LANCMobile Launches to Bridge Legal Aid Gap in North Carolina

Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) unveiled its innovative LANCMobile unit at a launch event held yesterday, May 1st, at the Haywood County Public Library: Canton Branch. The event marked a significant step forward in the organization’s mission to provide vital legal services to underserved communities, particularly in disaster-stricken and rural areas. The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured special remarks from LANC staff and the Mayor of Canton, NC, Zeb Smathers.

LANCMobile addresses a critical gap in the American justice system, where low-income individuals facing civil legal matters often lack adequate representation. According to recent studies, 92% of civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans receive inadequate or no legal help. In North Carolina, approximately two million people, 18% of the population, are eligible for LANC services but face geographical barriers preventing access.

Born out of the pressing need exacerbated by natural disasters like Tropical Storm Fred in 2021, LANCMobile was established with a grant from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The initiative aims to serve disaster-affected areas while also addressing broader issues of legal deserts and rural community neglect.

“Our primary purpose is to get people the assistance they need,” said Alicia Edwards, Project Director of LANC’s Disaster Relief Project. “We have two fully serviced offices inside where we can meet clients. We can come out to their community, screen them, deal with their legal issues, and provide fully serviced assistance right from the bus.”

Scheree Gilchrist, Chief Innovation Officer at LANC, emphasized LANCMobile’s broader mission beyond disaster relief. “We are going to take the bus and identify the areas that have the most need and work with our community partners to deliver those services,” Gilchrist stated.

The event garnered support from Mayor Zeb Smathers, who highlighted the significance of LANCMobile in bringing hope to communities in need. “This is where you affect people in the trenches… This is where you make a difference,” said Mayor Smathers. “Where y’all go and this bus goes, hope is not too far behind.”

LANCMobile’s impact extends beyond immediate legal aid provision. Through data-driven strategies and community partnerships, LANC aims to identify rural communities most in need and devise tailored solutions to overcome communication, infrastructure, and service accessibility challenges.

“This is a crucial step in our commitment to innovation and making a lasting impact in the communities we serve,” noted Gilchrist. “LANCMobile not only addresses immediate needs but also fosters a culture of community engagement, empowering rural communities to assert their rights and access legal resources.”

LANCMobile’s schedule can be found at


Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at

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Helen Hobson, Chief Communications Officer, 704-430-7616,