There is no charge for the service. Most volunteer attorneys are students from the UNC School of Law.
Jeremy Browner, founder of Chapel Hill’s Monday Night Law, said he got the idea from a New York City Bar Association program that has been running for many years.
Browner said he pursued the idea when Orange County District Court Judge Lunsford Long pleaded with the Orange County Bar Association for help in May.
Browner said Long complained too many people were coming to court without the information needed for their case and didn’t have the proper paperwork completed. He said the problem could be prevented if people had access to legal advice before they pursued a case.
While the lawyers at Monday Night Law cannot go to court with the people they advise, they can point people in the right direction.
“We help people who need help,” Browner said. “And we do this by giving them ways to best present their case.”
Browner said Monday Night Law partnered with the Chapel Hill Public Library so that it could use the same meeting room every month.
He said he expects to mostly see people who either don’t have the money to pay for an attorney or people whose cases have been previously denied by an attorney.
Browner said two people made appointments for the first session on Sept. 9, but neither came.
This Monday night, UNC law students helped with seven different cases.
Judson Williamson, who recently graduated from the UNC School of Law, helps facilitate the program.
“I think it’s an obvious need in the community, and the folks here are doing a great job to facilitate the district court process,” Williamson said. “All the lawyers here are simply volunteering their time to try to help individuals during their time in court.”