Last week PBI hosted a webinar exploring veterans-related pro bono opportunities and developments. Bruce Ives, vice president and deputy general counsel, Hewlett-Packard Company**, moderated the panel, which included Ronald Flagg, partner, Sidley Austin LLP*†, and chairman of the board, National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP); Rick Little, director, Center for Veterans Advancement (CVA) at Public Counsel Law Center; Margaret Middleton, co-founder and executive director, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC); and Amanda Smith, pro bono partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP*†.
Flagg spoke about NVLSP’s free legal services for veterans and their families, which focuses on assisting veterans obtain proper disability benefits. NVLSP works with volunteer attorneys and staff at more than one hundred law firms and legal departments, including Sidley Austin and Morgan Lewis.
Smith reported on Morgan Lewis’s broad veterans program and in particular its work with NVLSP on the class-action lawsuit Sabo et al. v. United States, which resulted in thousands of veterans who had been discharged due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder receiving additional benefits.
Ives added information about HP’s collaboration with both NVLSP and Morgan Lewis on veterans pro bono matters, including providing individual representation to the class members of Sabo and assisting veterans with their applications for combat-related special compensation. There are several great features to this type of work, including opportunities for attorneys and other professional staff to participate, as well as the option to work remotely and at off hours. Flagg, Smith, and Ives stressed the high-level of enthusiasm for assisting veterans among their colleagues, even those who typically are hesitant to get involved in pro bono.
Next, Little and Middleton discussed their respective organizations and some of the cutting edge developments in veterans pro bono that they have seen. Both organizations look to address any and all legal issues of needy veterans, which include not only obtaining benefits, but also matters related to housing, consumer issues, and family law. In fact, Little reports that the number one issue veterans report to CVA is ticket and warrant resolution. Staff at CVA and CLVC assist in all of these areas by working with numerous pro bono attorneys, screening clients and providing training and support. In addition to working with volunteers on legal matters, both organizations support a holistic approach to veteran services. CVLC, which is dedicated to veterans living in Connecticut, provides the legal element to an interdisciplinary team that includes mental health providers. Meanwhile, CVA, which assists U.S. veterans in the country and abroad, has begun working with the University of Southern California School for Social Work to engage its students in assisting veteran clients of pro bono attorneys as they are also receiving legal help.
Missed it? Don’t worry – the program will be available on-demand soon. In-house participants should contact CPBO Project Assistant Eric Florenz for registration information. Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member law firms should contact Law Firm Project Assistant Christine Sutherland for the promotional code to register. CLE credit is available for this program in many states.
Check back often for other online offerings and join us for our next webinar program Thursday, June 28 at 1 p.m. EDT, “Pro Bono and the Crisis in Legal Aid”, featuring PBI’s Esther F. Lardent and James J. Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation.
* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project
**denotes Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM