Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows To Provide Legal Assistance to Veterans Struggling to Obtain Benefits
40 attorneys to focus on veterans’ issues, medical-legal partnerships and foreclosure challenges
(November 8, 2012) Washington, D.C. – Equal Justice Works®, a national nonprofit organization focused on expanding opportunities for law students and lawyers to pursue public interest careers, announces it has received funding to award 40, one-year legal fellowships to attorneys. The Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows will work in 14 states and the District of Columbia to provide legal services to underserved populations. Seventeen of the attorneys will focus on the growing crisis of homelessness and poverty among veterans.
Funding for the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellowship program is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). This year’s fellows will be working on four issues: Veteran’s issues, including VA benefits claims and chronic homelessness; disaster relief, medical-legal partnerships; and foreclosure.
“The number of veterans who are struggling with homelessness and poverty and unable to receive benefits is staggering, and the issues are often legal issues,” said David Stern, Executive Director of Equal Justice Works. “Many veterans are returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan with undiagnosed traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has become a struggle for these service members to receive the benefits of which they are entitled. Our Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows work at established legal aid agencies and are able to wade through the complexities of laws and regulations to ensure veterans receive all the help they can to transition successfully back to civilian life.”
In 2011, ten Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows assisted more than 2,000 veterans, active duty military and their family members. During that time, the AmeriCorps Legal Fellows members secured $425,067 in benefits for 26 veterans; helped 52 veterans secure access to health care; and resolved 57 minor criminal matters that were preventing veterans from obtaining stable housing. “We are eager to see similar results from 17 Fellows in the class of 2012 Fellows,” said Stern. To learn more about Equal Justice Works Fellows’ work with veterans, click here.
In addition to the Fellows working on Veterans’ issues, 10 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows will be helping families and individuals struggling with housing and foreclosure issues, including foreclosure defense and assistance and protection from mortgage fraud and real estate scams. An additional 7 will be serving in medical-legal partnerships which help low-income and at-risk populations access health care by targeting issues such as medical debt relief, lack of health insurance, access to medical support, and other patient needs. AmeriCorps Fellows are also mitigating the long-lasting effects of the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri; are serving alongside the California-based JusticeCorps in the Los Angeles Superior Court self-help center; and are supporting the innovative Justice Bus, which increases access to legal services in rural California.
“Equal Justice Works has a long history of working in collaboration with CNCS; over the years, we have built a strong relationship that allows us to provide access to justice in these underserved communities,” said Equal Justice Works Executive Director David Stern. “We are grateful to once again receive funding that will allow us to place these dedicated public interest attorneys across the country in communities that where assistance is most needed.”
The 2012 Class of Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows begins service in the fall, working at 25 host organizations in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
For additional information on Equal Justice Works and to view a complete list of 2012 AmeriCorps Legal Fellows and their projects and host sites, please visit www.equaljusticeworks.org.
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Equal Justice Works is the national leader in creating public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers. Collaborating with the nation’s leading law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments and nonprofit organizations, Equal Justice Works offers a continuum of opportunities that provide the training and skills that enable attorneys to provide effective representation to underserved communities and causes. Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For additional information about Equal Justice Works, please visit www.equaljusticeworks.org.