As part of the creation of the new Taishoff Advocacy, Technology, and Public Service Institute, Professor Thomas Reed
has been named the first Taishoff Professor of Law. Professor Reed came to the Delaware Law School in 1981 and has been a leading faculty member ever since, including serving as Associate Dean from 1984 until 1993. He has made many contributions to the school over those years, perhaps none more important than creating the Veterans Law Clinic
. In 1997, he started a small, volunteer pro bono program known then as the Veterans Assistance Program that eventually grew into the Veterans Law Clinic.
“We’re here to extend the service learning experience for the students, and to serve the Veterans from Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey,” explains Professor Reed when discussing the Veterans Law Clinic. The program began with a simple mission to “assist veterans and dependents with Department of Veterans Affairs compensation claims and related VA benefits.” In 2006, the program became the Veterans Law Clinic after a change in regulations that allowed veterans to hire private attorneys to represent them before the Board of Veterans Appeal. The clinic now has branch offices on the University’s Chester campus and in Harrisburg, employs three part-time staff attorneys, a part-time paralegal, and offers students a clinical internship experience in which they assist a staff attorney or Professor Reed “on anywhere from three to five veterans compensation cases each semester.”
According to Professor Reed, the clinic is now assisting 138 active clients, but he is quick to acknowledge the difficulties inherent in the system, noting that veterans have been “a tragically underserved population.” A veteran himself, Professor Reed served in the Marine Corps in the 1960s, giving him insight into what his clients have been through. “It takes a year or two for claims to percolate through the system,” he notes, candidly discussing the bureaucratic issues that plague VA offices around the country, including recent stories about important disability claim documents being found in shredder bins at the VA Regional Offices in Detroit and New York. Given the difficulties that many veterans face in receiving a fair hearing, programs like the Veterans Law Clinic remain vitally important.
The Taishoff Advocacy, Technology, and Public Service Institute will open up new advocacy programs, create courses in military law and justice, and create the Taishoff Fellowship for students. Given his strong advocacy on behalf of veterans and his years of service to the law school, Professor Reed represents a natural choice as the first Taishoff Professor of Law.