Megan Wall, current managing attorney and pro bono coordinator for St. Johns County Legal Aid, has been named a 2019 Woman of Distinction St. Johns County by the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council.

Attorney Megan Wall, current managing attorney and pro bono coordinator for St. Johns County Legal Aid, loves her job and it shows in her smile, her demeanor and her long hours on the job. Since 2005, she has worked tirelessly and passionately to help the county’s most vulnerable residents find justice.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Wall said. “I’m a person who believes we are put on this earth to love and care. That encompasses the planet, animals, plants and each other. Gandhi said, and it’s my belief, too, that we need to be the change we want to see in the world.”

Wall grew up during the 1960s, and she credits her parents, who she describes as “hippies,” for instilling their values in her — values that made them activists for peace and advocates for the environment. Those beliefs helped lead to her selection as a 2019 Woman of Distinction St. Johns County by the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council. Now in its third year, the program is one of three annual events in the area (along with Women of Distinction Jacksonville and Women Who Make a Difference — Gainesville) that celebrates influential women who embody Girl Scout values.

“Jimmy and Roslyn Carter were and still are my role models,” she said. “Look at them! In their 90s and still building houses to give people a hand up out of poverty. Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House. He said that was one way to reduce our dependency on oil and become more self-sufficient as a nation.”

Wall’s approach is unconventional when it comes to her clients. She believes in making every effort to be kind, show respect and remove barriers that can inhibit someone seeking legal assistance.

“We don’t have a buzzer at the door,” Wall said. “Having to buzz someone in sends a message. Not having that obstacle to cross sends quite another message. We are here to remove barriers, not erect them. As a result, we encounter less resentment and less resistance from our clients, many of whom come to us out of desperation almost expecting to be treated badly.”

In her practice, Wall believes she functions as a legal counselor as well as a lawyer.

“The longer I practice law, the less it’s about the law,” she said. “It’s about giving everyone a time and place to tell their story. The law can award compensation for damages, but it can’t take away the pain. As lawyers, as advocates, we may not be able to take the pain completely away, but we can help people who have gone off the rails get back on the rails or perhaps help them build a new path.”

Wall said she is impressed with the many local attorneys who volunteer their time and expertise to meet with the growing number of clients.

“The young lawyers are trying to balance a family and their practice,” she said, “and the older lawyers are approaching or past retirement age. Yet they continue to show up for our clinics and to accept case referrals. It’s pretty amazing what our small office is able to accomplish with the help of these volunteers who share our vision and our commitment to help everyone receive fair treatment and justice.”

In addition to Wall, the St. Johns County office staff includes attorney Eva Paulk, paralegal Valerie Norden and office manager Joy Eberhardt.

“They are the heart and soul of this practice,” Wall said. “No matter what the pressures are, how difficult the previous day has been, they come in the next day with good attitudes, smiles and renewed energy to help others.”

After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, Wall graduated from the University of Florida with a Juris Doctor  in 1991. She serves on the Florida Supreme Court Tobia Simon and Circuit Awards Committee, Justice Teaching, Indigency Committee for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, Veterans Treatment Court and Drug Court ancillary team member, as well as the Unaccompanied Youth Homeless Student Committee. She is also active in the Home Again St. Johns/Homeless Advocacy Continuum of Care Providers Group.

Wall has received awards for her community work and advocacy, including the EPIC Drug Treatment Center Advocacy Award, the ElderSource Senior Advocacy Luminary Award and she was named among the 10 Who Make a Difference by the St. Augustine Record.

She is married to local architect Bryan McCloskey, and they have expanded their family to include a single father and his teenage son, which Wall said gives her an opportunity to keep in touch with the younger generation. It’s also created a nontraditional family structure that fits perfectly with Wall’s lifestyle and life philosophy.