Pisgah Legal Opens Office in Spruce Pine

People in Mitchell and Yancey counties now have access to free civil legal aid with the opening of a new Pisgah Legal Services’ (PLS) office this summer in Spruce Pine.

PLS Executive Director Jim Barrett says, “Our mission is to pursue justice by providing legal assistance and advocacy to help low-income people in Western North Carolina meet their basic needs and improve their lives. The needs are great in Mitchell and Yancey counties, so we are thrilled to open this new office and expand to help folks who need us most.”

He continued, “Transportation is a significant barrier for people with limited resources, and this new office will make an experienced and caring attorney available to people living in Spruce Pine, Burnsville and surrounding communities.”

In 2017, Pisgah Legal Services was approached by several residents of Mitchell and Yancey counties requesting expansion of the organization’s core services. In 2018, the Phillips Foundation provided start-up funding for a new office, followed by a recent grant of $5,000 from The Fund for Mitchell County. Pisgah Legal has been providing limited legal services in Mitchell and Yancey counties for at least 15 years, typically immigration cases or helping patients referred by Mission Health. This expansion allows for a full range of free civil legal aid services to now be offered.

Attorney Olivia Williams is now working out of the office, located at 167 Locust Street, Suite 206. She says, “We are so grateful for the generous support that allows us to serve vulnerable people in Mitchell and Yancey counties. This includes veterans who are struggling, families on the verge of homelessness or bankruptcy, people in need of health care, and senior citizens who have become the victims of fraud. Most people simply don’t know how to navigate legal issues when they are faced with them, and that’s where I come in.”

For more than 40 years Pisgah Legal Services has helped low-income people in WNC meet their basic needs by providing free civil legal aid in non-criminal matters to people who cannot afford a private attorney, including: assisting children in crisis, stopping domestic violence, addressing fraud, preventing homelessness, protecting seniors, accessing health care and securing essential benefits.

PLS has a staff of 27 attorneys and relies heavily on the pro bono legal services of approximately 300 volunteer attorneys. The nonprofit’s main service area includes eight counties in WNC, with offices in Asheville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Marshall, Rutherfordton and now, Spruce Pine. Last year Pisgah Legal assisted more than 16,800 people in the WNC region.