At its annual meeting in New York Saturday, the American Bar Association announced the launch of VetLex.org, a website, developed in partnership with the law firm Jones Day, that matches veterans in need of pro bono legal services with attorneys willing to provide such services.
For now, the new site is only accepting registrations from attorneys, law firms and legal organizations interesting in providing services. By Veterans Day, the site will open on a pilot basis in a limited number of cities and states to accept veterans’ cases. The site will become fully operational nationally in 2018, the ABA’s announcement said.
Once the site opens to veterans, it will provide an online too for them to obtain pro bono counsel for their specific legal needs, including civil, criminal or administrative matters. It will also provide educational information on basic legal concepts, and serve as a repository for paperwork, such as DD 214s, that is required by various service providers.
The ABA expects that the site will also be used by organizations that serve veterans in helping them find lawyers to assist their clients.
Lawyers who register at the site will be asked to create a profile that defines the kinds of cases they are willing to take. The site will also provide training in handling certain kinds of kinds. The ABA’s announcement explains:
For example, many in-house corporate attorneys have difficulty finding pro bono opportunities because they live and work in a place where they are not members of the local bar. Those attorneys can be trained through VetLex to become accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs and take on veterans-benefits cases.
The site will also provide information about social service providers who can address issues that often occur in tandem with legal issues, such as employment, housing and health care.
In July, the ABA launched another site for veterans, Veterans Legal Checkup, which was developed by CuroLegal in collaboration with ARAG Legal Insurance. That site focuses on helping veterans identify issues in their lives for which there may be a legal remedy and then helping them identify the steps they can take to pursue that remedy.
Outgoing ABA President Linda Klein has made veterans’ legal services a signature focus of her term.