Lawyers are advocates by definition (a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person or cause), and St. Johns County Legal Aid particularly embodies the spirit of advocacy. St. Johns County Legal Aid is the St. Augustine branch of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA), an exclusively pro-bono firm that has been handling general civil cases for the poor, elderly and disabled in the community since 1937. In addition to the full time attorneys employed by JALA in their three locations – Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Green Cove Springs – numerous local private attorneys use JALA to administer their voluntary pro-bono work.
Megan Wall is a full time lawyer employed by St. Johns County Legal Aid who chose her career because she wanted to “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.” She explained that she is most happy when she feels like she’s being of service to others saying, “I want to be on my deathbed looking back at my time on Earth and say at least I did my best to help those I could – as that is what I think we are all here to do.”
Types of Cases
St. Johns County Legal Aid handles cases involving community development, consumer issues, education issues, family law, elderly law, employment and unemployment, housing and fair housing, health issues, public benefits, mental health and immigration. Their work has had a direct positive impact on the community in many ways. One example occurred during the downward economic spiral, when Legal Aid worked with other volunteer lawyers and the St. Johns Housing Partnership to save more homestead from foreclosure than any other community. Per Megan, the partnership between Legal Aid and local social service agencies is a being used as a model in other communities.
Who is Eligible for Legal Aid?
Clients must meet financial eligibility guidelines to be considered for JALA’s pro-bono legal services. The general income range for consideration is within 125% to 187.5% of the poverty line, although clients below 125% can be considered as well. Program units that are not based on income level are the fair housing unit, the Ryan White (HIV/AIDS) unit, the immigration unit and the Title III (elderly) unit.
How is it Funded?
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid is funded by a combination of Federal, state, city and county grants in addition to generous donations from private and corporate donors. Interested supporters can donate funds or property, create an endowment for one of JALA’s programs or leave a bequest in their will.
More information on these opportunities can be found on the Donations page of JALA’s website. Attorneys interested in donating their time and talent can contact the office for more information.
St. Johns County Legal Aid
222 San Marco Avenue, Suite A