Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic
Serving Our Servicemembers
The Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic (VLSC) specializes in appealing denied veteran’s benefits claims, including service-connected benefits, pension benefits, survivor benefits, and education benefits. The VLSC will not begin work on an initial claim that has not been filed or is currently pending before the Department of Veterans Affairs. To receive assistance in filing an initial claim for benefits please contact a Veterans’ Service Organization.
History of the Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic
In 2006, three John Marshall degree candidates recognized that veterans were having trouble navigating the Veterans Benefits Administration claims process. In an effort to provide legal assistance to such veterans, they created the Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic. The VLSC works on all aspects of Veteran Benefits Administration claims, from the initial, factual intake to the technical representation of claims at the appellate level. To effectively represent veterans in the VA claims process, the VLSC recruits, trains, and manages a network of pro bono attorneys. The VLSC provides these attorneys training, matches them with veterans in need of legal aid, and assists with research and support throughout the process.
In the years since opening, the VLSC has expanded to become involved in court programs for veterans at both the state and federal levels. In 2010, the VLSC received a grant from the Department of Justice allowing the VLSC to expand its scope and establish the Justice Involved Veterans Initiative. The initiative operates independently within the VLSC in order to effectively facilitate four objectives: 1) to continue working with the newly created Illinois Veterans Treatment Courts and to study the outcomes of similar courts throughout the U.S.; 2) to work with federal magistrates in implementing a holistic approach to aid veterans at the Federal Enclave Misdemeanor Court; 3) to provide a centralized source of information about the relationship of domestic violence to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain disorder; and 4) to replicate the VLSC at other law schools throughout the U.S.
The VLSC Case-Management Process
In order to maintain its neutral role with such programs, the VLSC does not represent veterans in criminal matters before the court.
The VLSC will begin a case file when a veteran calls with a denied benefit's claim. During the initial contact, a trained clerical intern will conduct an in-depth intake to obtain all pertinent informaton on the denied claim. Before the VLSC can proceed, it must receive and review all correspondence with the VA regarding the benefits claim, most importantly the Rating Decision issued by the VA. Once the VLSC receives the pertinent documents, your case will be put in a queued waiting list. (The VLSC operates on a first-come, first-served basis.) When your name reaches the top of the waiting list, your case will be assigned to a clinical student. Under the supervision of a staff attorney, the clinical student will work on developing your case. The goal of the VLSC case-management process is to locate a pro bono attorney to take representation of your case.