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Serving Arkansans and Their Families Struggling with the Effects of Substance Abuse Disorder

/ Blog Post

Katy Harvey, a 2L at Louis D. Brandeis School of Law and a 2021 Student Fellow in our Rural Summer Legal Corps, shares her summer of service experience, and discusses how her Equal Justice Works Student Fellowship helped to build her legal skills outside the classroom.

I applied to Rural Summer Legal Corps because I grew up in a rural community myself, and the Beyond Opioids Project with Legal Aid of Arkansas (Legal Aid) interested me. I had never been to Arkansas before, but I knew that this project would be a great fit for me because of my interest in public health.

During my Student Fellowship at Legal Aid of Arkansas, I started a podcast for the Beyond Opioids Project, to help listeners understand the multifaceted impacts of substance use disorder and to destigmatize substance use disorder by sharing the stories of real people impacted. On the first episode, we highlighted how Legal Aid and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services help children and families affected by substance use disorder. I had the chance to interview a client whom Legal Aid had served, and the positive outcome of her case provided such a great example of the work that the Beyond Opioids attorneys do.

In addition to education and outreach activities, I also assisted with drafting legal documents, researching issues, interviewing clients to obtain more information, and helping attorneys prepare for court. Sometimes our opioid cases involved clients who had a history of substance use disorder themselves; other times the client’s legal problem stemmed from a family member’s substance use disorder. Many of these cases were family-based, but others contained legal problems pertaining to housing, employment, public benefits, and criminal record expungement. This Student Fellowship helped me understand how substance use disorder is a legal issue as well as a health issue, as substance use disorder can bring about so many different legal problems. When you solve those legal problems, you’re not just solving those specific problems; you’re making it easier for clients to get back on their feet and stay there, and I think that is very important work.

If you are interested in embarking on a summer of service like Katy, apply to the Rural Summer Legal Corps by 11:59 p.m. ET on February 14, 2022. For more information about program eligibility and requirements, please visit here.

Substance use disorder is a legal issue as well as a health issue, as substance use disorder can bring about so many different legal problems. When you solve those legal problems, you’re not just solving those specific problems; you’re making it easier for clients to get back on their feet and stay there, and I think that is very important work.  

Katy Harvey /
2021 Student Fellow
Rural Summer Legal Corps

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow