Eligibility and Criteria
MORE ABOUT THIS PROGRAM
- AmeriCorps JD Success Stories
- I am Ready to Apply to AmeriCorps JD
- Eligibility and Criteria
- FAQs for Law School Professionals
- FAQs for Applicants
- FAQs for Supervisors and Host Sites
- Information for Supervisors and Host Organizations
- Information for Current AmeriCorps JD Members
- Resources for 2013 AmeriCorps JD Priority Areas
OVERVIEW OF ELIGIBILITY & CRITERIA
To participate in AmeriCorps JD, you must be a current law student with a placement at a qualifying organization serving veterans or victims of disaster for at least 20% of your required 300 hours of service. You must not receive compensation more than $4,300 for the same service and you must not receive school credit for the same service. All participants are required to undergo a fingerprint-based background check at Equal Justice Works expense.
As a federally funded and Equal Justice Works program, Equal Justice Works requires that members meet certain eligibility requirements including immigration status and Equal Justice Works member law school status. Additional information is as follows:
In order to be eligible for any AmeriCorps program, including AmeriCorps JD, you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States. During the application process, all applicants will be required to provide proof of their status by submitting acceptable documentation of eligibility, such as a copy of an unexpired U.S. passport, birth certificate, and certificate of naturalization or Lawful Permanent Resident card.
In order to participate in AmeriCorps JD, you must be a current student at an Equal Justice Works member school.
QUALIFYING HOST ORGANIZATION AND PROJECT
In order to be eligible for AmeriCorps JD, a student must have secured a placement with a host organization prior to submitting an application. AmeriCorps JD members must serve in the United States at a qualifying organization. For the 2013-2014 year, AmeriCorps JD members must serve veterans or victims of disaster for at least 60 hours of their 300 hours. Those participating in the 200 spots available in the Veterans Legal Corps or Disaster Legal Corpswill need to spend at least 50% of their time serving either veterans or victims of a federally recognized disaster. The remainder of students serving in the Civil Legal Corps will serve a minimum of 60 hours creating a Veterans Toolkit.
Qualifying Host Organizations:
- state and local government agencies, and
- academic institutions/universities.
Non-Qualifying Host Organizations:
- federal government agencies such as federal defender offices, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice;
- internationally-focused and internationally-based organizations;
- organizations primarily engaged in lobbying or impact litigation;
- environmental organizations;
- judicial clerkships, unless with a Veterans Treatment Court; and
- for-profit entities, including private law firms of any sort.
For further information on where AmeriCorps members can serve and the benefits to service, please visit the AmeriCorps website.
A qualifying project must do the following:
1. A qualifying project must propose to provide services to veterans or victims of disaster for at least 20% of your required 300 hours (60 hours or more). Examples of services are:
· Direct legal services: intake, performing client and witness interviews, advocating for clients by telephone and in person, assisting attorneys in legal representation, and carrying out legal research and writing.
· Outreach: conducting outreach to organizations that serve veterans or victims of disaster, developing fact sheets on legal topics of interest to veterans or victims of disaster, distributing fact sheets, developing trainings for veterans or victims of disaster or other social service or legal workers assisting such clients, and delivering training on legal topics or on how to access legal services for veterans.
· Capacity building:activities which build the capacity of your host organization or other organizations to serve veterans or victims of disaster, such as an organizational assessment, compiling best practices, organizing focus groups, leading planning committees and other activities which improve the host organization’s capacity to serve veterans or victims of disaster.
2. You may not engage in any activities prohibited by AmeriCorps during your service hours, including but not limited to:
· Attempting to influence legislation;
· Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts or strikes;
· Assisting, promoting or deterring union organizing;
· Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements;
· Engaging in partisan political activities or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office;
· Participating in or endorsing events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation or elected officials;
· Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization;
· Providing a direct benefit to a business organized for profit; a labor union; a partisan political organization; a nonprofit organization that fails to comply with the restrictions contained in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 except that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent participants from engaging in advocacy activities undertaken at their own initiative; and an organization engaged in the religious activities described in the preceding section, unless CNCS assistance is not used to support those religious activities;
· Conducting a voter registration drive or using CNCS funds to conduct a voter registration drive;
· Providing abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services; and
· Such other activities CNCS may prohibit.
All AmeriCorps JD members must sign a document certifying that they will not partake in any prohibited activities during the course of their project.
3. The following projects are not eligible:
· impact litigation
· pure policy work
4. The project must be completed with the same host organization; hours cannot be split between two or more host organizations.
AmeriCorps JD participants receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $1,175 which can be applied toward student loans or tuition. Members have up to seven years to use this Award. Please click here for further details about the Education Award.
Please note that this Award is not a cash stipend, though a member can receive up to $4,300 in a stipend from another source for their service and still be eligible for the Education Award. The $4,300 cap does not apply for funding provided for activities outside of your service as an AmeriCorps JD member.
AmeriCorps JD members must adhere to the following guidelines regarding outside funding:
1. Members can seek additional sources of funding for their projects and are encouraged to do so. Law school, bar foundation and other public interest fellowship awards are acceptable.
2. Because AmeriCorps JD is an AmeriCorps program, members cannot receive an hourly wage, except for Federal Work Study Awards.
3. A member may receive a “living allowance” of up to $4,300, as long as it is not a wage and not paid on an hourly basis. Members must inform Equal Justice Works of the total amount of any outside awards.
4. Any living allowance must be distributed at regular intervals and in regular increments, only during the member’s term of service and must cease when the participant successfully concludes the term of service.
5. AmeriCorps JD members cannot receive law school credit for their service because the AmeriCorps Education Award they receive at the conclusion of their service is considered compensation by the American Bar Association entity that oversees law school accreditation.
Equal Justice Works evaluates AmeriCorps JD applications and selects members using a number of factors including:
- quality of the application;
- eligibility of the applicant and applicant’s host site;
- geographic diversity;
- law school diversity;
- preference for projects with host organizations that are current AmeriCorps Legal Fellow host sites, Equal Justice Works Fellowship host sites (see here for current Fellows), Veteran Treatment Courts, and/or are funded by the Legal Services Corporation; and
- Strong preference for projects where all 300 hours of service will be spent serving veterans or disaster victims, particularly for those choosing Fall or Winter start dates.
[Note that all members who are not mainly serving veterans or victims of disaster must serve at minimum 60 hours on outreach to veterans using the Equal Justice Works Veterans Legal Outreach Toolkit.]
As an AmeriCorps-funded national service program, all AmeriCorps JD applicants must consent in writing to undergo a National Service Criminal History Check, which includes an FBI nationwide fingerprint-based criminal history check; State criminal registry checks in the state of service and state of residence at time of application; and a National Sex Offender Public Registry search. Additionally, accepted applicants must follow all steps necessary to undergo the required criminal background checks.
Equal Justice Works will conduct and review the results of each National Service Criminal History Check after applicants have applied to AmeriCorps JD, but prior to enrolling those who are selected as AmeriCorps JD members. Selection for AmeriCorps JD is contingent upon Equal Justice Works’ review of the background check results. Having a criminal conviction is not an automatic bar to service. Each application is reviewed on a case by case basis. The AmeriCorps JD application provides further details about the criminal background check process.
If you have questions about AmeriCorps JD, please send an email to AmeriCorpsJD@EqualJusticeWorks.org.