• Virginia

Jo Belasco, Nebraska, USA

MEET Jo Belasco, lawyer and 'gentler' of wild mustangs.

Jo works with law in two places. One is her law firm, Windhorse Legal, and the other is her nonprofit, Tapestry Institute.

She knew in high school that she wanted to be an attorney. She read the book “Helter Skelter” about the Manson murders and wanted to be a prosecutor and help crime victims. She thought the prosecutor’s ability to figure out Manson’s motive was amazing.

In the early years she gained a wealth of interesting experience. She was an intern in the Legal Advisor’s Office for the Boston Police Department. She prosecuted police officers at Department hearings after sustained Internal Affairs investigations. She represented officers in depositions to keep records confidential.

She worked with the entertainment industry, like the X-Files, when they wanted to use the Department name and logo. She did district court hearings when someone’s license to carry a firearm was denied or revoked. She even argued and won a case before Massachusetts’ highest court. It was a high stress job, though, so she left after a few years and became a legal editor, working on several law enforcement publications.

Her life then took an unexpected turn, and she left the law for 15 years to work for a nonprofit, Tapestry Institute. Tapestry was founded by a Choctaw scientist and educator, and they do work with Indigenous knowledge and within Indigenous worldview. Because funding can be hard for nonprofits, about 5 years ago, Jo decided to open a virtual law firm to do nonprofit work and also be financially sustainable.

She now practices law at her entirely virtual firm, Windhorse Legal, and she also recently started doing legal education at Tapestry about Indigenizing environmental law. She knew that she didn’t want to have a law firm based on the adversarial system. She had worked too long in the nonprofit world and with Indigenous people. She didn’t want to go back to that Western culture model that pits people against each other. It’s too exhausting in so many ways - financially, emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually.

She is a lifelong horsewoman of more than 45 years now, and she had been an equine professional for more than 20. She decided to combine her horse experience with her legal skills and knowledge so that she could practice preventive equine law and hopefully help horse people before problems arose. She doesn't do any litigation.

And she says she’s had the great pleasure and honor of gentling wild Mustangs. They are amazing horses!

You can get in touch with Jo at: https://windhorselegal.com/