Equal Justice Works Blog

Returning Service Members Share How They Give Back to Veterans as Legal Fellows

November 10, 2014














Equal Justice Works is proud to have 40 AmeriCorps Legal Fellows and 13 Equal Justice Works Fellows serving our nation’s veterans.  Of the 53 Fellows, 17 of them are military veterans. They include:

AmeriCorps Legal Fellows
Robert Abdalla

Jami Altum-McNair

Nadel Barrett
Sean Dennis
Elias Espinoza
Michelle Miller
Gerard Murphy
Waldo Tapia

Equal Justice Works Fellows
Kimberly Adams
Devin Bissman
John Cimino
Leo Flor
Tiffany Kelley
Colleen Kelly
Amanda Sejba
Johnathan Silva

Photo above: All Fellows serving veterans came onto the stage during the 2013 Equal Justice Works Annual dinner programs.

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How Public Service Loan Forgiveness Helps Close the Justice Gap

November 7, 2014

Public Service Loan Forgiveness allows borrowers to earn forgiveness on their eligible student loans after making 120 on-time monthly payments while satisfying requirements that include working full time in a qualifying public service position - to a greater or lesser extent. But with the Higher Education Act up for reauthorization, there are increasing calls to restrict Public Service Loan Forgiveness and limit its effect. This would be a significant blow to poor- and middle-income Americans and one that would widen the justice gap.

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Tennessee Bar Association Names Alumna Michele Johnson (’96) 2015 Public Service Attorney of the Year

November 5, 2014

Equal Justice Works alumna Michele Johnson (’96) is currently the executive director and co-founder of the Tennessee Justice Center, which she launched during her Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 1996. With 20 years of advocating for children with special health care needs under her belt, she also brings her experiences into the classroom as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University.

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2014 Conference and Career Fair Recap - Bryan Stevenson’s Keynote Address, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption"

October 31, 2014

Thank you to this year’s phenomenal Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair keynote speaker, Bryan Stevenson, who delivered a address on the criminal justice system in the United States. Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and currently a professor at New York University Law School. He shared with aspiring public interest lawyers his personal experiences that shaped how he used the law to address social injustices throughout his career. The event was part of Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption book tour, which kicked off on Tuesday, October, 21, 2014. Click here to purchase his newly-released book.


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Alumna Adriana Rodriguez (’11) Empowers Undocumented Survivors of Domestic Violence Along U.S- Mexico Border

October 28, 2014

Below is a guest blog post from 2011 Equal Justice Works alumna, Adriana G. Rodriguez. Her Fellowship at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Laredo, Texas was sponsored by Texas Access to Justice Foundation. Most recently, she was recognized as the Domestic Violence Advocate of the Year by the City of Laredo and Webb County in Texas. Read how Adriana has empowered undocumented survivors of domestic violence along the U.S.-Mexico border to fight for their safety.  

I returned home to Laredo, Texas as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in 2011. After learning about the prevalence of domestic violence and its long-term effects on families in the area, I wanted to empower survivors of domestic violence to seek and secure the protection they deserve. My experiences taught me that empowering mothers is the best way to improve outcomes for children. Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) has a longstanding commitment to assisting survivors of domestic violence across South Texas. I wanted to replicate this success in Laredo, where I knew indigent survivors could not easily access civil legal services.

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Equal Justice Works Fellow Emily Schools (’13) Gains Empowerment from Fellowship Program

October 23, 2014

We recently caught up with 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow Emily Schools at the 2014 Equal Justice Works Leadership Development Training. She shared how her Fellowship experiences have personally empowered her to provide legal aid in the field. Emily is currently at Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and is sponsored by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. Watch the video below:

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Equal Justice Works Launches a new justice AmeriCorps Initiative

October 17, 2014


Equal Justice Works is proud to announce the launch of a new initiative – part of justice AmeriCorps that supports immigrant children who have crossed the U.S. border without a parent or guardian as they navigate complex immigration court proceedings. The effort is led by Equal Justice Works, in partnership with Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), to deploy 55 full-time Members (45 lawyers and 10 paralegals) to provide legal representation to unaccompanied children in 14 cities nationwide.


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Future Fellows: Equal Justice Works Launches Baby Bib Campaign!

October 13, 2014

This month, Equal Justice Works kicks off its “Future Fellows” baby bib campaign! A number of Equal Justice Works alumni, sponsors, and staff members have already submitted photos—below is a preview of some “Future Fellows” in the making. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the first part of our series!

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Fellow Jessica Emerson (’13) Files First Motion Under the Maryland Human Trafficking Victim Protection Act

October 8, 2014

2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow Jessica Emerson, who directs the Trafficking Victims Post-Conviction Advocacy Project (TVPCAP) at the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, successfully prevented one of her clients, a survivor of human trafficking, from being criminalized as a prostitute. On September 12, 2014, the Women’s Law Center filed its first motion to vacate the prostitution convictions under the Maryland Human Trafficking Victim Protection Act.  Days later, the Honorable John Peter McKenna, Jr., District Administrative Judge for Anne Arundel County, vacated the survivor’s conviction and dismissed the charges against her. 

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Army Veteran and 2014 Fellow Tiffany Kelley Launches Major Initiative at the National Veterans Legal Services Program

October 3, 2014

Incoming 2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Tiffany Kelley, is bringing her expertise to the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) to advocate for veteran survivors of military sexual trauma (MST).  Tiffany is an Army veteran who has previously worked with wounded, injured, and ill service members while she was assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit.  NVLSP recently launched an initiative—made possible by Tiffany’s Fellowship—to address the needs of veterans who are MST survivors and need assistance in obtaining VA disability benefits.

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