Adam Arthur L’10: Seeking justice for all
Adam Arthur L’10 is making sure the state’s marginalized and underprivileged residents have access to free legal information through the North Carolina ar Foundation’s annual day of service.
By Eric Townsend
Nearly a quarter of North Carolinians who fall below the poverty line qualify for free legal services, yet 80 percent of the legal needs for that very same group go unmet. And the need for legal aid has increased by 30 percent over the past decade, even as federal and state funding has been drastically cut.
Adam Arthur L’10 knows the data well. The native of High Point, North Carolina, has each year for the past decade assisted the North Carolina Bar Foundation’s annual “4ALL” day of service, when hundreds of lawyers across the state volunteer their time to answer callers to local TV stations who pose questions about their legal concerns. Now practicing family law just blocks from his alma mater, Arthur was selected by the North Carolina Bar Foundation to co-direct 2018’s “4ALL” service event on March 2. He and co-director Angie Dorsey, a Legal Aid attorney in Asheville, led efforts to secure host sites and recruit hundreds of lawyers to the cause. At seven centers statewide—each site features a television news station partner that broadcasts the program live throughout the day—503 attorneys fielded 8,358 calls from the public this year.
Callers asked how to expunge criminal records. They wanted to know how to settle disputes with their landlord. Some asked about child custody issues. Others got information about bankruptcy law. Attorneys quickly assessed the legal situation, provided legal information, and, if needed, encouraged callers to seek out additional legal help from lawyers in their home communities. “Each year, my faith in our profession is renewed as I see lawyers from all backgrounds, practice areas and specialties come together for the sole purpose of serving the public,” Arthur says. “The calls are completely anonymous from both ends. The lawyers in the room gain no economic incentive from participating in 4ALL. It is true public service.”
Arthur’s involvement with 4ALL dates to his first year at Elon Law. Though he wasn’t able to answer phones, Arthur initially assisted site directors who needed to secure venues and phone lines, confirm media partnerships and deliver food and snacks for attorneys who often found no time for a break given the volume of calls in Greensboro alone. After establishing himself with Kirkman Attorneys at Law, Arthur assumed the role of a 4ALL site co-chair in Greensboro, which he held when he was recruited to the statewide leadership position.
Arthur’s role co-directing the 2018 4ALL Statewide Service Day is the latest feather in the cap of a young attorney whose star is rising in the North Carolina legal community. In October, Arthur secured a $100 million judgment on behalf of the estate of a murder victim from High Point, an award believed to be the largest of its kind in Guilford County. But for Arthur, nothing compares to the feeling that comes from helping the state’s marginalized and underprivileged residents access free legal knowledge, if only for a few minutes on a phone with a nameless attorney.
“There’s a great need for legal services and the appreciation people express is overwhelming,” he says. “We have people who call and all they say is, ‘thank you for taking these calls.’ It creates a trust in the public who see we’re here to help.”