2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Colleen Kelly

Colleen Kelly

City, State: St. Paul, Minnesota
Issue area: Veterans' Rights, Housing/Homelessness
Sponsors: 3M; Fish & Richardson LLP

The Project

Colleen strengthened legal services to veterans in Minnesota who were homeless or in crisis of becoming homeless by providing direct representation to those unable to access existing legal services, expanded outreach to female veterans, and developed multiple resources to improve the structure of the Vetlaw legal clinic program.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
This Fellowship filled a gap in legal service by providing direct representation to positively motivated homeless veterans or veterans in crisis who were undeserved by current legal services partnerships and the pro bono network in Minnesota. Colleen’s Fellowship also identified and collaborated with a network of community organizations, attorneys, and advocates serving female veterans specifically. Finally, this Fellowship expanded the capabilities of MACV’s Vetlaw program by improving the structure and organization of our current legal clinics for veterans and providing brief services to veterans between legal clinics.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Colleen has:
• Created full representation model within a social services organization.
• Represented almost 25 veterans with family, housing, consumer, and criminal expungement cases who lacked the ability to adequately represent themselves in complex and often highly contested cases.
• Provided advice and brief services to almost 500 veterans which successfully resolved conflicts without full representation services.
• Developed multiple resources and scheduling procedures to improve the structure and organization of the Vetlaw legal clinic program.
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Colleen plans to:
• Continue working the Vetlaw program which has received a guarantee of at least one-year of additional funding.

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