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Emory Law Volunteer Clinic Offers Legal Assistance to Georgia Veterans

March 19, 2013
Contact: Sarah I. Coole or

Military veterans in the metropolitan Atlanta area who need help with legal issues have a new source for assistance, thanks to a collaborative effort between the State Bar of Georgia and the Emory University Law School.

The Emory Law Volunteer Clinic for Veterans opened in February with the objective of assisting Georgia veterans with a wide variety of civil legal issues, including disability claims related to their service. The State Bar’s Military & Veterans Law Section and the Bar’s Military Legal Assistance Program (MLAP) Committee are actively supporting the creation of clinical programs at the law schools in Georgia, and Emory’s is the first to be established.

“The clinic is up and running with several cases and very energetic student participation,” said Adjunct Professor Lane Dennard, a retired partner at King & Spalding, who is co-director of the clinic along with Professor Charles Shanor. “Student volunteers are currently working with experienced lawyers on cases involving disability ratings for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, a petition for discharge upgrade and a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.”

Utilizing law students overseen by professional attorney mentors, the Emory clinic is open every Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. during the academic semester. Most cases will be referrals from the State Bar’s MLAP and the Veterans’ Legal Clinic at the V.A. Hospital in Decatur and primarily deal with disability and pension claims before the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs and other veterans’ law issues. The veterans who seek legal assistance from the Bar and the V.A. Legal Clinic often are not able to find counsel without such assistance, either because the veteran cannot afford to pay an attorney or because he or she cannot locate an attorney with sufficient experience in veterans’ issues.

Students working in the clinic are doing so on a volunteer basis without receiving class credit. They do receive credit for Emory Law Pro Bono hours, as well as hours awarded by the Emory Public Interest Committee, which awards 25 to 30 scholarships every summer, each worth $5,000, to students who complete at least 35 public interest hours.

The clinic will normally accept the following types of cases:

  • Disability claims before the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • Veterans Pensions claims before the V.A.
  • Claims for an increased rating before the Regional Office of the V.A.
  • Claims for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability before the V.A.
  • Requests to reopen a claim previously denied by the V.A.
  • Applications for discharge upgrades and records correction before the Military Departments Boards for Correction of Military Records.
  • Employment law claims and representation.
  • Problems associated with criminal records, such as expungment of convictions.
  • Policy issues such as the creation of veterans’ courts and issues arising under the Uniform Deployed Parent’s Custody and Visitation Act.
  • Consumer law and real estate matters.

The clinic will not accept criminal cases; civil cases other than those listed above; probate matters; family law matters including divorce, child support, custody, child visitation; personal injury; immigration matters; bankruptcy matters; and insurance law matters. V.A. benefit award matters will also continue to be processed through the State Bar’s MLAP on either a pro bono or reduced-fee basis consistent with attorney fee regulations of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Case referrals may also come from the National Veterans’ Legal Service Program, the Veterans’ Consortium Pro Bono Program, Service Women’s Action Network, Atlanta Vietnam Veterans’ Business Association and veterans’ service organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and Georgia Vietnam Veterans’ Alliance.