Rising 3L Elizabeth Brown has been selected as a Student Fellow for the Rural Summer Legal Corps, a joint program of Equal Justice Works and Legal Services Corporation that provides direct services in underserved rural communities across the United States and its territories. During the fellowship, Ms. Brown will work at the Montana Legal Services Association, where she will provide legal assistance in a variety of practice areas, including housing, consumer law, self-help legal assistance, public benefits, domestic violence and family law, and Indian law for rural clients in the state.
Ms. Brown has a focus in public interest law at GW Law. She explained that after spending some time exploring different subject matters, she was reminded of the importance of doing legal work that is value driven and personally fulfilling after participating in the Domestic Violence Project last spring. "This inspired me to renew my commitment to public interest and look for summer programs that would allow me to provide direct service to communities in need," Ms. Brown said.
In looking for public interest internships, Ms. Brown noticed a listing for the Rural Summer Legal Corps. The mission of the program immediately resonated with her, she said. "I'm from a rural community and have worked in rural communities affected by significant lawyer shortages, and I've seen the impact it has on access to justice for impoverished people." In learning about the program, Ms. Brown was "glad to see national efforts to recognize and combat these barriers to justice."
Ms. Brown will be spending her summer in Helena, Montana, where she will also gain experience in poverty law at the Montana Legal Services Association. She explained that the largest areas of need in the community she will serve are in domestic violence. "I look forward to empowering those in desperate situations and engaging with and learning more about the new community I've been placed in," she said.
Student fellows spend eight to 10 weeks during the summer gaining hands-on experience providing direct legal services, engaging in community outreach and education, and building capacity at their host organizations. "Before attending GW Law, I grew up and spent most of my life in a small, rural town in western Kentucky, a place with high rates of poverty and low access to services," she explained, "I didn't realize how significant barriers for those in rural communities were until I moved to D.C. and gained a new perspective. To me, participating in this program is an opportunity to bring awareness to this problem and commit myself to serving and improving things in communities like mine."