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Equal Justice Works Blog

February 13, 2015

2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow Kristen Tullos is currently at Atlanta Legal Aid Society, providing legal services to economically struggling homeowners in the Atlanta metropolitan region. Her Fellowship project is sponsored by Ford & Harrison LLP and The Home Depot. Equal Justice Works recently caught up with her to discuss how she helps homeowners access the services that they need.

What communities does your Equal Justice Works Fellowship serve?

I represent low-income homeowners at risk of foreclosure. As the foreclosure crisis deepened, I was appalled by how unfairly homeowners were being treated by banks and the devastating  impact foreclosures were having on lower-income and minority communities, especially those in the metropolitan Atlanta region. In recent years, Georgia homeowners have faced high rates of foreclosure and unemployment, which lead to the state receiving a $339 million federal grant in 2010 to create HomeSafe Georgia, a state-run foreclosure prevention program.

February 6, 2015

Shea Crosby is currently a member of the 2014 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellowship class, under the Employment Opportunity Legal Corps initiative. She works with Legal Aid of Arkansas to help seal criminal records for workers gaining re-entry into the workforce. Equal Justice Works sat down with Shea to learn more about her work on the ground since she began her Fellowship last fall.  

How do you help close the justice gap as part of your AmeriCorps Employment Opportunity Legal Corps Fellowship?

My host organization is Legal Aid of Arkansas(LAA), which was already helping workers seal criminal records. I’ve been given the opportunity to expand those legal services. Much has been accomplished in my first quarter of the Fellowship year, including securing orders to seal criminal records for 80 clients and receiving a waiver for a filing fee for an indigent client who was told no waivers would be given. My project also allowed me to provide information to a potential employer that resulted in lifting a ban to employment for a client, and to negotiate a settlement for a wrongful employment termination of a client who already had an order to seal signed many years ago.

February 3, 2015

A new report from The College Board, "Trends in College Pricing 2014," has good and bad news for students and their families. The good news is that the rate of net tuition growth is slowing. The bad news is that non-tuition costs (room and board, transportation, books and supplies, etc.) remain a financial challenge for many prospective students especially given that non-tuition expenses still do not vary based on family income. This is unfortunate because, as the report notes, these cost of living expenses remain a significant impediment for far too many students.

January 27, 2015

2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow Robin Richardson is currently at the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project. Sponsored by the Friends & Family of Philip M. Stern, Robin identifies, represents, and advocates for indigent victims of sex trafficking in New York City. We recently caught up with Robin to learn more about her work.

What type of work have you done throughout your Equal Justice Works Fellowship?

My Fellowship is aimed at eliminating barriers to employment for people who have engaged in the sex industry. For victims of trafficking in New York, that means vacating their criminal convictions, helping them obtain legal status, and fighting illegal criminal conviction-based employment discrimination. I offer my New York clients all of these services.

January 26, 2015

Law students: are you interested in a public interest opportunity through which you can gain valuable career experience while closing the justice gap for disadvantaged communities?

Equal Justice Works’ program, AmeriCorps JD, is looking for law students to provide legal service on behalf of veterans, disadvantaged workers, and disaster victims. Eligible law students must dedicate 300 hours of service to a qualifying legal project with legal aid organizations, law clinics, and state or local government agencies.The deadline for applications is February 6, 2015.   

January 15, 2015

Sarah Mateja is a member of the 2013 Equal Justice WorksAmeriCorps JD class. Currently, she is serving Veterans struggling with substance abuse issues at the Allegheny County Veterans Treatment Court.  Sarah, a law student at Duquesne University School of Law, manages the clinical aspect of the court, which divert qualified Veterans from jail to treatment programs. Equal Justice Works interviewed Sarah to learn more about her experiences

January 14, 2015

A recent Washington Post article discussing the student debt plight of Wayne Tibak demonstrates the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of income-driven repayment plans. An Income-Based Repayment reduced Wayne's monthly payments on his federal student loans from $976 a month to $105, helping him make his monthly payments and avoid default. However, his private loans aren't covered by these federal repayment options and, since he is paying less each month, he will be paying off his loans for longer and pay more in interest than he would in a ten-year repayment plan.

January 8, 2015

You may recall that last October, Equal Justice Works launched its Baby Bib Campaign – an effort that promotes the Equal Justice Works’ mission by posting photos of “Future Fellows” wearing a branded baby bib. We received a number of submissions for the campaign but are always looking for more great photos and encourage Fellows, alumni, and partners to submit a picture, which will be featured in the online photo album below.  Check out our submissions so far:

January 7, 2015

In November 2014, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) released Student Debt and the Class of 2013, its annual report on the student loan debt of four-year college graduates. So what is the current state of student debt? Here are the eight key lessons that can be gleaned from this informative report:

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.