Bringing Legal Aid to Veterans - Part 2
In yesterday’s post we wrote about the work Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow Lauren Peach is doing to bring legal aide to at-risk veterans in Northwest Washington State. Recently, Lauren ran a mobile legal clinic (with the help of other Equal Justice Works Fellows, law students, and local attorneys), bringing legal services to veterans around the region. Lauren and Leo, a law school volunteer and veteran, brought the mobile clinics to four different sites over the course of a week.
Prior to starting out, all of the participants received training specific to the legal needs of veterans, including a manual that Lauren and Leo had put together with guidance for serving veterans and providing them with legal assistance in the state of Washington. There was a wide array of different skill sets; many of the lawyers were specialized for veteran’s work, but the group included one Fellow whose primary area of expertise is housing and one with practice doing pro bono coordination.
Out at the clinics, the group would do basic intake for veterans who had signed up for an appointment, as well as a few drop-ins. Issues that arose ranged from driver’s license suspensions and minor criminal charges to accessing VA benefits and establishing a will. At the end of each day, Lauren went through all the intake forms to see if the veteran would receive a referral for an attorney or whether her host organization, Northwest Justice Project would take the client on, or if there was no action needed.
This exercise illustrates a different model of bringing legal services to veterans; one which we hope is replicated in other parts of the country. Equal Justice Works has a goal of expanding the number of Fellows across the country who are working with veterans. Stay tuned for more stories of their work.
Image: L-R Top Row: Leo Flor (Law student volunteer from Northwest Justice Project), Elly Kugler (Inner City Law Center), Jordan Ballard (Legal Aid of West Virginia), Lauren Peach (Northwest Justice Project), Brenna Duncan (Equal Justice Works). L-R Bottom Row: Nina Wu (Legal Aid Society of DC), Errol Dauis (OneJustice), Patricia Guzman (Southeast Louisiana Legal Services), Annette Lin (Inner City Law Center).
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- Statement from our Executive Director, David Stern
- "Through justice AmeriCorps we will get things done."
- "It is success stories like this that make me proud to be a public interest lawyer."
- "It is a great feeling to wake up every morning excited to go to work."
- "My mission is to help people overcome the barriers to employment created by their criminal records."
- "I have gained insight into the need for a more holistic approach to the needs of veterans and their families."
- "I wanted to use my abilities as an attorney to help make my new home better."
- "I am learning my job, as well as lots of new names and friendly faces."
- "My experience with the tenants is what fuels my project and keeps it so close to my heart."
- "I wanted to give a voice to people whose voices usually go unheard."