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For the Public Interest Clearinghouse
The “Justice Gap”
   Every year in this country, four out of five low-
    income people in need of legal assistance are
    denied services.

   Many eligible clients do not receive help because
    of a language barrier, a disability or lack of
    literacy. Many others are turned away because of
    overwhelming case loads at legal services offices.

    In the United States, there is an average of one
    legal aid attorney for every 6,861 low-income
 Who is on the phone?
 Volunteer introductions (time permitting!)
of promoting public service among law
  students, law schools and lawyers . . .
Equal Justice Works:
Law School Advocacy and Outreach
   Law Student Advocacy: provides resources and support
    to law students interested in launching a public interest

   Law School Outreach: encourages campuses to develop
    or enhance exposure to public interest for all students,
    regardless of career goals.

   Annual Conference and Career Fair: creates a training
    and networking opportunity for law students and law school
    professionals and sets up internship and postgraduate
    interviews for students with public interest employers.

   The E-Guide to Public Service at America's Law
    Schools: provides a broad range of free online information
    about public interest programs and curricula at law schools.
  Introduction to
Equal Justice Works
Equal Justice Works
•   Created in 1986 as the National Association for
    Public Interest Law.
•   Founded by law students dedicated to working for
    equal justice on behalf of underserved
    communities and causes.
•   The national leader in creating summer and
    postgraduate public interest opportunities for law
    students and lawyers and in urging more public
    interest programming at law schools.
Equal Justice Works:
Public Interest Law Opportunities

 Equal Justice Works manages innovative
 programs for lawyers and law students
 through AmeriCorps, Summer Corps,
 Katrina Initiative and Fellowships.

 Each of these programs has a component
 that addresses the legal needs of many
 underserved individuals and communities
Equal Justice Works:
Fellowships Program
   Equal Justice Works has the largest
    postgraduate legal fellowship program in the
    country. There are currently 100 Fellows
    engaged in two-year fellowship projects
    throughout the country.
   The Fellowships Program creates partnerships
    among public interest lawyers, nonprofit
    organizations, law firm/corporate sponsors,
    and other donors in order to afford
    underrepresented populations effective
    access to the justice system.
Let’s talk about Fellowships             –
Webinar participants will now visit the fact
sheet, brochure and talking points.
     Please ask questions along the way . . .
Fellowship Application
We receive approximately 250-300
applications each Fall.
   See Tips on Developing an Equal Justice
    Works Fellowship Proposal at
What is AmeriCorps?
 AmeriCorps is a national service program
  that allows 70,000 people each year to
  serve their communities.
 AmeriCorps meets critical needs in
  education, public safety, health and the
 AmeriCorps members across the country
  tutor children, build houses, respond to
  disasters, generate volunteers and make a
  difference in their communities in many
What is AmeriCorps?
                                                  Funded by the
                                                   Corporation for
                                                   National and
   National Senior
       Corps                 Learn & Serve

                                                   Community Service
                                                  Supported by
    N*CCC                         AmeriCorps       taxpayer dollars

                                               AmeriCorps Programs
                                                  State & National                          Direct                              AmeriCorps*VISTA
                                                  AmeriCorps*NCCC
AmeriCorps Diagram

             The Corporation for National and Community Service

 Learn and Serve               AmeriCorps             National Senior Corps

     *NCCC              State and National Direct             VISTA

                                        Equal Justice Works

                                                     Pro Bono Legal Corps

                                                                      Host Sites

                                                        Summer Corps
AmeriCorps Goals
   Needs & Human Services
       Solving problems in education, public safety,
        environment, housing and health

   Strengthening Communities
       Work to improve communities by uniting neighbors

   Encouraging Responsibility
       Civic action

   Expanding Opportunity
       Education awards to return to school/ pay back
        student loans
State and National Programs
   The Pro Bono Legal Corps is an AmeriCorps*National
    program administered by Equal Justice Works.

   Some AmeriCorps programs are run nationally (e.g. PBLC,
    Teach for America, and the Red Cross National Rapid
    Response Corps).

   Some AmeriCorps programs are funded through State
    Commissions, and operate only in one state or city (e.g.
    Birmingham Reads, the Delta Service Corps).

   We encourage you to work with other AmeriCorps programs
    and meet other AmeriCorps members.
Equal Justice Works:
AmeriCorps Programs
   Pro Bono Legal Corps: 35 AmeriCorps
    Attorneys at 16 host sites who create pro
    bono opportunities for law students and
    provide legal services for people in need.

   Summer Corps: 350 law students from 119
    law schools will earn a $1,000 education
    award voucher for spending this summer in a
    qualifying legal internship at a nonprofit,
    public interest organization.
What we do
   The Pro Bono Legal Corps (PBLC) plays a
    critical role in closing the justice gap. We
    engage law students and lawyers as

   By creating pro bono opportunities
    AmeriCorps Attorneys help people secure
    affordable housing, lost wages, orders of
    protection, health care, public benefits and
Pro Bono Legal Corps
   35 AmeriCorps Attorneys at 16 host sites across
    the country.

   Builds commitment to pro bono at law schools.

   Expands legal services in under-resourced

   Engages law students and lawyers in quality pro
    bono opportunities.
General Outline of AmeriCorps
Attorney Roles
 Cultivates law school support
 Recruits and manages students
 Manages a pro bono program
 New program development
 Provides legal services
 Community partnerships and public
AmeriCorps Attorney Roles
Cultivates law school support:
Visits law schools frequently to cultivate
  staff, faculty and deans‟ support for pro
  bono in general and their project in
AmeriCorps Attorney Roles
Recruits and manages students:
Works to recruit law students for their
  project, and to generate an ethic of
  service for the school
Trains and law student volunteers to be
  effective, supervises law students to
  maintain high level of professionalism and
  supports law students to ensure they have
  a positive and effective experience
AmeriCorps Attorney Roles
Manages a pro bono program:
Manages existing pro bono opportunities for
  students doing public interest work, matches
  students with appropriate opportunities,
  organizations and lawyers and ensures that all
  parties are getting what they need
Leads project planning efforts to ensure that
  volunteers are consistently and effectively
  engaged, clients have their legal needs met and
  impact is achieved, measured and recorded.
AmeriCorps Attorney Roles
New program development:
When necessary, develops new pro bono
 programming to address unmet needs in
 community and expands capacity of host
 organization by creating policies and
AmeriCorps Attorney Roles
Provides legal services:
Maintains a significant amount of contact with
  clients, providing direct service in two major
  categories: by carrying a small caseload;
By working more holistically to get people out of
  poverty by organizing community outreach and
  conducting clinics; and
Manages development of pro se materials, “Know
  Your Rights” presentations, research projects,
  remote volunteer opportunities and other items
  necessary to provide information and services to
AmeriCorps Attorney Roles
Community partnerships and public relations:
Collaborates with legal aid staff, volunteer lawyers,
  government leaders, court personnel, judges,
  and bar leaders in an effort to raise awareness
  and visibility of pro bono work while expanding
  opportunities for law student participation.
Represents Equal Justice Works, AmeriCorps and
  the Host site in all service activities and serves as
  an ambassador to promote an ethic of service
Examples of Projects
   Veronica Gutierrez Ayesta (Public Counsel,
    2005-07) assisted parents adopting children who
    have been abused or neglected and are currently
    in the Los Angeles County foster care system.
   Jon Morgan (Montana Legal Services
    Association, 2006-2008) aids low-income Native
    Americans maintain tribal lands by helping them
    prepare wills.
   Crystal Utley (Mississippi Center for Justice,
    2005-2007) recruits volunteers to serve people
    affected by Hurricane Katrina. In her first six
    months of service, Crystal made presentations at
    22 organizations and recruited 65 pro bono
In the past 6 months, the 35 Equal Justice
Works AmeriCorps Attorneys:

   Sponsored over 850 community legal clinics;
   Partnered with 272 community-based
   Engaged 674 pro bono lawyers (both private firm
    and corporate counsel offices) in public interest
   Recruited 1,844 law students to assist in
    providing legal services to low-income
    communities and make the connection between
    the law and public service.
PBLC Program Strengths
The PBLC has a reputation as one of the strongest
  AmeriCorps programs in the nation.

   Enrollment (99%) and retention (97%) rates are
    among the highest in the country (National
    completion rate is %65)

   In the class of 2006-2007 36% of members are
    attorneys or law students of color
2007-2008 PBLC Host sites
   Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) - Dayton and Toledo, OH
   Access to Justice (A2J) – Rapid City, SD
   Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) - Los Angeles, CA
   Boston Medical Center Corporation – Boston, MA
   Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA
   Legal Assistance of Western New York (LAWNY) – Rochester and
    Geneva, NY
   Louisiana Bar Foundation - Baton Rouge, LA
   Montana Legal Services Association - Helena, MT
   North Mississippi Rural Legal Services/Mississippi Center for Legal
    Service/Mississippi Center for Justice/Mississippi Volunteer
    Lawyers Project -Oxford, Jackson and Hattiesburg, MS
   Pro Bono Project - New Orleans, LA
   Public Counsel – Los Angeles, CA
   Public Interest Clearinghouse – San Francisco, CA
   Public Law Center – Santa Ana, CA
   Three Rivers Legal Services – Jacksonville and Gainesville, FL
   Volunteer Legal Services Program – San Francisco, CA
AmeriCorps Prohibited Activities
As an AmeriCorps member, you absolutely may not
  participate in any of these activities:
   Attempting to influence legislation or engaging in
    political activities, protests, etc.
   Assisting, promoting or deterring union activity
   Engaging in religious instruction or
   (As private citizens on Non-AmeriCorps time, our
    attorneys may participate in any of these
Member Benefits
   Living Allowance: $22,200 for 2007-2008.

       Living allowance is not connected to the hours
        a member works. Most contracts are full time
        for 11 months.

       Disbursed according to your organization‟s
        pay schedule
Member Benefits
   Health Care: All full-time AmeriCorps
    members are eligible to be enrolled in host
    site‟s health insurance plan

   Child Care: A child care subsidy may be
    available for members with young
    children; CNCS and state child care laws
    determine eligibility

   Host organizations can provide other
    benefits such as rent or food assistance
Member Benefits
   Education Award Voucher: If a
    member completes his/her term and
    serves a minimum of 1,700 hours, he/she
    is eligible to receive a $4,725 education
    award voucher, which can be used to
    repay federally backed educational loans
    or to pay current or future educational
    expenses. Members have up to 7 years
    from the completion of their terms of
    service to use their education awards.
Member Benefits
   Loan Forbearance: AmeriCorps
    members are eligible to defer their
    federally backed educational loans during
    their terms of service.

   Interest Accrual Payment: The
    National Service Trust will pay the interest
    that accrues while members‟ loans are in
    forbearance during their terms of service.
Member Benefits
   Tax Implications:
       The living allowance is taxable (have your
        members complete a W-4).
       The education award is taxable for the year in
        which it is used (the National Service Trust will
        issue a 1099).
       The interest accrual payment is taxable for the
        year in which it is disbursed (the National
        Service Trust will issue a 1099).
Member Benefits
   National Trainings:
       Equal Justice Works Conference and Annual Leadership
        Development Training, Oct. 11-13 2007, Washington,
        DC – Mandatory for all AmeriCorps Attorneys
       ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference, May 7-9, 2008,
        Minneapolis, MN - Mandatory
       Periodic conference calls with fellow AmeriCorps

   Site Specific Trainings:
       Specific skill development for projects/activities as
        deemed necessary by host site
       CLEs, Bar Association trainings, etc.
Where to find key information
Equal Justice Works website:

Pro Bono Legal Corps webpage:
  blc.php (The “Member Orientation Guide” and
  other important documents are here.)

Katrina Initiative webpage:
Thanks for your interest and commitment to
filling the justice gap, and expanding legal services
to people in need.
                        Cait Clarke, Esq.
         Director, Public Interest Law Opportunities
What AmeriCorps Attorneys say about being
an AmeriCorps Attorney
We asked former AmeriCorps Attorneys these questions:

What is the most important thing you’ve learned during
 your AmeriCorps experience?

What is the biggest challenge you have faced during
 your term of service?

What advice would you give your supervisor to help you
 be most effective?

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an
 AmeriCorps Attorney?
What is the most important thing you’ve learned
during your AmeriCorps experience?
   “Prioritize your objectives. It is really easy to
    take on a ton of projects when you first start and
    really want to see all of them succeed. Pick your
    top 5 projects and focus your energy into making
    them a success.”

   “In reflection, my best advice is to make a
    timeline of goals and stick to it.”

   “It is not all about you, even when it is. If you
    learn to help others meet their needs and
    desires, they will help you meet yours.”
What is the most important thing you’ve learned
during your AmeriCorps experience?
   “It‟s important to ask questions to make sure you
    learn from others who may have that

   “A strong community/law school partner is

   “Volunteer to try new things and don't wait for
    your supervisor to assign you work. Be proactive
    in finding the work you want to be involved in
    and speak up when you feel you're not getting
    the supervision and work you want.”
What is the most important thing you’ve learned
during your AmeriCorps experience?
   “I have definitely learned how to more effectively
    deal with people. Working as an AmeriCorps
    Attorney has thrown me into the fire and it
    has made me a better person because of

   “The history of legal aid and AmeriCorps
    programs. I think knowing that history has
    allowed me to place some of the problems I face
    on a daily basis as part of systemic problems we
    face as lawyers and activists involved in trying to
    end the problems caused by poverty and our
    class structure.”
What is the biggest challenge you have faced during
your term of service?
   “The biggest challenge for me has been the supervisory
    situation…everyone is too busy to supervise me.”

   “There are bound to be ups and downs during your work, it
    is difficult just trying to keep things even so you don't get
    too high or too low so that you don't burn up all your
    energy in the first few months, and then lose motivation or
    that initial fire.”

   “Being able to afford eating and living in my apartment.”

   “It‟s difficult developing projects that are rewarding for both
    the law students and the organization that involve
    substantial numbers of law student volunteers. AmeriCorps
    grant reporting is all about outcome measures and they
    want numbers.”
What is the biggest challenge you have faced during
your term of service?
   “Dealing with a lack of communication within the
    organization. It is important to keep diligent notes and
    informing appropriate parties of your activities.”

   “Maintaining open and consistent communication with
    community partners in the face of budget cutbacks and
    differing goals.”

   “My biggest challenge was addressing how to start a
    program from scratch.”

   “The lack of an institutionalized method of transferring
    knowledge, specially lawyering skills. The demands on our
    organizations are such that we tend to have a "siege"
    mentality and we tend to be more reactive rather than
    proactive. Because the need is so great, sometimes we
    forget that we have to mentor the newer attorneys so that
    we can practice law.”
What advice would you give your supervisor to help
you be most effective?
   “Understand the AmeriCorps grant requirements
    and if you don‟t, ask EJW for clarification.”

   “A clear understanding of PBLC goals and
    aspirations is important.”

   “Set up meetings every other week with the
    AmeriCorps Attorney to talk about the project.
    Even if you think there is nothing to discuss, the
    attorney probably has something. I do this with
    my supervisors and it‟s great – I do most of the
    talking, but it‟s a really good way to check-in, get
    some advice and feedback, and let my
    supervisors know what‟s going on.”
What advice would you give your supervisor to help
you be most effective?
   “Give more supervision, training, and advice rather than
    just orders. Give me the freedom to fall on my face, but be
    there to help me dust everything off.”

   “Clear instructions.”

   “Help the AmeriCorps Attorney set appropriate goals from
    the onset of their term of service.”

   “Make sure the AmeriCorps Attorney understands exactly
    what her/his responsibilities include and other background
    information regarding the community the AmeriCorps
    Attorney is serving.”
What advice would you give your supervisor to help
you be most effective?
   “More supervision and feedback over the work
    I'm doing.”

   “…to maintain consistency with supervision and

   “The supervisor should be someone who I can
    bounce ideas off of and who can act as a support
    when things are not going well. The supervisor
    does not need to be hovering over me all of the
    time, but just needs to be there as a support.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an
AmeriCorps Attorney?
   “Seeing students treat a client with a mental illness and
    treat them with compassion and respect. Also knowing
    they (the law students) will leave here and know they can
    do pro bono hours to relieve their stress.”

   “I love knowing that my work is directly assisting the low-
    income population of my community. Every day of my job,
    I know I‟m making a difference in my community.”

   “It is wonderful to know that you‟re part of this amazing
    team of AmeriCorps Attorneys all across the country –
    really terrific people who are great to have as a support
    system – so even if you‟re on your own as far as
    placement, feel free to use the list-serv and other
    communication mechanisms to ask us questions or share
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an
AmeriCorps Attorney?
   “Working on a project that benefits many people.”

   “Knowing that you are giving back to your community,
    helping the community develop programs, and gaining
    resources for low-income members that were not
    previously available.”

   “Improving the efficiency and breadth of legal services
    provision…the whole „teach a man to fish‟ thing.”

   “Being able to help people and having a sense of fulfillment
    in the work I do. Being able to leave work with a clear
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an
AmeriCorps Attorney?
   “Enabling students to perform pro bono work that makes a
    difference in our community.”

   “Knowing that you are helping legal services organizations
    expand their services to clients who may not otherwise
    receive help...”

   “The money, of course :-). The opportunity to enter the
    public interest world upon graduation from law
    school. Because of few resources, it is extremely difficult to
    get a public interest position right after law school. I will
    always be grateful to AmeriCorps for allowing me to put my
    foot in the door and enter this wonderful world.”

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