The Veterans Legal Clinic serves veterans and their dependents, helping them to obtain the benefits they have earned through service to our country. At a minimum, the clinic will help its clients with benefits from the Veterans’ Administration and from the Social Security Administration. The clinic will also reach out to veterans in Athens and the surrounding 15 counties to connect: with silent veterans, who may lack access to legal or other services; vulnerable veterans, who may face special barriers to obtaining or keeping benefits; and low-income veterans.
Law students working in the clinic will gain experience:
- Advocating with administrative agencies, including the VA and Social Security Administration;
- Developing claims for disability, including collaboration with doctors and mental health providers in gathering medical and mental health records;
- Working with clients, including veterans and their dependents, through interviews, counseling, advocacy, and negotiation; and
- Building and maintaining a law practice that serves the needs of those least likely to have access to lawyers.
Students will also learn the law and procedure relevant to the practice and will gain exposure to the policies and controversies underlying this country’s commitment to give back to those who have served in the military.
Finally, the clinic will foster an ethic of public service, echoing Abraham Lincoln’s call to care for those who have borne the battle and for their dependents.
For more information about the initial scope and mission of the clinic, review this proposal.
Course Information & Requirements
You can enroll in the Veterans Legal Clinic for four, five, or six hours of credit. These credits include a weekly two hour seminar, with related readings. The remaining credits depend on the number of hours per week that the student works in the clinic, from 10 hours per week for four credits to 20 hours per week for six credits. In addition to the written work required for the practice, you will submit several pieces of reflective writing during the semester.
Grades are based on the quality of your legal work; your demonstrated knowledge of the law, procedure, and policy underlying the practice; your handling of the routine demands of law practice; and your professional development as indicated in your work and your reflective writing. As with other clinics, half of the credit hours earned receive a letter grade, and half of the hours earned are “pass/fail”.
You will work in the offices of the clinic in downtown Athens. Your work will train valuable abilities: creating relationships with clients; interviewing; counseling; assessment of legal cases; developing evidence; advocating in hearings; collaborating with law students, lawyers, and other professionals; and negotiating.
You are also likely to help with outreach to the communities served by the clinic, which may include writing and delivering presentations on the law to non-lawyers and visiting veterans groups and other providers in Athens and elsewhere.
Finally, you will participate in regular staff meetings, in which we will review both new and active cases in a case rounds format.
How to Apply
You must apply to the Veterans Legal Clinic, sending the application form (linked below) and a resume to Professor Alex Scherr, firstname.lastname@example.org. He will screen applications and may ask to interview you. You will receive notice about your application and, if invited, will be asked to confirm your interest before point allocation for the relevant semester.
The Veterans Legal Clinic is available in the spring, summer and fall semesters to (rising) 2L and 3L students. Students may repeat the clinic for more than one semester.