Meet the 2022 Rural Summer Legal Corps Student Fellows

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, 40 Student Fellows from 36 law schools were selected from 333 applications to work remotely at 37 LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations across the United States and its territories, providing critical legal assistance to people in rural areas.

Meet our 2022 RSLC Student Fellows and learn about how they will be helping to address some of the biggest challenges facing rural communities:

Photo of Hannah Atkinson
Photo of Hannah Atkinson

Hannah Atkinson (she/her/hers), Pace University School of Law

At Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, Hannah will help launch a much-needed project to identify with tenants of mobile parks that are at risk of homelessness, have been living in illegal and inhabitable conditions, and have been subjected to other illegal practices.

 

Photo of J.D. Barnes
Photo of J.D. Barnes

John (J.D.) Barnes (he/him/his), University of Oklahoma College of Law

J.D. will develop litigation strategies and a community education program for Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Native American Program, which provides legal services to Native Americans experiencing legal issues in or involved with courts in Nebraska. He will also provide direct legal services to Native Americans residing in communities on or near reservations or in tribal service areas who have legal issues related to housing.

 

Photo of Elise Baroni
Photo of Elise Baroni

Elise Baroni (she/her/hers), University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Leflar Law Center

Hosted at Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc, Elise will join Beyond Opioids—Breaking Legal Barriers for Families in Recovery—the first collaborative project among legal aid programs focused on people impacted by the opioid crisis and other substance use disorders. There, Elise will help provide direct legal services to low-income Arkansans with Opioid Use Disorder experiencing barriers to treatment and conduct outreach and education in partnership with methadone providers in the underserved Delta Region.

 

Photo of Samantha Beauchamp
Photo of Samantha Beauchamp

Samantha Beauchamp (she/her/hers), Suffolk University Law School

At Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc (LawNY), Samantha will assist low-income clients in reducing barriers to employment and accessing unemployment insurance benefits. Additionally, Samantha will help LawNY expand its employment-related legal services provided to rural clients, especially to those who are under-or-unemployed due to having a criminal record.

 

Photo of Tara Blackwell
Photo of Tara Blackwell

Tara Blackwell (she/her/hers), Washington and Lee University School of Law

Tara will work with a special initiative at Center for Arkansas Legal Services to reduce generational poverty through home ownership and estate planning. Her work will concentrate on the poorest communities of the Arkansas Delta. As part of this work, Tara will help protect family land through “Wills on Wheels” clinics to prevent title issues before they occur, participate in community outreach, and provide litigation support to staff attorneys at her host organization.

 

Photo of Emily Borbon
Photo of Emily Borbon

Emily Borbon (she/her/hers), Belmont University College of Law

Emily will work with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas to provide direct legal services, outreach, and community education to underserved populations in Wichita Falls, Texas. She will focus on housing stability and assist in three priority areas: eviction defense/rental assistance cases, debt collection cases, and expunctions and driver’s license restoration cases.

 

Photo of Billy Bradley
Photo of Billy Bradley

William (Billy) Bradley (he/him/his), University of California, Berkeley School of Law

At Legal Services Alabama, Billy will support his host organization’s Rural Economic Improvement Project (REIP), an initiative created to improve access to civil justice and build legal empowerment in rural Alabama communities. As a Student Fellow, Billy will help represent clients, conduct community outreach, and organize hybrid responses targeted to the needs of clients and communities.

 

Photo of Patrick Brogan
Photo of Patrick Brogan

Patrick Brogan (he/him/his), Villanova University School of Law

Hosted at Ohio State Legal Services, Patrick will assist with defending tenants facing eviction and gathering critical information from multiple counties, including court data and documented stories of individuals with disparate eviction outcomes because of their county location. Additionally, Patrick will attend hearings in these courts, take notes and track the outcomes of cases to help determine where future Tenant Advocacy Project clinics or other eviction diversion tools would be beneficial.

 

Photo of Chery Dayleen
Photo of Dayleen Chery

Dayleen Chery (she/her/hers), Southern University Law Center

Dayleen will work with her host organization, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc, on employment law matters affecting migrant and seasonal agricultural workers. She will assist with negotiations and litigation on current cases, along with intakes and case development for various complaints that the team receives during the summer.

 

Photo of Gabe Cripe
Photo of Gabe Cripe

Gabe Cripe (he/him/his), University of Cincinnati College of Law

At Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, Gabe will support his host organization’s Kinship Care Team, which assists grandparents and others who are caring for children whose parents cannot raise them due to a variety of issues, including substance use, untreated mental illness, or incarceration. He will assist with outreach, maintenance of referral relationships with partner agencies, brief-service legal clinics and legal advocacy to help clients access public benefits like Medicaid, Food Stamps, and cash payments to support the children they are raising.

 

Photo of Monte Cole
Photo of Monte Cole

Monte Cole (he/him/his), University of Montana School of Law

Hosted by Nevada Legal Services, Monte will work directly with a farmworker rights attorney and an outreach coordinator to provide legal education, access to justice, and investigation and defenses against rights violations of farmworkers. Monte will also help represent clients when necessary and conduct legal research on labor rights issues.

 

Photo of Hannah Davis
Photo of Hannah Davis

Hannah Davis (she/her/hers), Tulane University Law School

Hannah will assist Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ASLC) in efforts to empower communities by increasing knowledge of the legal system and local resources. She will also assist ALSC staff with the Pro Bono Training Academy, which is an online resource that trains non-attorney community advocates to assist clients, and BeneFactor, an app that guides caseworkers through the steps needed to assemble a successful disability application.

 

Photo of Jacob Engelhardt
Photo of Jacob Engelhardt

Jacob Engelhardt (he/him/his), Boston College Law School

Jacob will work with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid to provide outreach, community education, and legal assistance to a growing population of domestic violence survivors who face isolation and economic instability due to the remoteness of rural Illinois which lacks public transportation, childcare, and sometimes even cellphone service. Jacob will also be trained on how to assist and represent these at-risk clients holistically, particularly as these clients often have more than one legal issue at a time.

 

Photo of Rodrigo Fernandez-Ortega
Photo of Rodrigo Fernandez-Ortega

Rodrigo Fernandez-Ortega (he/him/his), Willamette University College of Law

Rodrigo will conduct outreach to low-income housing communities, mobile home parks, and resource centers with his host organization, Legal Aid Services of Oregon. He will also educate tenants about their rights, work with staff attorneys to provide legal representation in eviction cases, collect data about eviction proceedings; and examine the compliance of courts with various rules and statutes meant to protect tenants.

 

Photo of Maiya Fudge
Photo of Maiya Fudge

Maiya Fudge (she/her/hers), University of Florida Levin College of Law

At Legal Service of Greater Miami, Maiya will assist with the Mobile Home Park Advocacy Project which serves mobile home park residents in rural Miami. Through this project, she will help provide access to justice for mobile home park homeowners’ associations, composed of low-income mobile home park owners, in park closure cases and will legally challenge adverse rules, regulation changes, and rent increases.

 

Photo of Cassie Goodnight
Photo of Cassie Goodnight

Cassie Goodnight (she/her/hers), Washington University School of Law

At Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Cassie will provide legal services through the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Parent Representation Project. She will provide a variety of legal services to parents and families to help enforce the ICWA, which prevents the arbitrary removal of Indian children from their homes.

 

Photo of Andrew Green
Photo of Andrew Green

Andrew Green (he/him/his), Villanova University School of Law

Andrew will work on the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands’  Rural Reentry Outreach & Legal Clinics Project, which provides access to justice for the formerly incarcerated. He will support legal work to assist low-income, rural individuals facing societal barriers due to prior criminal records, providing services such as criminal record expungement, driver’s license reinstatement, and certificates of employability for private employers and state licensing.

 

Photo of Matthew Gulick
Photo of Matthew Gulick

Matthew Gulick (he/him/his), Lewis & Clark Law School

Hosted by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Matthew will work with the Community Development and Environmental Justice team to ensure that rural communities are not overburdened by air and water pollution, have access to safe drinking water, and are able to fight predatory foreclosure practices by an irrigation district.

 

Photo of Kelsey Gunvalson
Photo of Kelsey Gunvalson

Kelsey Gunvalson (she/her/hers), University of Wisconsin Law School

At Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota Corporation, Kelsey will work on Reach Justice Minnesota, a statewide network of community-based civil justice kiosks and mobile civil legal aid clinics. She will expand the use of the legal kiosk network across northern Minnesota and establish regularly scheduled mobile legal clinics in a variety of court, agency, nonprofit, and other community locations.

 

Photo of Jada Haynes
Photo of Jada Haynes

Jada Haynes, (she/her/hers) Southern University Law Center

Jada will work with host organization Georgia Legal Services Program to assist rural communities of color in securing homeownership and preserving wealth in communities that are most affected by natural disasters. Jada will conduct needs assessments, draft educational materials for high-risk communities, and create training materials for volunteer lawyers to assist with FEMA recovery.

 

Photo of Anna Henson
Photo of Anna Henson

Anna Henson (she/her/hers), Michigan State University College of Law

At Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc, Anna will work within the Basic Unit and the Family Law and Victims’ Rights Unit to provide legal services to low-income clients throughout Aroostook County, Maine. She will combine substantive legal work, research projects, community outreach, and a needs assessment to resolve complex legal issues on behalf of more low-income clients.

 

Photo of Millie Hobaish
Photo of Millie Hobaish 

Millie Hobaish (she/her/hers), University of California, Irvine School of Law

Hosted by DNA-Peoples Legal Services, Millie will work with 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.

 

Photo of Hannah Holmberg
Photo of Hannah Holmberg

Hannah Holmberg (she/her/hers), University of St. Thomas School of Law

At Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota Corporation, Hannah will work on Reach Justice Minnesota, a statewide network of community-based civil justice kiosks and mobile civil legal aid clinics. She will expand the use of the legal kiosk network across northern Minnesota and establish regularly scheduled mobile legal clinics in a variety of court, agency, nonprofit, and other community locations.

 

Photo of Christopher Irsfeld
Photo of Christopher Irsfeld

Christopher Irsfeld (he/him/his), New York University School of Law

Christopher will address legal issues affecting rural transgender and gender-non-conforming Californians while working at his host organization, California Rural Legal Assistance. He will work with the LGBTQ+ Program to investigate potential harassment and discrimination claims and provide direct legal services in areas such as identity-document updates, immigration, employment, housing, healthcare access, and education.

 

Photo of Paige Kendrick
Photo of Paige Kendrick

Paige Kendrick, (she/her/hers), Washington University School of Law

Hosted by North Penn Legal Services, Paige will provide outreach, community education, and representation in rural counties which have significant needs in housing, debt, and consumer matters. Paige will also conduct outreach, create networking opportunities, and use legal information to educate communities.

 

Photo of Haley Klima
Photo of Haley Klima

Haley Kilma, (she/her/hers), University of Mississippi School of Law

At North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, Haley will provide free tax representation for increased numbers of low-income taxpayers who cannot afford to pay private attorneys to address their tax problems. Haley will also expand efforts to reach taxpayers through education and outreach in various Mississippi communities and raise awareness of available resources and clinics.

 

Photo of Robert Lass
Photo of Robert Lass

Robert Lass (he/him/his), University of Missouri School of Law

Robert will help Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Inc. expand outreach efforts in rural counties and increase their capacity, mainly in serving domestic violence victims living in rural northeastern Missouri. Robert will work with mentors to conduct intake screenings, interview clients, draft pleadings, manage dockets, appear in court, and assist with case closeout, primarily for domestic violence cases.

 

Photo of Maya Madden
Photo of Maya Madden

Maya Madden (she/her/hers), Texas A&M University School of Law

Hosted by Lone Star Legal Aid, Maya will implement the Homestead and Disability Property Tax Exemption project for low-income residents of rural Texas. She will conduct community outreach and education, provide legal counsel, and help represent clients who need guidance securing tax exemptions or are fighting for the return of their homes after unjust tax foreclosure lawsuits led to home loss.

 

Photo of Olivia Marks
Photo of Olivia Marks

Olivia Marks (she/her/hers), Tulane University Law School

At Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation, Olivia will focus largely on ensuring that communities impacted by Hurricane Ida throughout rural parishes have access to justice and are not left behind in the recovery process. She will provide legal services to help these individuals recover after disasters and will provide significant outreach.

 

Photo of Robert Necciai
Photo of Robert Necciai

Robert Necciai (he/him/his), University of Pittsburgh School of Law

As a Student Fellow at Neighborhood Legal Services Association, Robert will work closely with experienced attorneys and partners to connect more clients to custody legal services. His work will include establishing regular outreach information sessions to provide information on custody rights and responsibilities and helping with custody cases.

 

Photo of Hana Muslic
Photo of Hana Muslic

Hana Muslic (she/her/hers), DePaul University College of Law

Hosted by Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc, Hana will focus on meeting the challenge of the increased number of housing and eviction matters that will come forth due to the end of the Minnesota Eviction Moratorium Phaseout. With only two housing attorneys available to meet this increasing demand for legal services at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Hana will help to directly serve clients in landlord-tenant and other housing matters.

 

Photo of Regan Richards
Photo of Regan Richards

Regan Richards (she/her/hers), George Washington University Law School

At Montana Legal Services Association, Regan will conduct intake interviews, provide supervised legal advice to tenants facing eviction, participate in landlord-tenant mediations, and help route clients for full representation, mediation, and other wrap-around services.

 

Photo of Lauren Rowell
Photo of Lauren Rowell

Lauren Rowell (she/her/hers), University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Lauren will work directly with attorneys at Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York on landlord-tenant and family law proceedings involving domestic violence to address problems faced by rural clients in accessing legal assistance and representation.

 

Photo of Gabriella Sayger
Photo of Gabriella Sayger

Gabriella Sayger (she/her/hers), Appalachian School of Law

Hosted by Legal Aid of West Virginia, Gabriella will help provide direct civil legal services focusing on stabilizing clients’ access to housing and economic stability for rural renters at risk of eviction. Gabriella will also provide targeted outreach and legal education for community partners and the public on legal issues.

 

Photo of Aaron Schaffer-Neitz
Photo of Aaron Schaffer-Neitz

Aaron Schaffer-Neitz (he/him/his), Stanford Law School

At Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc, Aaron will gain experience with all types of cases from agricultural workers across New York, including trafficking, wage theft, workplace health and safety, discrimination, and civil rights. His work will have a special emphasis on housing issues experienced by New York farmworkers living in employer-provided housing such as brown drinking water, mold, sewage backup, cracked windows, exposed wiring, overcrowded conditions, and a lack of heat during cold months.

 

Photo of Mary Sommerfeldt
Photo of Maryn Sommerfeldt

Maryn Sommerfeldt (she/her/hers), University of Oregon School of Law

Hosted by Utah Legal Services, Maryn will work closely with experienced attorneys to conduct outreach and serve clients in rural and frontier areas of Utah. She will help provide targeted outreach to underserved populations, organize a community education and outreach plan to assist with debt collection cases, and provide direct services to clients in debt collection cases.

 

Photo of Gabriel Spellberg
Photo of Gabriel Spellberg

Gabe Spellberg (he/him/his), Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology

At Colorado Legal Services, Gabe will work with the Migrant Farm Worker Division to meet the legal needs of farmworkers in the Western Slope region of Colorado. His work will focus on working conditions, wage issues, civil rights, sexual harassment, human trafficking, and immigration.

 

Photo of Autumn Westhoff
Photo of Autumn Westhoff

Autumn Westhoff (she/her/hers), University of Missouri School of Law

Autumn will help Legal Services of Eastern Missouri expand their outreach efforts and increase capacity by serving domestic violence victims living in rural northeastern Missouri. She will work with mentors to conduct intake screenings, interview clients, draft pleadings, manage dockets, appear in court, and assist with case closeout, primarily for domestic violence cases.

 

Photo of Ash Wilkie
Photo of Ash Wilkie

Ashley (Ash) Wilkie (she/her/hers), Michigan State University College of Law

Hosted by Michigan Indian Legal Services, Ash will assist staff with community outreach and planning on-site and virtual clinics. She will also attend three clinics in rural areas and draft estate planning documents, such as wills, powers of attorney, and patient advocate forms.

 

 

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

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

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 25, 2022—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 40 law students for the Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC).

“It is inspiring to see the number of law students who wish to make a meaningful difference in rural communities where civil legal aid is difficult to find,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “We look forward to seeing the collective impact this talented group of students will have during their summer of service.”

It is inspiring to see the number of law students who wish to make a meaningful difference in rural communities where civil legal aid is difficult to find.

David Stern /
Equal Justice Works Executive Director

RSLC 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 help address challenges facing rural communities.

The 2022 class of Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellows includes 40 students from 36 law schools who will work at 37 LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations across the United States and its territories, providing critical legal assistance to people in rural areas. Through the program, Student Fellows have the opportunity to provide direct legal services, engage in community outreach and education, and build capacity at the organizations where they are hosted.

“The Rural Summer Legal Corps offers law students direct exposure to a potential career and supports civil legal aid organizations working tirelessly to meet the needs of their communities,” said LSC President Ron Flagg. “The shortage of lawyers in rural areas is well documented, and Fellows’ service this summer during the COVID-19 health crisis is particularly important as the numbers of people eligible for LSC-funded services and the legal needs of Americans living in poverty have been surging.”

The Rural Summer Legal Corps offers law students direct exposure to a potential career and supports civil legal aid organizations working tirelessly to meet the needs of their communities.

Ron Flagg /
LSC President

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:

  • Dayleen Chery and Matthew Gulick will support their host organization, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., in the areas of farmworkers rights and environmental justice. Dayleen, a student at Southern University Law Center, will work on a variety of employment law matters affecting migrant and seasonal agricultural workers; and Matthew, a student at Lewis & Clark Law School, will help ensure rural communities are not overburdened by air and water pollution and have access to safe drinking water.
  • Elise Baroni 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. Elise, a student at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Leflar Law Center, will be hosted by Legal Aid of Arkansas.
  • Christopher Irsfeld will support his host organization, California Rural Legal Assistance, in addressing legal issues affecting rural transgender and gender-non-conforming Californians, as well as investigating potential harassment and discrimination claims. Christopher is a law student at New York University School of Law.

Launched in 2016, RSLC Student Fellows have helped increase access to justice for thousands of individuals living in rural communities. In 2021, law students in the program collectively contributed 10,746 hours to help rural communities, with 4,492 hours spent on direct legal services. These Student Fellows also participated in 154 outreach events, created or expanded more than 170 collaborations with community partners, and provided legal information to more than 900 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 132 independent nonprofit legal aid organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Visit www.lsc.gov for more information.

Contact:
Heena Patel
Marketing & Communications Director
Email: [email protected]

Photo of Vivian Martinez

Equal Justice Works is proud to announce that Vivian Martinez has joined the organization’s board of directors as its newest member. Vivian is a second-year law student and Public Interest Scholar at LMU Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

“Equal Justice Works was founded by law students, and they are still core to our mission.  We provide public interest opportunities, training, and educational debt assistance to enable these students to pursue their public interest dreams while in law school and beyond,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “We are honored to welcome Vivian to the Board. She is an accomplished young leader whose passion for public interest law and commitment to serving her community make her a perfect addition to our Board of Directors.”

At LMU Loyola Law School, Vivian stays active on campus by volunteering at the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic, where she provides direct representation to individuals who are unable to obtain immigration legal services elsewhere. At the Clinic, Vivian also collaborates with other law students on advocacy projects to advance the rights of immigrant communities of East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights. In addition to her immigration advocacy work, Vivian is a member of La Raza de Loyola and the Disability Law Society at her school.

“As the first in my family to attend law school, I feel an enormous responsibility to channel my family’s strength as new Americans into action of my own,” said Vivian. “I am thrilled to grow the momentum of the Equal Justice Works mission and uplift diversity in the legal field for continuing generations of QTBIPOC law students and lawyers. It is my great privilege to contribute to the vision of advancing equal access to justice alongside the dedicated board and passionate staff at Equal Justice Works.”

I am thrilled to grow the momentum of the Equal Justice Works mission and uplift diversity in the legal field for continuing generations of QTBIPOC law students and lawyers.

Vivian Martinez /
Equal Justice Works Board Member

Vivian’s passion for public interest law extends beyond campus. Following her first year of law school, Vivian helped to provide critical legal services for people living in rural communities as part of the Rural Summer Legal Corps, a partnership between Equal Justice Works and the Legal Services Corporation that supports law students in serving rural communities each summer. During her Student Fellowship, Vivian was hosted at California Rural Legal Assistance, where she assisted with employment and immigration matters for LGBTQ+ rural communities in the Central Coast and Central Valley.

“My experience as an RSLC Student Fellow was fundamental to my journey in public interest law,” said Vivian. “The LGBTQ+ Program provided me with the training and mentorship necessary for a strong foundation in inclusive and affirming client representation. I gained invaluable skills to strengthen collaboration between clients and their legal team. The partnership between Equal Justice Works and California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., made my commitment to those most marginalized possible and allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of our legal system and its impact on LGBTQ+ rural communities.”

After law school, Vivian plans to pursue a career in public service where she can draw on her experience in holistic services to uplift immigrant communities.

Visit here to view a full list of Equal Justice Works Board of Directors.

Rural areas in the United States have long been faced with a lack of accessible civil legal aid. Residents in rural communities are often forced to travel great distances to find much-needed legal assistance. Since 2016, Equal Justice Works has worked with Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to bring unique opportunities for law students to improve access to justice in rural areas through the Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC).

Last summer, Student Fellows in the RSLC spent eight to ten weeks helping to provide direct legal services and engaging in community outreach and education. Selected from 460 applications, the 2021 class of RSLC Student Fellows included 35 Student Fellows who served at 32 LSC-funded civil legal organizations across the country. During their summer of service, Student Fellows collectively contributed 10,746 hours to help rural communities attain access to legal aid, with 4,492 hours spent on direct legal services! Their efforts helped a total of 1,296 individuals, and they assisted on 795 legal cases.

“I felt like I was making a meaningful difference in the lives of my clients,” said Jessica Stipek, a second-year law student at the University of Oregon School of Law and 2021 RSLC Student Fellow. “I also appreciate that I got to work on a wide range of cases and with different attorneys.”

I felt like I was making a meaningful difference in the lives of my clients. I also appreciate that I got to work on a wide range of cases and with different attorneys.

Jessica Stipek /
2021 Student Fellow
Rural Summer Legal Corps

Student Fellows provided legal aid in a wide variety of issues, such as housing matters, COVID-19, economic matters, the opioid crisis, and disaster relief. They also served a diverse client base that included agricultural workers, victims of domestic violence, minors, veterans, military members, and elderly clients. Of the 34 RSLC participants surveyed, 80% said that their experiences throughout the Fellowship increased their interest in working with similar client bases in the future.

Additionally, the 2021 RSLC class of Student Fellows participated in 154 outreach events and created or expanded more than 170 collaborations with community partnerships. These efforts resulted in 944 individuals receiving informational legal services, such as resource materials, Know Your Rights trainings, and fact sheets.

“I was able to directly serve clients in filing various forms of post-conviction relief,” said Justin Small, a third-year student at Loyola Law School Los Angeles and 2021 RSLC Student Fellow. “It was actually being able to talk to clients and help them with their legal issues that I think was the most impactful. I also got to develop some of my ideas around client advocacy.”

Despite the challenge of several Student Fellows working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 RSLC Student Fellows were still about to explore their passion for service and foster positive outcomes for the clients they served. Following their summer of service, 97% of Student Fellows felt that their legal knowledge had increased from their Fellowships, and 85% said participating in the RSLC had increased their passion for public interest law.

“It afforded me the opportunity to get real legal aid experience and confirm that I am invested in pursuing a career in public interest law,” said Justin.

[RSLC] afforded me the opportunity to get real legal aid experience and confirm that I am invested in pursuing a career in public interest law.

Justin Small /
2021 Student Fellow
Rural Summer Legal Corps

For more information about the Rural Summer Legal Corps, such as program eligibility and requirements, please visit here. To become a 2022 Student Fellow, apply by 11:59 p.m. ET on February 14, 2022.

The Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC)—a partnership between Equal Justice Works and Legal Services Corporation (LSC)—supports 40 dedicated law students in serving rural communities each summer. Participants, called Student Fellows, have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore their public interest passions while gaining hands-on experience, all while earning a $5,000 stipend.

Interested in joining this incredible program? Here’s what you need to know about applying to be an RSLC Student Fellow this summer.

Who is eligible?

RSLC is open to current law students who have completed their first year of law school by the start of the program (summer 2022). For some placements, applicants must possess a valid driver’s license and/or access to adequate transportation or have proficiency in a second language.

How do I submit a strong RSLC application?

A standout application will showcase a law student’s passion for public service and access to justice issues. Additionally, a strong display of interest for the project focus area to which you apply also holds significant weight in the decision process. If you have a personal connection to rural communities, highlighting that connection is another way to make a positive impression.

What type of training do RSLC Student Fellows receive?

All RSLC Student Fellows attend an exciting three-day training before their service begins. This training is made up of a series of workshops and panels, networking opportunities, and the chance to connect with and ask questions of the LSC and Equal Justice Works staff. If the training is held in-person, Fellows receive travel accommodations and lodging for the training in Washington, D.C., as well as one-way travel arrangements from the training to each student’s host organization.

What type of work can I expect to complete during my Student Fellowship?

Student Fellows will take on a wide range of responsibilities regardless of the specific project focus area of their host site. These assignments can include direct client services, client intake consultations/interviewing with supervising attorneys, legal writing opportunities, and court appearances. Projects may also include non-legal assignments such as community outreach, education, and pro bono coordination. This summer, some projects are in-person, while others will be conducted remotely. You can find a list of host organizations and their position descriptions on the Equal Justice Works website here.

Can the RSLC lead to long-term opportunities following law school graduation?

Yes! Several Student Fellows have been hired by their previous host sites as full-time staff attorneys after graduation. For example, Ana Laurel, a 2018 Equal Justice Works Fellow in our Disaster Recovery Legal Corps, previously served in the Rural Summer Legal Corps, and Kevin Hempy, a 2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow, is now a Fellow who designed his own project at Prairie State Legal Services focused on improving employment prospects and financial stability through criminal records relief.

Are you ready to apply? 

Applicants will be asked to provide a résumé, a personal statement describing their professional qualifications and interest in the program, and their top three host organization choices. For more information about program eligibility and requirements, visit our website or email us at [email protected]

Be sure to submit your application before the deadline on February 14, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

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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.

Brooke Trottier, a third year law student at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and a 2021 Student Fellow in the Rural Summer Legal Corps, shares her summer of service experience, and the challenges facing rural communities.

Last summer, I served in the Rural Summer Legal Corps with Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota (LASNEM), a legal services organization that serves eleven counties in the Northeastern corner of the state, including the small town in which my family resides. I was drawn to this program due to its focus on providing access to justice through technology in rural communities.

Photo of a legal kiosk network location

The Reach Justice Minnesota is a project by the four regional legal aid providers of Minnesota. This project entails a series of initiatives, two of which I contributed to: the legal kiosk network and the Justice Buses.

The legal kiosk network consists of more than 200 computers located in community partner host sites. These kiosks provide access to a self-help legal database and the application for regional legal aid, with select kiosks outfitted for video conferencing. In alignment with the growing challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon the community, the end of Minnesota’s eviction moratorium saw district courts requiring parties attend Zoom court by video.

While at LASNEM, I focused on maximizing host site experiences with the legal kiosks. As community partners opened their offices to the public again, it was important to ensure that the kiosks were functioning, each site had the tools it needed, and we were available for any questions or concerns that arose. This led to a fun field trip where I drove across LASNEM’s service area and visited five host sites!

Photo of Brooke Trottier and Justice Bus colleagues at the Minnesota State Capitol in July 2021

Another part of my work involved The Justice Bus, a mobile legal aid office affiliated with each regional aid office. I was responsible for ensuring LASNEM was well-equipped for providing legal aid services out of the bus: drafting internal policies, defining expectations and procedures, and connecting with community partners. This project culminated at the end of July when the four Justice Buses met at the Minnesota State Capitol. It was quite the experience to see the project come to life, and to witness the Minnesota Attorney General and Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice’s support for the initiative.

The Justice Bus project required vast collaboration across the state: legal aid staff, attorneys and Executive Directors, community partners, technology support companies, and the Minnesota Judiciary. Although it could be difficult to coordinate involvement from each group, the value of collaboration was clear.

My Equal Justice Works Student Fellowship introduced me to the expansive reach of civil legal aid. I not only have a renewed energy towards providing equitable access to justice and legal aid, but see a future for myself as a civil legal attorney.

I not only have a renewed energy towards providing equitable access to justice and legal aid, but see a future for myself as a civil legal attorney.

Brooke Trottier /
2021 Student Fellow
Rural Summer Legal Corps

I am immensely grateful for this experience and would recommend the Rural Summer Legal Corps to anyone who is considering a future in civil legal aid. This Student Fellowship was hands-on and allowed me to own my projects, while being supervised by experienced attorneys and legal staff.

If you are interested in embarking on a summer of service like Brooke, 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.

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

Interested in spending a summer of service gaining hands-on legal experience? If you’re a first or second-year law school student, apply for one of these exciting law student opportunities offered by Equal Justice Works:

  • Rural Summer Legal Corps—a partnership between Equal Justice Works and Legal Services Corporation (LSC)—supports 40 law students in serving rural and isolated communities. Student Fellows take on challenging projects through LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations, addressing legal issues such as affordable housing and evictions, domestic violence, farmworkers’ rights, and family law matters.
  • Disaster Resilience Program mobilizes 11 law students to work alongside Equal Justice Works Fellows as they provide civil legal aid to disaster-prone areas in California, Louisiana, and New Mexico. Student Fellows play a critical role in improving disaster preparedness and recovery for communities prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires.

“It afforded me the opportunity to get real legal aid experience and confirm that I am invested in pursuing a career in public interest,” said 2021 Rural Summer Legal Corps Student Fellow Justin Small.

Participants, called Student Fellows, will spend eight to ten weeks gaining valuable legal experience, expanding their network within the legal field, and serving communities in need this summer—all while working toward a $5,000 stipend! Student Fellows take on a wide range of responsibilities including providing direct client services, engaging in community outreach and advocacy efforts, and building capacity at the organization where they work.

Applications for these programs are being accepted until 11:59 p.m. ET on February 14, 2022. For more information about program eligibility and requirements and to apply, please visit here.

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:

Photo of Cole Adams

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.

 

Photo of Molly Bohanan

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.

 

Photo of Marcela Darris

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.

 

 

Photo of Emma Dillon

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.

 

Photo of Mitchell Forbes

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.

 

Photo of Ricardo Gomez

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. 

 

Photo of Casey Hardaway

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.

 

Photo of Katy Harvey

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.

 

Photo of Shawn Holcomb

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.

 

Photo of James Johnson

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.

 

 

Photo of Addie Martin

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.

 

Photo of Vivian Martinez

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.

 

Photo of Michael McDonald

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.

 

Photo of Jendi McNicholas

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.

 

Photo of Jocelyn Mercado

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.

 

Photo of Beven Nedumthakady

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.

 

Photo of Maggie Ogletree

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.

 

 

Photo of Jessica Olave

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.

 

Photo of Sam Parker

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.

 

Photo of Shelbire Pierre Paul

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.

 

Photo of Elena Pruett-Fiederlein

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.

 

Photo of Zoe Psiakis

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.

 

Photo of Kathryn Quinlan

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.

 

Photo of Bonnie Rees

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. 

 

Photo of Rachel Richardson

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.

 

Photo of Abigail Riley

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.

 

Photo of Shane Salwasser

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.

 

Photo of Justin Small

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.

 

Photo of Kaitlyn Smith

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.

 

Photo of Aura Soto

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.

 

Photo of Jessica Stipek

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.

 

Photo of Brooke Trottier

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.

 

Photo of Terralyn Wilburn

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.

 

Photo of Andrew Wirkus

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.

 

Photo of Kate Workman

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.

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.

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

Contact:
Heena Patel
Marketing & Communications Director
Email: [email protected]