Family Law’s First Virtual Empower Hour

Larissa Mañón Mervin

Jeanine Soufan

By Larissa Mañón Mervin and Jeanine Soufan

On Friday, May 1, 2020, the Family Law Section participated in the North Carolina Bar Foundation’s first-ever “Virtual” Empower Hour. After our Virtual Section Meeting, members stayed on our Zoom call to login to NC Free Legal Answers and to help clear the Family Law question queue together. NC Free Legal Answers is a 100% virtual pro bono service where income-eligible North Carolina residents can ask civil legal questions for free. According to NCBF Pro Bono Staff Attorney, Jeanine Soufan, the most popular legal questions on the site are Family, Housing, and Consumer Law.

If you’re considering participating in an Empower Hour for your section, I encourage you to do it! Organizing the Empower Hour was a very smooth process from start to finish. There was very little the Section had to do to prepare. The NC Bar Foundation took care of all the logistics to ensure we had a successful event. It was also incredibly easy to participate and the questions were fairly simple to answer. The beauty of having multiple section members answer questions during one session is that everyone was able to tackle the questions they felt most comfortable answering and we were still able to clear the queue. Normally, this would take several days for one attorney but because we all participated together, we accomplished it in one hour.

Participating in pro bono during the COVID-19 Pandemic was incredibly rewarding. Really, pro bono is rewarding at any time but a lot of North Carolinians have legal questions specific to COVID-19 and how this pandemic intersects with their particular legal issue, so we found it useful to continue to participate in pro bono during this pandemic. Plus, a lot of North Carolinians are out of work or have reduced hours due to COVID-19 so it is especially important to serve in a pro bono capacity whenever possible so people can still get the help they need despite not having the resources to hire an attorney. Thankfully, we have the technology to do that, so we absolutely should!

In total, the Family Law Section served 43 clients in 21 counties on May 1, 2020 and ultimately cleared the Family Law question queue! This is fantastic news!

If you’re interested in answering questions virtually to serve North Carolina residents statewide, register here. If you have any questions about the program, reach out to NCBF Pro Bono Staff Attorney Jeanine Soufan.