Joseph Laizure

  • Hosted by Legal Aid of North Carolina
  • Service location Durham, North Carolina
  • Law school University of Minnesota Law School
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform, Housing/Homelessness, Workers' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2014
  • Program AmeriCorps Fellows Program

The Project

The Second Chance Employment and Housing Project seeks to remove barriers to employment and housing. Joseph connected individuals burdened by criminal records with the relief available to them under the law. Joseph focused on those who are having difficulty with finding work or housing. Joseph was involved in direct client services, training of law students and private attorneys, legal research into relief beyond expunction, building a base of expert knowledge in this area, and establishing direct referral relationships throughout North Carolina.

Twenty percent of North Carolinians have some sort of criminal record. Convictions and dismissed charges can follow a person for years, even a lifetime. Some recent changes in the law mean that now is an excellent time to work diligently to connect individuals who are suffering with remedies that now exist.

Joseph was the right person for the project because he focused on direct client services for the poor since the beginning of  his legal career. Everyone deserves to have his or her case taken seriously, and also deserves competent and clear legal advice, even if he or she is not eligible for relief.

Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship

During Joseph’s Fellowship, he participated in as many clinics as possible to engage the broader community or law students and private attorneys, became an expert in how criminal records interact with consumer law, and drafted and submitted documents for as many clients as possible. The outcome of his project was the removal of barriers for housing and employment and securing his clients jobs and housing. His most meaningful experience was at a clinic, where he was able to supervise a group of talented and serious law students as they interviewed and counseled clients. He teamed up with a student to deliver good news about available relief to a client. An equally moving experience was at the same clinic, where he teamed up with another student to deliver the news that there was no relief available for that client at the time. The client took it in stride and Joseph was in awe at the client’s inner strength.

 

Everyone deserves to have access to the law.

Joseph Laizure /
2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Sponsor: McDermott Will & Emery LLP