Name of Non-Profit Agency:
Connecticut Veterans Legal Center*
Why is this assistance important to these clients?
CVLC's clients are actively engaged in treatment and recovery from serious mental illness and substance abuse. While they are doing the hard work of personal transformation, we provide support to alleviate the stress of legal problems like criminal records, outstanding traffic violations, or a dispute with a landlord, which can derail recovery.
Who are the clients?
Connecticut Veterans Legal Center exists to help military veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness overcome legal barriers to stable housing and income.
What legal problem do these clients face?
Veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness face a huge array of issues including, but not limited to, family, tax, criminal, pardon, DMV, immigration, child support, landlord-tenant, foreclosure, consumer and student debt, consumer fraud, and social security benefits and overpayments. The CVLC also helps veterans secure medical, educational and compensatory benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and corrections to military records from the Department of Defense.
What legal strategies do the pro bono lawyers use to assist the clients?
Pro bono lawyers volunteering with the CVLC have provided full representation to veterans, advice to CVLC staff attorneys in handling cases and investigation into possible claims.
If the pro bono attorney will be appearing for the client, in what court or other forum will that appearance be?
Small claims, civil, housing, support enforcement, family, Department of Veterans Affairs, social security and other administrative hearings.
What are the outcome goals of this assistance?
To help veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness remove legal barriers to stable housing and income.
What time commitment is required to do this pro bono work?
CVLC clients have a range of issues, so there are lots of options ranging from a single court appearance or meeting to longer-term client relationships.
Where is the pro bono work done? (For example, at a legal aid office or at the pro bono attorneys office.)
CVLC meets with clients at a VA community mental health facility. CVLC hopes all of its volunteers will come to see the special facility where we work and how this arrangement serves our clients. We also offer space for pro bono attorneys to meet with clients. However, most pro bono work happens at the volunteer’s office.
Give a short (1-paragraph) case example:
Recently a formerly homeless female veteran who had been deployed with the first unit sent to Iraq was facing eviction in Waterbury due to $300 in unpaid rent when her employer reduced her hours. A volunteer attorney in her town quickly jumped into the case and negotiated a settlement that let the veteran and her five-year-old daughter avoid homelessness and pay back the outstanding debt at a pace she could manage. Great outcome!
If no How are those without full admission supervised to ensure avoidance of issues regarding unlicensed practice?:
In some instances, in-house counsel not licensed in Connecticut has partnered with outside-counsel to represent veterans. In limited circumstances CVLC would assume representation so that a lawyer without full admission could assist.
If it is important that a pro bono lawyer already has particular legal background or training, please describe.
CVLC volunteer attorneys have had great success representing veterans in areas of the law that were new to them.
What training is provided to pro bono lawyers doing this work?
The CVLC provides training to lawyers and other advocates interested in helping veterans seeking a discharge upgrade or other correction to their military records.
Who provides the training?
The CVLC, in partnership with the CBA and Yale Law School's Veterans Legal Services Clinic.
Where is the training held? How long does the training last?
There are no training dates currently scheduled, but could be arranged on request.
Who are the adverse parties (if any) for this type of work (for example, landlords, spouses, banks, government entities)?
Adverse parties include landlords, banks, insurance companies, spouses, various state agencies, federal and state prosecutors, the IRS, the VA, and third party debt collectors.
At what time of day is the pro bono work done (example evening clinic)?:
CVLC is co-hosting a series of estate-planning events for veterans across the state with the Estate and Probate Section of the CBA. Those events are held in the evenings. Otherwise, pro bono work is done at the volunteer’s convenience.
Does this pro bono work require full admission to practice in Connecticut?
Not necessarily. There are several types of assistance CVLC provides that do not require admission including assistance with discharge upgrades and pardons.
This organization is a member of the Connecticut Pro Bono Network.