Pro-bono legal service requests spike during COVID

February 18, 2021

As people continue to struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for pro-bono legal services has spiked, putting more demand on nonprofit legal organizations like Pisgah Legal Services and Legal Aid.

Pisgah Legal Services, which opened an office in Highlands/Cashiers last year, and Legal Aid, which has had an office in Sylva for decades, have seen a hefty increase in call volumes from people needing free legal representation in civil matters. And more people out of work means more people are eligible for the free services.

“So many low-income people are eligible for our services in Western North Carolina — well over 200,000 people were eligible last year and last year we helped 22,000 people, which is a record. So already we’re not able to meet the need,” said Jim Barrett, executive director of Pisgah Legal Services. “And in this pandemic, a lot of people have fallen into poverty and have recently become eligible for services, and all this happened really suddenly.”

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