On Friday, August 28, 2015, attorneys and volunteers from the Legal Services Center participated in Massachusetts Stand Down 2015 and provided free legal assistance to scores of homeless and at-risk veterans.
Stand Down, organized by the New England Center for Homeless Vets, is a day-long event that provides an opportunity for veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to connect with service providers. In addition to legal assistance, services included housing and job assistance, clothing provision, medical and dental care, haircuts, and free meals. The event was held in tents set up by the Massachusetts National Guard in the parking lot of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 in Dorchester.
“I came away with an overriding sense of gratitude that we were given the chance to meet directly with veterans in need and provide immediate assistance,” said Julie McCormack, Director of the Disability Litigation & Benefits Advocacy Project at LSC. “Some veterans came to the tent in real crisis, and Stand Down created an opportunity for us to be there in the right place at the right time.”
LSC staffed the legal assistance tent for half the day, providing pro bono legal consultations to nearly 50 veterans. Ten attorneys from across LSC’s clinics and practice areas participated, advising veterans in the areas of VA and disability benefits, SNAP and other public benefits, tax controversies, housing law, family law, estate planning, and consumer law. LSC also recruited volunteer attorneys from the Fair Employment Project, the Northeast Justice Center, and Harvard’s Criminal Justice Institute to provide advice on employment law, family law, and criminal law matters.
Volunteering at Stand Down is just one example of outreach by LSC to meet the legal needs of our community. LSC also sponsors the People’s Law School, where attorneys and law students provide free legal education to community members. The next People’s Law School event will be held in November 2015 and will focus on the needs of veterans.