FAQs for Applicants

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1.       What is the application deadline?

Applications deadlines are as follows:

Fall Start (start date between September 1st and December 31st):           Rolling Deadline

Winter Start (start date between January 1st and April 30th):                    Due January 15, 11:59 p.m. PDT

Summer Start (start date between May 1st and June 30th):                      Due May 2 by 5 p.m. EDT

The Fall and Winter start dates are only for the Veterans Legal Corps and Disaster Legal Corps. The application for the Civil Legal Corps opens on March 1, and closes on May 2. A complete application, including all documents and an electronic signature on the Contract from you and a staff member at your host site, must be submitted on time for consideration. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. Please also note that no service hours performed before a member is officially enrolled in AmeriCorps JD and criminal background checks are initiated can be counted toward the 300 hour service requirement.

2.       On what timeline will the applications be evaluated?

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis for the Fall start dates and at the time of the specified deadlines for the Winter and Summer start dates.

3.      Can Equal Justice Works help me find a place to serve?

No, Equal Justice Works will not help you find a place to serve.  To find a placement, we suggest consulting with your law school’s career office, looking at postings on PSJD or Idealist, or directly contacting the offices of the organizations you are interested in working for to ask if they need help for the summer.  Equal Justice Works has put together a list of some organizations that serve veterans here.  You can also contact Veteran Treatment Courts to see if they are interested in your service.  

4.      Does Equal Justice Works make any exceptions to deadlines?

No.

5.       When do I have to start and end my AmeriCorps project?

You can choose a Fall (Sept 1-Dec 31), Winter (Jan 1-April 30), or Summer (May 1-June 30) start date, but regardless of when you start, you must complete your project and at least 300 service hours no later than August 31, 2014.

6.       Is AmeriCorps JD an AmeriCorps funded program?

Yes.  For more information on AmeriCorps, its benefits and rules, please visit www.AmeriCorps.gov and view the information for individuals.

7.       Will I be paid for my AmeriCorps JD service?

You will not receive a cash stipend for your AmeriCorps JD service. However, you will receive a $1,175 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award for your service. The Education Award is a voucher that can be applied towards student loan debt of federal loans or current tuition. The Education Award is paid directly from AmeriCorps to your lender or school. You will have up to seven years to use the Education Award, and it is taxable in the year it is used. Please see here for further details regarding the Education Award.

Please see “Can I receive outside compensation as an AmeriCorps JD member?” below for information regarding additional funding possibilities for your service.

8.       What is the criminal background check procedure?

AmeriCorps requires all applicants to consent in writing to undergo a National Service Criminal History Check and undergo three to four criminal history checks.  In accordance with federal law, AmeriCorps JD applicants will be required to undergo the following criminal history checks:

1.     FBI nationwide fingerprint-based criminal history check;

2.     State criminal registry checks in the state of service;

3.     State criminal registry check of residence at time of application (if different than state of service); and

4.     National Sex Offender Public Registry search.

Equal Justice Works will conduct and review the results of each Criminal History Check. Selection for AmeriCorps JD is contingent upon Equal Justice Works’ review of the background check results. Having a criminal conviction is not an automatic bar to service.  Each application is reviewed on a case by case basis.

No Access to Vulnerable Populations/Accompaniment Requirement:

In the situation that the applicant’s FBI fingerprint checks and State Criminal History Check(s) have been started, but have not been completed and cleared by Equal Justice Works at the time of the AmeriCorps JD member’s first day of service, the member must either not have access to vulnerable populations or must be physically accompanied by their host site representative when having reoccurring access to individuals of a vulnerable population (17 years old and younger, 60 years old and older, and disabled individuals) until the checks are complete and cleared.  Physical accompaniment when having access to vulnerable populations must continue until the background checks are completed and Equal Justice Works clears the Member.  The host organization must provide a certifying form that either the member was accompanied during this pendency period or did not have access to vulnerable populations

9.   Why do I have to sign the AmeriCorps contract before I have been accepted?

Acceptance of the terms of the contract is a prerequisite for being considered for the program. If the applicant is not selected to participate in the Summer Corps program, the contract will be void.  If you are selected to participate in the program, we will enroll you in the AmeriCorps database as a Summer Corps member based on the information you provide in your application and contract.

10.   How and when do I find out if I have been accepted into the AmeriCorps program?

You will be notified of your application status within three weeks from the application deadline date, and three weeks from submission in regards to Fall term applications.  Equal Justice Works kindly requests that you refrain from inquiring about the status of your application until the three weeks have passed.  For Winter term, applicants may inquire about their status starting February 7, 2014 and for Summer term, applicants may inquire about their status starting May 7, 2014.  All inquiries should be directed to americorpsjd@equaljusticeworks.org.

11.   Can I get academic credit for my service in AmeriCorps JD?

No.  The American Bar Association (ABA), the entity that sets standards for law school accreditation, has stated that a student cannot receive academic credit and compensation for the same service.  The ABA has determined that the AmeriCorps education award fits under the definition of compensation.  

12.   Can I split my 300 hours between two or more host organizations?

No. All 300 service hours must be completed with the same host organization.

13.   Geographically, where can I serve?

You may serve at qualifying host organizations in the United States, U.S. territories and tribal reservations.

14.   What is a qualifying host organization?

A qualifying host organization is as follows:

Qualifying Host Organizations:

  • nonprofits,
  • state and local government agencies, and
  • academic institutions/universities.

Non-Qualifying Host Organizations: 

  • federal government agencies such as federal defender offices, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice;
  • internationally-focused and internationally-based organizations;
  • organizations primarily engaged in lobbying or impact litigation;
  • environmental organizations;
  • judicial clerkships, unless with a Veterans Treatment Court; and
  • for-profit entities, including private law firms of any sort.

For further information on where AmeriCorps members can serve and the benefits to service, please visit the AmeriCorps website.

15.   What are Equal Justice Works and AmeriCorps priority project areas?

Veterans and Victims of Disaster.  Equal Justice Works currently prioritizes projects that primarily serve veterans or disaster victims. These populations are also priorities for AmeriCorps. The preference will be somewhat less for projects with Summer start dates than for those with Fall or Winter start dates; however, members with projects not focused on serving veterans or victims of disaster will be required to spend at least 60 hours of their service on outreach to veterans using the Equal Justice Works Veterans Legal Outreach Toolkit.

16.   Can I receive outside compensation as an AmeriCorps JD member?

Yes. You may receive funding in the form of a grant, stipend or living allowance of up to $4,300 for your term of service, but it may not be earned as an hourly wage unless through Federal Work Study. Please note that there is no restriction on work outside of your term of service (i.e. part time job) or outside funds you receive for activities outside of your service (i.e. general scholarship for law school).

The living allowance must be distributed at regular intervals and in regular increments. Living allowances can be distributed only during the Member’s term of service and they must cease when the participant successfully concludes the term of service.

If you are receiving funds through a Federal Work Study Award, you can receive an hourly wage. You must disclose this amount to Equal Justice Works and, if applicable, ensure that the host organization reduces your living allowance, if any, by the amount of the work-study award. If you are not sure if your additional source of funding will affect your eligibility for AmeriCorps JD, please contact us at AmeriCorpsJD@EqualJusticeWorks.org.

17.   What if I have previously served in an AmeriCorps program, including AmeriCorps JD or its predecessor, Summer Corps?

Under current AmeriCorps rules, individuals can serve a maximum of four terms of service, no matter the length of each term. However, an individual is limited to earning up to the aggregate sum in dollar value of two full-time (1,700-hour) education awards totaling about $10,000.  AmeriCorps JD is a minimum-time (300-hours) program.  Therefore, a previous term of service will not necessarily cause you to reach the limit on education awards or terms of service. To find out how many terms of service or education awards you have received in the past, please contact AmeriCorps at 1-800-942-2677 or log into your My AmeriCorps Portal account.

18.   What are the AmeriCorps prohibited activities?

Pursuant to Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) regulation 45 CFR 2520.65, members of AmeriCorps programs, including Summer Corps, are prohibited from performing certain activities in the course of their duties, at the request of program staff or in a manner that would be associated with the activities of the AmeriCorps program or CNCS.

These activities include:

  • Attempting to influence legislation;
  • Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts or strikes; Assisting, promoting or deterring union organizing;
  • Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements;
  • Engaging in partisan political activities or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office;
  • Participating in or endorsing events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation or elected officials;
  • Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization;

Providing a direct benefit to:

  • A business organized for profit;
  • A labor union;
  • A partisan political organization;
  • A nonprofit organization that fails to comply with the restrictions contained in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 except that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent participants from engaging in advocacy activities undertaken at their own initiative; and
  • An organization engaged in the religious activities described in  the bullet above of this section, unless CNCS assistance is not used to support those religious activities;
  • Conducting a voter registration drive or using CNCS funds to conduct a voter registration drive;
  • Providing abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services; and
  • Such other activities CNCS may prohibit.

19.   Can I participate in AmeriCorps prohibited activities during non-AmeriCorps time?

Individuals may exercise their rights as private citizens and may participate in the above prohibited activities on their initiative, on non-AmeriCorps time and using non-CNCS funds. The AmeriCorps logo should not be worn while doing so.

20.   If I am accepted as a AmeriCorps JD member, what will Equal Justice Works expect of me?

As an AmeriCorps JD member, you will be expected to:

  • Assist Equal Justice Works in any additional steps needed for the 3-4 required background checks, including having your fingerprints taken
  • View the required “Welcome to AmeriCorps JD” webinar and take the follow-up survey
  • Submit monthly timelogs on the Equal Justice Works’ portal
  • Upon completion of your service, complete your final report, survey and timelog certification within 7 days from your end of service
  • Check your email regularly and respond promptly to inquiries
  • Alert us immediately if your supervisor, start date, end date, or project funding changes; and
  • Alert us immediately if you need to exit from the program early

21.   Do I have to track my hours in the Student Application Manager (SAM) if I am already tracking my hours at the host organization?

Yes, you must track your daily hours in SAM and provide the monthly certification.  You will receive notices from Equal Justice Works if we discover that you are not entering hours regularly. This is an AmeriCorps requirement and we will assume that you have unsuccessfully left the program if you fail to enter your daily hours and do not respond to our reminders. An unsuccessful exit from the program can affect your ability to serve in other AmeriCorps programs in the future as well as other Equal Justice Works programs such as our Fellowships programs.

22.   Can my Supervisor be an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow?

No. If you are located at an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellowship Host Site, you can work with the AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, but they cannot be your Supervisor.

23.   Can my Supervisor be a non-attorney staff member?

Yes. However, members must abide by their relevant state rules of professional conduct with regards to being supervised by a licensed attorney when doing specific legal work.

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