August 10, 2016

ABA President Linda Klein announces major initiative on legal services for veterans

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 10, 2016 — American Bar Association President Linda Klein has announced a major effort to mobilize lawyers on behalf of enhanced legal services for the nation’s veterans. 

Persistent combat exposure, redeployment and separations have meant that too many of those who have served our country return from active duty to a variety of legal problem — including evictions, child-custody disputes or wrongful denial of benefits, Klein said.

“These are men and women who have signed a piece of paper saying they would die for us, for our country, in defense of our liberty,” she said in outlining her plans at the ABA Annual Meeting that concluded here Tuesday. “When our justice system fails these people, we as a profession must answer our own calls and oath on their behalf.”

Klein said that in order to expand on the outstanding work the ABA already does to help active-duty military and veterans, she has launched a Veterans Legal Services Initiative, led by a 20-member volunteer commission. The commission will be headed by Nanette DeRenzi, a retired three-star vice admiral (for biography click here for biography), and Dwight Smith, a Tulsa attorney who has held key ABA leadership roles (for biography click here).

The commission will use the vast expertise of ABA membership and extensive nationwide relationships, Klein said, to build a comprehensive online resource that informs veterans of legal issues that could affect them and directs them to relevant local resources and legal providers.

Among the actions expected to be undertaken as part of the initiative:

·        Engaging with law schools and bar associations to promote legal-services incubators to assist veterans while providing valuable training for new and underemployed lawyers.

·        Promoting medical-legal partnerships that pair doctors with lawyers to solve clients’ underlying legal problems and encourage legal check-ups for veterans, their families and caregivers.

·        Extending National Pro Bono Celebration week activities in late October to include Veteran’s Day and sponsoring an additional volunteer activity around Memorial Day.

“As we lay the groundwork for this effort,” Klein said, “I hope we will create a legacy that will help millions of veterans who so bravely served our nation.”

Please click here for a biography and photo of Linda Klein, president of the American Bar Association.


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