Meghan Kempf

The Project

Meghan provided legal advocacy to domestic violence victims in Bexar County, Texas, to deter and reduce the growing number of violations of civil family law court orders through direct representation services and the development of a comprehensive community education program.

Meghan provided litigation services to seek enforcement and modification of g court orders for domestic violence survivors, to ensure that survivors received promised safety and resources. Additionally, she developed and conducted comprehensive training for local law enforcement, social services providers, legal professionals, and survivors to enable those parties to effectively identify and prevent violations of court orders. The goal was to not only deter violations of court orders regarding domestic violence, but, more importantly, to enable survivors and their families to achieve protection and stability through increased community support.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Meghan:

  • Provided full representation to 41 clients, the majority of whom sought protective orders, and enforcement and/or modification of existing civil court orders regarding conservatorship, child support, and property division
  • Provided more than 50 general advice and counsel letters to educate her clients about Texas family and domestic violence law, as well as other issues
  • Established systematic referral relationships with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Inc. and the Crisis Response Team of the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD)
  • Developed and presented domestic violence law workshops to various community stakeholders, including SAPD’s Special Victims Unit and Crisis Response team
  • Co-presented “How to Effectively Represent Victims of Domestic Violence” at the 2014 Texas Poverty Law Conference
  • Developed and conducted the weekly know-your-rights class to the residents of the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter of Bexar County

Next Steps

After the completion of her fellowship in 2014, Meghan joined the Policy Department within the Office of Chief Counsel for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, focusing primarily on policy and legislative matters regarding women’s health, family violence services, and Medicaid service delivery for children in state conservatorship. In 2020, Meghan became Associate Director for the legal team providing support for state-operated mental health facilities and community programs for mental health, behavioral health, and intellectual and developmental disabilities services. In this role, she oversees a team of attorneys that collaborate with statewide mental health and IDD services stakeholder groups, legislative and advocacy organizations, and local courts, prosecutors, and defense attorneys to work towards ensuring and bettering access and quality of care to individuals and their families.

In 2019 Meghan was recognized as the Distinguished Young Alum by the St. Mary’s School of Law Alumni Association and in 2018 as the Outstanding Young Lawyer by the Austin Young Lawyers Association.

Media

Where Are They Now: Equal Justice Works Alumni Reflections Panel

The Project

The Public Law Center has launched a Veteran’s Justice Project in an effort to serve our nation’s heroes in the legal arena. Legal services include but are not limited to expungement, discharge upgrade, veteran’s benefits, general civil services, and more and are focused on strengthening our nation’s veterans so that they are able to thrive without the burden of overwhelming legal affairs.

During her Fellowship, Antoinette:

  • Provided direct legal services to homeless and at risk veterans.
  • Coordinate and distribute hundreds of cases to pro bono attorneys.
  • Present on veterans legal issues and operations at local and national conferences
  • Data collection and record keeping for federal grant maintenance.

What’s Next

Antoinette is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Veterans Legal Institute. In her current role, Antionette:

  • Leads the overall strategic direction and management of the organization,
  • Creates and manages partnerships, including mobile legal clinics at multiple government, nonprofit, and private locations
  • Assists and facilitates various development projects, including special events, personal and corporate giving, annual gala, grant writing and internet donation support
  • Works with the Board of Directors to develop strategies to meet projected fundraising goals, conduct periodic review of all funds and approve all reports to grantors, IRS, FTB, and other government filings.

Media

Mighty 25: Antoninette Balta Champions Legal Defense for the Military Community

Taking Action Against Veteran Homelessness

Legal Veterans Institute: Helping Those Who Sacrificed For Us – Meet Antoinette Balta

Most Influential 2016: Antoinette Balta and Dwight Stirling founded Veterans Legal Institute

ABC7 Salutes Local Lawyers Who Offer Free Legal Help for Veterans

Serving Those Who Served: Fowler Law Alumna Provides Legal Aid to Veterans

Women of Coast

Do Military Veterans Get Property Tax Breaks in the U.S.?

Nonprofit Law Firm Goes to Battle for Hundreds of OC Veterans

Inaugural Women of Coast Event Honors Influencers

Veterans Legal Institute Sends Emergency Covid Masks To NYC Hospitals Hurt By Pandemic

A Legacy of Serving Our Nation’s Heroes

Equal Justice Works helped launch my career. I’ve been able to springboard from my Fellowship at the Public Law Center to my current role as Executive Director at the Veterans Legal Institute, which is the only veteran-specific pro bono public interest law firm in the nation.

Antoinette N. Balta /
2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Marcy worked with the Veterans Project of LawNY, which works closely with the Veterans Outreach Center, a full service organization devoted to assisting veterans and their families. LawNY provides front line legal services, including on-site legal intake. By meeting veterans in this safe space, we are able to facilitate trusting relationships and provide more accessible services, ensuring that as many veterans as possible receive the assistance they need and deserve once they have returned to civilian life. I represent veterans in a variety of civil legal matters. The project also includes conducting outreach and education to veterans and recruiting law student interns and pro bono assistance.

The difference between public interest law and other client services is that as a lawyer you don't take no for an answer. This is what I aspire to.

Marcy Wehling /
2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Amy’s project, a medical legal collaborative, focused on providing access to legal services for vulnerable individuals by partnering with physicians and health care providers to meet the needs of their patients. She worked with our Family Advocates project which is a partnership between The Public Law Center and St. Joseph Health System in Orange County, California. Through the project Amy provided holistic legal services to patients which can range from access to benefits, estate planning, employment issues, landlord tenant disputes, and consumer issues.

Our clients face complex issues and social barriers every day. Providing access to the legal system allows them to focus on maintaining their health and the well-being of their families.

Amy Mejia /
2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

As an AmeriCorps Legal Fellow with Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA), Jessica was involved with two projects. First, as part of the Public Benefits Unit, Jessica provided direct services and representation to clients facing issues surrounding access to and continuation of public benefits. Second, as part of our Montana Family Advocacy Partnership, a Medical-Legal Partnership with RiverStone Health, Jessica carried a caseload providing services from brief counsel to legal advice and representation on core legal issues affecting low-income Montanans, including public benefits, consumer, domestic violence and housing issues. I am also working to increase MLSA’s services to veterans.

The Project

Katherine secured justice and resolved fundamental problems for those who are low income and vulnerable by providing high quality legal services and working for systemic solutions. While working towards that broader mission, Katherine focused on foreclosure prevention through litigation and mediation. Katherine worked in Legal Aid’s Consumer Law Practice Group and partnered with other community and statewide organizations to further the goals of my project.

I am committed to social justice because I believe that all individuals should be treated equally under our laws and should have equal access to justice.

Katherine B. Hollingsworth /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

The project works with Carle Hospital and clinics and the local VA to address legal issues that affect patients’ health care. We are able to eliminate some of the financial stresses that affect health, such as medical debt and a lack of health insurance, and we also assist with other legal issues, such as evictions, advanced directives, and family matters. Furthermore, it involves working with hospital and clinic doctors and staff to help identify common community problems that affect health and can be dealt with by the legal system, through a program of referrals.

I wanted to help people live healthier lives, and this requires an understanding of problems faced by the low-income population, so the health care system can become more proactive and less reactive.

Donis Barnes /
2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Hosted at Legal Aid of Arkansas, Kevin focused on providing meaningful service to people in the rural parts of the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta region. As part of his Fellowship, Kevin created and maintained medical-legal partnerships with community health clinics in these rural areas, in order to develop a holistic approach to helping clients improve their lives.

What’s Next

Kevin is currently a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Arkansas.

Media

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The Project

Dave supported vulnerable veterans, including homeless veterans, seniors, veterans who were sexually assaulted during service, and persons with mental illness. Dave assisted clients with navigating the complicated process of obtaining disability benefits from the VA and appeal denials of benefits. In addition, Dave collaborated with other service providers in the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles to ensure that homeless veterans are being provided with support and the resources needed to improve their stability.

Working on behalf of marginalized individuals appeals to me not simply because it is an effort to achieve justice but because it requires an impassioned effort to invest in a person's humanity.

Dave Smith /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Ariel represented homeowners facing foreclosure, including loan modifications and foreclosure mediation. Her work also involved building capacity and collaborating with other legal service providers, housing counseling agencies, and community non-profits. Ariel coordinated foreclosure CLE’s and create legal education materials that assist private attorneys and housing advocates in an effort to increase services and representation for homeowners.