/ Press Release
Thirty-five law students selected from 460 applications will spend their summer helping to improve access to justice for people living in rural communities
WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 26, 2021—Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the nation’s single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans, today announced the selection of 35 law students for the Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC).
RSLC—a partnership between Equal Justice Works and LSC—supports law students in serving rural communities each summer. Program participants, called Student Fellows, spend eight to ten weeks hosted by LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations where they help to address some of the biggest challenges facing rural communities. Through RSLC, Student Fellows have the opportunity to explore a career in civil legal aid by providing direct legal services, engaging in community outreach and education, and building capacity at the organizations where they are hosted.
Selected from 460 applications, the 2021 class of Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellows includes 35 students from 32 law schools who will work at 32 LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations across the United States and its territories, providing critical legal assistance to people in rural areas. In light of ongoing health and safety concerns, many of the Students Fellows will work remotely to support the efforts of their host organizations, helping clients virtually through video conferencing, online intakes, and over phone and email.
“It is breathtaking that 460 law students applied to work on rural poverty issues for the summer,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “It is proof of the extraordinary appetite among today’s law students to devote themselves to providing access to justice for low-income people. With such an abundance of applications, you can imagine the extremely high caliber of the students who were ultimately selected to work in rural communities that have trouble recruiting lawyers.”
This year’s class of RSLC Student Fellows will take on projects that address a range of access-to-justice issues. Some of these projects include:
- Addie Martin and Katy Harvey will support their host organizations on the “Beyond Opioids” project, an initiative focused on people impacted by the opioid crisis and other substance use disorders. Addie is a law student at Oklahoma City University School of Law and will be hosted by Arkansas Legal Services. Katy will be hosted by Legal Aid of Arkansas and is a law student at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.
- Justin Small will support his host organization, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, in increasing housing, public benefits, and employment opportunities for system-involved youth and adults of color residing in the Antelope Valley, a remote part of Los Angeles County. Justin is a law student at Loyola Law School Los Angeles.
- Elena Pruett-Fiederlein will conduct outreach to people experiencing homelessness in the Shenandoah Valley in need of birth certificates. Elena, a law student at William & Mary Law School, will be hosted by Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc.
Launched in 2016, RSLC Student Fellows have helped to increase access to justice for thousands of individuals living in rural communities. In 2020—in the midst of a global pandemic—law students in the program had some remarkable successes. Collectively, the 35 Student Fellows served more than 10,000 hours, providing direct legal services to 720 individuals, participating in 122 outreach events, and creating or expanding more than 125 collaborations with community partners.
About Equal Justice Works
Equal Justice Works is the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law. We bring together an extensive network of law students, lawyers, legal services organizations, and supporters to promote a lifelong commitment to public service and equal justice. Following their Fellowships, more than 85% of our Fellows remain in public service positions, continuing to pursue equal justice for underserved communities across the country.
About Legal Services Corporation
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Visit www.lsc.gov for more information.
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