Equal Justice Works Blog

Fellow Friday: Alumna Antoinette Balta (’12) Transforms the Life of a Veteran

January 2, 2015

Antoinette Balta is a 2012 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow alumna.  At Public Law Center, she focused on addressing the civil legal needs of veterans in Santa Ana, CA. During her Fellowship, she co-developed the Operation Veterans Re-Entry project. Among her previous clients is U.S. Army veteran, Patrick, who served in the 82nd Airborne branch for 10 years. Watch the video below to see how Antoinette successfully acquired housing and employment for Patrick, and helped him retrieve his belongings that his landlord had illegally confiscated.

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Fellow Friday: Illinois Foreclosure Fellow Tracy Walsh Ensures That Struggling Borrowers Retain Their Homes in Chicago

December 19, 2014

2012 Equal Justice Works Illinois Foreclosure Fellow Tracy Walsh currently works at the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation. As part of her Fellowship, Tracy advocates for homeowners undergoing foreclosures. Equal Justice Works recently caught up with Tracy to learn more about her efforts to help struggling borrowers retain their homes in Chicago, IL.

What motivated you to pursue the Fellowship with Equal Justice Works?

There were more than 80,000 foreclosure cases pending in Cook County when I was working as a neutral officer of the circuit court in 2012. The court rooms were packed with distressed homeowners and tenants, who time after time lost their homes, as the majority of all decisions was foreclosure.  Despite a common acknowledgement of the errors in our financial system that led to the 2008 collapse, years later, those admissions still weren’t translating into homeowners garnering relief on the foreclosure front. With my Fellowship, I meet the needs of homeowners struggling to overcome both complex legal proceedings inside of court and elusive servicer practices outside of court. 

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Attention Law Students: Gain Valuable Career Experience with AmeriCorps JD!

December 16, 2014

Attention law students: gain valuable career experience by providing legal services to those who need it most!

AmeriCorps JD, an Equal Justice Works program funded by AmeriCorps, provides law students with the opportunity to work with seasoned attorneys around important issues and earn an education award of $1,212 for serving as a Fellow for a qualified nonprofit, state/local government agency, or academic institution. AmeriCorps is now accepting applications for new Fellowships within the program until February 6, 2014.

What impact can you make as an AmeriCorps JD Member? 2013 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, Jennifer Aronson, can tell you firsthand how her pro bono work made a significant difference, particularly in the lives of veterans.

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New Education Guidelines Reflect Recommendations Made by Alumna Katherine Burdick (’12), Juvenile Law Center

December 15, 2014

Equal Justice Works Fellow Katherine Burdick (’12), sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, is expanding equal access to high quality education to all youth through her tireless work at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, Pa on behalf of youth placed in foster care or juvenile justice system institutions. 

Currently, youth in juvenile justice facilities are chronically behind in school, and more than half eventually drop out. Throughout her Fellowship, Katherine and her colleagues organized meetings with experts nationwide to develop recommendations around providing high quality education to youth in juvenile justice facilities, which she ultimately presented to federal agencies last year.

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Fellow Friday: Alumna Susan Friedman (’11) Helps Secure Exoneration for Innocent Man

December 11, 2014

Earlier this year, former Equal Justice Works Fellow Susan Friedman (’11) helped secure an exoneration for her client, Sabein Burgess, after he spent nearly 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Sabein’s case was one of many that she worked on throughout her Fellowship at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project in Washington, DC.  As part of her project, which was made possible by her sponsor Greenberg Traurig, Susan investigated and litigated cases where individuals were wrongfully convicted by the misuse of forensic science. She also advocated for policy reforms to maintain crime laboratory independence.

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Fellow Friday: AmeriCorps Legal Fellow Renee Schomp ('14) Supports Veterans’ Needs in Rural California with Justice Bus Project

December 5, 2014

Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow Renée Schomp (‘14) is currently serving low-income Californians living in rural and isolated communities through her work at OneJustice, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, CA, which provides support to legal service nonprofits throughout the state. Her Fellowship project reaches veterans and other underserved populations. Equal Justice Works recently caught up with Renée to learn more about her efforts on the ground.

Q: Can you describe your current Fellowship project?

I lead the OneJustice northern California’s branch of the Justice Bus Project– a program that leverages pro bono legal volunteers to help rural legal service offices meet the needs of low-income Californians.

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Teresita Ramos (’14) Advocates for Immigrant Children with Disabilities

November 21, 2014

2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Teresita Ramos, works with the Disability Law Center, providing legal services to low-income, immigrant Hispanic children with disabilities in Lawrence, MA. Her work addresses the widespread denial of education services and empowers parents to enforce their rights through culturally-competent advocacy training. Teresita’s Fellowship is made possible by the generous donations from the 2013 Equal Justice Works Annual Dinner’s “Text-to-Give” campaign. 

Most recently, Teresita helped one of her clients’ son, Sebastian, receive anIndividualized Education Plan for his reading skills. Her efforts were featured in the Wellesley Townsmen.

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Fellow Friday: Ilinois Foreclosure Fellow Lacy Burpee ('12) Protects Disadvantaged Renters at Risk of Eviction

November 14, 2014

2012 Equal Justice Works Illinois Foreclosure Fellow, Lacy Burpee, is currently working with the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. As part of her three-year Fellowship project, Lacy serves disadvantaged renters at risk of eviction due to foreclosure. We recently caught up with Lacy to learn more about her work in the field.  

How does your Fellowship project enhance the current efforts at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH)?

I am part of the Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP). This is one of the initiatives at LCBH that provides assistance to renters living in foreclosed properties. Housing stability is at the core of many issues that plague low-income individuals and communities: access to affordable, stable housing that impacts children’s education and opportunities, access to social and family support networks, and the ability to obtain living-wage jobs. 

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Returning Service Members Share How They Give Back to Veterans as Legal Fellows

November 10, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equal Justice Works is proud to have 40 AmeriCorps Legal Fellows and 13 Equal Justice Works Fellows serving our nation’s veterans.  Of the 53 Fellows, 17 of them are military veterans. They include:

AmeriCorps Legal Fellows
Robert Abdalla

Jami Altum-McNair

Nadel Barrett
Sean Dennis
Elias Espinoza
Michelle Miller
Gerard Murphy
Waldo Tapia
 

Equal Justice Works Fellows
Kimberly Adams
Devin Bissman
John Cimino
Leo Flor
Keith Hoffmann
Tiffany Kelley
Colleen Kelly
Amanda Sejba
Johnathan Silva

Photo above: All Fellows serving veterans came onto the stage during the 2013 Equal Justice Works Annual dinner programs.

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Tennessee Bar Association Names Alumna Michele Johnson (’96) 2015 Public Service Attorney of the Year

November 5, 2014


Equal Justice Works alumna Michele Johnson (’96) is currently the executive director and co-founder of the Tennessee Justice Center, which she launched during her Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 1996. With 20 years of advocating for children with special health care needs under her belt, she also brings her experiences into the classroom as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University.

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