In the Fight for Justice: Meet Wesley
Wesley talks about establishing a new Medical-Legal Partnership, a case that really stuck with them, and finding inspiration in their clients.
Wesley is a Staff Attorney with Texas Legal Services Center's Medical-Legal Partnerships
Meet Wesley, an amazingly warmhearted staff attorney with our Medical-Legal Partnerships. Our Medical-Legal Partnerships embed Texas Legal Services Center attorneys within healthcare teams to detect, address, and prevent health-harming legal needs of individuals and communities. Wesley works with patients at the Kind Clinic—an Austin healthcare center that provides sexual health services including PrEP and PEP access, STI testing and treatment, HIV testing, and gender-affirming care to Central Texans in need.
On establishing the Medical-Legal Partnership with the Kind Clinic
My time at Texas Legal Services Center is dedicated to creating and sustaining my own project. Through a one year post-graduate fellowship, I was able to expand our existing Medical-Legal Partnership to collaborate with a new partner—Texas Health Action’s Austin-based Kind Clinic. At the end of the fellowship, we secured ongoing funding from the clinic to maintain the program.
It is rewarding to have established the Kind Clinic Medical-Legal Partnership, the first-of-its-kind project dedicated to addressing the health-harming legal needs of transgender and nonbinary Texans.
On a case that really stuck with them
About a month after I first got my law license—right before the Christmas holidays—I worked with a remote client who was served an eviction lawsuit with a hearing scheduled between Christmas and New Year’s.
During the intake, I realized that the landlord hadn’t given the client a proper written notice to vacate before filing the suit. I drafted a response—making the appropriate legal arguments—and coached the client on how to file it and represent herself in court. Luckily, her hearing never happened.
After she filed the response, the landlord voluntarily withdrew their own eviction suit. The client then negotiated with the landlord to leave voluntarily once she found another place to stay. We were able to stop the original eviction so that the client could spend her holidays at home, and we were able to help her avoid an eviction judgment entirely, making it much more likely that the client can maintain stable housing into the future.
On finding their calling
I always knew that I wanted to do nonprofit-type social justice and public interest work. Shortly before I finished my undergraduate degree in vocal performance, I made the decision to try law school, thinking the use of the law could be a powerful way to effect change.
The very first semester of my 1L, I got do legal work for an actual human being (under attorney supervision) through Texas Law’s pro bono program. That’s when I made my final decision—that becoming a nonprofit lawyer would be the right choice.
On what keeps them going
Much of the time, I find inspiration in my clients themselves. It’s heartening for me to work with folks who stay so resilient, despite the challenges and trauma they face. I feel even more encouraged when I can go a step further than simply doing things on a client’s behalf, and empower them with the knowledge and skills they need to better advocate for themselves.