How Advocates Can Volunteer with The Veterans Consortium's Pro Bono Program
What is The Veterans Consortium?
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program (TVC) was created in 1992, with a dual mission: to provide assistance to unrepresented veterans or their family members who have filed appeals at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC); and to recruit and train attorneys in the field of veterans’ law.
The organization is a leading national 501(c)(3) charity providing free legal services in federal venues for veterans in need. TVC operates a global federal Veterans Pro Bono Program on behalf of the U.S. CAVC to represent veterans unjustly denied benefits or compensation earned from military service. Their TVC National Volunteer Corps attorneys also litigate cases appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. TVC's Discharge Upgrade Program represents veterans before Military Discharge Review Boards and Boards of Correction for Military Records.
Their belief statement is “We believe our Veterans in need, our Nation’s defenders, deserve the care, benefits and compensation they were promised and the best legal services, free of charge, to meet their challenges.”
TVC accomplishes this mission by:
- Recruiting and training volunteer attorneys in veterans law to practice before the U.S. CAVC
- Placing evaluated cases with those volunteers; and
- Providing advice and support to their attorneys and clients.
How does the Pro Bono Program work?
Each appellant who requests Pro Bono Program assistance receives a thorough review of their appeal. An appellant whose case is not accepted by the Program receives substantive legal advice about their case and an explanation as to why the Pro Bono Program cannot place the appeal with a volunteer attorney.
The Consortium trains volunteers in veterans law to provide the above services. Each attorney who receives training and accepts a case from the Consortium is also provided with an analysis of the case prepared by the Consortium’s veterans’ law specialists. Attorneys also receive extensive research materials published by LexisNexis (including a digital version of the latest version of the Veterans Benefits Manual), as well as the assignment of a mentoring attorney to provide advice and assistance during the course of the appeal.
The video below explains what the Program entails and the impact it has on the veterans who reach out.
TVC’s “The Impact of Volunteering” can be found at https://vimeo.com/476408173
Who can volunteer?
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program has a diverse volunteer pool of:
- Attorneys at firms,
- Solo practitioners, and;
- Law school clinics.
What is expected of those who volunteer?
Attorneys who participate receive free training in exchange for a commitment to handle at least one appeal that is before the U.S. CAVC.
Volunteers do not need to be previously admitted in the U.S. CAVC or the VA for their first case, and can represent a veteran from whatever state they are licensed in.
Most cases can be completed in 30 to 35 hours; many cases may require fewer hours. A typical case lasts about 1 year from the time that the attorney enters the case. Some cases may be resolved more quickly, and some may take longer.
The Benefits of Volunteering
The main benefit of volunteering to counsel and/or represent a veteran in an appeals case is that the veteran will receive the help they need to prove entitlement to VA benefits. In addition, participating in the Pro Bono Program offers several other advantages:
- The Program provides one of the few opportunities to obtain appellate litigation experience while performing pro bono service. Most cases involve a pre-briefing conference as well as appellate brief writing and some cases may involve oral argument.
- Representation before the Court can provide an opportunity to make new law since the Court is still relatively new and cases may present issues of first impression.
- The Program provides significant support and training to ensure that your time is used effectively. Cases are prescreened for merit in advance of assignment; volunteer attorneys are quickly oriented to the case with a memorandum describing the facts and legal issues; further assistance is available from the assigned mentor; volunteer attorneys participate in an in-depth training seminar by experts and receive a detailed practice manual.
- Malpractice insurance is provided.
- CLE credits are available.
How do I get involved?
If you are interested in volunteering for the Program, contact the Volunteer Outreach & Education Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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