Veterans Law Center receives state bar's pro bono award

UW Law School’s Veterans Law Center has received the State Bar of Wisconsin's annual Pro Bono Organization Award. The award recognizes the center's innovative delivery of legal services to veterans, a community experiencing an increased need for legal assistance.

The Law School founded the Veterans Law Center in 2012 to offer Dane County veterans and their families free legal advice, information and referrals on their civil legal issues. While the school’s Pro Bono Program runs the center, its success depends on the involvement of many local partners and volunteers.

To serve the area's poorest veterans, the Law School teamed up with Porchlight, a local agency that provides emergency shelter and other services to homeless people in Dane County. Veterans make up a disproportionate share of the homeless population; nationally about 12 percent of the adult homeless population are veterans. Now, homeless veterans seeking assistance from Porchlight can get their civil legal questions addressed through the Veterans Law Center.

Porchlight, along with the Dane County Veterans Service Office, helped secure office space for the center. The Veterans Legal Society, a new student organization at the Law School, recruits and coordinates volunteers: so far more than 80 law students, 50 local attorneys and ten paralegals have contributed their time and expertise. In its first year, the center served more than 100 veterans.

Jeff Brown, the state bar’s pro bono coordinator said, “I’m very pleased that the State Bar of Wisconsin could play a role in helping to support this important resource for Dane County veterans. I’ve seen first-hand the peace of mind that comes from having even very basic legal questions answered.”

The Law School won a Pro Bono Initiative grant from the state bar to launch the center. Additional financial support came from the Wisconsin-based law firm, Habush Habush & Rottier.

Submitted by Tammy Kempfert on June 26, 2014

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