Blog Archives for April 2013

Fellow Friday: Equal Justice Works Katrina Legal Fellow Reilly Morse

April 26, 2013

The Gulf Coast continues to recover from Hurricane Katrina

Reilly Morse was already working as a private attorney in the Mississippi Gulf Coast when Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. After the storm, all that was left of his practice was his shingle – a single piece of wood that read “Reilly Morse, Attorney.” As soon as he could, Reilly went back to work helping to rebuild his town by assisting Katrina survivors with FEMA benefits claims and evictions and restoring affordable housing. As an Equal Justice Works Katrina Fellow, he was able to make a huge impact on the lives of many Katrina survivors through his work with the Mississippi Center for Justice. (Watch “Survivors of the Storm,” an Equal Justice Works video about Katrina Fellows, here.)

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What Obama's Budget Could Mean for Student Borrowers

April 25, 2013

President Barack Obama submitted his budget proposal for the 2014 fiscal year to Congress recently and, once again, he suggests a number of reforms that would affect grants and student loans. While all aspects of the president's proposal will remain just that – a proposal – unless and until Congress approves the budget, here's a rundown of some of his major recommendations regarding student debt.

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Fellow Friday – Marcy Wehling, a Legal First-Responder to Superstorm Sandy

April 19, 2013

This is a guest post by 2012 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow Marcy Wehling.

When Superstorm Sandy hit at the end of October last year, I was very concerned for my friends in New York City. I attended law school in Queens and lived in Brooklyn, so New York City was home to me for several years. I began following the legal developments closely, and before long felt moved to get involved. I contacted Equal Justice Works to see if AmeriCorps would deploy any of the legal Fellows to do disaster relief legal work. Almost immediately, I found out that AmeriCorps said yes (“Godspeed” wrote the AmeriCorps official who approved the request.), and that I should start researching placement options. With Equal Justice Works’ guidance and Legal Assistance of Western New York, my regular AmeriCorps service site in Rochester, I found the need greatest at Staten Island Legal Services (SILS), an office of Legal Services New York City (NYC).

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Explore Congress Members' Student Loan Debt

April 18, 2013

The Student Loan Ranger has documented how the increased cost of college has affected people across the socioeconomic spectrum. Students from poor, working class, middle class and even well-off families are finding that grants, scholarships and federal programs like work-study and Pell grants don't go as far as they used to.

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Take our Survey!

April 16, 2013

Equal Justice Works has a potential opportunity to fund 20 or more attorney positions to work in high-need communities across the country on preserving low income housing.  Attorneys will work closely with community organizers and will receive training and support from an energetic and experienced national community of lawyers and organizers.  

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Fellow Friday: 2011 Equal Justice Works Fellow Jessica Jones - Helping the Plight of Immigrant Children

April 12, 2013

Every day, unaccompanied children cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. seeking refuge from violence in their home countries. On their journey, these children are vulnerable to rape and assault, and an alarming number of them become victims of traffickers and smugglers. Upon arrival at the border, they are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection and placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Children’s Services. The facilities where they are placed range from lock-down shelters to designated beds at juvenile detention centers. Once in custody these children have no guaranteed right to a lawyer. Equal Justice Works Fellow Jessica Jones (2011), sponsored by Steptoe and Johnson LLP, is working hard to improve the conditions and treatment of migrant children by promoting laws and policies that increase their protection and access to justice.

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How the Student Loan Fairness Act Could Benefit Borrowers

April 11, 2013

The Student Loan Ranger's original post about the Student Loan Forgiveness Act garnered almost 300 comments, which we tried to sum up in a follow-up post that also answered some common questions and gave an overview of some relief options that currently exist.

One commenter accurately captured the conversational zeitgeist, writing: "I think people are getting too caught up on the term 'forgiveness.' A more accurate term to describe this proposal would be fairness."

The Student Loan Ranger finds it appropriate that when Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., introduced legislation on March 21 that combined the Student Loan Forgiveness Act and her own 2012 legislation, the Graduate Success Act, she titled it the Student Loan Fairness Act.

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Fellow Friday: Summer Corps Alum Timothy Chapman

April 5, 2013

Timothy Chapman joined the Army in 2001, and served 10 years on active duty, as a drilling reservist, and as a member of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). Tim decided to join the military because he has always wanted to help people, and he felt that lending his services to the armed forces would be a great way for him to do so. During his 10 years of service, he worked on major reconstruction efforts in the Baghdad and Babil provinces in Iraq, and was a member of a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team at the U.S. Embassy in Babil. “Part of what I experienced working for the State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team was the significance of the rule of law efforts. I saw attorneys dedicating a year or more of their lives to informing the Iraqi citizens about the U.S. justice system, building crime labs and introducing them to forensic evidence, building new correctional facilities and courthouses, and trying to build trust and enhance the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and the legal system,” Tim says. His experience with lawyers overseas showed him one facet of public interest law, and an idea was born. Tim enrolled in a dual JD/MBA program at Notre Dame and is currently in his third year there. Last summer he served as a Summer Corps Member at the Rochester Office of Legal Assistance of Western New York (LawNY), where he worked directly with clients – perhaps most notably veterans.

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Take Control of Student Loan Debt in 5 Ways

April 4, 2013

As student debt levels — along with delinquencies and defaults — continue to rise, borrowers need to ask: "What can I do to keep my student loans manageable?"

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Judge Ann Claire Williams and Equal Justice Works Fellows Get to Know Each Other

April 2, 2013

This is a guest post by Sterling Morriss, Manager of Fellowships and Advancement at Equal Justice Works.

Last month, the Honorable Ann Claire Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit hosted a reception in her Chicago chambers for current and former Equal Justice Works Fellows. I am happy to report that 22 current and former fellows joined Equal Justice Works staff, the Judge, and her law clerks for refreshments, networking, and a short program. Special guests included three of the four new Equal Justice Works Illinois Foreclosure Fellows, funded by a grant from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to assist distressed and at-risk homeowners and tenants in Illinois, and two new Fellows from the class of 2013 who have not yet started their projects. As a member of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship team, I was excited to meet these new Fellows and see them mingle with other Fellows and alumni.

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