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Spring 2025 Seminar

Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinical Seminar

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 , view OCP Blog Highlights, or visit the Veterans Legal Clinic Blog. 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. In addition, as this clinic is part of the Legal Services Center (LSC), you are encouraged to visit LSC’s Clinical Student FAQs page.

Required Clinic Component: Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic (3-5 spring clinical credits). This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in this required course.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: December 13, 2024.

LLM Students: LLM students may enroll in this clinic through Helios.

This Clinical Seminar is a companion course for students enrolled in the Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center.

The seminar complements the Clinic’s work of advocating for the rights of veterans, their families, and other low-income individuals with disabilities and ensuring that they have access to the health care, income supports, benefits, and opportunities necessary to their wellbeing. The seminar trains students in essential lawyering skills, including client interviews, client counseling, fact development, evidentiary hearings, oral argument, drafting legal instruments, and legal ethics, as well as introduces the complex array of legal issues that affect veterans, which involve elements of administrative law, constitutional law, probate law, mental health law, disability law, and civil rights. The seminar also provides a space for students to think strategically about their clients’ cases and to consider larger policy frameworks that affect veterans and persons with disabilities.

In the companion Clinic course, students select within which of the Clinic’s three projects they would like to work: (1) the Veterans Justice Project, where students represent veterans and survivors in administrative appeals and litigation 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, where students represent 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, where students represent clients in administrative and court appeals to challenge wrongful denials of Social Security disability benefits and other safety-net programs, and in criminal record sealing and expungement processes.

The Clinic focuses on serving individuals who are marginalized and underrepresented, including individuals with mental health conditions, Military Sexual Trauma survivors, LGBTQ+ veterans, veterans of color, individuals who are living in shelters or otherwise unhoused, and formerly incarcerated individuals. Overall, the Clinic seeks to enhance each clients’ independence, control over decision making, and ability to live with dignity. The 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 and LSC’s Clinical Student FAQs page.

There is no final examination or final paper for this course. Concurrent enrollment in the Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic is required. Please refer to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs website for clinical registration dates, early add/drop deadlines, and other relevant information.