Jobs & Volunteering

Veterans Law Attorney
Volunteer: Pro Bono opportunities
Internships

 

Veterans Law

The Veteran Advocacy Project (VAP) seeks an attorney to lead our veterans law services, both overseeing and taking on VA and DOD cases, and working with the executive director to build out the practice.

VAP provides free legal services to low-income veterans and their families, with a focus on those living with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and substance use issues. We are partnered with VA hospitals, health clinics, and local veterans’ groups to reach veterans where they are. While our attorneys tackle the legal challenges, our advocates ensure that our clients are connected to appropriate social services. With a dedicated team, the project allows veterans to achieve the stability needed to regain their health and rebuild their lives.

VAP: We recently spun off from the Urban Justice Center to become an independent not-for-profit and this position presents the opportunity to influence the future of the organization. While the current team is small, we are growing: we have launched a new criminal practice, providing mitigation expertise on capital cases around the country, and we are expanding our justice-involved services, addressing problems that arise at the intersection of civil, criminal, and veterans law issues. Our homelessness prevention partnerships with social services agencies and our medical-legal partnerships are instrumental in our veterans law work. The common thread throughout our advocacy is that we fight for individuals who are living with mental health challenges. Our services provide access to health care and benefits, prevent incarceration and recidivism, keep veterans and their families in their homes, and empower veterans by removing barriers to success.

Position: We expect this role to evolve over time and are looking for someone who can grow with the changing scope of responsibility: the ideal candidate enjoys autonomy, holds themselves accountable, and also thrives as a part of a team. Our organization has a full docket of VA character of discharge cases and discharge upgrade applications waiting for representation. While this position will be a senior role, we are a startup so there will be extensive case work in the beginning. In line with our mission, our DU and COD cases focus on the unjust treatment of individuals living with mental illness and those experiencing symptoms of traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress. (Trauma comes in many forms and forums and we do not limit our cases to combat-related matters.) We are looking for an attorney who believes in a client-centric approach and wants to fight for a veteran no matter the era, time served, discharge, or injury.

The attorney will conduct outreach, provide advice to veterans and volunteer attorneys, investigate veterans’ service, research and write applications and briefs, collaborate with providers to obtain forensic psychiatric/psychological evaluations, and appear before administrative law judges and boards. This position is a supervisory role and the attorney will get to shape how we expand our veterans law practice. The attorney may also represent veterans in appeals in federal court with partnering pro bono counsel.

Individuals with military service, those who are differently-abled, women, and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Responsibilities: 

  • Represent clients before the VA, DOD boards, and potentially in federal court;
  • Write discharge upgrade applications and briefs along with VA COD and service-connected compensation appeals;
  • Screen veterans for relief, including exhaustive investigation of military history, post-service conduct, and medical records;
  • Oversee law students working on investigations, claims, and briefs;
  • Provide guidance to pro bono attorneys working on VA and DOD files;
  • Collaborate with expert witnesses, including forensic mental health professionals;
  • Research legal issues, with a focus on military discharges and VA character eligibility;
  • Provide telephone and/or written advice to clients;
  • Provide thorough referrals to connect clients with other services; work with staff on case strategies and integration of services to meet clients’ needs;
  • Work with the ED to shape policy positions and advocacy agenda;
  • Track client information in our database, contribute to reports required by funders, attend meetings, and perform administrative tasks related to the work.

Qualifications:

  • Current member in good standing of a state bar (New York preferred);
  • Accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs;
  • Minimum three years’ experience in veterans law:
    • Knowledge and practice in VA claims, including character of discharge applications and disability compensation appeals for PTSD and other mental health conditions;
    • Knowledge and practice in discharge upgrade and records correction processes, including experience drafting applications to the BCM/NRs and/or Discharge Review Boards;
  • Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills;
  • Excellent organizational and time-management skills;
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to work well with people living with mental illness, substance use disorders, and traumatic brain injury;
  • Ability to work independently with strong motivation (a self-starter), to meet deadlines, to be flexible, and to ask questions;
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice and veterans’ issues.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience working with individuals living with mental illness, traumatic brain injury, or substance use disorders;
  • Knowledge of UCMJ and branch regulations;
  • Experience working with expert witnesses, specifically forensic mental health professionals;
  • Experience with investigations, including locating witnesses, making FOIA requests, and drafting affidavits;
  • Experience managing projects and teams.

Compensation: Salary is commensurate with experience. Generous benefits package.

To apply: Please send a cover letter, resume, and veterans law writing sample to culhane@veteranadvocacy.org and include “Veterans Law Attorney” in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. We read every application with care but will contact only those candidates selected for further consideration.

The Veteran Advocacy Project is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, military/uniformed services status, predisposing genetic characteristics, survivor of domestic violence status, or marital status.

 

Pro Bono

VAP welcomes attorneys who would like to take on pro bono cases. There is a great need for family law services, representation in housing court, and assistance with military discharge upgrades. To learn more about volunteering with VAP please email contact@veteranadvocacy.org.

Discharge Upgrade Clinic: When servicemembers leave the military their discharge status determines what benefits, if any, they will eligible to receive. A bad discharge can be a barrier to employment, benefits, and health care. Many of our servicemembers are given less than honorable discharges due to misconduct connected to mis- or undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. From 2011-2015, of the servicemembers who had been diagnosed with these conditions during service, only4 percent received an Honorable discharge.  We are not only punishing injury, we are cutting them of from the very care they need to heal.

VAP is fighting to get these veterans the help they deserve. For firms who would like to take on cases, we have a “hands-on” approach that includes ongoing guidance, editing briefs, and coordinating moot hearings; we also have an online resource center with videos, sample applications, and more!

 

INTERNSHIPS

Legal

The Veteran Advocacy Project provides legal representation to low-income veterans and their families, with a focus on those living with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, substance use disorders, and other mental health issues. When these veterans face legal challenges, such as eviction or an improper denial of benefits, it dramatically increases the risk that they will spiral further into illness, become homeless, or die by suicide. The Veteran Advocacy Project intervenes before veterans reach the breaking point by connecting them with resources and ensuring their access to housing, health care, and income.

Our practice covers Housing Court, VA claims, public benefits, military discharge upgrades, and more. We are seeking 2Ls and 3Ls with excellent analytical and critical thinking skills, demonstrated proficiency in legal research, and the ability to communicate well with others, including those living with mental illness. Interns will participate in outreach and client interviews, represent veterans in administrative hearings, write legal memos, or assist in discharge upgrades or VA claims cases. They will be provided with training and supervision. The summer program at the Urban Justice Center also includes weekly sessions on other practice areas, as each of the twelve projects present on some aspect of their legal work.

Please send a resume and cover letter to contact@veteranadvocacy.org with the subject: “[Fall/Spring/Summer YYYY] Internship.”  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

The Urban Justice Center is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, military status, predisposing genetic characteristics, victim of domestic violence status or marital status.

Undergrad

The Veteran Advocacy Project at the Urban Justice Center seeks an intern to assist with legal services in Summer 2018. Responsibilities will range from direct client interaction to administrative work. The internship can be full- or part-time, and weekly hours are negotiable. The internship is unpaid so interns are encouraged to obtain funding from outside sources.

INTERNSHIP DUTIES/RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Interact with clients: intake, follow up interviews, assistance with paperwork (forms, releases, etc.);
  • Write letters to government agencies and clients;
  • Obtain and copy court files;
  • Provide thorough referrals to connect clients with other services;
  • Perform administrative tasks, including: covering the intake phone line, entering client information into multiple databases, copying, faxing, etc.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills;
  • Meticulous attention to detail;
  • Communication skills, including the ability to maintain confidentiality and to work with people living with mental illness;
  • Ability to work independently, to meet deadlines, and to be flexible.

A resume and cover letter may be submitted to veterans@urbanjustice.org with “Undergrad Intern 2018″ in the subject line. No calls, please.

The Urban Justice Center is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, military status, predisposing genetic characteristics, victim of domestic violence status or marital status.