AmeriCorps JD program funds future lawyers with public interest experience

Equal Justice Works and AmeriCorps recently announced the creation of the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps JD Program which provides law students with an opportunity to expand the delivery of critically needed legal assistance in low-income and underserved communities across the country for veterans, military families, disaster victims, and other vulnerable populations. Services include disability benefits claims, removing barriers to housing and employment, family law, and other legal issues.

"Participants in the AmeriCorps JD program will help resolve some of the most critical legal problems that prevent people from having decent jobs, safe housing, and stable family lives," said David Stern, executive director of Equal Justice Works. "At Equal Justice Works, we believe that many students begin law school with a desire to change lives. This initiative will allow them to have a positive impact some of society's most underserved communities."

Veterans frequently face complicated legal problems stemming from physical and psychological injuries sustained during military service. An annual survey by the VA shows legal needs are among the top unmet needs of homeless and low-income veterans. Further, the VA has recently recognized that the legal profession is part of the solution to remedy backlogged disability claims.

Several significant natural disasters, including the Oklahoma tornadoes, floods in Colorado and Superstorm Sandy in New York, have affected the livelihoods of thousands of Americans. Many of them now face legal obstacles and require assistance to access FEMA grants and private insurance, as well as access safe housing.

An AmeriCorps-funded program, AmeriCorps JD provides law students with the opportunity to earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award - a voucher for educational expenses - for dedicating 300 hours of service to a qualifying legal project with legal aid organizations, veterans' law clinics, Veterans Treatment Courts, academic institutions and other state or local government agencies.

Equal Justice Works is currently seeking host sites and is accepting applications from law students for this program. For service in the spring semester, applications are due January 15. For service in summer 2014, applications will open in March and will be due April 15. For additional information, visit http://equaljusticeworks.org/americorpsjd.

Published: Tue, Dec 24, 2013