Over here at SC Appleseed we are celebrating the end of the first year of Lawyers 4 Vets (L4V) Pro Bono Legal Clinic. So much has happened and we wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the difference Lawyers 4 Vets has made in just one year!
As of April 28 2015, we have had 925 calls to the toll free appointment line with more coming in every day. Some of the callers have issues beyond the scope of our clinic or have income over our limits, and we direct them to the appropriate resources. For eligible Veterans, we schedule them for an appointment.
Since the first clinic in May 2014, we have scheduled:
- 103 Child Support Modification/Arrearage appointments
- 128 criminal record clearings through Expungement or Pardon appointments
- 12 Identification Document assistance appointments
- 35 Consumer Protection Issues
- 60 Wills and/or Healthcare Power of Attorneys
Lawyers 4 Vets was specifically created to address the unmet legal needs of lower income SC Veterans. During the planning stages for L4V, we met with direct service providers, outreach workers, and Veterans to hear about the greatest needs within this population. Our goal was then to focus our clinic on areas of greatest need that were not already covered by existing programs.
Veterans who want to schedule an appointment must call 877-289-6000 and are prompted to leave their name and contact information in a voicemail. L4V volunteers return the calls to screen the Veterans to determine if their legal issue is one covered by the clinic, and to determine if the Veteran meets L4V income guidelines. Once screened, the Veteran is given the next available appointment at an upcoming clinic.
L4V has had tremendous support of local law firms who staff the free legal clinic with attorneys from their firms. We have a solid group of solo practitioner volunteers as well! A sincere thank you goes out to the many attorneys who have donated their time and expertise. The willingness of our attorney volunteers to give back through Lawyers 4 Vets has been inspiring to me and also to other members of the bar. L4V couldn’t exist without this strong and dedicated group of volunteer attorneys. So many of our L4V attorneys go the extra mile for the Veterans. Veterans who come to the clinic for a will or Health Power of Attorney are able to leave the clinic with the final documents in hand. On other cases, many L4V attorneys agree to provide the Veteran with ongoing representation on their issue beyond the legal clinic. This provides tremendous relief to these Veterans, many who didn’t know where to turn prior to Lawyers 4 Vets.
L4V also thanks the Dorn VA for partnering with us and providing space and support for the L4V Clinics. Catholic Charities continues to come to every clinic to pull reduced fee SLED reports for Veterans seeking help with expungements or pardons. Last but not least, L4V thanks Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, LLP for everything they do to keep L4V running smoothly every month! We really couldn’t do this without our great partners.
We have many more things planned for Lawyers 4 Vets in 2015 and beyond! We are looking forward to our second year and watching Lawyer 4 Vets continue to make a difference to South Carolina Veterans!