Meet the 2023 Rural Summer Legal Corps Student Fellows

/ Blog Post

Each year, Equal Justice Works partners with the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) for the Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC), a program that addresses the pressing legal issues facing rural communities. Program participants, called Student Fellows, spend eight to ten weeks during the summer serving at LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations where they help to provide direct legal services, engage in community outreach and education, and build capacity at host organizations.

This year, 45 Student Fellows from 38 law schools were selected from 320 applications to work remotely at 41 LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations across the United States and its territories, providing critical legal assistance to people in rural areas.

Meet our 2023 RSLC Student Fellows and learn about how they will be helping to address some of the biggest challenges facing rural communities:

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Maxwell (Max) Adams, Drake University Law School

At Iowa Legal Aid, Max will provide direct civil legal assistance and outreach to rural clients on a broad range of important issues such as domestic abuse, family law, housing law, consumer matters, expungement, and elder law.


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Dorothee Adams, (she/her/hers) University of Tennessee College of Law

Dorothee, hosted by Legal Services Alabama, will assist rural residents in the Wiregrass Region of Alabama as they combat medical debt. Her work will emphasize the medical debt that results in wage garnishments from a local community hospital. She will create a Medical Debt Toolkit to improve access to information and lead community education sessions on consumer rights and medical debt.


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Ethan Barnes, (he/him/his) University of Mississippi School of Law

Hosted at North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, Ethan will join the Mississippi Taxpayer Assistance Project. There, he will work directly alongside the director of the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC), the only IRS-funded LITC in Mississippi. He will provide direct civil representation in matters involving IRS disputes and assist in organizing and implementing educational outreach programs.


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Wyatt Beaver, (he/him/his) Tulane University Law School

Wyatt will assist with the provision of legal services, with a focus on Family Law, Probate & Title Clearing, and Barrier Removal, at Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (LAWNT). His work will allow LAWNT to expand their legal services and outreach and education to the rural communities in their service area.


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Chad Berryman, (he/him/his) University of Minnesota Law School

At Colorado Legal Services (CLS), Chad will join the Migrant Farm Worker Division during the growing season to assist in meeting the frequently unmet legal needs of farm workers. Chad will work on individual cases, conduct outreach, and collaborate with key partners to inform Colorado farm workers of their legal rights and the significant protections available under a new state law.


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Dillon Biggs, (he/him/his) Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law

Dillon will work with Legal Aid of West Virginia’s (LAWV) Rural Veterans Project to assist in serving rural veterans via direct civil legal services, targeted outreach, and legal education for community partners and the veteran community. By targeting resources to rural veteran potential clients, he will enable LAWV to better connect with veterans in rural communities.


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Mary Branton-Housley, (she/her/hers) Mitchell Hamline University School of Law

Hosted at Center for Arkansas Legal Services, Mary will join Beyond Opioids, a project targeting families impacted by the opioid crisis. She will work with treatment clinics to access people diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD), screen their civil legal needs for a successful recovery and re-entry, and work with advocates at Beyond Opioids to deliver ground-breaking OUD-specific direct legal services.


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Sarah (Brynn) Cahal, (she/her/hers) University of Cincinnati College of Law

Brynn will work with Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati’s Homeowner & Consumer Team which provides representation to low-income homeowners who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure. She will assist homeowners who need help applying for financial assistance and whom Legal Aid is representing in court as well as engage in community outreach and education, providing rural homeowners with customized resources.


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Tristan Campbell, (he/they/theirs) University of California, Irvine School of Law

At California Rural Legal Assistance, Tristan will work with their LGBTQ+ Program on legal issues facing rural transgender, gender-non-conforming, and youth communities. He will advocate alongside clients while supporting individual casework, systemic advocacy, and community outreach.


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Maria Catalano, (she/her/hers) University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Maria, hosted at DNA-Peoples Legal Services, will provide outreach, community legal education, and a full spectrum of legal assistance to the residents in the Navajo and Hopi communities. She will work on legal issues that commonly impact Navajo and Hopi clients, including issues in family law, consumer law, housing, and education.


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Tatum Cooper, (she/her/hers) University of Arkansas School of Law

At Legal Aid of Arkansas, Tatum will join Beyond Opioids, a project targeting families impacted by the opioid crisis. She will work with treatment clinics to access people diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD), screen their civil legal needs for a successful recovery and re-entry, and work with Beyond Opioids’ advocates in delivering ground-breaking OUD-specific direct legal services.


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Alán Díaz-Santana, (he/him/his) Tulane University Law School

Alán will work with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s (TRLA) Community Development team to provide education and legal assistance to community groups to combat systemic inequities in housing, infrastructure, environmental conditions, and health. He will draft legal briefs and pleadings, develop outreach materials, engage with community members, and assist TRLA attorneys in their work in state and federal litigation.


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Owen Dombert, (he/him/his) Penn State Dickinson Law

Hosted at North Penn Legal Services, Owen will provide outreach, community education, and representation in rural counties. He will expand outreach to elderly populations to assist with future care planning outreach and clinics and consumer fraud information, as well as help expand opportunities to target families with children living in poverty.


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Emiliee Encizo, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Emiliee will assist Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) with providing free legal services to the low-income population of rural Texas counties. There will be an emphasis on having the student assist with LSLA’s housing rights projects that include defending against evictions and foreclosures; advocating for safe, clean, and stable housing; and ensuring tenants rights are honored by landlords


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Jana Goolsby, Belmont University College of Law

Jana will be joining the Rural Reentry Outreach & Legal Clinics Project at Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, supporting legal work to assist low-income rural individuals facing societal barriers due to prior criminal records. Jana will help with expungement, obstacles involving occupational licenses, reinstating a revoked driver’s license, and other common barriers people with a criminal record face when securing a job, housing, and a meaningful second chance.


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Emma Guida, (she/her/hers) Tulane University Law School

At Montana Legal Services Association, Emma will support the Montana Eviction Intervention Project within the Housing Law Practice Group. She will conduct intake interviews, provide supervised legal advice to tenants facing eviction, and help route clients for full representation, mediation, and other wrap-around services.


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Jayden Johnson, Liberty University School of Law

Jayden will assist with an unlawful detainer expungement project at Blue Ridge Legal Services, which will improve access to stable housing for low-income tenants. Jayden will draft and file petitions to expunge unlawful detainers from clients’ housing records, conduct outreach and spread awareness about the project, and create a pro se “DIY” expungement kit.


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Selma Lara, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Selma, hosted at Lone Star Legal Aid, will help low-income renters and their families prevent homelessness and gain housing stability via eviction defense and addressing other landlord-tenant matters that jeopardize housing stability. Selma will help with community outreach and education, provide legal advice and counsel, and assist in full representation of clients.


Headshot of Sophia Larsen
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Sophia Larsen, St. Thomas University College of Law

At Legal Services of Greater Miami, Sophia will support legal work in Monroe County, Florida, primarily in family law, housing, homelessness prevention and assistance, disability claims, and potential disaster recovery issues. Sophia will assist with client interviews, community and client outreach, and legal research and drafting motions and discovery requests related to affirmative litigation.


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Bruce Leal, (he/him/his) American University Washington College of Law

Bruce will join the Indigenous Peoples Unit (IPU) at Pine Tree Legal Assistance to collaborate with and address the legal issues of the Wabanaki People. He will work with the IPU on outreach and education to tribal communities; tribal, state, and federal agencies to retain housing and benefits for tribal members; and case work representing Indigenous Peoples in Tribal Court and State Court proceedings.


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Tonya Lippert, (she/her/hers) Lewis & Clark Law School

Hosted at Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Tonya will join the Virginia Farmworker Program to help address tax fraud issues affecting the farmworker community in Virginia. She will assist in investigating potential tax fraud claims, create a task force to provide direct legal help to the farm workers affected, and participate in community education and statewide outreach.


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Isabel MacCay, Gonzaga University School of Law

At Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC), Isabel will serve the Nome community of Alaska’s Bering Straits Region by assisting ALSC with client interviews, developing cases, performing research and writing, and empowering communities by increasing knowledge of the legal system and local resources. Isabel will also work on the Community Justice Worker Project, an online resource that trains non-attorney community advocates to assist clients.


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Carlie Marquez, Lewis & Clark Law School

Carlie, hosted at Legal Aid Services of Oregon, will help agricultural workers in rural counties of Oregon establish safer workplaces. Carlie will gather information about workers’ experiences accessing training and other health and safety protections, conduct intakes of impacted workers, and assist in direct legal work and education to help workers protect their rights to safe and healthy workplaces.


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Alexandria Miller, Michigan State University College of Law

Alexandria will focus on establishing a monthly family law clinic at Legal Services of Northern Michigan for self-represented litigants in Marquette, Michigan and a framework that can be replicated in other communities. Through this work, Alexandria will support and advocate for victims of domestic violence and survivors of sexual abuse.


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Sunny Miller, Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School

At Michigan Indian Legal Services, Inc. this summer, Sunny will work on child welfare matters in the tribal court systems and, if any are pending, appellate ICWA and MIFPA cases. In addition, the Fellow will assist with other family law related client intakes, especially when there are tribal law and jurisdictional questions involved.


Headshot of McKenzie Mixon
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McKenzie Mixon, Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law

McKenzie will work with Legal Aid of North Carolina on the newly established Legal Aid of North Carolina Innovation Lab, which is focused on using technology to expand access to justice in North Carolina, and to identify and build technology solutions that will create greater access to legal representation and legal information.


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Frida Murga, (she/her/hers) University of Cincinnati College of Law

Frida will work with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s Community Development team to provide education and legal assistance to community groups to combat systemic inequities in housing, infrastructure, environmental conditions, and health. She will work to empower low-income neighborhood groups to create safe, healthy, and thriving communities.


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Daniel Nerenhausen, (he/him/his) University of Wisconsin Law School

Daniel will work with the American Indian Land Probate Project at Oklahoma Indian Legal Services to gain experience in Indian Land Titles and the state and federal probate and title laws which apply to members of the Five Tribes of Oklahoma and will also spend time coordinating outreach clinics at tribal community center.


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Myron Oates, University of Missouri School of Law

This summer, Myron will help Legal Services of Eastern Missouri as they expand their outreach efforts and increase capacity at their organization, mainly through service to domestic violence victims who live in rural Missouri.


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Reilly O’Connor, (she/her/hers) Baylor Law School

Reilly’s Fellowship at Wisconsin Judicare, Inc. will focus on assisting clients independently through on-reservation estate planning clinic appointments. She will help consolidate and update training materials to transition to online training resources for estate planning clinics going forward.


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Katherine Packer, (she/her/hers) City University of New York School of Law

Katherine will work with Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. to provide assistance to low-income clients in reducing barriers to employment throughout 13 rural counties. She will help expand employment-related legal services provided to rural clients who are under-or-unemployed due to having a criminal record.


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Carleigh Patton, (she/her/hers) Wake Forest University School of Law

In her Fellowship at Legal Services of North Florida, Inc., Carleigh will work with Legal Services of North Florida’s lead Immigration Attorney to increase trust and access to legal help within our service area. Her work will include education and outreach, legal clinics to help with naturalization or other legal adjustments allowed under the law, and direct client assistance under the supervision of experienced attorneys.


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Tikehe Peoples, Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law

Hosted at West Tennessee Legal Services, Inc. this summer, Tikehe will provide education, outreach, and direct legal assistance to low-income and vulnerable West Tennesseans reentering society after being incarcerated. In addition to developing resources, expanding clinics, and educating partner nonprofits, Tikehe also will provide direct services to clients at the clinics.


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Caela Provost, Suffolk University Law School

This summer, Caela will work directly with advocates and attorneys at Community Legal Aid (CLA) to provide legal aid to low-income and elderly residents in the most rural section of the central Massachusetts county where Caela is serving.


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Benjamin Rhind, (he/him/his) New York University School of Law

This summer, Benjamin will be based within the Farmworker Law Project at Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York. There, he will gain experience with the types of cases that come from agricultural workers across New York, including trafficking, wage theft, workplace health and safety, discrimination, and civil rights. His work will have an emphasis on wage theft associated with employer misclassification of workers doing non-agricultural work.


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Alex Roth, Penn State Dickinson Law

This summer at Ohio State Legal Services, Alex will work with attorneys on a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic to improve and expand education resources for self-employed workers and small businesses owners. Alex will collaborate with community groups to conduct trainings and to create resources and written materials for low-income taxpayers.


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Hannah Rushton, Northeastern University School of Law

At Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Hannah will assist in the development and implementation of regular pro per clinics and community presentations to help families protect the rights of students. The community education and support aspect of Hannah’s work will also support and contribute to systemic education policy and litigation work the host site’s Education Team is currently engaged in throughout the region.


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Stephanie Sadoon, University of South Dakota School of Law

At East River Legal Services, Stephanie will spend her Fellowship assisting low-income South Dakotans by improving current pro se form instructions and creating additional easy-to-read guide materials in consumer law, a practice area that does not currently have any pro se forms in South Dakota. She will also assist in developing, editing, and curating informational materials on the South Dakota statewide help page.


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Paige Schaefer, (she/her/hers) University of Wisconsin Law School

While at Legal Action of Wisconsin, Paige will join the Farmworker Project to bridge the access to justice gap that farmworkers face by conducting know-your-rights community education and outreach to rural farmworker communities and by providing direct services on legal issues that agricultural workers identify.


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Haley Spiewak, (she/her/hers) Southern Illinois University School of Law

Haley will work at Land of Lincoln Legal Aid as a Fellow this summer, where she will perform outreach, community education, and provide legal assistance to a growing population of domestic violence survivors who face isolation and economic instability due to the remoteness of rural Illinois. She will work to secure clients’ immediate safety from their abusers by seeking emergency and plenary orders of protection.


Headshot of Carrie Stambaugh
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Carrie Stambaugh, (she/her/hers) Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law

In her Fellowship at Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky (AppalReD), Carrie will help to confront the humanitarian crisis involving the former clients of a private attorney who are facing reviews and the possible loss of their Social Security Disability and SSI benefits. Carrie will assist AppalReD Legal Aid attorneys in handling these cases at the ALJ and appeal levels.


Headshot of Madelyn Storms
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Madelyn Storms, (she/her/hers) State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law

This summer, at Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Madelyn will provide legal services to low-income clients and help complete a community needs assessment to potentially expand the successful rural clinic model to other regions. Her direct services work will focus on housing, public benefits, family law, and victims’ rights.


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Dionicia Vilsaint, (she/her/hers) Albany Law School

At Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York this summer, Dionicia will work in landlord/tenant and family law proceedings involving domestic violence. She will work alongside experience attorneys on various types of cases such as eviction, divorce, custody, child support and family offenses for low-income residents.


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Christina Waskom, (she/her/hers) Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Ana will work as a Student Fellow at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation on projects focused on increasing awareness of the availability of civil legal aid in the community, help strengthen existing partnerships, and develop new collaborations.


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Ayale Williams, North Carolina Central University School of Law

Ayale will join the Legal Aid of North Carolina Innovation Lab to work with her host site and other collaborators on projects increasing access to justice in rural communities using technology tools, and work with the host site to determine how technology can be used to bridge the access to justice gap.


Visit here for more information about the Rural Summer Legal Corps.

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow