Scott Sloss

The Project

Scott (he/him/his) will serve those who served by providing direct representation and access to legal services for veterans and their families.

He will serve the more than 10,000 veterans in the Tuscaloosa County area, where the veteran homeless rate is around 10% and the unemployment rate is more than double the state average. Veterans face many legal issues including evictions, foreclosures, family law, consumer debt, discharge upgrades, and VA disability appeals claims. 

Over the course of 20 years of service in the Army, Scott served as an enlisted Infantryman and an Engineer Officer. He is guided by his faith and his passion to serve others. Scott has learned firsthand the challenges that face our Veteran community and wants to be the voice that helps them share their story. 

Fellowship Plans

Scott will engage the veteran community by attending veteran service organization meetings, local events, and hosting legal clinics in the community. He will provide direct representation to veterans in civil matters and create a network for tailored referrals. Scott will work together with the Tuscaloosa County Veteran’s Court to provide direct representation to those needing assistance in civil matters. He will also apply for grants and work with the University of Alabama, its alumni, and other organizations to secure the resources to extend this clinic beyond his Equal Justice Works Fellowship.

Media

Veterans Law Project: An Update From Equal Justice Works Fellow Scott A. Sloss

A Veteran’s Perspective: 5 Things to Know When Working with Veteran Clients

Military Veteran and Alabama Law Graduate Earns Equal Justice Works Fellowship

The Project

Anna (she/her/hers) will advocate for low-income Minnesotans who are subjected to unjust pretrial detention and cash bail practices using a combination of direct representation, data-gathering, and legislative advocacy. 

At any given time, Minnesota jails hold around 4,000 people who have not been convicted of a crime. Many of those people languish in jail simply because they are too poor to pay bail. In this way, Minnesota’s pretrial detention practices criminalize poverty. They also criminalize Black and Indigenous people, who are disproportionately represented in Minnesota’s jail population. Combined with the higher likelihood of conviction for pretrial detainees, these racial and economic disparities result in worse case outcomes for poor people and people of color in Minnesota. 

Currently, local advocates lack comprehensive data that would help them craft effective bail reform strategies. Without knowing exactly how the system is broken, there is no way to fix it. In order to agitate for more equitable bail practices, local advocates need information about who is granted bail and at what amounts; the number of people who cannot afford to pay for their freedom; and the collateral consequences of pretrial detention. Armed with more and better data, advocates can make arguments in court, craft Minnesota-specific bail reform campaigns, and lift up the stories of individuals in the state. 

Anna has witnessed the persistence, creativity, and commitment to real justice that lives in Minnesota communities. She is dedicated to standing alongside and amplifying the voices of those calling for change.

Fellowship Plans

Anna will represent indigent individuals facing criminal charges and advocate for their release pretrial. She will also collect data on the use of cash bail and pretrial detention in the Twin Cities metro, focusing on the negative effects of pretrial detention on individuals and communities. She will work alongside advocates and organizers working for changes to the criminal legal system and support legislative efforts to reform bail practices in Minnesota. 

Every person is inherently worthy of a life that is meaningful, joyous, and free. No Minnesotan should be denied the opportunity to create such a life.

Anna Hall /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Nathan will design, advocate for, and implement robust public defense services in Texas to serve the legal needs of indigent arrestees, starting in Austin/Travis County and applying lessons from that process across the state.

The quality of counsel low-income defendants in Texas receive varies widely based on where they are arrested and what kind of indigent defense system the county has established. While everyone is entitled to counsel for most offenses, the systems and lawyers providing representation have limited oversight – meaning that defendants with deficient attorneys often have no recourse. When people don’t receive adequate representation they are more likely to be incarcerated, convicted, and sentenced more harshly than people with a zealous defense.

Before law school, Nate worked to provide legal and holistic support services to indigent defendants and their families at the Orleans Public Defenders, where he realized the importance of adequately-resourced defense counsel to vindicate the rights of defendants. He believes that vigorously defending individual rights in criminal cases is critical to advancing not just fundamental fairness but also broader issues of economic, racial, and gender justice.

Fellowship Plans

Before law school, Nate worked to provide legal and holistic support services to indigent defendants and their families at the Orleans Public Defenders, where he realized the importance of adequately-resourced defense counsel to vindicate the rights of defendants. He believes that vigorously defending individual rights in criminal cases is critical to advancing not just fundamental fairness but also broader issues of economic, racial, and gender justice.

When someone has a zealous advocate, it doesn’t just change that one person’s life—it can be transformative for their family and the community as a whole.

Nathan Fennell /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Nishan developed the New York City Anti-Violence Project’s (AVP’s) first focused outreach program, pro bono counsel program, and hate violence docket to provide holistic legal services to underserved LGBTQ Asian survivors of intersectional violence in New York City.

Nearly one in eight New Yorkers identify as Asian, making New York City home to the largest Asian population in the US. Studies show that up to 41‐61% of Asian Americans report experiencing domestic violence during their lifetime. Furthermore, national surveys indicate that LGBTQ Asians face higher rates of violence than their straight or non-ethnic counterparts. Nonetheless, out of thousands of people served each year at AVP, LGBTQ Asians have comprised as low as 0-3% of its clientele. Moreover, although hate violence is one of the largest client issues at AVP, victims of LGBTQ hate violence only make up a small percentage of legal clients. This gap in services to LGBTQ Asians exists across legal service organizations in New York City. This project will conduct focused outreach to Asian communities, further develop a hate crimes docket, and establish a pro bono counsel program to bridge this gap and better serve the needs of all LGBTQ survivors of violence in New York City.

Fellowship Highlights

During Nishan’s Fellowship, he:

  • Established formal relationships with social, cultural, and advocacy organizations
  • Conducted know your rights trainings
  • Created a comprehensive survey to establish local needs
  • Began organizational processes to establish a hate violence docket
  • Developed procedures and training materials for the creation of a pro bono counsel program
  • Provided holistic legal services to targeted communities

Media

2020 Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40 Awards

The Project

Mel advocated for New York City’s restaurant delivery workers to improve working conditions in the traditional and new gig economy through organizing, direct representation, education, and policy reform.

Food delivery workers in New York City face substantial workplace issues, both traditional and new. For decades, they have been criminalized for the use of their primary tool of the trade, electric bicycles, resulting in substantial criminal, psychological, financial and immigration related problems. Delivery workers also experience widespread wage theft and unfair working conditions. These problems have been exacerbated by the rise of gig economy services that are changing traditional workplace arrangements and weakening available labor protections.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Mel has:

  • Represented 87 delivery workers facing tickets and fines due to their e-bike use and provided advice to an additional 33 delivery workers on employment and benefits
  • Provided 10,000 workers’ rights booklets for construction workers with Thomson Reuters support
  • Drafted and advocated for a state law decriminalizing delivery workers’ use of electric bicycles, which passed the New York State Legislature and is expected to be signed into law
  • Negotiated a settlement that will provide $150,000 in unpaid wages, vacation pay, the provision of e-bikes and safety gear, raises, and compliance with other labor laws to delivery workers
  • Through litigation, representation in and settlement negotiation, secured thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and damages, and other workplace improvements for individual workers across various industries including delivery workers.

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Mel plans to continue fighting to improve working conditions, in particular for delivery workers. Through legal and organizing efforts, Mel hopes to ensure the effective decriminalization of workers’ use of e-bikes, the protection of delivery workers in the changing gig economy, and the empowerment of workers as they continue to face wage theft.

Media

Pedal-Assist E-Bike Legalization Leaves Delivery Workers Out in the Cold

If you want to understand everything that’s wrong with tipping, look to New York