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School of Law Expands Tele-Law Services with $499K Grant

The Polycom Real Presence Experience Room offers a realistic, interactive meeting environment.

The North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law Virtual Justice Project will offer more tele-law programs throughout the region using a new $499,000 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Virtual Justice Project, established in 2010 to provide legal information via telepresence and high-definition video conferencing capabilities, serves individuals in rural communities faced with financial and geographic obstacles to gaining legal information.

“This grant will allow us to further expand our services helping people learn more about certain areas of the law, including wills and estates, financial literacy, divorce, child custody, criminal law and low-income taxpayer information,” said Greg Clinton, a co-founder of the Virtual Justice Program along with NCCU Law Associate Professor Pamela Stanback Glean.

The program has its main telepresence facilities at NCCU School of Law and fully equipped satellite sites in 11 locations. The new grant will allow a total of at least 65 sites to offer teleconference capabilities in regional libraries and offices of Legal Services in the western part of the state. The School of Law has plans to eventually offer the service in all 100 North Carolina counties.

Clients using the program may sign up for information sessions on topics such as how to draft a health care power of attorney or a know-your-rights lesson on what to expect during a traffic stop.

The program works to assist the Legal Aid of N.C. staff by helping citizens learn how they can take steps themselves to file certain legal documents, such as a simple divorce, Clinton said.

“Some things people can do themselves if they have the right advice,” he added.

The program was designed to bring legal assistance to underserved areas and expand NCCU School of Law’s nationally renowned clinical program.

“It’s another way we are helping our graduates come out practice-ready,” Clinton said.

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