The National Law School Veterans Clinic Coalition hosted the 2nd Annual National Conference on Law Clinics Serving Veterans in Washington, D.C. November 2-3, 2015

The National Law School Veterans Clinic Coalition hosted the 2nd Annual National Conference on Law Clinics Serving Veterans in Washington, D.C. November 2-3, 2015

On Monday, November 2, 2015, Prof. Hugh McClean, Director of the Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law, participated on a Panel at the 2nd Annual National Conference on Law Clinics Serving Veterans. The panel focused on how to start a pro bono clinic. Also participating on the panel were Tom Caruso, JAGC, U.S. Navy, Jayme Cassidy, Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law and Ann Vessels, University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

The National Law School Veterans Clinic Coalition (“Coalition”) is a collaborative effort of many of the nation’s law school legal clinics dedicated to addressing the unique needs of U.S. military veterans. While each clinic may have a different focus, varying issue expertise, and geographic coverage, they all operate with one goal – to address veterans’ legal needs, largely at no expense to the veteran, and to train law students. The Coalition’s mission includes increasing collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Congress, non-profit groups working with veterans, and other federal entities to benefit veterans throughout the country.

To execute this mission, the Coalition hosted a national conference in our nation’s capital where legal professionals who serve veterans can share best practices and explore synergies that can be used to aid veterans nationwide. Attendees and speakers included veteran clinic professionals from major academic institutions, individuals from federal and state courts and agencies who regularly work with veterans, as well as other professionals who deliver pro bono legal services to military service members and veterans. The conference also provided guidance for those wanting to learn how to start providing such services. Most of the Coalition’s 25-members have faculty participating on panels.

Topics included:

  • How to start a pro bono clinic
  • How pro bono clinics support veterans and the local community
  • Elements of a sustainable program, organizational structure, and curriculum
  • Community and professional partnerships
  • Working with federal and state agencies
  • Representing veterans before federal boards and courts

In addition to a day and a half of comprehensive panels that included a beginner and advanced track, featured speakers included: The Honorable Leigh A. Bradley, General Counsel, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, provided the keynote remarks for the opening lunch; Senator Mark R. Warner (VA); U.S. Representative Dina Titus (NV-1); and U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12).

Admiral (ret.) John C. Harvey, Jr., Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs provided opening remarks, and Judge Margaret Bartley of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and Judge Vito Clementi of the Board of Veterans Appeals participated on a panel to provide a perspective from the bench.

The Coalition is aided by the pro bono government relations services of Christopher DeLacy of Holland & Knight, LLP, Douglas Dziak of Nixon Peabody LLP, and Michael Barnicle of Duane Morris LLP, each of whom provide countless pro bono hours in the creation and advising of the Coalition. Their efforts have already resulted in significant benefit to the members of the Coalition and the veterans they serve, and they encourage additional law school veterans’ clinics to join the Coalition to aid in leveraging services and creating systemic change.

The National Law School Veterans Clinic Coalition is grateful to the following sponsors of this conference: Ferguson Enterprises, Dominion Virginia Power, Holland & Knight LLP, Nixon Peabody LLP, Duane Morris LLP, Honeywell, The Coca-Cola Company, McGuireWoods LLP, Virginia Natural Gas, the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, LexisNexis, National Veterans Legal Services Program, Douglas J. Rosinski, Esquire, William & Mary Law School, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, and other friends of the member clinics. Those interested in providing additional support to the Coalition’s efforts, or clinics who seek to join the Coalition, can contact veterans@wm.edu.

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