Presentation on theme: "Law School Clinical Programs Serving Veterans Vet Law 2014."— Presentation transcript:
Law School Clinical Programs Serving Veterans Vet Law 2014
Veterans Law School Clinics: A Snapshot What constitutes a veterans law school clinic? Law students working on real veterans legal cases or issues with an experienced professor or affiliated attorney in a supervisory role providing feedback Law school or outside organization may supply infrastructure, clinic resources or funding Currently, there are 29+ veterans legal clinics in as many law schools. At todays Vet Law 2014, 31 law schools from 17 different states are represented! Vet Law 2014
Why clinics? Why are these clinics so important? Provides pro bono legal services to the community of vulnerable Veterans and their families Engages students with real cases while teaching valuable hands-on legal skills Allows for a reflective practice Inspires public interest law careers Vet Law 2014
Different potential clinic models Direct civil legal services: eviction or foreclosure proceedings, child support issues and outstanding warrants or fines Disability benefits and/or appeals : initial claims, appeals before the Board of Veterans Appeals (Board) or Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) Law school + VA Medical Center : clinic may be hosted in VA Medical Center, Vet Center or through a Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) Veterans Treatment Courts: Criminal pre-trial diversion courts in state or federal court offering other types of treatment rather than jail sentences Focus on particular legal need: Wills/Estate Planning; Consumer protection; Elder Law Hybrid: Clinics have effectively combined one or more of the above, and/or include policy or legislative advocacy work. Vet Law 2014
George Mason Law Clinic The clinic provides servicemembers and Veterans with representation in a variety of civil legal issues, including consumer protection, administrative law, bankruptcy, family law and landlord-tenant law. 85 students have participated in the clinic, which has directly served more than 100 clients from all five branches of the armed services. Vet Law 2014 Model: Direct civil legal services Law Professor Laurie Neff meets with students in the legal clinic class. Photo by Alexis Glenn.
William & Mary School of Law Puller Clinic Model: Disability Benefits/Appeals Complex (pro bono) appeals cases in which veterans can have difficulty providing the evidence they need to substantiate their disability compensation claims. The cases the clinic takes on often involve post- traumatic stress disorder either from warfare or a sexual assault that there may be no record of. Vet Law 2014 Clinic collaborates with the Center for Psychological Services and Development at Virginia Commonwealth University, which provides counseling and assessment for clinic client facing mental health issues. The Puller Clinic receives a Pro Bono Award from the Virginia State Bar in April 2013.
John Marshall Law Situation: In 2006, three John Marshall law students recognized that many veterans were having trouble navigating the Veterans Benefits Administration claims process. Action: Inspired to provide legal assistance to such veterans, they created the Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic (VLSC). Result: Now in its sixth year, the VLSC serves our nations veterans by providing free legal services and resources, including assistance with health care and mental health benefits, family law issues, housing matters, and employment and education issues Vet Law 2014 Model: Direct civil legal services + Disability Benefits/Appeals Founders of the John Marshall Veterans Law Clinic :
University of Arizona Law Clinic Arizona Law students provide the majority of legal representation to veterans in a pre-trial diversion Veterans court under the supervision of law professors and local attorneys. In just two years, over 25 students have provided legal representation to nearly 150 veterans in Vet Court. The clinic recently expanded its docket to include disability benefits, discharge upgrades, and policy work, including an amicus brief to the 9 th Circuit. Vet Law 2014 Model: Veterans Treatment Courts + Disability Benefits + Policy
Yale Veterans Legal Clinic Vet Law 2014 Hybrid Model: Direct civil legal services + Disability benefits/appeals + VA Vet Center + litigation and policy work Partnership with the Connecticut Veterans Law Center: Students represent veterans in litigation before administrative agencies and courts on benefits, discharge upgrade, and pardon matters. Intake at the VA New Haven Vet Center: Students staff a clinic at this VA facility which offers a range of counseling and other services to combat veterans. VA personnel facilitate by hosting the students and providing space for seeing clients. Policy and state legislative efforts: Clinic students researched and drafted S.B. 114, An Act Concerning Pretrial Diversionary Programs, which expands access for veterans to several of the states diversionary programs, i.e., Veterans Treatment Courts, effective October The Yale clinic gather with Connecticut Governor Malloy on the day he signed S.B. 114.
UC-Berkeley Law Model: Law school + VA Medical Center Situation: In the Fall of 2013, UC-Berkeley Law students wanted to meet directly with veterans, but did not know where to start. Action: The students went to the San Francisco VA Medical Center, talked to VA Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO), and a partnership was born. Result: Since the clinic started this past October, law students have provided legal consultation to over 160 veterans. VAs Office of the General Counsel has worked with Berkeley to establish an MOU for this space-sharing clinic in VA Medical Center. Stu Berkeley Law students meet with Veterans at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Vet Law 2014
Touro Law Center Clinic students work closely with the Suffolk County Veterans Court, a specialized court that helps veterans charged with criminal offenses by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing treatment and judicial monitoring. Students may also represent veterans in benefits claims and employment issues. Touro, in Central Islip, NY, is the only full-time law clinic serving Long Island's more than 150,000 veterans. Vet Law 2014 Touro Law students Jusun Yook, Christina Forte, Tryan Bryks and Harrison Corcoran, on hand to provide free legal help and advice to Long Island vets. Model: Disability Benefits/Appeals + Veterans Treatment Court
University of San Diego Law School Model: Focus on Particular Legal Need: Education/GI Bill Consumer Protection The Veterans Clinic provides free legal services to veterans struggling to resolve disputes with for-profit education companies over the use of GI Bill funds and related loans. Vet Law 2014
Models…and Examples Vet Law 2014 CLINIC MODELEXAMPLE(S) Direct civil legal servicesJohn Marshall Law; Arizona Law; Widener Law; George Mason Law Veterans benefits and/or appealsNorth Carolina Central; Law; Puller Clinic; Widener Law; Missouri Law Law school + intake at a VA Medical Center Yale Law; Berkeley Law; Hofstra Law Vets Treatment CourtsArizona Law; Touro Law Center Focus on particular type of legal needGonzaga Univ Law (Wills Clinic); Univ. of San Diego (Education/GI Bill Consumer Protection); Syracuse Elder Law clinic HybridJohn Marshall; Yale; Widener Law; George Mason
Parting Thoughts… Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead Many clinics have started just from the students acting in response to a clear need in the community. Vet Law 2014