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Spring 2024 Clinic

Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic

To learn more about the Clinical Curriculum and Registration, please visit our Clinical Registration Center.
You can also find more information on How to Register for Clinics and How Clinical Credits Work.

For more information about this clinic, please visit the Clinic Website Clinic Q&A and and OCP Blog Highlights. You can also learn more about each Project within this clinic by watching the Veterans Justice Project Q&A, Estate Planning Project Q&A or the Safety Net Project Q&A.

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: Leveraging the Safety Net to Address Homelessness & Advance Equity (2 fall 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. Please see below for more information on how clinical seminar enrollment effects clinic assignments.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: December 8, 2023. Please note: there is an early drop deadline for students enrolled in the Poverty Law Workshop of September 1, 2023.

LLM Students: LLM students may enroll in this clinic through Helios. 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 work with their own clients. Through clinical practice, students learn skills such as client and witness interviewing; client counseling; 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.

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
Students select within which of the Clinic’s three projects they would like to work: (1) the Veterans Justice Project, representing veterans and survivors in federal and state administrative and court appeals to challenge wrongful denials of veterans benefits, to petition for military discharge upgrades, and to pursue systemic reforms in the health and benefit systems that serve vulnerable veterans; (2) the Estate Planning Project, representing veterans and their families in estate and financial planning matters such as wills, powers of attorney, trusts, advanced health directives, and VA fiduciary cases; 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, and representing clients in criminal record sealing and expungement processes.
Students are also welcome to work across two different projects if that is of interest, in which case the workload in each project will be adjusted accordingly. Clinic instructors will reach out to registered students well before the start of the semester in order to inquire about their project preference(s) and answer any questions students may have about the work of individual projects. Please note that students who opt to enroll in the Poverty Law Workshop as their co-requisite will be automatically assigned to the Safety Net Project. For students who opt to enroll in the Clinical Seminar as their co-requisite, they can choose among any of the three project areas.

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.
For more information on LSC, this Clinic, our docket, and student learning opportunities, please visit our website.