Monday, January 02, 2017

Legal Aid's MEGAN WALL A ‘true believer’ in the power of the law to help others

We need more people's lawyers like Megan. Megan is incomparable and we are lucky to have her working for We, the People.

Posted January 2, 2017 06:03 am - Updated January 2, 2017 06:32 am
By MARGO POPE Correspondent
10 WHO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: MEGAN WALL A ‘true believer’ in the power of the law to help others


Megan Wall’s path to being an advocate for others began long before law school.

Her father, now retired Army Col. Bill Wall, and her stepfather, Rev. William H. DuBay, a civil rights fighter and former Catholic priest, helped her become the person she is today, an attorney ensuring equal access to the law for all, regardless of their station in life.

Wall said her biological father inspired her patriotism and her work ethic, “to care about our country and our military.” DuBay’s work in the civil rights movement brought Wall into protest marches, standing up for civil rights and women’s rights starting at age 7 or 8.

By the time she arrived at the University of Florida, her career goal was to be an English professor on a college campus.

But after she righted an injustice on campus, three professors in UF’s English Department suggested she pursue a career in law.

It took her back to those early days of marching against inequality.

Wall completed her master’s degree in English but followed it with two years with the state in social work. It intensified her interest in helping others, she said.

Wall — now the managing attorney for St. Johns County Legal Aid, a division of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid — is one of The St. Augustine Record’s 10 Who Make a Difference in St. Johns County in 2016.

While working in Gainesville, she met Al Hadeed, then a lawyer specializing in public interest law. “If it wasn’t for Al, I would not have gone to law school,” she said.

Hadeed, now county attorney for Flagler County, remembers conversations with Wall. “I was working on cases involving reforms (juvenile justice, developmental disabilities, and other constitutional reforms),” he said.

Wall said Hadeed encouraged her to be a public interest lawyer. “He said that when you win a case (in the public’s interest), you win forever,” she explained.

That advice fit her personal advocacy goals.

All these years later, Hadeed praises Wall’s commitment. “She truly is a servant of the people. Her love of people is a deep part of her fabric.”

Wall was born in Hawaii in 1961, “in the same hospital but not at the same time as Barack Obama.” Her family moved to California and eventually to Florida while she was in high school.

Wall’s commitment to the community connects her passion for helping others including advocating for the homeless, both adults and students.

She takes time to expand the knowledge of Legal Aid and the law through the free People’s Law School at the Southeast branch library. She teaches occasional classes on the law at local high schools.

Helping others navigate legal issues, whether as a client or in a public program, is why she says, “I love the law. At the end of the Pledge of Allegiance, we all say “liberty and justice for all.” But she realizes that isn’t always the norm. “So I said, ‘Let’s try to achieve liberty and justice for all. We can keep trying and come as close as we can.’ ”

Wall’s career began at Legal Services of Greater Miami in 1992. She is married to Bryan McCloskey, an architect. The two moved to St. Augustine in 1994 because of their love of its history, historic preservation and natural environment.

Wall continued her career at Central Florida Legal Aid in Putnam, Flagler, and St. Johns counties. When Jacksonville Area Legal Aid took over St. Johns, she opened its full-time office at 222 San Marco Ave.

Wall’s caring demeanor stands out with others who have watched her career.

Attorney Tom Cushman has known Wall for at least 20 years. They were on the judicial nominating commission together. He was on the Central Florida Legal Services Board when St. Augustine was part of that agency. “She does her work very well,” Cushman said. “She is well respected and ought to be. She is one of those people I call a ‘true believer.’ All she ever wanted to be was a Legal Aid attorney.”

Jim Baltzelle, director of local media for the Southeastern United States for The Associated Press, met Wall in college where they both majored in English. “She has always been such a positive person,” Baltzelle said. “Megan not only wants to make the world a better place, she makes the world a better place.”

1 Comment
Alyssa Camper
Megan truly does make a diff

1 comment:

Warren Celli said...

The murders continue... keep on pretending...