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Spring 2023 Clinic

Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic

Enrollment in this clinic will fulfill the HLS JD pro bono requirement.

Required Class Component: Students in the spring clinic must enroll in either the Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinical Seminar (2 spring classroom credits) OR Poverty Law Workshop: A Toolkit for Addressing Inequity & Homelessness (2 spring classroom credits). Students who enroll in spring clinic will be enrolled in one of the required courses by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: December 2, 2022.

LLM Students: LLM students may apply to the clinic through the LLM General Clinic Application. Please Note: LLM students may take this clinic for 2 clinical credits.

Placement Site: WilmerHale Legal Services Center (Jamaica Plain).

The Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic advocates for the rights of veterans, their families, and other low-income individuals with disabilities and ensures that they have the independence, health care, income support, and other benefits that they need and deserve. The Clinic focuses on serving individuals who are marginalized and underrepresented, including individuals with mental health conditions, Military Sexual Trauma survivors, veterans of color, LGBTQ+ veterans, and formerly incarcerated individuals.

Students in the Clinic engage in hands-on lawyering and provide direct representation to clients in litigation and non-litigation matters. Through clinical practice, students learn skills such as client and witness interviewing; working with medical experts; gathering evidence; drafting pleadings, motions, briefs, and legal instruments; presenting at evidentiary hearings or oral argument; engaging in negotiation; developing strategic litigation strategies; and solving ethical dilemmas.

Students can select between projects within the Clinic: (1) the Veterans Justice Project, representing veterans in federal and state administrative and court appeals to challenge wrongful denials of veterans benefits and in military discharge upgrade petitions; (2) the Estate Planning Project, representing veterans and their families in estate and financial planning matters such as wills, trusts, advanced directives, guardianships, and conservatorships; or (3) the Safety Net Project, representing clients in administrative and court appeals to challenge wrongful denials of Social Security disability benefits and other safety-net programs.

In representing individual clients, students have opportunities to engage in systemic reform initiatives, such as through strategic litigation and policy advocacy, to improve the lives of veterans with disabilities.

This Clinic is part of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School (LSC), a community legal aid 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.

[Update: Please note that the Clinic also has an Estate Planning Project, but during the Academic Year 22-23 the Clinic will not be placing students in the Estate Planning Project. However, Academic Year 22-23 students who have an interest in estate planning matters are encouraged to note their interest and may be able to be exposed to some portions of that practice in combination with our other Projects.]

For more information on LSC, this Clinic, our docket, and student learning opportunities, please visit: https://www.legalservicescenter.org/students-clinics/veterans-legal-clinic

This 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.