How One Law School Funds Its Veterans Clinic

We’ve recently posted about great work being done by law students throughout the country via legal clinics for veterans. On a related note, last week we came across an article about the naming of the William & Mary School of Law’s veterans clinic.  (It’s called the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic, and you can read more about it here.)  Most noteworthy to us, though, is that the article mentions how the clinic is run and how it’s been funded thus far.  This information may be useful for students who are working with – or hoping to launch – a similar clinic now.

The Veterans Benefits Clinic accepted its first clients in January 2009. William & Mary law students working under the supervision of Adjunct Law Professors and retired JAG officers Stacey-Rae Simcox and Mark D. Matthews help veterans with their claims for benefits while students and faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Psychological Services and Development provide assessment, counseling and referrals to veterans in need of those services.

The clinic’s work is made possible, in part, by the support of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and members of the William & Mary Law School Class of 1974. In addition, the Virginia Bar Association (VBA) announced Nov. 4 its Veteran’s Initiative is urging law firms to sponsor fundraisers to benefit William & Mary’s Veterans Benefits Clinic. The VBA Veteran’s Initiative seeks to educate attorneys about veterans’ legal needs and to enlist attorneys to provide assistance to veterans on a pro bono or reduced fee basis.

The partnership with VCU’s psychology professionals seems like a terrific idea, since substantiating eligibility and need for benefits and services is critical to securing them.  It’s also good to see that the clinic has such diverse players as a charitable foundation, the state bar, and law school alumni supporting its work.  We hadn’t thought of this before, but it makes a lot of sense to reach back to Vietnam-era graduates for support.  Many served in the military themselves, and almost all of them watched friends and relatives adjust – sometimes with great struggle – to civilian life after military service.

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