Antoinette Balta’s Story – Co-Founder / Executive Director – Veterans Legal Institute

Antoinette Balta's Story

Antoinette Balta
Antoinette comes from a large and hardworking family. Her mother, born to a tribe of farmers, is the first of nine children and her father, born in the inner city, is the youngest of six. Seeking a life of stability, her parents immigrated to the United States where Antoinette was born and afforded all the opportunities of the American Dream.

Encouraged by her mother, Antoinette is among the first women in her family to get an education holding a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and Management from Chapman University School of Business as well as a Juris Doctor with a special certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution and an LLM emphasized in Business and Economics from Chapman University Fowler School of Law.

Antoinette was raised in a Catholic Church to which she credits, along with her parents, her desire to serve. As a strong patriot grateful for all the opportunities afforded her by the United States, Antoinette has a special place in her heart for the US military. She herself is a reserve JAG Officer with the California State Guard, previously assigned to Legal Support Command where she holds the rank of Major for five years before being transferred to Strategic Communications to assist with the rebranding of the California Military Department.

Noticing an influx of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking shelter at a local National Guard armory, Antoinette discovered that many issues that contributed to these veterans’ chronic homelessness were legal in nature and required the assistance of an attorney. Wanting to help and so moved by the fact that the men and women who had served the country abroad were now struggling, she committed herself to the cause of removing “chronic” from “homelessness” and empowering veterans into self-sufficiency. This led her to be instrumental in the co-development of a veteran based project at a local legal aid, with over 700 veterans receiving legal assistance during her three year tenure.Realizeing the need for a military-specific legal aid that solely focuses on military, she co-founded the Veterans Legal Institute in 2014 where she is presently the Executive Director. Veterans Legal Institute is a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services to low income and homeless veterans and empowers them into self sufficiency. To date, VLI has served over 6,000 local, low income veterans.

Antoinette is a graduate of the 2018 Presidential Leadership Scholars Class, a prestigious program that serves as a catalyst for a diverse network of leaders brought together to collaborate and make a difference in the world as they learn about leadership through the lens of the presidential experiences of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson.In line with her commitment to service, during her tenure in this program, she focused on the improvement and further development of mobile legal clinics for low income veterans, a project that is shared freely throughout the nation to promote additional services for veterans in need.

Ms. Balta is a two term Director at Large with the Orange County Bar Association, a member of the Outreach and Pro Bono Committees and a member of the Orange County Women’s Lawyers Association. She is also a Board Advisor for the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations and Integrated Recovery Foundation, a group dedicated to providing housing and mental health service to women survivors of military sexual assault. Ms. Balta is a member of the OC Veterans and Military Families Collaborative, Chair of its Legal/ Re-Entry Working Group, and for a long period of time served as Vice Chair of its Steering Committee.She is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs and regularly lectures on legal topics affecting veterans, where she is known for providing innovative solutions aimed at veteran empowerment and self-sufficiency. In the past, Ms. Balta was a law lecturer at UCI School of Law for its Veterans Law Clinic.

Antoinette remains committed to serving heroes in need through the Veterans Legal Institute. Apart from serving veterans, an exciting aspect of her job is rallying volunteers for the cause. In her own words, “it takes a village” and she is constantly looking to rally more troops! If you’re interested in learning more about Veterans Legal Institute, please visit www.vetslegal.org or email Antoinette at abalta@vetslegal.com.