RALEIGH – Campbell Law School’s Christina Belville ’22 is the recipient of the prestigious 2020 Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellowship, a program that supports law students who want to give back to the rural communities across the United States. Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the nation’s single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans, announced the selection of law students for its Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC) last month.
Belville, who is one of 35 selected from among 446 applicants, plans to use the fellowship to help rural individuals with prior criminal records to overcome societal barriers and reenter the workforce through the Rural Reentry Outreach & Legal Clinics Project. Individuals needing legal help in rural communities often find themselves at a disadvantage, including having to travel hundreds of miles to find legal aid, according to RSLC.
“We are so proud of Christina and the rich and meaningful legal work she’ll get to do through this fellowship,” said Campbell Law’s Assistant Dean of Career and Professional Development Kala Taylor. “We are also deeply thankful to Equal Justice Works who continuously provides stellar opportunities for numerous law students across the country. “
The 2020 class of Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellows includes students from 30 law schools who will work at 31 LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations across the country, providing legal assistance to people in rural areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the Student Fellows will work remotely to support the efforts of their host organizations, helping clients virtually through video conferencing, online intakes, and over phone and email.
Belville will be hosted by the Legal Aid Society (LAS) of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, where she will work to “assist low-income, rural individuals facing societal barriers due to prior criminal records in rural counties.” She will be assisting with reentry legal services including criminal record expungement, driver’s license reinstatement, certificates of employability for private employers and state licensing and any other legal services that may assist in a smooth reentry to society post-incarceration.
Each summer, Equal Justice Works partners with Legal Services Corporation to offer law students experience in a potential career and support civil legal aid organizations working to meet the needs of their community. The law students, called Student Fellows, spend eight to 10 weeks during the summer exploring a career in civil legal aid, by providing legal services at the organizations where they serve. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Student Fellows will be working remotely this year to support the efforts of their host organizations.
Belville started Campbell Law part-time through its FLEX Program while working as a restaurant manager. A proud “dog mom,” Belville is a native of Benson, North Carolina, and a graduate of North Carolina State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology.
“The Rural Summer Legal Corps is a perfect opportunity for service-minded law students to get a preview of what it’s like to be a legal aid attorney, all while making a positive impact on individuals and families living in rural areas,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that people in all parts of our country have access to the legal services they need to put them on a path to recovery from the COVID-19 health crisis.”
Since 2015, LAS has piloted a reentry legal aid project for the formerly incarcerated, leading the effort statewide and regionally to provide access to justice for this vulnerable population. The Fellow would normally be based in LAS’s Cookeville and Tullahoma offices, which provide services to 10 counties and seven counties, respectively, in the Middle Tennessee area. The State of Tennessee has more than 54,000 incarcerated in county jails and state prisons. Additionally, there are 58,256 probationers, 12,678 parolees and 7,891 in community corrections, according to the Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections. The counties served by the Cookeville and Tullahoma offices have limited reentry services available. Civil legal aid can play a large part in helping individuals transition back into communities and get back on their feet
ABOUT CAMPBELL LAW
Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,300 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2019, Campbell Law celebrated 40 years of graduating legal leaders and 10 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.
ABOUT EQUAL JUSTICE WORKS
Equal Justice Works is the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law. We bring together an extensive network of law students, lawyers, legal services organizations, and supporters to promote a lifelong commitment to public service and equal justice. Following their Fellowships, more than 85% of our Fellows remain in public service positions, continuing to pursue equal justice for underserved communities across the country.
ABOUT LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Visit www.lsc.gov for more information.