Legal Services Corporation Veterans’ Task Force2021–2022 Justice Seymour Simon Award winner
In 2021, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) convened a Veterans’ Task Force to address legal issues veterans often face upon leaving active duty and which create barriers to a successful transition to civilian life. The goals of the Task Force are to raise awareness of the civil legal issues faced by veterans, highlight model programs that provide effective integrated services, make recommendations for replicating or expanding those programs and offer strategies for engaging pro bono legal assistance.
DLA Piper participated in and supported the Task Force, providing key contributions to its report. In 2021, DLA Piper volunteers dedicated more than 120 hours to the project. Jim Brogan (Philadelphia), Rich Hans (New York) and Isabelle Ord (San Francisco) helped to lead the Task Force’s three working groups, Legal Issues, Collaboration, and Transition to Civilian Life. Jesse Medlong (San Francisco), Gina Trimarco, Billy Diggs (both Short Hills), Ryan Estes, (Los Angeles), Charlie Bell (Washington, DC) and Megan Kinney (San Diego) supported each of the groups. Many other DLA Piper volunteers donated time to this project, including Peter Ekberg (Minneapolis), Donna L. Look (Miami), Sarah Sanchez (Chicago), and Heather Ehrenberg (New York).
The Task Force’s report is a comprehensive review of the issues facing veterans upon discharge. It addresses civil legal problems, barriers to service for specific populations, and the reasons behind veterans’ legal needs. It highlights model programs that provide effective, integrated services to veterans and offers tips for replicating those programs. It also offers recommendations for engaging lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance. Finally, it includes specific recommendations for legal aid providers, law firms, corporate law departments, government officials, and Congress.
“The opportunity to participate on the LSC Veterans Task Force has been both eye-opening and rewarding," said Brogan. “Confusion, barriers, and lack of coordination among service providers unfortunately make it difficult, and in some cases near impossible, for a veteran to obtain services theoretically available from a variety of federal, state and private agencies. By bringing representatives of these organizations together and engaging in thoughtful discourse, the Task Force is closing in on recommendations and action points to improve the delivery of services our veterans so richly deserve.”
“Our goal from the outset was to draw upon the voices of, and resources available to, veterans across the country and discuss in a clearheaded way the challenges they face and needs they have — legally, socially, emotionally — as they transition from the military and reenter civilian life," said Hans. “Learning from what has worked in certain quarters and in the more innovative support programs, we hope to share thoughts and ideas about how we as a nation and legal profession may better advance the interests of those who served us.”