Students in the Clinic work to protect the rights of veterans and their families and persons with disabilities. Students can select among three project areas: (1) representing veterans in administrative and federal court appeals to challenge wrongful denials of federal and state veterans benefits; (2) representing veterans and their families in estate and financial planning matters such as wills, trusts, advanced directives, guardianships, and conservatorships; or (3) representing clients in administrative and court appeals to challenge wrongful denials of Social Security disability benefits. The Clinic’s practice includes administrative, disability, mental health, probate, and constitutional law. Students gain in-depth experience with: client and witness interviewing; working with medical evidence and experts; drafting pleadings, motions, and briefs; drafting legal instruments; examining and cross-examining witnesses at hearings; judicial review of agency decisions; presenting oral argument, engaging in negotiation; and solving ethical dilemmas. Overall, the Clinic focuses its advocacy efforts on using the law to promote financial stability, access to healthcare, and dignity for veterans and their families and persons with disabilities.
Veterans and Public Benefits Law: Students represent veterans and family members in administrative and court appeals to challenge denials of federal and state veterans benefits. To this end, students regularly practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The Court has a student practice rule that permits students to participate fully in appeals. Students also represent veterans in petitions and appeals seeking an upgrade of military discharge status or correction of military records, which cases can provide students an opportunity to represent a veteran at an armed forces review board hearing. More information, including recent case examples, can be found here.
Disability Law: Students take on cases involving the administrative appeals of disabled clients who have been denied Social Security benefits. In preparing these cases for hearing, students interview and counsel clients, compile the evidentiary record, collaborate with medical providers, and prepare a hearing brief. Students appear with their clients at the hearing, conduct both direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and present oral argument.
Estate Planning Law: Students represent clients in matters involving estate planning and probate, guardianship, conservatorship, debt counseling, and private insurance. The goal of the clinic is to help low-income families maximize financial stability and control over lifetime decision making and effectively plan for future needs.
The clinic is part of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC), a general practice community law office in Jamaica Plain. LSC’s diverse clinics provide clinical instruction to second- and third-year law students and serve as a laboratory for the innovative delivery of legal services. Students are taught and mentored under the supervision and guidance of clinical instructors and fellows.
Specific student work includes:
- Factual and legal research
- Client interviews
- Drafting estate document
- Handling administrative hearings
These clinics are part of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC), a general practice community law office in Jamaica Plain. LSC’s diverse clinics provide clinical instruction to second- and third-year law students and serve as a laboratory for the innovative delivery of legal services. Students are taught and mentored under the supervision and guidance of clinical instructors and fellows in one of LSC’s litigation clinical practices.
How to Register
The clinic is offered in the Fall and Spring semester. You can learn about the required clinical course component, clinical credits, additional requirements, and the clinical registration process, by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.
In the News
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Veterans clinic files rulemaking petition on access for veterans with ‘bad-paper’ dischargesContinue Reading about Veterans clinic files rulemaking petition on access for veterans with ‘bad-paper’ discharges
More than 125,000 veterans who have served since 9/11 are denied access to basic services like health care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a report by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.
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Empowering clients through the Estate Planning ProjectContinue Reading about Empowering clients through the Estate Planning Project
Estate planning requires a lot of thinking about what could happen with each possible decision that the client makes and thinking of ways to have the best possible outcome. For me, it is really great work to do because clients leave feeling empowered that they have control over their lives during difficult times.
Faculty and Staff
Daniel Nagin (Vice-Dean for Experiential and Clinical Education; Clinical Professor of Law; and LSC Director)
Julie McCormack (Senior Clinical Instructor)
Tamara E. Kolz Griffin (Clinical Instructor)
Betsy Gwin (Clinical Instructor)
Dana Montalto (Attorney and Liman Fellow)
Ebony Griffin (Faculty Assistant)
Julia Taylor (Intake Coordinator, Veterans Legal Clinic)
Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic
WilmerHale Legal Services Center
122 Boylston Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Visit Clinic’s Website