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Equal Justice Works and Legal Services Corporation Announce Class of 2024 Rural Summer Legal Corps Student Fellows

/ Press Release

50 law students will spend their summer helping to improve access to justice for people living in rural communities. 

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2024— 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 50 law students for the Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC). 

“These law students are the next generation of much needed legal advocates. Through our collaboration with LSC, these students will provide critical legal assistance to people in rural areas,” said Verna Williams, CEO of Equal Justice Works. “Accessible legal resources in rural communities are a key element of closing the justice gap. I am inspired by our RSLC Fellows’ projects addressing the unique challenges the nation’s rural communities face, and grateful for their service.” 

The Rural Summer Legal Corps is a partnership between Equal Justice Works and LSC that supports law students 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 assist residents with their legal problems. Their work is essential because, as the American Bar Association has reported, fewer than 2 attorneys currently serve every 100,000 rural residents. In too many areas, no attorneys are available to help. As a result, large populations of rural Americans are forced to travel hundreds of miles to find legal assistance for such issues as intimate partner violence, custody matters, or securing VA benefits.  

The 2024 class of Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellows includes 50 students from 36 law schools who will work at 44 LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations across the United States and its territories, providing critical legal assistance to people in rural areas. The program gives Student Fellows the opportunity to serve clients in need, engage in community outreach and education, and build capacity at the organizations where they are hosted. 

“We are thrilled to welcome these students to rural legal aid providers across the country where they will contribute to the life impacting work that these organizations carry out every day, while learning indelible lessons about the power of providing access to legal help to low-income Americans everywhere,” said LSC President Ron Flagg.   

This year’s class of RSLC Student Fellows will take on projects that address a range of access-to-justice issues, including: 

  • Eliot Usherenko, hosted at Legal Aid of West Virginia (LAWV), will work closely with LAWV staff on eviction prevention with a special emphasis on manufactured home tenants at risk of eviction due to large corporations purchasing local mobile home parks. He will also assist with several innovative projects by helping to conduct outreach, develop legal materials, deliver legal education, and provide legal services. Eliot is a student at Boston College Law School. 
  • Will Lavallo, a student at University of Texas School of Law, will join the Migrant Farmworker Division at Colorado Legal Services (CLS), where he will help farmworkers address such issues as wage theft, sexual harassment, human trafficking, and immigration. Will also plans to visit migrant farm workers throughout the region to ensure that they have information regarding their legal rights and CLS services. 
  • At DNA-Peoples Legal Services, Hannah Waltz will work alongside Navajo- and Hopi-licensed attorneys to provide outreach, community legal education, and a full spectrum of legal assistance to clients. Her project focuses on the Hopi code, working to ensure that it provides protections comparable to those available in other tribal courts. Hannah is a student at CUNY School of Law. 
  • At Legal Services of Northern Michigan (LSNM), Whitney Dean will focus on continuing to build a network of family law clinics for self-represented litigants. She will advocate for domestic and/or sexual abuse survivors by assisting LSNM staff attorneys with client intakes, interviews, research, document drafting and hearing preparation. 

In 2023, RSLC Student Fellows collectively contributed 13,129 hours to help rural communities, with 4,881 hours spent on direct legal services. These Student Fellows also participated in 139 outreach events, created or expanded more than 144 collaborations with community partners, and provided legal information to more than 1,763 individuals. 

To learn more about the Rural Summer Legal Corps, visit here. 

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About Equal Justice Works 

Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service. As the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, Equal Justice Works brings together an extensive network of law students, lawyers, nonprofit legal aid organizations, and supporters to promote public service and inspire a lifelong commitment to equal justice. 

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 131 independent nonprofit legal aid organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Visit www.lsc.gov for more information. 

Contact: 

Emily Singer 

Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications 

Email: [email protected] 

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow