Only 35 students nationwide are selected for the Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC) each summer. Again this year, two of them are Albany Law School students.
Michelle Trimper ’21 and Pablo Jimenez ’21 have been selected as Student Fellows through the partnership program between Equal Justice Works—the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law—and Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a nonprofit established by the U.S. Congress to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans.
Both students will be hosted by the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASNNY)—a nonprofit that provides legal services to those who cannot otherwise afford an attorney—which faces an increased caseload due to the significant number of people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trimper and Jimenez will assist staff attorneys with landlord-tenant and family law proceedings—such as divorce, child support, eviction, and landlord-tenant matters—in a remote capacity. The fellowship aims to place students in rural areas with limited access to lawyers. Trimper is working with clients in the Amsterdam area, while Jimenez is focusing in the North Country town of Canton.
Housing issues are on the rise—and only expected to continue—as a result of pandemic-related job loss or reduction. Both students worked with LASNNY last summer: Trimper as an Equal Justice Works Summer Fellow and Jimenez as a traditional intern. But being able to help people secure basic human needs in a trying time will have an even greater impact.
“Somebody’s home, that’s so elemental to every other aspect of your life. If you don’t have a place to lay your head at night, everything else is going to be unsteady and uncertain. I think that’s one of the reasons I am drawn to housing law—to be able to address that,” Trimper said.
Since 2016, the RSLC has worked to place law students in LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations to address legal issues facing communities across the United States. LSC provides funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs.
“At Equal Justice Works, we are dedicated to creating pathways to public service,” said Aoife Delargy Lowe, director of law school engagement and advocacy at Equal Justice Works. “Through our Rural Summer Legal Corps, Michelle and Pablo will gain invaluable exposure and experience in public interest law, as they work alongside attorneys at Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York to serve rural residents most in need.”
Collectively, more than two dozen Albany Law School students—including Trimper and Jimenez—are making an impact at LASNNY this summer through the newly formed
COVID Response Corps.
“Legal Aid is one of the organizations that we really need right now,” Jimenez said. “With everything that’s happening, I can’t stress it enough that the work they are doing is very important to these communities.”