William & Mary Law School to Host "Law Clinics Serving Veterans" Conference in D.C.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia to Give Keynote Address on Thursday, April 3, at 12:15. 

William & Mary Law School will host a national conference, "Law Clinics Serving Veterans," April 3 - 4, in Washington, D.C. Registration is currently closed.

Press are welcome at this event. William & Mary press contacts:  Suzanne Seurattan, W&M Office of University Relations, at (757) 221-1631; on-site during the conference, David Morrill, (757) 221-2075, and Diana Cooper, (757) 218-6497.

In August, William & Mary's Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic became the first law school clinic in the nation to be invited to join the Department of Veterans Affairs' Fully Developed Claims (FDC) Community of Practice. This honor, as well as the Puller Clinic's designation by the VA and Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) as a "best practice" served as the impetus for this conference.

"The Puller Clinic has been recognized as a national leader in helping veterans with some of the most difficult cases get approval for benefits they have earned," Sen. Warner said. "This truly is a win-win: because of the work of  Puller Clinic, the VA can move more quickly through its backlog, while students benefit from their experiences by developing new legal skills as well as a respect for pro bono service. I am so proud of the Clinic and its work, and excited that together we have helped 15 new universities adopt their model. I am looking forward to the conference this week."

During the two-day event, Puller Clinic directors and staff, and representatives from other programs, will be sharing best practices so that other schools can launch initiatives of their own.

"Encouraged to share its model with law schools across the nation, the Puller Clinic intentionally opted to be more expansive and invite additional pro bono program examples to be highlighted as well," said Patricia Roberts, conference chair and director of clinical programs at William & Mary Law School.

The conference will bring together faculty and staff from law schools and universities across the country, as well as representatives from law firms, the VA and veteran support organizations, to discuss the needs of veterans and how pro bono programs are helping address those needs. More than 140 participants are expected, including representatives from more than 40 different law schools and universities.

"Including a variety of programs will increase the likelihood that additional and diverse pro bono programs will expand across the country in support of veterans," Roberts added.

The Puller Clinic will also be providing an introduction to veterans' benefits law for attorneys interested in providing such services to veterans on a pro bono basis.

"The interprofessional model of the Puller Clinic treats veterans holistically, addressing their legal and medical challenges, while also training tomorrow's attorneys in the ethical and skilled practice of law," said Roberts.

Since the Puller Clinic accepted its first clients in 2008, more than 140 law students, working under the supervision of managing attorneys, have assisted hundreds of veterans with claims for disability benefits. The clinic works in tandem with faculty and students at Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Psychological Services and Development, which provides counseling, assessment and referrals to these veterans.

Support for the conference was provided by The Coca-Cola Company, Covington & Burling, craigconnects, Equal Justice Works, Ferguson, Holland & Knight, Honeywell, Kirkland & Ellis, McDermott Will & Emery, McGuireWoods, Nixon Peabody, Saul Ewing, Venable LLP, Virginia Law Foundation, and other friends of the Puller Clinic.