AmeriCorps for Legal Experts: Equal Justice Works's Cole McMahon and Marty Costello In 2009, hundreds of emerging legal experts across the United States will offer assistance in helping people who face mortgage foreclosure and other  problems through the Equal Justice Works 2009 Summer AmeriCorps program and the one-year AmeriCorps Legal Fellows program.

Every year in this country, four out of five low-income people in need of legal assistance are denied services because of overwhelming case loads at legal services offices and a dire shortage of attorneys who can help them. Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps plays a crucial role in closing the gap between the supply and demand of legal assistance. AmeriCorps attorneys secure affordable housing, lost wages, orders of protection, health care, public benefits, adoption services, and education for low-income and underserved communities.

Our guests on this podcast are Marty Costello, Program Manager, and Cole McMahon, Senior Program Manager, from Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps. They join Idealist's Amy Potthast to talk about the Summer Corps, a 300-hour AmeriCorps Education Award program for law school students, as well as its one-year, full-time AmeriCorps Legal Fellows program.

The Equal Justice Works 2009 Summer Corps application opens today Wednesday, March 18 and closes on Wednesday, April 1; this summer's corps will commit to providing assistance to those individuals and families facing mortgage foreclosure and will set aside Summer Corps positions for 1L and 2L law students working on eligible mortgage foreclosure-related issues. See a list of host sites and learn how to apply.

In exchange for a minimum of 300 hours of service, summer AmeriCorps members earn a $1,000 AmeriCorps Education Award that can be used to pay current educational expenses or qualified student loans. They also gain first-hand experience and legal skills in areas such as client intake, representation, legal research and writing. In 2008, 333 Summer Corps members provided direct legal services to 18,395 low-income individuals. For more information on last year’s program, download the Equal Justice Works 2008 Summer Corps Summary of Accomplishments.

Equal Justice Works blog is part of the Idealist Grad School Blog Project.