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Jenner & Block recently held a training session with The John Marshall Law School and Veterans Legal Support Center for attorneys interested in providing pro bono assistance to veterans. The luncheon training session was widely attended by both Firm attorneys and in-house counsel from the Chicago area.
Partner James A. Vroman, who served in the United States Marine Corps, gave introductory remarks at the event, and further explained the purpose of the Veterans Legal Support Center and its outreach to the legal community. Mr. Vroman said that representing veterans on a pro bono basis is much needed, as many veterans have not been afforded the opportunity to be represented by legal counsel as they pursue claims for their rightful benefits and assistance.
Ryan Coward, Director of the Veterans Legal Support Center and John F. Costello Jr., a former Jenner & Block associate and founder of the Veterans’ Rights Project, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago , led the training session. In his presentation, Mr.Coward explained that the Veterans Legal Support Center is the first legal aid clinic of its kind in Illinois. The program is designed to assist veterans and their families with claims for benefits, conduct outreach to homeless veterans at area shelters, assist veterans and their families with civil issues ranging from reemployment rights to housing accommodations for disabled veterans, represent service members and their families in enforcing numerous consumer protections, and conduct educational outreach to veterans at VA clinics, community colleges and other organizations.
According to Mr. Costello Jr. and Mr. Coward approximately a quarter of the nation’s population potentially is eligible for VA benefits and in Cook County alone, there are over 250,000 people eligible. These numbers include both veterans themselves and dependents of veterans as well.
Partner Barry Levenstam, Co-Chair of the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee, welcomed the attendees at the event