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January/February 2014, Vol. 56, No. 1

State Bar seeks attorneys to help veterans

By Mark Mahoney
The State Bar is seeking attorneys to join a corps of 175 lawyers already committed to providing free consultations and discounted legal services to military veterans statewide.

The pilot program, the Veteran Referral Panel, was established shortly after Veterans Day and runs through Memorial Day 2014.

Under the program, participating attorneys in New York have agreed to provide free initial phone consultations and offer a 25 percent discount on their regular fees. 

The program is available to veterans in need of various legal services, not just those services related to obtaining veterans benefits.

The creation of a panel to assist veterans with legal matters was among the recommendations contained in a report issued in September 2012 by the State Bar’s Special Committee on Veterans.

“Veterans are often forced to deal with a variety of issues relating to employment, family matters, healthcare, housing, disability, pensions and finances,“ said State Bar President David M. Schraver of Rochester (Nixon Peabody LLP). “With this pilot program, the State Bar Association continues its commitment to those who have served our country and who now need our help.”

Schraver is a veteran himself, having served in the U.S. Navy as an attorney in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

Anna K. Christian of Schenectady (Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP), chair of the State Bar’s Committee on Lawyer Referral Service, said there is a great unmet need for this kind of service in New York.

“New York is home to more than 988,000 military veterans, many of whom find themselves in situations in which they need legal assistance,” Christian said. “I’m pleased that so many attorneys and bar associations have enthusiastically embraced this opportunity to help our veterans in their time of need.”

How to join

Attorneys are needed in all areas of practice for which veterans might need legal assistance, including bankruptcy, contracts, document preparation, real estate, labor relations, family and criminal law, and matrimonial/divorce law.

Attorneys who wish to join the program should visit www.nysba.org/vetvolunteer for an application.

Among the local bar associations participating in the program are the Westchester County Bar Association and the Richmond County Bar Association. 

Mahoney is NYSBA’s associate director of media services.