Through the Clinic, students represent veterans and their family members in a variety of case types. In all of our case work, we strive to help veterans and their families attain the maximum degree of stability and financial well being. The Veterans Legal Clinic has two student tracks:
(1) Veterans Benefits Project
(2) Estate Planning Project
Enrollment is through the Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic and Clinical Seminar. We ask enrolled students to express their preference for one of these two project areas. We fully expect to be able to honor each student’s preference for either the Veterans Benefits Project or the Estate Planning Project or a combination of the two. This page is about the Veterans Benefits Project. For more information about the Estate Planning Project, please click here.
In the Veterans Benefits Project, students represent veterans and family members in administrative and court appeals to challenge denials of federal and state veterans benefits. To this end, students regularly practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The Court has a student practice rule that permits students to participate fully in appeals.
Students also represent veterans in petitions and appeals seeking an upgrade of military discharge status or correction of military records.
Through the Clinic, students have numerous lawyering opportunities, including client and witness interviewing, legal research and writing, client counseling, negotiation, motion practice, evidentiary hearings involving opening statements, witness examination, and closing arguments, and appellate oral argument.
Many of the veterans we represent have serious health issues. Some clients are older and in failing health, others are younger and have returned from recent overseas deployments with PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury as well as other injuries. Students in the Clinic have frequent opportunities to interact with medical providers and medical experts and to work on cases at the intersection of mental health and the law.
The Clinic plays a vital community role. There are approximately 400,000 veterans in Massachusetts, and a significant percentage—including far too many homeless veterans and a growing population of women veterans—lacks access to legal representation. Helping this population addresses an enormous unmet legal need and provides students a powerful opportunity to advocate for those who have served the country and fallen on hard times. Students work on compelling and timely legal issues, from compensation for military sexual trauma or Agent Orange exposure to protection of a veteran’s limited assets and access to healthcare.
Click here to learn more about our docket.
What Students Are Saying About Their Experiences in the Veterans Legal Clinic
• “I have had a fantastic experience working with the … Clinic …. Arguing [an appellate case in federal court] was the highlight of my experience at HLS….” (Spring 2015) – For more information, click here.
• Successfully representing my LSC client in an appeal “was unquestionably my most meaningful experience in law school.” (Spring 2015) – For more information, click here.
Advocacy for Veterans at LSC
The Veterans Legal Clinic is the primary vehicle through which LSC serves the legal needs of veterans. In the Veterans Legal Clinic , we represent veterans (and their survivors) in cases involving VA benefits, Massachusetts Veterans’ Services Benefits, discharge upgrades, and estate planning matters. The Veterans Legal Clinic, however, is not the only way LSC helps veterans who have unmet legal needs. Three other LSC projects focus either exclusively or substantially on representing veterans. These are:
We encourage you to click on the links for these projects to learn more about these areas of law and LSC’s commitment to meeting the legal needs of veterans.