committee of the LANC Board. If the Senior Managing Attorney and/or local office staff are unable to resolve the complaint in a manner acceptable to the applicant or client, then the applicant or client shall be informed about this grievance policy and provided the attached forms including instructions on how to appeal to the Executive Director.

D. The Senior Managing Attorney or designee will document in writing the nature of the complaint, the steps taken to resolve the same and whether the applicant or client will appeal to the Executive Director. This complaint file will also include any other pertinent written information related to the complaint.

E. The appeal will be forwarded by the Executive Director to the Chair of the Client Grievance Committee who will convene a meeting of the Client Grievance Committee within thirty (30) calendar days after receipt of the written statement appealing the Executive Director’s decision. The Committee will determine whether to conduct a hearing on the matter or issue a decision based on the written statements and other information included in the client complaint file. If no hearing is held, then the Committee must render a decision within fourteen (14) calendar days after its meeting date. The Chair will reduce the decision to writing and send it to the client promptly. This decision is final and cannot be appealed to the full LANC Board.

F. If the Committee elects to convene a hearing, then the client and affected LANC staff persons may present oral or written statements about the complaint. The client may be accompanied by another person. At its discretion, the Committee may elect to hear statements from the client and/or staff by telephone. If any members of the Client Grievance Committee are unable to attend the hearing, then the LANC Board Chair will designate other Board Members to attend the same. The Committee must render a decision within fourteen (14) calendar days after the hearing is closed. The Committee Chair will reduce the decision to writing and send it to the client promptly. This decision is final and cannot be appealed to the full LANC Board.

G. The Secretary of the LANC Board will maintain a complete record of each client appeal presented to the Client Grievance Committee.

IV. Client Complaint about Manner or Quality of Legal Assistance by Volunteer Lawyer

A. Clients who are referred to volunteer or contract attorneys through LANC Private Attorney Involvement Program or its Volunteer Lawyer Program will be informed in the initial referral documents about their rights under this complaint process and how a complaint may be filed timely.

B. Clients who are represented by volunteer or contract attorneys through LANC Private Attorney Involvement Program or its Volunteer Lawyer Program and wish to file a complaint about the manner or quality of legal assistance provided by a private attorney may do so at any time before the volunteer or contract attorney closes the case or within 30 calendar days after the case has been closed. ["Instructions to File a Client Complaint or Grievance about the Manner or Quality of Legal Assistance Provided by a Volunteer or Contract Attorney"]

C. Clients may submit their initial complaints orally or in writing to the local PAI or VLP coordinator. The coordinator and/or the local Managing Attorney/Senior Managing Attorney will attempt to resolve the complaint in a manner acceptable to the client.

D. If local management and staff are unable to resolve the complaint in a manner acceptable to the client, then the client shall be informed about this grievance policy and provided the appeal form including instructions on how to appeal to the Assistant Director of Advocacy and Compliance.

E. The Senior Managing Attorney or designee will document in writing the nature of the complaint, the steps taken to resolve the same, and whether the client will appeal to the Assistant Director of Advocacy and Compliance. This complaint file will also include any other pertinent written information related to the complaint.

F. If a client disagrees with the local response to the client’s complaint about the manner or quality of legal assistance that has been rendered, then the client may appeal by filing an oral or written statement within fifteen (15) calendar days after the client has been notified of the response. If appropriate, the Senior Managing Attorney or designee will assist the client in preparing the written statement or otherwise transcribing the oral statement on the Appeal of Decision form ("Apelación del la Decisión" form).

G. The written statement will be mailed or otherwise submitted to the Assistant Director of Advocacy and Compliance who will investigate the complaint promptly and render a decision in writing to the client in a timely manner. This decision is final and cannot be appealed to the LANC Board.

H. A record will be maintained of all such client complaints involving private or contract attorneys through LANC’s PAI or VLP programs.

FORMS

How to file a complaint

Denial of service complaint

Complaint about the manner or quality of legal assistance from a Legal Aid attorney

Complaint about the manner or quality of legal assistance from a volunteer attorney

Appeal of decision​