Category: Staff Feature

Celebrating those who support our clients.

Alexandra Southerland is a supervising attorney serving Wake and Johnston Counties.

She helps our clients with domestic violence or housing issues, and assists others with getting connected to public benefits. She also does some estate planning for the elderly.

In honor of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s 20th anniversary, we interviewed our hardworking staff to learn what drives their passion for our clients.


What made you want to be a lawyer?
Growing up in Hope Mills, near Fayetteville, I was about six years old when I started watching Matlock. I loved that Andy Griffith was from North Carolina, playing the role of a lawyer that did his own investigating and provided compelling, honest advocacy for his clients. Of course, he’d always win!

Why did you start working at Legal Aid NC?
I always wanted to do something to fight systemic bias, so I thought about joining the public defender’s office. When I got out of law school, someone told me about Legal Aid of North Carolina. I applied and worked at the helpline for five months when someone said, “Let’s get you to an office and into a courtroom.” Four years later I am still here.

What do you love about working at Legal Aid NC?
There’s always a personal reward when I can serve people with my knowledge, dedication and passion. That service keeps me grounded and connected to others.

What frustrates you?
I get frustrated by the bigger systemic issues that are out of our control. We help people on an individual basis, but so much of their struggle is connected to larger issues that impact many people in every state. It can feel like the cards are stacked against you, but you still have to put your best foot forward for the client.

What does, “Removing barriers. Upholding opportunity.” mean to you?

It’s motivation. We’re dealing with clients who come to us in crisis. As soon as they have been through a crisis, there’s another one. We don’t do this for money. We do it to be the voice of the underprivileged person. We’re lawyers, but also have to be counselors and cheerleaders.

Tell me about a special client you helped.
I helped a disabled man who had been receiving disability but lost his benefit because the Social Security Administration said he was overpaid. At first, I wasn’t sure his case had merit, but I hung in there and trusted him because this is what we’re here for.

I pulled receipts and bank accounts, and made charts to form the chronological story. I had to call in help from my colleagues. There were times he wanted to quit, but I encouraged him and he stuck with it. Two years later he was finally awarded all the back pay he was owed. He also got his benefits reinstated.

What we do is important. We give our clients hope when all seems hopeless.


Support Alexandra and the Legal Aid of North Carolina team!

Though our organization’s impact is great, the demand for our services surpasses its capacity to help. In honor of the organization’s two decades of service, consider donating, volunteering or getting involved with Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Category: Staff Feature

Celebrating those who support our clients.

Jack Lloyd works with Legal Aid’s economic justice initiative/mortgage foreclosure prevention project.

His team is focused on preventing homelessness and foreclosure, in addition to helping clients with other consumer issues.

In honor of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s 20th anniversary, we interviewed our hardworking staff to learn what drives their passion for our clients.


What made you want to be a lawyer?
I love the law, and I knew in seventh grade that I wanted to be a lawyer. I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Inherit the Wind,” and had great teachers that fostered my interest in debate.

Why did you start working at Legal Aid NC?

Today, law students learn about poverty and indigent law, but when I was in law school they didn’t. I started my career working in corporate defense. 

In a volunteer capacity, my wife and I started working with the homeless through Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network, and we ran the program for our faith community for six years. It changed my perspective and opened my eyes to a world I didn’t fully understand. I made the decision to leave corporate law for Legal Aid of North Carolina, and my wife was fully supportive.

What do you love about working at Legal Aid NC?

It’s a privilege to work with our clients. These people are facing traumatic circumstances in their lives, yet their strength of will and ability to endure is amazing.

Watching these folks stand up to out-of-town scammers and not back down is completely inspiring. What we do is important for them. In my previous job, a win was equivalent to a rounding error on their budget sheet, but for my clients at Legal Aid of North Carolina, the chance to be heard at trial means all the world.

What frustrates you?
The expense of the legal system. Justice is not cheap. To anyone considering a donation to Legal Aid, I can tell you that your donation directly funds work that dramatically improves the lives of our clients. These are folks who would otherwise have limited-to-zero ability to have their legal rights upheld. Grantors and donors are literally the linchpin to our being able to fight for thousands of North Carolinians each year.

What does, “Removing barriers. Upholding opportunity.” mean to you?

If this organization did not exist, the barrier to having justice done would be insurmountable to so many people across North Carolina. Our clients would not have the chance to have their cases heard, and they would be taken advantage of with no legal recourse. The opportunity to have justice done for our clients depends on the resources so generously shared by our donors.

Tell me about a special client you helped.

In 2021, I had the pleasure of representing an elderly gentleman who lives in a historically impoverished area of Raleigh. Since Raleigh is a hot real estate market, we attract many out-of-state investment groups who buy up and tear down neighborhoods. One of these companies scammed our client by tricking him into signing away his property—something called predatory gentrification.

Our client is not a financially sophisticated man, a double amputee whose joy in life is to sit on his front porch, wave to his neighbors, and watch the kids play. Opposing counsel literally scoffed at the man for having the temerity to demand they return ownership of the home to him. But we won the case, and today he’s still waving at his neighbors and watching the kids play.

What we do is important. We give our clients hope when all seems hopeless.


Support Jack and the Legal Aid of North Carolina team!

Though our organization’s impact is great, the demand for our services surpasses its capacity to help. In honor of the organization’s two decades of service, consider donating, volunteering or getting involved with Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Category: Staff Feature

Celebrating those who support our clients.

O’Shauna M. Hunter is a supervising attorney and the Charlotte Housing Project Director for Legal Aid of North Carolina. Her team represents people who are facing eviction, have repair concerns, or have issues with their subsidies.

In honor of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s 20th anniversary, we interviewed our hardworking staff to learn what drives their passion for our clients.


What made you want to be a lawyer?
I wanted to give back to the community, because I grew up eligible for these services. My family depended on food stamps and Medicaid. I had no knowledge of Legal Aid when I was growing up in North Carolina, and I know the people in my community didn’t either.

Why did you start working at Legal Aid NC?
In my second year of law school, my classmates and I worked at the self-serve center in the courthouse, a resource for people going through legal issues like custody and divorce court. Though people can file their own paperwork for a fee that can be waived if they qualify, I saw attorneys charging their clients for the same filing that person could do for free. That got me interested in nonprofit work. After law school, I got a Fellowship to work in the Concord office of Legal Aid of North Carolina, then I moved into the Charlotte office. Now I specialize in housing.

What do you love about working at Legal Aid NC?
Charlotte is going through an affordable housing crisis. In eviction cases, most landlords are represented by an attorney, but the majority of tenants are not. Most of the time tenants just want more time, or to know more about the process and their rights. They typically are not aware they have defenses. In most cases, we’ve been able to save someone from eviction who was already packing to leave their home. It’s impactful, and we are really making a difference in people’s lives.

What frustrates you?
We can help the people who qualify for housing help today, but we’re not going to find a solution for their overall problem. They cannot afford a place to live because they have low paying jobs. They can’t get better jobs because they are in crisis. We see repeat clients, which is sad.

What does, “Removing barriers. Upholding opportunity.” mean to you?

We uphold the opportunity for our clients to be heard. Whether it’s the repair they’ve been complaining about for months, or the fee their landlord has tacked on that they didn’t agree to, we listen. We make a difference, by giving them a fair chance to present their defense.

Tell me about a special client you helped.
I had a client who came to Legal Aid of North Carolina after she had already been evicted, because she was at risk of losing her subsidy. For someone who has a subsidy, a portion of their rent is paid by the federal government. Because there is an affordable housing crisis, subsidies are like a golden ticket. We were able to overturn the eviction even though her appeal deadline had passed and we were able to preserve her subsidy.

What we do is important. We give our clients hope when all seems hopeless.


Support O’Shauna and the Legal Aid of North Carolina team!

Though our organization’s impact is great, the demand for our services surpasses its capacity to help. In honor of the organization’s two decades of service, consider donating, volunteering or getting involved with Legal Aid of North Carolina.