Joining the Rural Summer Legal Corps program is a great way to gain valuable first-hand experience which can ultimately lead to a public interest legal career.
Selected participants will work with esteemed LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations to build their legal skills in various areas, such as:
- Direct legal services: Intake, client and witness interviews, advocating for clients, attending hearings, assisting attorneys in legal representation, legal research and writing.
- Outreach and education: Developing and distributing fact sheets, developing and delivering training on legal topics or on how to access legal services.
- Capacity building: Organizational assessments, compiling best practices, organizing focus groups, leading planning committees.
Serving as a RURAL Summer Legal Corps Member
The Rural Summer Legal Corps program will operate between May-August 2017. Although start dates are flexible, all selected participants must complete the required 300 hours of service by September 1, 2017 in order to receive the $5,000 stipend. Please review the application requirements here to ensure you meet program deadlines.
The example projects below, extracted from the National Association for Public Interest Law’s compendium of opportunities, are intended to serve as a reference point for interested students.
Example 1: From Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation
Description of Project:
The law student will work on the Disability Advocacy Project. This project provides assistance to low-income persons who are having difficulty applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration and provides community legal education concerning the Social Security Disability process, a client’s right to obtain his or her medical records and how to best advocate for themselves in the disability process.
The law student will spend time each week interviewing new clients and reviewing the information gathered at the interviews with his/her supervising attorney.
At least every other week, the law student will travel to a remote site in one of the 13 counties that our service territory covers to conduct an education/outreach day for the community covering the topics discussed above.
The remainder of his/her time will be spent gathering clients’ medical records, reviewing the same, preparing legal briefs, being available by telephone and in person for current clients with questions and if they need help with any paperwork required by the Social Security process, contacting community groups or local Department of Human Services offices to set up education/outreach meetings, and finally spending time with the supervising attorney reviewing cases, discussing questions the law student may have, and discussing ways to improve or capitalize on the project.
Example 2: California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.
Description of Project:
The law student will provide outreach, education, and facilitate access to legal and social welfare resources to Peruvian sheepherders in Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties. Recruited from Peru through the federal guest worker program, these workers are deliberately isolated from local communities, subjected to exploitation and abuse, and have little if any legal recourse.
The law student will spend his/her summer working to alleviate the workers’ isolation and arrange for assistance when possible. In addition to developing his or her skills in community outreach, networking and education, the law student will become very familiar with state and federal laws governing agricultural labor.
The law student will make contacts with workers and other groups who can help identify and communicate with the workers. The law student will spend time on outreach and education, collecting information for a report on current conditions experienced by sheepherders, and on direct legal assistance on behalf of the workers, wither before the courts or with state or federal agencies.