Robert Lass and Autumn Westhoff, rising Mizzou Law 2L students, have been selected and are currently participating in the 2022 Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellowship. Each summer, Equal Justice Works selects 40 highly qualified law students from 36 law schools across the country to serve in the program. The program partners with the Legal Services Corporation to support law students who want to give back to rural communities across the United and its territories. Student fellows spend eight-to-10 weeks during the summer exploring a career in civil legal aid, by providing direct legal services and building capacity at the organizations where they serve.
Robert and Autumn are hosted by Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, where they are expanding outreach efforts and increasing capacity to serve domestic violence victims living in rural northeastern Missouri. They will also be exposed to a broad base of legal cases, including but not limited to: Landlord/Tenant/Housing disputes, Public Benefits, Medicare/Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability, Family Law, Consumer Issues, and Elder Law.
“Deciding to accept a summer position as a Rural Summer Legal Corps fellow was easy,” Robert Lass said. “As a student fellow, I will be assisting Missourians in rural communities gain access to legal services that would otherwise be inaccessible. I hope to build my skills in client counseling and legal research.”
“I grew up in a small town near Hannibal, Missouri, so to say that I was excited for a chance to work in my own community would be an understatement,” said Autumn Westhoff. “My hope is through this fellowship I will be able to gain a deeper understanding of the unique obstacles people in rural communities face throughout their interactions with the legal system. I also look forward to the opportunity to be part of the solution, and hopefully give something back to a community which has given me so much.”
Launched in 2016, RSLC Student Fellows have helped increase access to justice for thousands of individuals living in rural communities. In 2021, law students in the program collectively contributed 10,746 hours to help rural communities, with 4,492 hours spent on direct legal services. These Student Fellows also participated in 154 outreach events, created or expanded more than 170 collaborations with community partners, and provided legal information to more than 900 individuals.