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About NC LEAF

  • What is NC LEAF?

In 1989, students and deans at North Carolina's law schools formed the North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation (NC LEAF) as the nation's first statewide loan repayment assistance program for attorneys working in public service careers.

Since the first funding cycle in 1991, NC LEAF has provided over $5,800,000 in loan repayment assistance to over 500 public service attorneys. NC LEAF helps North Carolina lawyers pursue careers in public service through educational loan repayment assistance for law school debt. Participating lawyers have accepted positions in which they aid the traditionally underserved populations of North Carolina. They do so at salaries which are often a fraction of those of their counterparts who work at private law firms. Yet they face the same educational debt as their colleagues who enter private practice.

A key component of NC LEAF is keeping well-trained attorneys in their jobs, which in turn helps the delivery of justice in the court system and ensures justice for the underrepresented citizens of our state. Retention is an ongoing problem with attorneys forced to seek higher paying positions in private firms. Staffing shortages result in overworked attorneys handling unmanageable caseloads, potentially affecting public safety and the administrati