Blair Pankratz

The Project

Blair (she/her/hers) will provide domestic violence survivors, particularly survivors of color, living in high poverty areas of North St. Louis City and County with a path out of abuse through family law representation.

Women living at or below the poverty line are nearly twice as likely as the general population to be abused by a partner. Combined with systemic racism’s impact on scarce resources, under-serviced neighborhoods, and poor relations with law enforcement, abuse grows even more severe. This issue is readily apparent in St. Louis, an area with high rates of poverty and segregation.

Research has shown that access to civil legal services can significantly reduce the risk that a survivor will be abused in the future. In 2017, the Legal Services Corporation reported that 86% of low-income domestic violence survivors across the country received inadequate or no help at all with their civil legal issues. This leaves a desperate gap in legal assistance for marginalized survivors in high poverty areas who would benefit most from representation.

Blair’s commitment to serving domestic abuse survivors inspired her decision to become an attorney. Her understanding that not all survivors have equal access to resources motivated her to design a project to help those most in need.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, survivors living in North St. Louis City and County. Additionally, her project will create family law pro se clinics to expand the reach of services and provide support to survivors who cannot be represented directly. Her project will strengthen and expand partnerships with community agencies to ensure the project is tailored to the needs of North City and County residents.

As a social worker, I was unable to help my clients fully resolve legal issues that kept them trapped in cycles of abuse and poverty. After repeatedly seeing my clients impeded by legal barriers, I made the decision to attend law school.

Blair Pankratz /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Inspiration

The Project

Kari White provided direct representation, community legal education, and referral to support services for immigrant victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in Northeast Ohio.

The Inspiration

The Project

Carlie worked with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services to provide free legal services to low income residents of Central and Southeastern Ohio. Carlie primarily focused around foreclosure defense, however, one of the most exciting aspects of her work is affirmative and impact litigation against particular “bad actors” in the mortgage and debt collection industries.

The Project

Working in the Cleveland Legal Aid’s Cleveland office, I work with the Community Engagement Practice group as well as with substantive legal experts and community partners. I provide direct representation to low income veterans in a variety of cases, ranging from health and disability benefits, problems with consumer and medical debt, drivers’ license reinstatement, and expungement issues, and try to increase their financial security. I work with community partner agencies, including case management staff at the VA hospitals, VA clinics, and Veterans’ Centers, and deliver community legal education presentations for veterans and veteran service providers.

I am veteran of the U.S. Army, where I was a Licensed Practical Nurse, stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY. After active duty service, I served in the Ohio National Guard for two years as a Combat Medic. I deployed during active duty to Kosovo and was activated from the National Guard for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
I have always believed in the importance of public service and, as an attorney, I desire to help underserved and vulnerable populations with high-quality legal service. Given my background as a military service member, the chance to provide legal services to veterans is incredibly appealing. Since I began my fellowship, many veterans have expressed excitement and gratitude that a fellow veteran is available to help them with their legal problems.