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Pro Bono Spotlight: Rachel Royal

A North Carolina State Bar Certified Freelance Paralegal, Rachel Royal is the founder of Royal Touch Legal & Business Solutions. As a freelance paralegal, Rachel provides virtual paralegal services to personal injury, family law, and real estate firms while also serving as a Project Coordinator for the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center’s Driver’s License Restoration and Housing Stability Projects.

Despite her busy workload, Rachel is a leader in the North Carolina Bar Association, serving as the Secretary and Pro Bono Co-Chair for the Paralegal Division, the Co-Chair of the Survey Committee, and a member of the Awards Subcommittee of the Pro Bono Committee.

In all she does, Rachel’s commitment to ensuring access to legal services for all North Carolinians shines clear. Initially driven to a legal career because of her own experiences with barriers to legal services, Rachel now channels that experience and passion into a robust pro bono practice. For example, beginning in late 2018 and continuing through early 2021, Rachel was a Group Leader for Legal on the Line, a partnership between the NCBA Paralegal Division and Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC). Legal on the Line served individuals from across the state who were facing eviction or other housing, bankruptcy, or custody issues. Thanks in large part to Rachel’s leadership and drive, in just eighteen months, the Legal on the Line Program grew to almost sixty ongoing paralegal and attorney volunteers and served roughly one hundred clients.

In addition to serving as an organizer for the program, Rachel volunteered her time to work directly with clients. As a volunteer, she held fact-finding conversations with clients, drafted a summary of each client’s issue, completed relevant legal research, and consulted with attorneys about each client’s options. Rachel recalls that one of her most memorable clients was a mother who was out of work due to COVID-19 and whose landlord was refusing to repair conditions that made her home uninhabitable. Before speaking with Rachel and the volunteer attorney, the mother, not knowing of any other options, was considering taking her kids and leaving the home despite not having anywhere else to go. Rachel and the volunteer attorney informed the client of the HOPE program and assisted her with the required affidavit and application, making it possible for her and her family to remain in their home.

Rachel’s efforts did not stop with the Legal on the Line Program. In the last year alone, she spent roughly twenty hours assisting indigent applicants with their EEOC responses by pulling on prior work experience in a City Attorney’s Office. She also assisted the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center’s Driver’s License Restoration and Housing Stability Project, completing essential planning, organization, and implementation tasks that make it possible for attorneys and paralegals to volunteer with these important initiatives. In addition, she serves as a member of the Justice for All Project, which focuses on bringing innovation to the state to help close the access to justice gap.

When asked about what she has learned from her pro bono experiences, Rachel reflects, “My biggest takeaway from assisting with pro bono projects is that the access to justice gap is far wider than many people realize. We have this system that was created for the people, but it is so difficult to navigate that it cannot effectively be done without the aid of someone well-versed in the law. It is disheartening that 37% of the state’s population is eligible for Legal Aid services, but only 1 in 10 actually receives the help they need.”

Rachel calls us all to action by adding, “Every attorney and paralegal should aspire to fulfill the pro bono recommendations of Rule 6.1. However, we all need to take a stand together in recognizing that innovation in the legal field is needed to help underserved North Carolina residents. Who better to bring that innovation than those who are most knowledgeable about the justice system?”