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Volunteer Clinic for Veterans

The Emory Law Volunteer Clinic for Veterans assists those who have served our country with legal issues, including claims for service-connected disability before the Veterans Administration and in subsequent appellate proceedings.

VCV

Emory’s VCV also assists veterans with wills and advance directives, in collaboration with attorneys from Duane Morris LLC and The Home Depot. Emory Law is the first law school in Georgia and one of the first in the South to open a veterans clinic. The VCV is actively supported by the Military/Veterans Law Section of the Georgia Bar and the Military Legal Assistance Program.

Advocacy

Clinic students successfully advocated for the establishment of a veterans court in Georgia. Such courts recognize veterans may suffer from severe depression, PTSD, brain injuries, chronic pain, or substance abuse, which can contribute to criminal behavior. Veterans courts are now operational in 20 judicial circuits in Georgia. Clinic students also assisted in preparing the Service Members Civil Relief Act Guide for Judges, published by the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, to help judges integrate the SCRA into Georgia Law.

Student Volunteers

Students looking to volunteer with the Volunteer Clinic for Veterans should complete the Student Volunteer form.

Students who work in the clinic will not receive academic credit, but will receive credit for Emory Law Pro Bono hours as well as hours awarded by the  Emory Public Interest Committee (EPIC). 

The President of the National Security Society acts as liaison between the faculty and students on the assignment of cases and projects.  The students in the clinic will assist faculty and other lawyers on this work. The clients are represented by the lawyers. 

In addition to individual cases, students work on legislative efforts to create veterans’ courts in Georgia that would allow veterans charged with criminal offenses to participate in a VA treatment program as an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system. These courts have successfully balanced needed medical treatment with assuring the safety of the community. 

Volunteering for the Emory Volunteer Clinic has given me the opportunity to provide meaningful assistance to those who have served our country. I also am able to gain valuable experience with client interaction and legal writing.

Paige Kovalchik 20L


The Volunteer Clinic for Veterans accepts a wide range of legal matters.

  • Disability claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs: Includes appeals to the Board of Veterans Appeals and the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
  • Pension claims before the VA: Need-based pensions and pensions that may be available to the surviving spouse and children based on the service-connected death of a veteran.
  • Claims for increased rating before the regional office of the VA
  • Claims for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) before the VA
  • Requests to reopen a claim previously denied by the VA.
  • Other VA issues, including assistance with VA health care and VA determinations of incompetency
  • Applications for discharge upgrade and record correction

The Volunteer Clinic for Veterans also provides assistance with:.

  • Wills and advance directives at the VA Medical Center
  • Support to homeless veterans at “Stand Down” events at the VA Medical Center and the former Ft. McPherson

History 

The Volunteer Clinic for Veterans (VCV) commenced operations in February 2013. Emory Law’s National Security Law Society, led by  Martin Bunt 14L and Rachel Erdman 14L (second year law students at the time), and its faculty sponsor, Charlie Shanor, decided to explore the possibility of creating a clinic for veterans. The National Security Law Society invited representatives from the well-established Veterans’ Benefits Clinic at John Marshall Law School in Chicago to conduct a two-day program focusing on its operations. John Marshall, as part of this visit, provided a three-hour training session concerning the handling of veterans’ benefits claims. Following further internal discussions focused on the resources available to Emory Law and its desire to provide the best opportunities for pro bono opportunities for students to work on veterans’ legal matters, the Emory Law Volunteer Clinic for Veterans was founded. Emory offered an adjunct professor appointment to Lane Dennard, who distinguished himself at King & Spalding by representing veterans on a pro bono basis and, together with other attorneys in the practice, has advocated for Georgia to adopt veterans court legislation.   

Drew Early currently serves as director of the clinic. Early is an adjunct professor at Emory, teaching a Veteran’s Benefits Law Class.  Early is one of the most experienced veteran’s law practitioners in Georgia and a former president of the Military and Veterans Benefits Section of the State Bar.  

Kier Prince 18L has recently joined the VCV as an Equal Justice Works intern.