College of Law to open Veterans Legal Clinic in fall
April 17, 2018
The University’s College of Law will be launching a free legal clinic in the fall of 2018 to assist veterans in civil matters, including family law cases, consumer disputes and evictions.
The clinic will also assist veterans with service-related matters such as discharge upgrades. Law students will have the opportunity to develop their legal skills through an interactive learning experience with clients.
Yulanda Curtis, University of Michigan Law professor, will join Illinois Law faculty to direct the clinic after having experience as an advocate for veterans’ eligibility for disability, medical reimbursement benefits and education.
Curtis said in an email the clinic is geared toward veterans to ensure they receive holistic civil legal services that consider the unique legal and social barriers some veterans face.
“It is also geared towards veterans because of the social stigma attached to asking for help,” Curtis said. “As a clinic specifically targeted towards veterans, we hope to overcome that social stigma and be seen as a benefit veterans have earned because of their service.”
Curtis said a 2015 study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs found several of the top unmet needs of homeless veterans were related to civil legal needs, and providing free legal services will address these needs and play an important role in reducing and preventing veteran homelessness.
Curtis also said law students will learn the skills necessary to be effective advocates while being introduced to the legal and social service issues veterans face.
Some of the skills law students can expect to gain include interviewing, counseling, negotiation and case assessment, she said.
“The clinic does not have an end date,” she said. “We hope to be a long-term fixture in the community.”