Centers Of Excellence:
Veterans Legal Advocacy Center
Golden Gate University School of Law, with its proud tradition of expanding access to legal education, is the first law school in Northern California to have a veterans’ clinic on campus. Veterans Legal Advocacy Center (VLAC) provides pro bono legal services to veterans seeking health care, compensation for service-related injuries, and discharge upgrades.
VLAC makes special effort to assist the most vulnerable veteran populations, those least connected to existing service networks — recently returned, women, non-citizen, LGBT, and elderly veterans. Clients are low-income, indigent military veterans residing in the Bay Area. VLAC, along with its student clinicians, have helped clients upgrade their discharges to honorable conditions and obtain thousands of dollars in benefits.
GGU’s academic programs of study are approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Board’s State Approving Agency (HECB/SAA) for enrollment of persons eligible to receive educational benefits under Title 38 and Title 10, US Code.
VLAC’s admittance process requires all interested students to submit a resume to Daniel Devoy, Director of VLAC. All VLAC students must then apply after for their acceptance to The State Bar of California’s Practical Training of Law Students Program (PTLS) in order to provide legal services under the supervision of an attorney. Participating students gain hands-on experience with: intake interviews, client communication, legal research, presenting case assessments, analyzing evidence, creating a case strategy, working with medical records and expert opinions, and drafting legal instruments such as briefs and appeals. Participating students also learn the administrative procedures of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.
VETERANS MOOT COURT
Students are encouraged to participate in the National Veterans Moot Court Competition, the nation’s premier moot court competition focusing on veteran law. The closed-library of information and relevant law are released, and competing teams have close to one month to write a brief in response. After brief submissions, teams practice and hone their oral arguments, before converging to Washington, D.C., where they present their positions to a panel of experienced veteran law practitioners and judges. Students do not have to be involved with the Veterans Legal Advocacy Center in order to participate in this competition. Please speak with Daniel Devoy for more information on how to apply.
The conference is part of GGU Law’s longtime commitment to veterans’ issues through the VLAC. It is intended as an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the legal, health, and employment issues veterans may face.
This past November, VLAC held its 5th Annual Veteran’s Law Conference recognizing the military service of women and LGBT veterans. Under the theme, “Recognizing the Military Service of Women and LGBT Veterans: Promoting Achievements & Solving Challenges,” legal experts and veteran advocates discussed the unique issues facing populations that have often been marginalized in, and historically excluded from, military service.
The Community of Veterans Engaged in Restoration (COVER) is a San Francisco Sheriff’s Department program designed for veterans of all the branches of the United States Military. The COVER program provides veterans, regardless of the character of their discharge, with an opportunity to address their obstacles for positive reintegration into society after serving in the military and its aftermath. COVER provides in-jail/post-release case management services utilizing the multi-faceted departments of the SF Sheriff’s Department and its supporting agencies.
VLAC students have the option to visit the San Francisco jail in San Bruno, CA and offer veterans in the COVER program legal assistance to get their discharges upgraded or service-connected disabilities. Students meet, interview, and may ultimately take on cases of veterans in the COVER program. This hands-on experience working with real clients is an integral part of VLAC’s learning environment.
VETERANS LAW STUDENT ASSOCIATION
This student organization is dedicated to the growth and advancement of veteran law students and those in our community interested in veterans’ rights. The organization seeks to promote awareness of veterans’ issues within the legal community, as well as enable its members to connect and collaborate with a diverse range or legal professionals who serve veteran interests. Military service is not a prerequisite for those interested in VLSA.
The VLAC provides free legal aid to veterans of all the branches of the United States Military.
Frequently Asked Questions
What legal issues can I bring to VLAC?
The clinic helps with discharge upgrades and disability compensation benefits. This includes veterans who have never filed a discharge upgrade request or application for compensation for service-related injuries, as well as appeals for both.
What is disability compensation?
Disability compensation is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to Veterans who are at least 10% disabled because of injuries or diseases that were incurred in or aggravated during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. A disability can apply to physical conditions, such as a chronic knee condition, as well as a mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Please visit the US Department of Veterans Affairs for more information.
How much does the service cost?
The clinic provides FREE legal aid services to veterans of all the branches of the United States Military.
Who works on my case?
VLAC is staffed with GGU Law students, certified under the State Bar of California’s Practical Training of Law Students Program (PTLS). These students may provide legal services, but work under the supervision of a licensed attorney. The supervising attorney, Daniel Devoy, is well versed in veterans’ benefits law, as he performed pro bono work advocating on behalf of military veterans prior to joining GGU Law. Professor Daniel Devoy served two enlistments in the United States Army.
What is the process of obtaining legal aid through VLAC?
Once you contact VLAC, the clinic will schedule an intake interview with you. During the intake interview, a VLAC student clinician will ask questions regarding your issue. This is meant to help gather relevant information. From there, the VLAC student clinician will create a suggested course of action.
Feel free to contact Daniel Devoy for more information.
“The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims issued a decision last month that could make it easier for veterans with injuries to the back, neck, and joints to obtain higher disability ratings, even in cases where veterans are already receiving disability benefits . . . ”
After Impasse, Senators to Restart Negotiations on VA Choice Reform
— Nikki Wentling
“With an assist from the White House, senators are expected to restart negotiations about how to overhaul the flawed program veterans use to receive medical care . . . ”
VA Facilities Now Offer Same-day Care for Urgent Primary and Mental Health-care Needs
— US Department of Veterans Affairs Press Release
“Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a major milestone, that 100 percent of its more than 1,000 medical facilities across the country now offer same-day services for urgent primary and mental health-care . . . “
VLAC is a program of Golden Gate University, a 501(c)(3) charitable educational organization. All contributions are deductible to the maximum extent permitted by law. We welcome individual and foundation donations and grants, as well as donations of stocks and securities. Your contribution will go directly to support VLAC’s work, including supporting the positions of the supervising attorney and Graduate Fellow. Please contact VLAC Director Daniel Devoy if you wish to make a donation or have further questions.