Posts Tagged: Military & Veterans

BBA Announces the New Veterans and Servicemembers Law Forum

The Boston Bar Association is pleased to announce our “Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum” has changed to the “Veterans and Servicemembers Law Forum”. We believe this name change more accurately describes its membership. 

The co-chairs highlighted the need to replace “active duty military” with “servicemembers” because the term servicemembers is both more inclusive and accurate for the forum. Servicemembers was selected because it is defined in the Servicemember Civil Release Act (SCRA) as including, but not limited to, all Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard forces. This includes reservists and national guard who are often active but may not have been recalled to full-time duty.  

The Forum was formed in 2014 in order to, “further pro bono and public service initiatives that support [servicemembers]…, spotlight legal needs, serve as a network for current and former servicemembers in the legal profession and their families, and advise the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service on its Military & Veterans Legal Help Line.” There are currently over two hundred active members of the Forum and the group annually hosts networking lunches and trainings on legal issues specific to Veterans and Servicemembers. The proposed name change would help clarify the inclusion of all servicemembers and those that support them, which upholds the goals and practices of the Forum. 

If you are interested in learning more about this forum, please contact Doug Newton at dnewton@bostonbar.org. 

Pro Bono Opportunity: Assist Veterans Seeking Discharge Upgrades

Established in 2015, the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership at the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School assists veterans seeking discharge upgrades. The partnership connects veterans to private attorneys and provides ongoing support and expert resources to those attorneys throughout the case. For the past four years, the BBA has hosted an annual training to introduce interested attorneys to this opportunity and bolster the skillset and knowledge of existing pro bono volunteers. The next training will provide attendees the chance to hear perspectives from the military board of directors for the Air Force, Army, and Navy. They will discuss how the boards operate and how pro bono attorneys can best advocate for their veteran clients. The pro bono training will also include an update about recent changes in the law. You’re invited to attend on Thursday, April 25th from 2:30 – 5:00 PM at the BBA. A networking reception with the Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum will immediately follow the training. Read more and register to attend here.

Note that this training will build on those from 2015-2018. Convenient videos and materials from past trainings are available through our Learn Online library’s dedicated pro bono and public interest page. Easily watch the videos and review the materials whenever your schedule permits and wherever works for you, whether at your office or on the go!

BBA Boosts Legal Assistance for Our Troops and Veterans

Veterans Initiative Photo

It’s been a little over six months since the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service adopted the Military Legal Help Line . If you remember, this past fall we announced the expansion of our Veterans’ Initiative, by transferring the Help Line, launching our CLE series on Representing Military Members, Veterans & Their Families, and leveraging the efforts by our Active Duty, Family Members and Veterans Committee.

Here’s a glimpse of our impact so far:

  • Since September 1st, we have received calls from more than 250 military personnel, veterans and family members.
  • We successfully connected 65% more callers to lawyers and legal services than last year. Since developing a panel of qualified attorneys trained to assist with the unique legal issues facing this population, we have been able to help more clients.
  • All of the attorneys on these Military & Veterans panels accept reduced-fee cases and are generally willing to provide brief advice at no cost to the veteran or military member.
  • For more complex cases that members of our Military & Veterans panels are unable to help, we have been successful in finding other BBA members with specific expertise to provide assistance.

These successes come at the same time the state is expanding its outreach to veterans by launching the second Veterans Treatment Court, this one in Suffolk County. The court began holding sessions at the end of January and is staffed with specially trained judges, clinicians, probation officers and attorneys. The Veterans Treatment Court will hear certain criminal cases where a link has been established between trauma caused by military service and the defendant’s crime.

Can you help assist active duty military members with discharge cases? If you can or are an attorney who wants to help support the BBA’s Military Legal Help Line, contact Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.