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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.


Welcome! If you are a military veteran or military spouse, thank you for your service. The Emory Law Volunteer Clinic for Veterans (Emory VCV) assists low-income military veterans and military spouses with discharge upgrades, disability benefits claims, powers of attorney, wills, and advance directives for healthcare. Emory VCV serves its clients with the assistance of local attorneys and supervised law student volunteers who are well-versed in veteran's law.

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.

Law students working in the clinic will gain experience:

  • Advocating with administrative agencies, including the VA and CAVC,
  • Developing disability claims to include gathering and reviewing medical health records, researching veteran's law, and preparing substantive briefs,
  • Working directly with clients to include military veterans and their dependents, and
  • Building and maintaining a legal practice that serves the public interest.


Clinic students successfully advocated for the establishment of a veterans court in Georgia, now operational in 20 judicial circuits. 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

The Volunteer Clinic for Veterans invites law students from all academic levels to participate and acquire hands-on experience. While volunteering students will not earn academic credits, they will be eligible to accrue pro bono hours, which count towards the EPIC Grant or fulfill the New York bar exam's pro bono prerequisites.

Students interested in volunteering at the Clinic should email, including their name, academic year, and any specific pro bono hour requirements they may have.

The Clinic will customize assignments to meet the individual needs of each student. Prior knowledge of veterans law or military law is not necessary; initial training materials will be provided by the Clinic.

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, including appeals
  • Pension claims before the VA: Need-based pensions and pensions available to a surviving spouse and children based on the service- connected death of a veteran
  • Claims for increased rating
  • Claims for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) before the VA
  • Requests to reopen claims previously denied by the VA
  • Assistance with VA health care and VA determinations of incompetency
  • Applications for discharge upgrade and record correction
  • Wills and advance directives
  • Support to homeless veterans at “Stand Down” events at the VA Medical Center and the former Ft. McPherson


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.

Deena Wingard
 Deena C. M. Wingard currently serves as the Staff Attorney at the clinic. She joined Emory Law in 2024, after retiring from 22 years of service at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Deena received her JD from Ohio State's Moritz College of Law and has extensive legal experience in both the public and private sectors.

Serving those who served