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Equal Justice Works Blog

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.

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.

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.

November 18, 2014

An ongoing criticism of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (one made, for example, by Jason Delisle at the New America Foundation) is that the possibility of earning forgiveness in 10 years makes graduate and professional students willing to borrow more money and that this reduced price sensitivity allows colleges and universities to charge higher tuition. At least in the legal field, there’s no evidence of that.

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. 

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
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.

November 7, 2014

Public Service Loan Forgiveness allows borrowers to earn forgiveness on their eligible student loans after making 120 on-time monthly payments while satisfying requirements that include working full time in a qualifying public service position - to a greater or lesser extent. But with the Higher Education Act up for reauthorization, there are increasing calls to restrict Public Service Loan Forgiveness and limit its effect. This would be a significant blow to poor- and middle-income Americans and one that would widen the justice gap.

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.

October 31, 2014

Thank you to this year’s phenomenal Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair keynote speaker, Bryan Stevenson, who delivered a address on the criminal justice system in the United States. Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and currently a professor at New York University Law School. He shared with aspiring public interest lawyers his personal experiences that shaped how he used the law to address social injustices throughout his career. The event was part of Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption book tour, which kicked off on Tuesday, October, 21, 2014. Click here to purchase his newly-released book.


October 28, 2014

Below is a guest blog post from 2011 Equal Justice Works alumna, Adriana G. Rodriguez. Her Fellowship at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Laredo, Texas was sponsored by Texas Access to Justice Foundation. Most recently, she was recognized as the Domestic Violence Advocate of the Year by the City of Laredo and Webb County in Texas. Read how Adriana has empowered undocumented survivors of domestic violence along the U.S.-Mexico border to fight for their safety.  

I returned home to Laredo, Texas as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in 2011. After learning about the prevalence of domestic violence and its long-term effects on families in the area, I wanted to empower survivors of domestic violence to seek and secure the protection they deserve. My experiences taught me that empowering mothers is the best way to improve outcomes for children. Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) has a longstanding commitment to assisting survivors of domestic violence across South Texas. I wanted to replicate this success in Laredo, where I knew indigent survivors could not easily access civil legal services.