/ Blog Post
Each year, Equal Justice Works partners with the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) for the Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC), a program for service-minded law students to address pressing legal issues facing rural communities. Program participants, called Student Fellows, serve at LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations where they spend eight to ten weeks during the summer helping to provide direct legal services, engaging in community outreach and education, and building capacity at the organizations where they are hosted.
This year, 35 Student Fellows were selected from 460 applications to work remotely at LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations, providing critical legal assistance to people in rural areas. In light of ongoing health and safety concerns, many of the Student Fellows will be working remotely this summer.
Meet our 2021 RSLC Student Fellows and learn about how they will be helping to address some of the biggest challenges facing rural communities:
Cole Adams (he/him/his), University of Alabama School of Law
At West Tennessee Legal Services, Cole will provide education, outreach, advice, and counsel to low-income individuals struggling with consumer debt, as part of the organization’s Rural Consumer Debt Relief Project. Cole will also team up with community partners to establish consumer debt clinics in rural West Tennessee.
Molly Bohanan (she/her/hers), University of Cincinnati College of Law
Hosted at Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, Molly will support the organization’s Kinship Care Team, which helps grandparents and others who have stepped up to care for children whose parents cannot raise them due to substance abuse, untreated mental illness, incarceration, or other issues.
Marcela Darris (she/her/hers), Wayne State Law
Marcela will work with Legal Services of Eastern Michigan’s housing practice group on eviction diversion programs and engage with community partners to secure housing assistance for tenants.
Emma Dillon (she/her/hers), University of Kansas Law School
Hosted at Kansas Legal Services, Emma will support underserved, rural Kansas Counties in developing targeted outreach to older low-income individuals and families in need of legal assistance in family law issues.
Mitchell Forbes (he/him/his), University of Michigan Law School
At Alaska Legal Services Corporation, Mitchell will spend his summer helping to increase access to justice for rural Alaskans, and help the organization improve its outreach and community education by developing content for its websites, mobile app, and Pro Bono Training Academy.
Ricardo Gomez (he/him/his), Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law
Hosted at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., Ricardo will support the organization’s Mobile Home Park Advocacy Project, which serves mobile home park residents in rural South Dade Florida and Monroe Counties. He will participate in both individual and group advocacy to address the affordable housing crisis in rural South Florida.
Casey Hardaway (she/her/hers), Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center
Casey will support her host organization, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, in expanding access to justice in two rural parishes with some of the highest poverty rates in its service area. Casey will also work to create a successful model of working with rural libraries, holding monthly legal clinics and Know Your Rights sessions.
Katy Harvey (she/her/hers), University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
Hosted at Legal Aid of Arkansas, Katy will join “Beyond Opioids—Breaking Legal Barriers for Families in Recovery,” a collaborative project among legal aid programs in Arkansas that supports people impacted by the opioid crisis and other substance use disorders.
Shawn Holcomb (he/him/his), University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
At Kentucky Legal Aid, Shawn will support the organization’s Welcome HOME (Housing Options Means Empowerment) Project in providing rurally isolated and impoverished victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking with long-term civil legal solutions to address or prevent homelessness.
James Johnson (he/his/his), University of Oklahoma College of Law
Hosted at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid’s Mercedes office, James will assist the organization’s farmworker team on a variety of employment law matters affecting migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
Addie Martin (she/her/hers), Oklahoma City University School of Law
Hosted at Center for Arkansas Legal Services, Addie will join the organization’s “Beyond Opioids—Breaking Legal Barriers for Families in Recovery,” a collaborative project among legal aid programs in Arkansas that supports people impacted by the opioid crisis and other substance use disorders.
Vivian Martinez (she/her/hers), Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
At California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., Vivian will work under the guidance of staff attorneys to address employment and immigration concerns for low-wage, LGBTQ+ workers in California’s Central Valley and on the Central Coast.
Michael McDonald (he/him/his), Penn State Dickinson Law
Hosted at Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma’s, Michael will assist the organization’s Guymon office in expanding services to migrant workers on a variety of matters, including family law, housing, consumer law, and public benefits. Michael will also help create a housing guide to increase agricultural workers’ knowledge about housing rights and options.
Jendi McNicholas (she/her/hers), Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Jendi will work on Indiana Legal Services’ Project CLeAR (Civil Legal Aid in Recovery) to help deliver civil legal aid to individuals in recovery, usually recovery from substance use disorder.
Jocelyn Mercado (she/her/hers), Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law
At Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Jocelyn will support legal work to assist low-income, rural individuals who are facing significant financial burdens and legal challenges in maintaining housing, obtaining unemployment benefits, and preventing loss of income due to debt collection.
Beven Nedumthakady (he/him/his), Albany Law School
At Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Beven will work directly with staff attorneys in landlord-tenant and/or family law proceedings (divorce, custody, support, and family offenses) to address problems faced by rural clients in accessing legal assistance and representation.
Magdalene “Maggie” Ogletree (she/her/hers), University of Mississippi School of Law
Maggie will support Legal Services Alabama’s Rural Health Justice Project, a medical-legal partnership in collaboration with Rural Health Medical Program, Inc. that helps rural health center patients who have unmet civil legal needs.
Jessica Olave (she/her/hers), Lewis & Clark Law School
Hosted at Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Jessica will help agricultural workers in rural counties of Oregon gain access to leave laws and other public benefits. She will help gather information about workers’ experiences accessing these protections, conduct intakes, assist in legal cases challenging denial of benefits, and educate workers on how to access these protections.
Sam Parker (he/him/his), University of Denver Sturm College of Law
At DNA-Peoples Legal Services, Inc., Sam will work alongside and under the supervision of Navajo licensed attorneys to provide outreach, community legal education, and a full spectrum of legal assistance to residents in the Navajo communities.
Shelbire Pierre Paul (she/her/hers), Pace University School of Law
Hosted at Legal Services of North Florida, Shelbire Pierre will support the organization’s response to legal issues resulting from Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Sally, and COVID-19. Her work will largely involve housing issues such as title-clearing and heir-property issues, contractor disputes, access to federal and state rehabilitation funds, and development of affordable housing.
Elena Pruett-Fiederlein (she/her/hers), William & Mary Law School
At Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc., Elena will conduct outreach in cities and counties served by the organization’s Winchester, Harrisonburg, and Lexington offices, to individuals experiencing homelessness in the Shenandoah Valley who need birth certificates.
Zoe Psiakis (she/her/hers), University of Minnesota Law School
Hosted at Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Zoe will work with the organization’s Basic Unit and the Family Law and Victims’ Rights Unit to provide legal services to low-income clients throughout Aroostook County, Maine, in the areas of consumer rights, housing, public benefits, and family law/victims’ rights.
Kathryn Quinlan (she/her/hers), University of St. Thomas School of Law
At Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, Kathryn will work alongside Student Fellow Brooke Trottier on the MORE (Minnesota Outreach to Rural Environments) Project, a partnership between Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota and Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota to establish mobile legal aid clinics and expand use of the legal kiosk network across four counties and one reservation in northern Minnesota.
Bonnie Rees (she/her/hers), Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Hosted at New Mexico Legal Aid, Bonnie will work with the organization’s offices in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Taos to expand its community presence in strategically selected community hubs. Bonnie will meet with community leaders, court personnel, and others to participate in negotiations and help facilitate New Mexico Legal Aid having an on-site, regular presence at community settings.
Rachel Richardson (she/her/hers), Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law
Rachel will work with a legal team at the Ohio State Legal Services Association to mitigate the rural opioid crisis in Ohio by developing and launching a legal needs survey in collaboration with community partners, as well as create outreach and legal information materials to improve the services provided to those afflicted by Opioid Use Disorder.
Abigail Riley (she/her/hers), Gonzaga University School of Law
Hosted at California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., Abigail will support the organization’s Rural Education Equity Program, which aims to ensure equal educational opportunity for K-12 students in rural schools.
Shane Salwasser (he/him/his), Drake University Law School
At Iowa Legal Aid, Shane will provide direct civil legal assistance to rural clients by interviewing potential clients as part of their application for services, participating in representing clients in administrative or court hearings, and analyzing clients’ legal issues and drafting advice letters and memoranda.
Justin Small (he/him/his), Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
Hosted at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Justin will work on a project related to 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.
Donna “Kaitlyn” Smith (she/her/hers), Appalachian School of Law
At Legal Aid of West Virginia, Inc., Kaitlyn will work closely with staff attorneys to provide direct civil legal services to clients, focusing on legal barriers to self-sufficiency. Kaitlyn will also assist staff in conducting targeted rural outreach and legal education for community partners and the public regarding legal employment obstacles impacting rural West Virginians.
Aura Soto (she/her/hers), City University of New York School of Law
Aura will help Legal Services of the Hudson Valley increase its impact related to manufactured home communities, build on recent successes in manufactured home litigation, and expand its practice in this area.
Jessica Stipek (she/her/hers), University of Oregon School of Law
At East River Legal Services, Jessica will assist low-income South Dakotans through improving current pro see form instructions and creating additional easy-to-read guidance materials.
Brooke Trottier (she/her/hers), University of St. Thomas School of Law
Hosted at Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, Brooke will work alongside Student Fellow Kathryn Quinlan on the MORE (Minnesota Outreach to Rural Environments) Project, a partnership between Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota and Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota to establish mobile legal aid clinics and expand use of the legal kiosk network across four counties and one reservation in northern Minnesota.
Terralyn Wilburn (she/her/hers), Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Terralyn will join Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid’s Disaster Assistance Group to assist survivors of Hurricane Harvey, as well as survivors of the multiple flooding events that have occurred in the Rio Grande Valley between 2015 and the present.
Andrew Wirkus (he/him/his), University of Utah S.J. Quinney School of Law
Hosted at Michigan Indian Legal Services, Andrew will assist staff with community outreach and planning for on-site (or virtual, if necessary) estate planning clinics at Native American community locations, primarily in the reservation communities in rural Michigan.
Kate Workman (she/her/hers), University of Mississippi School of Law
At North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, Inc., Kate will participate in the organization’s Mississippi Taxpayer Assistance Project, helping low-income taxpayers who seek free legal assistance or representation regarding tax matters.
Visit here for more information about the Rural Summer Legal Corps.