Legal Services of Eastern Missouri has a long history of working with persons experiencing homelessness and housing instability. We know that criminalizing people for having to live outdoors does not improve an individual’s ability to secure housing and reduces a community’s ability to address homelessness.

Nevertheless, in 2022, the Legislature enacted House Bill 1606, which included provisions to restrict state funds allocated for combatting homelessness and to criminalize sleeping and camping on state lands. In September 2022 we filed a lawsuit challenging the homelessness provisions of this law. The plaintiffs in the case were Missouri residents and housing justice advocates Jonathan Byrd, Jessica Honeycutt, and Allison Miles, who were represented by Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and Public Citizen Litigation Group. 


We are pleased to report that this case recently culminated in the Supreme Court of Missouri ruling that the inclusion of Section 67.2300 in House Bill 1606 violated the “single subject” requirement of the Missouri Constitution and thus invalidated the bill in its entirety.


“We are pleased that people experiencing homelessness in Missouri will no longer have to fear state criminal charges for having to exist and sleep outdoors, and we will continue to provide valuable legal advocacy for those experiencing housing insecurity,” said Joel Ferber, Director of Advocacy for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.



Divorce and custody proceedings can be lengthy and burdensome for many people – especially for those who have low incomes. That’s why St. Louis County Family Court Judge Jason Dodson asked Jackie Matreci, Senior Staff Attorney with Legal Services' Lasting Solutions Family Law Program, to serve on a committee to revise the rules governing Family Court proceedings in St. Louis County.

Having represented Legal Services' family law clients for seven years, Matreci was well equipped to provide perspective on the experiences of low income people with family court. Throughout 2023 Matreci met bimonthly with family law attorneys and guardians ad litem to modify court rules, bringing ideas from her Legal Services’ colleagues.

The committee’s revisions, which went into effect in December 2023, could help cases proceed in a more timely and efficient manner.

“One of the major concerns we hear from clients is ‘how long will it take?’ ” said Matreci. “Now there are new deadlines that encourage attorneys to move cases through expeditiously,” she added.

Another change drops a requirement to file separate paternity cases in divorce cases in which a child was born prior to the marriage, when both parents are listed on the birth certificate and give consent. This will save time and eliminate additional filing fees, which particularly impact litigants who don’t have legal aid attorneys. Matreci says this change helps the court process align with many clients’ lived experience. 

“I was really honored that Judge Dodson reached out to me to represent low-income folks and to tweak the rules to make the process smoother and more efficient, whether for people receiving legal assistance from us or for those going through the process pro se,” said Matreci.


Providing Holiday Joy to Families in Need

Through the 100 Neediest Cases Campaign

Left: Young Friends Board Member Joel Ocampo drops off gifts

Center and right: St. Louis County Prosecutors Office staff drop off gifts for the family their agency adopted.

We extend a sincere thank you to all the individuals, firms and other groups who “adopted” a Legal Services family for the Holidays this year through the 100 Neediest Cases campaign, coordinated by the United Way of Greater St. Louis.


This year, 50+ Legal Services families received gifts, gift certificates and financial help with utilities and bills. This was truly a wonderful outpouring of support from the community and we appreciate each and every donation!


Legal Services’ social work team works together to coordinate this annual campaign. Anne Milne, Senior Social Worker with the Legal Advocacy for Adults with Mental Illness (LAAMI) Program, who piloted a new collection and wrapping drive component of the campaign this year to support even more families, said, “Our clients were immensely grateful, some speechless by your generosity. I look forward to new and continued collaborations to further our social work team’s diligent, year-round client advocacy.”


To learn more about how you or your business can support Legal Services by hosting a supplies drive throughout the year, or by adopting a family for the Holidays, contact Louisa Gregory at [email protected].

Bayer Fund Provides Support for Education Advocacy

The Bayer Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer in the U.S., has made a $25,000 grant to Legal Services of Eastern Missouri’s Children’s Legal Alliance program.

The grant will help fund special education services for low-income children, with an emphasis on children enrolled in schools in north St. Louis County.

This generous grant from Bayer Fund will support attorneys who work closely with families who have children at risk of failure in school because of lack of access to special educational needs and who benefit from individual education plans.


“Access to education is critical to the success of our children. Bayer Fund's continued support will help ensure that children are in school, receiving needed services from their schools, and continuing their education,” said Dan Underwood, Managing Attorney of the Children’s Legal Alliance program. “On behalf of the families, we are most grateful to Bayer Fund for this support,” he added.

“Throughout the years, the grants given through Bayer Fund have helped strengthen our communities across the United States,” said Al Mitchell, President of Bayer Fund. “We’re proud to provide support to develop programs that help combat challenges such as food insecurity, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, and support services to patients and families managing an illness or disease.”

In 2023, Bayer Fund awarded more than $12.1 million in grants to over 2,300 nonprofit organizations, both urban and rural. Since 2017, nonprofit organizations across the U.S. have received nearly $90 million from Bayer Fund.

CLICK HERE for additional information about the work of the Children’s Legal Alliance.


We are pleased to announce that Joel Ferber, Legal Services’ Director of Advocacy, has joined the Board of Directors of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP).

NHeLP is the nation’s premier public interest health law firm, and has co-counseled with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri on major health care litigation for decades. They were also the 2023 recipients of Legal Services’ Gerald R. Ortbals Law Practice Award.

CLICK HERE for details of the NHeLP Board of Directors.


Hon. Richard B. Teitelman Memorial Seminar

This annual CLE Seminar, hosted by The Simon Law Firm, P.C., will be held as an online webinar on:

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Details & registration to follow.

Planned Giving CLE

This annual Legal Services CLE Session, co-hosted by Burger Law, will be held as an online webinar on

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Details and registration to follow.

For The Common Good Awards Luncheon

Save the date for Legal Services' annual recognitions of our volunteers and community partners on:

Thursday, August 22, 2024 at the Ritz Carlton.

Details and registration to follow.

Legal Services currently has several summer internship opportunities currently open to students:

  • Rural Summer Legal Fellowship in Hannibal, MO

This is an in-person/remote hybrid paid internship through Equal Justice Works, based in our Hannibal regional office.

Applications due to Equal Justice Works 2/13/2024.

CLICK HERE for details.

  • Legal Internships, St. Louis, MO

Unpaid internships are available and offer valuable legal experience for law students in a range of different program areas. CLICK HERE for details.

  • Social Work Practicum, St. Louis, MO

Unpaid practicum internships are available for social work students in a range of different program areas. CLICK HERE for details.







Interested in Legacy Giving?

Legacy Giving is a great way to protect access to justice for the clients and communities we serve. 

A Legacy Gift to Legal Services of Eastern Missouri will support the vision of equal access to justice for all for future generations.

Learn More about Legacy Giving

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri

701 Market Street, Suite 1100

St. Louis, MO 63101

314.534.4200 / 800.444.0514


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