Growing our public legal sector through law school tuition repayment.
NC LEAF was founded to recruit and retain public interest attorneys whose salaries are well below the private sector and who have law school debt that may prohibit them from serving the public. Assistant district attorneys, public defenders, and non-profit lawyers often have to choose between their public service and a higher salary. NC LEAF encourages attorneys across the state to pursue careers in public service through an educational loan repayment assistance program, making it easier to pursue these careers while not being encumbered by debt.
Equal access to justice is a cornerstone of our legal system.
Since the first funding cycle in 1991, NC LEAF has provided $7,177,549 in loan repayment assistance to over 1,449 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 devote their careers to 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.
They do so at salaries which are often a fraction of those of their counterparts who work at private law firms.
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 administration of justice.