Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to get help
RALEIGH · March 26, 2020—As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) changes the landscape of our state in unpredictable and unprecedented ways, Legal Aid of North Carolina is committed to serving low-income and vulnerable North Carolinians as fully as possible during this crisis.
We are committed to working as hard and creatively as possible to ensure that Coronavirus interferes as little as possible with our service to clients.
We are open and fully operational—and intend to remain so—throughout this crisis. Our statewide Helpline, online application, Senior Legal Helpline and other statewide helplines are up and running. When necessary, our attorneys are still meeting clients and going to court. Most staff are working remotely but our local offices remain open thanks to rotating skeleton crews. As part of our efforts to implement social distancing measures, we ask you to please not visit our local offices unless you have an appointment.
We have cancelled our monthly self-help clinics for the time being. Many of the clinic resources—self-help videos, instructional packets, etc.—are available on the Self-Help Clinics section of our website. We are working on ways to conduct these clinics remotely.
We intend to remain open and operational throughout this crisis, unless public safety measures implemented by the state or local governments, such as shelter-in-place orders, prohibit us from doing so. The president of the North Carolina State Bar sent a letter to Gov. Cooper on March 24 requesting that legal services “remain available to the public if and when additional prohibitions or restrictions are implemented in North Carolina.”
How to get help
If you need legal help, whether or not your problem is related to the Coronavirus, you can:
- Apply online: Submit an online application and an intake specialist will call you to follow up.
- Call our Helpline: Call our toll-free statewide Helpline at 1-866-219-LANC (5262) to speak with an intake specialist.
- Call our Senior Legal Helpline: If you are 60 years of age or older, call our statewide toll-free Senior Legal Helpline at 1 (877) 579-7562.
- Visit our Coronavirus page: Go to legalaidnc.org/coronavirus for the latest news, know-your-rights info and links to helpful resources.
- Visit our COVID-19 video library and YouTube channel: Check out our library of self-help and know-your-rights videos on common legal topics.
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter: Follow us on Facebook ad Twitter for the latest updates and links to helpful resources.
If you are a current client and have questions about an upcoming court date or the status of your case, please contact your attorney. If you do not have your attorney’s contact information, please call our Helpline at 1 (866) 219-5262.
Changes to court procedures
There have been significant changes in how the North Carolina courts will proceed at this time. Cheri Beasley, the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, has directed local courts to reschedule most cases in district and superior court for at least 30 days to help reduce community transmission of COVID-19. Urgent matters, such as domestic violence protective orders, will still be accessible. Effective March 16, all eviction and foreclosure hearings will be rescheduled for 30 days.
The NC Judicial branch is also providing current information on its website.
How you can help
Without question, the widespread disruptions caused by this pandemic will cause serious hardships in the lives of our clients and low-income people throughout the state. Mass unemployment, waves of evictions and foreclosures (delayed though they may be), rampant domestic violence, spates of consumer scams and more are likely to result from this crisis.
We will undoubtedly need the support of our pro bono volunteers and donors to meet the increased need for our services that will result. If you want to help, please visit legalaidnc.org/volunteer and legalaidnc.org/donate.