In the legal world, the term "legal services" has come to mean attorneys offering services to those who can't afford to pay the ordinary full rate, because of a specific financial hardship. Lawyers might service "pro bono" (from the Latin, meaning "for the public good") or at a lower fee than they usually charge, in order that more deserving clients whose financial conditions would otherwise preclude them from getting legal representation might get some timely help. Harvard Law School, among others, under the visionary leadership of Dean Elena Kagan, has put a strong emphasis on the need for law students to spend some time during their training doing public interest law, or otherwise contributing their time to those less fortunate, and has made this a requirement for graduates since 2002 (click here to learn more about that program, or here to learn about Harvard Law School's commitment to public service).
In the lawyers and veterans world, there's a specific organization devoted to providing legal services to needy veterans. It's called the National Veterans Legal Services Program, or NVLSP, and it's been around for more than 25 years. (To learn more about the National Veterans Legal Services Program, click here.)
According to its website, the NVLSP is an independent, non-profit, nonpartisan organization that has helped veterans and their families with legal advice and representation for the last 25 years. It's dedicated to ensuring that the U.S. government honors its commitment to our veterans by providing them the federal benefits they have earned through their service to our country. NVLSP accomplishes its mission by:
that they deserve; and
It trains veterans advocates, both lawyers and non-lawyers - in classroom trainings and through correspondence courses. For more information about its advocacy training, click here. It also encourages practicing attorneys to represent veterans on a pro bono basis (i.e., for the public good.) For more information about the pro bono need for lawyers, click here.
The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) has published a manual, called "Veteran Benefits Manual, 2007," linked here. The authors are Barton F. Stichman, Co-Director of and lead litigator for NVLSP, who has earned over $100 million in VA benefits for his clients over the last 27 years, and Ronald B. Abrams, Co-Director of NVLSP and a 17-year VA insider. Over the past 16 years he has trained thousands of veterans’ advocates.
Editor's Note: If you're a Harvard Law School alumnus or alumna, consider contacting Dean Elena Kagan and encouraging her to institute a program offering pro bono services geared towards veterans and their families. HLS has a number of fantastic legal services offerings and programs, but as of this writing, none directed specifically towards veterans, who clearly need and could use the help -- and alumni comments make a difference. The Dean's Office address is Harvard Law School, Griswold 200, 1525 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel.: (617) 495-4601.
Also, if you're an attorney who has developed a specialty representing veterans, or better yet, does the same pro bono, and would like to have your services listed, please contact us to be listed in a forthcoming directory. Thank you.