More than 80 U.S. military veterans received free legal services at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law on November 9 as part of a clinic organized by the Veterans Legal Assistance Project (VLAP).
Veterans received free consultations with attorneys who specialize in areas such as VA benefits and claims, family law, social security disability, employment, USERRA, housing, bankruptcy, debtor/creditor matters, landlord-tenant disputes, elder law, tax, wills, estates, Medicare and Medicaid.
The attorneys were assisted by 28 Hofstra Law students, who helped with client intakes during the event. The students also handled all of the preparation, including promoting the event at meetings of veterans organizations, scheduling clients, and coordinating correspondence between attorneys and veterans organizations, as well as doing case research for the attorneys before the event.
Attorney participants included six Hofstra Law alumni: Lauren Chartan ’10; Glenn Kantor ’80; Robert Pryor ’81; Michael Tompkins ’10; Liam Twomey ’78; and Herbert Weiss ’76.
“The services they provided for veterans is outstanding,” said Dennis Becker, a disabled veteran retired from the U.S. Navy. “Many veterans do not know what direction to go, and I cannot picture anyone leaving here without a smile on their face. I left with tears of joy.”
“During the clinic I learned not only about the substantive law, but how to speak to clients, counsel them on issues and advise them on the next steps they need to take in addressing their situation,” said Amanda Maguire 3L. “Put simply, my participation in the clinic was one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences of my life.”
The Veterans Legal Assistance Project was developed by students, including students who served in the military, who wanted to provide military veterans with legal services. As part of Hofstra Law’s initiative to increase experiential learning opportunities, the faculty and administration conducted a series of trainings designed to prepare student-volunteers to assist veteran clients.
“At Hofstra Law, students are encouraged to combine their knowledge and passion with available resources in order to make a difference in areas we care about,” said alumna Rosalyn Naval ’13, a U.S. Army captain who had a decade of military service prior to law school and who helped develop the project. “VLAP afforded me the opportunity to acquire the legal tools and practical skills I needed in order to give back to my fellow veterans.”
To date, the Veterans Legal Assistance Project has provided more than 150 military veterans with free legal services. VLAP will be hosting its third clinic in March 2014 at the Law School and will include free tax-filing assistance.
For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact the Veterans Legal Assistance Project at VLAP@hofstra.edu or 516-463-7302.