Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic (LSC)

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Student Work |  Clinical and Course Information  |  Faculty and Staff  |  Contact

Student Work

Students in the Clinic work to protect the rights of veterans and their families and persons with disabilities. Students can select among three project areas:  (1) representing veterans in administrative and federal court appeals to challenge wrongful denials of federal and state veterans benefits; (2) representing veterans and their families in estate and financial planning matters such as wills, trusts, advanced directives, guardianships, and conservatorships; or (3) representing clients in administrative and court appeals to challenge wrongful denials of Social Security disability benefits. The Clinic's practice includes administrative, disability, mental health, probate, and constitutional law. Students gain in-depth experience with: client and witness interviewing; working with medical evidence and experts; drafting pleadings, motions, and briefs; drafting legal instruments; examining and cross-examining witnesses at hearings; judicial review of agency decisions; presenting oral argument, engaging in negotiation; and solving ethical dilemmas. Overall, the Clinic focuses its advocacy efforts on using the law to promote financial stability, access to healthcare, and dignity for veterans and their families and persons with disabilities. 

Veterans and Public Benefits Law: Students represent veterans and family members in administrative and court appeals to challenge denials of federal and state veterans benefits. To this end, students regularly practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The Court has a student practice rule that permits students to participate fully in appeals. Students also represent veterans in petitions and appeals seeking an upgrade of military discharge status or correction of military records, which cases can provide students an opportunity to represent a veteran at an armed forces review board hearing. More information, including recent case examples, can be found here.

Disability Law: Students take on cases involving the administrative appeals of disabled clients who have been denied Social Security benefits. In preparing these cases for hearing, students interview and counsel clients, compile the evidentiary record, collaborate with medical providers, and prepare a hearing brief. Students appear with their clients at the hearing, conduct both direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and present oral argument. 

Estate Planning Law: Students represent clients in matters involving estate planning and probate, guardianship, conservatorship, debt counseling, and private insurance. The goal of the clinic is to help low-income families maximize financial stability and control over lifetime decision making and effectively plan for future needs.

The clinic is part of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC), a general practice community law 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. Students are taught and mentored under the supervision and guidance of clinical instructors and fellows.

Specific student work includes:

 
  • Factual and legal research
  • Client interviews
  • Drafting estate document
  • Handling administrative hearings
 
   

These clinics are part of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC), a general practice community law 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. Students are taught and mentored under the supervision and guidance of clinical instructors and fellows in one of LSC's litigation clinical practices.

Clinical and Course Information

For registration information, see the 2015-2016 clinical curriculum

Faculty and Staff

Daniel Nagin (Clinical Professor of Law and Clinic Director)
Julie McCormack (Senior Clinical Instructor)
Tamara E. Kolz Griffin (Clinical Instructor and Director of the Estate Planning Project of the Veterans Legal Clinic)
Betsy Gwin (Attorney and DAV Charitable Service Trust Fellow)
Dana Montalto (Clinical Fellow)
Ebony Griffin (Faculty Assistant)

Contact

WilmerHale Legal Services Center
122 Boylston Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
617-522-3003

Last modified: April 02, 2015

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