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October 01, 2013

Book Review: Veterans Appeals Guidebook

David M. Godfrey

(Note: The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: BIFOCAL Vol. 35, Issue 1.)

Edited by Ronald Smith
Contributing authors: Anita Bhushan, Elizabeth Ferrill, Stephen Hennessy, Maureen Queler, and Ron Smith
ABA Publishing, Paperback,, $69.95

This is an excellent book about practice and procedure in the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). I have to admit that a wave of dread passed over me when I realized that I had volunteered to review a book on practice rules and civil procedure in a specialized Court, but within a couple of pages I realized that this is clearest, most straightforward practice and procedure book I have ever read. The authors did an amazing job of explaining complex rules of practice and procedure in ways that are clear and very understandable.

There are about 600,000 pending claims for Veterans benefits. Helping Veterans with these cases can be personally rewarding. Representing Veterans is a way of helping those who have given so much for our country. This book will be a huge help to attorneys wishing to navigate a case through the CAVC.

The text starts with a brief overview of Veterans Benefits, rapidly moves into how cases move into the CAVC, and then details what happens and how it happens in this Court. The book uses a step-by-step format to walk the reader through the process for the CAVC. The authors make generous use of sample documents and practice tips. Carefully guiding the reader through the Court’s e-filing requirements, the publication also advises on the most common challenges in using the system.

The CAVC is in Washington, DC, but the vast majority of cases are handled on paper and by phone; oral arguments are rare. The book explains eligibility for payment of attorney’s fees by the government, the process of requesting fees and getting paid.

If you are going to practice in the CAVC, you should have a copy of this book on your desk.

The book concentrates on practice and procedure. It does not attempt to cover the laws and regulations governing benefits eligibility. The book is well edited and designed. Don’t let the book’s compact 125 pages fool you—there is a lot of content in the pages with a very efficient use of words. If your law school civil procedure book had been this well written, civil procedure might have been one of your favorite classes. I recommend this book for anyone thinking of taking a case to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.  ■

David M. Godfrey

About the author: David M. Godfrey is a Senior Attorney at the ABA Commission on Law and Aging.