Karin Nordstrom

Karin Nordstrom

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Society of Columbus
  • Sponsored by Jones Day Foundation, Procter & Gamble Co.
  • Service location Columbus, Ohio
  • Law school Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law
  • Issue area Veterans' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Karin restored vulnerable veterans’ rights to VA resources through direct representation of discharge upgrades/VA benefits applications and strengthen ties between the legal and veteran’s community.

The consequences of war affect our veterans long after they return from deployment. The benefits available to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are essential to a successful transition back to civilian life. However, many veterans encounter significant barriers to the benefits they deserve, most notably difficulty navigating the claims process and preclusive discharge statuses.

When Karin started at LASC, the Columbus legal community was not equipped to address the needs of the 110,000 veterans living there. Karin’s fellowship started a sustainable veterans law practice at LASC and revived a dormant statewide veterans law task force. She also worked with community partners to foster additional collaboration between social service agencies serving veterans.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Karin has:

  • Increased LASC’s presence and relationships in the veterans’ community by adding on-site brief advice hours and estate planning clinics at VA medical centers and a veteran-focused homeless shelter.
  • Increased LASC’s capacity to serve veterans by recruiting new 6 pro bono volunteer attorneys and a new veterans law fellow focused on engaging with community contacts developed during Karin’s fellowship.
  • Obtained lump sum payments and debt write-offs for 15 veterans totaling $97,886.13 and monthly benefits payments for 10 veterans totaling $7,631.59.

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Karin plans to remain at LASC as a staff attorney, splitting her time between VA benefits, discharge upgrades, and education work. She will also serve as the direct supervisor for LASC’s newest veterans law fellow. She is grateful to her sponsors, the Procter & Gamble Co. and Jones Day, for the opportunity to spend two years focused on establishing a veterans law practice at LASC.

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