Use this page to learn more about the Rural Summer Legal Corps program, including how to apply as a host site or as a fellow.
Launched in the summer of 2016, the Rural Summer Legal Corps is a privately funded initiative to connect law students with legal aid programs in the common pursuit of better addressing the civil legal needs of rural communities. In partnership with Equal Justice Works, LSC selects about thirty of the nation’s most talented and dedicated law students to spend their summers working at LSC-grantee offices across the United States and its territories. The students work on projects to improve access to justice for rural residents, including providing direct legal services, engaging in community outreach and education, researching, and helping build the capacity of LSC grantees.
Rural Summer Legal Corps 2021 Host States
Since 2016, one hundred and fifty-five law students have helped rural communities in 40 states and territories across the United States as part of the Rural Summer Legal Corps. Over seventy of LSC’s 132 grantees have hosted at least one law student. Students have worked on a diverse array of projects including assisting in Medical-Legal Partnership cases in New Hampshire, developing a model Pro Se Divorce Clinic in Oklahoma, organizing expungement clinics in Florida, and assisting pro se litigants in the Code of Federal Regulations Court on an Indian Reservation.
Information for LSC Grantees
In October of each year, LSC announces the host site application process for the Rural Summer Legal Corps. LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations are invited to submit a project proposal that will leverage the talent and enthusiasm of a law student in support of your direct legal services, outreach, education, and capacity-building initiatives.
Host site eligibility is limited to LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations (grantees). The LSC grantee applies to LSC for a law student or students and receives the student’s stipend to dispense at a later date. The grantee agrees to supervise the law student(s) for the 8-10 week program and to ensure that the law student(s) is contributing to service delivery to eligible clients in rural locations.
For further information, please refer to the 2021 Rural Summer Legal Corps FAQ document.
Information for Law Students
Rural Summer Legal Corps students spend 8 to 10 weeks working at a LSC grantee host site on projects that improve access to justice in rural communities. They complete a minimum of 300 hours of service to rural populations. Before traveling to their host sites, students attend a three-day training course in Washington, D.C., which brings in experts on legal aid, resilience, and working in low-income communities. In 2021, the training will be conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel and training expenses for the D.C. training is included. Each student receives a $5,000 stipend for their work.
The Rural Summer Legal Corps is open to law students who will have completed their first or second year by the start of their summer at one of almost 200 Equal Justice Works member law schools. The program has grown from 30 to 35 fellows per year. For more information, see the “How to Apply” section below or visit the Rural Summer Legal Corps website.
Communities are helped, law students gain experience, and host sites' capacities are enhanced
Over 70 rural communities in the United States have been helped by diligent and dedicated Rural Summer Legal Corps fellows. Between 2017 and 2020, 125 fellows served over 6,000 rural community members, including 960 agricultural workers, 595 survivors of domestic violence, 1,370 seniors, 200 veterans, and more. Each fellow spent, on average, 90 hours over the summer providing direct legal services to the community. This can include outreach and education activities, work on client cases, client intake, and assisting with legal clinics.
Students and grantees that participate in Rural Summer Legal Corps consistently rate the program with positive reviews. In addition to providing fellows a formative, potentially foundational, experience working alongside dedicated public service attorneys, significant impact is made on the neighborhoods served. Ranging from increasing community outreach to conducting research, all the work that fellows accomplish makes a difference. In interviews, several supervisors noted that their organization was able to do more work, complete projects they would not have done otherwise, and reach more clients because of their fellow.
How to Apply – Host Sites
Only LSC grantees are eligible to apply for RSLC fellows. All LSC Grantees receive notification when competition begins, in October, via email and GrantEase. Please contact the RSLC email with any questions or concerns.
How to Apply – Law Students
RSLC is a joint project between LSC and Equal Justice Works. Interested law students should apply at the Equal Justice Works Rural Summer Legal Corps website, linked below. The student application opens every December and runs until mid-Spring.