More about Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps
Equal Justice Works continually expands and evolves our AmeriCorps-funded programs to meet national needs at the local level.
Veterans Legal Corps
Veterans frequently face complicated legal problems stemming from physical and mental injuries sustained during military service. When these legal problems go unresolved, they can quickly multiply, creating insurmountable barriers to successful civilian life. Lawyers play key roles in resolving the complex and intertwined legal issues veterans face. The ultimate goal of the Veteran Legal Corps is to improve the lives of veterans – once relied upon to serve their country as members of the armed forces – and enable them to return to civilian life as successful community members.
Over the next three years, Veterans Legal Corps Fellows and law students will provide legal assistance to low-income and homeless veterans with issues related to disability benefits claims, barriers to housing and employment, debt, family law, and other legal issues.
The first class of Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Veterans Legal Corps members will begin their service in August 2013 and serve for two years. Lawyers interested in becoming a Veterans Legal Corps member can view host site locations and available positions on our website here. Equal Justice Works will continue to post more fellowship positions through the end of July as they become open. Applicants should check the website regularly.
AmeriCorps Disaster Legal Fellowship
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in New York City and Long Island, legal aid organizations are still assisting disaster victims with their legal needs. This widespread crisis has resulted in a surge in demand for knowledgeable advocates to help storm victims access FEMA grants, private insurance and other benefits that will help those affected by Sandy rebuild their lives. Based on lessons learned by legal service organizations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and other disaster advocates, New York expects high demand for legal services to continue long-term.
Oklahoma is also recovering from two devastating tornados that struck in May 2013, killing 46 people and destroying over a thousand homes. Legal services organizations have consulted with the legal aid programs in Joplin, Missouri and Alabama that have dealt with legal issues arising from tornado disasters and learned that Oklahoma can expect legal issues presented by low-income clients, similar to those experienced by Superstorm Sandy victims, to continue for two years or more as recovery efforts from the storms progress.
In response to these disasters, Equal Justice Works will place four AmeriCorps Disaster Legal Fellows at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) and Oklahoma Legal Services for the 2013-2014 fellowship program year.
2012-2013 Fellowship Year
During the 2012- 2013 Fellowship year, 40 lawyers worked in a variety of areas including veterans' assistance, foreclosure prevention, disaster relief, and medical legal partnerships.
Helping Homeless Veterans
The crisis of homeless veterans is growing, with veterans making up more than 26% of the current homeless population and an estimated 500,000 additional veterans at risk of becoming homeless. During the 2011/2012 service year, 10 AmeriCorps Legal Fellows assisted 415 veterans in obtaining Veterans Affairs (V.A.) benefits; won 24 cases on behalf of veterans and obtained $422,130 in back benefits; assisted 940 veterans overcome legal barriers to housing and helped 104 veterans obtain housing. Watch this video to learn more.
In response to the BP oil spill disaster and the devastating tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, Equal Justice Works deployed AmeriCorps Legal Fellows to help survivors recover their livelihoods and overcome the many legal obstacles facing these residents. In the 2011/2012 service year, members represented 1,488 disaster victims with their legal issues.
Equal Justice Works remains poised to act and deploy attorneys whenever and wherever disaster strikes. In December 2012 and January 2013, three Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows were deployed to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. Read more here.
When the mortgage foreclosure crisis hit in 2009, Equal Justice Works received funding to place 30 AmeriCorps Legal Fellows across the country to provide legal assistance to those facing financial challenges due to the recession. Watch this video to learn more. In the 2011/2012 service year, we continued to have 10 AmeriCorps Fellows in the field working on foreclosure issues in some of the states hardest hit by this economic crisis. During this time, 365 homes were saved from foreclosure.