Veterans Appeals Guidebook: Representing Veterans in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, edited by Ronald Smith

Vol. 23 No. 3

Reviewed by

David Godfrey is a senior attorney to the ABA Commission on Law and Aging.

ABA Publishing, March 2013

If you are representing a veteran on an appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), you need a copy of this book on your desk. The Department of Veterans Affairs receives about 900,000 claims for benefits each year and has a current backlog of about 600,000 claims. See Veterans Affairs, ABA, Legal Services Corp. Announce Program to Help with Veterans’ Disability Claims, ABA News Archives (Aug. 11, 2013), www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2013/08/veterans_affairsab.html. The appeals process leads to the special federal court known as the CAVC in Washington, D.C. The unique rules, practices, and procedures of the CAVC are the focus of this book.

The book uses a systematic, step-by-step approach to explain how cases arrive at the CAVC and move through the court. The authors make generous use of example forms, sample pleadings, and practice tips. The tips reflect years of experience and are alone worth the price of the book. The focus of the book is laser-sharp on the rules, practice, and procedure in the CAVC.

The Veterans Appeals Guidebook does not cover benefits eligibility; rather, it focuses solely on practice and procedure at the CAVC. It briefly addresses what happens before an appeal arrives in the court and then goes on to detail the process for admission to the bar of the CAVC, the electronic filing system that must be used (and how to avoid the most common mistakes in using it), filing the notice of appeal, pre-briefing, settlement considerations, briefing, reply briefs, post-briefing, and attorney fees. The book touches briefly on appealing beyond the CAVC.

The book also explains how to practice appeals in the CAVC without physically appearing in Washington, D.C. With most of the process based on pleadings, motions, and phone conferences, attorneys anywhere can help veterans with these important appeals using the guidelines in this very useful book.

The Veterans Appeals Guidebook is very well-written, clear, and concise, with a writing style, editing, and design that make it easy to follow. The book is intended as a desktop reference to guide attorneys through the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of this unique court. It is unusual to get excited about a book on practice and procedure, but I found this book up to the task. You will wish that your law school civil procedure book had been this good!

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