Veterans Law Clinic Milestone Demonstrates Continued Commitment to Supporting Veterans in Need
Web Editor - Published: November 10, 2012

Associate Professor and Veterans Law Clinic Director Justin G. Holbrook discusses a significant milestone for the clinic.

“The important part of our work is helping our clients receive the benefits they deserve,” says Associate Professor and Veterans Law Clinic Director Justin G. Holbrook in discussing a milestone the clinic recently reached.

In calendar year 2012, the Veterans Law clinic recovered more than $1 million dollars in retroactive benefits for clinic clients. Indicating that the number itself is only significant as an indicator of the important work the clinic does, Holbrook says, “What’s important is the difference that we’re making in people’s lives,” and he adds that the figure is confirmation “that the Veterans Law Clinic is really serving its mandate.”

Begun as the Veterans Assistance Program under now Professor Emeritus Thomas J. Reed’s direction in 1997, the program became known as the Veterans Law Clinic in January 2006, but student interns have been a part of the program since its start. Students participating in the clinic are afforded the opportunity to work directly with veterans seeking redress when they have been denied benefits. Holbrook notes that working directly with clients allows students to develop an “emotional, personal” connection to the law.

Praising the work of the clinic staff, volunteer attorneys, and students for their extraordinary work on behalf of clinic clients, he observes that the program “sets an example for our students because it shows them that they can have a meaningful impact for their client through their legal work.”
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In addition to working on cases, students participating in the clinic have the opportunity to further hone their advocacy skills by working on a variety of other projects. Such activities include an annul trip to Graterford Prison, where clinic students assist incarcerated veterans. Recently, the clinic served as co-authors with attorneys from Womble Carlyle Sandrige & Rice LLP and DLA Piper LLP on an amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari in Truth, Inc., on Behalf of Themselves and Their Members v. Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, et al.

Touching on the benefits students reap by working on such projects, Holbrook observes that seeing correspondence from the Clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court in response to the clinic’s amicus brief can expand a student’s horizons. “The Supreme Court is no longer some untouchable court for them now,” Holbrook says.

Moving forward, the Veterans Law Clinic will continue to fulfill its mission not only by directly representing veterans in need, but also by advocating on behalf of all veterans. A perfect example of those efforts will come at the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims’ Twelfth Judicial Conference in 2013, where Professor Holbrook will speak as part of a panel of professors with expertise in Veterans Law that he will organize at the request of the Honorable Mary J. Schoelen,

More immediately, Professor Holbrook will discuss military law and offer an examination of what it is to be a JAG Officer on Monday, November 12. The talk in honor of Veterans Day is part of the ongoing Pizza with the Professors series and will be held in the student lounge off Main Street beginning at 4:15 p.m. Pizza and refreshments will be served.