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.
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.