According to the Badger Herald, a brand new Veterans Law Center will open on Thursday at the University of Wisconsin Law School. The law center will provide legal assistance to veterans who live in Dane County. An open house is scheduled for Thursday to celebrate the center’s opening and the first clinic will occur when the open house is complete, according to the pro bono director for the law school, Ann Zimmerman.
Zimmerman said that local military service members, either active or veterans, will be provided with legal assistance if they are low-income. Family members of those service members can also receive assistance from the center.
“What we’ve found across the United States and in Madison is a growing number of local military service members who do not have adequate access to legal services,” Zimmerman said. She also noted that a large number of veterans from Dane County who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan need legal assistance. Veterans typically face legal issues such as unemployment, foreclosure and divorce upon their return home.
Zimmerman said that the center will be staffed by volunteer paralegals, attorneys and law students. In the state of Wisconsin, each lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide the public with pro bono legal work or free legal work. Zimmerman said that attorneys should try to offer 50 hours of pro bono legal work per year.
“Law students can get practical hands-on legal experience while fulfilling their obligation,” Zimmerman said. “They are providing a much needed service.”
A statement from the school said that each clinic will be led by two attorneys and two law students who will be working as partners. During client interviews, a practicing attorney will be the lead out of the group.
A student from the law school, Kathy Marschman, is also a retired member of the National Guard. Marschman spent seven years on active duty working with members of the Army who were part of the disability system.
“I am looking forward to working at the Veterans Law Center,” Marschman said. “I graduate in December, so I’m excited to work in 2013 helping as an attorney as well.”
The clinics, which are free of charge, will occur on the second and fourth Thursday of each month and the very first clinic will be held at the Madison City County Building on 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The program was created in conjunction with the Dane County Veterans Service and the Dane County Bar Association. The partnership also includes a handful of law firms, according to Zimmerman.