Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic
This Clinic provides students the opportunity to assist military service members with legal issues, including representing these individuals before local Veterans Courts, as well as work on policy issues relating to military service.
Director Kristine Huskey, center, with 3Ls Russell Boatwright, a veteran, and Julia Palfreyman in the Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic
There are over 150,000 veterans in Southern Arizona and Tucson is home to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, an active U.S. military installation assigned to the Twelfth Air Force and part of the Air Combat Command. The Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic is a hybrid, multi-disciplinary legal clinic that provides pro bono legal services to those who have served, and their families and communities.
The Vet Law Clinic began in 2010 at the urging of an Arizona Law graduate - then a student - John Barwell. Barwell, a former Marine, was joined in his efforts by fellow law students, Kris Carlson (Green Beret veteran,) and Russell Clark (Marines). They approached Arizona Law Professors Paul Bennett and Kenney Hegland who were keen on helping veterans and educating students in the process. As luck would have it - Hegland's wife, the Hon. Barbara Sattler, was already working on a collaborative effort with the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System and other local organizations to establish a veterans court at Tucson City Court. Under the exacting care of Judge Michael Pollard (an Arizona Law grad and Vietnam Vet), this court later expanded into the Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court (RMVTC) to serve several municipalities. As a result of the dedication of many individuals and organizations, the RMVTC is up and running with Arizona Law students providing the majority of legal representation to veterans in a pre-trial diversion court under the supervision of UA law professors and local attorneys, such as "Skip" Skinner, a retired Navy Vietnam Vet. The Vet Law Clinic received a start-up grant from the Arizona Department of Veterans Services to work on this unique program.
In two short years, over 25 students have provided legal representation to nearly 150 veterans in Vet Court. The law students work with a MSW social worker intern to provide holistic legal services to veterans, addressing legal issues and the underlying causes such as PTSD, TBI (traumatic brain injury) and other factors relating to military service. Students have also represented a veteran in a complex eminent domain case, resulting in a settlement favorable to their client and appeared as invited amicus in an appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (United States v. Kelly, 72 M.J. 237 (CAAF 2013)).
In 2013, new Director, Professor Kristine Huskey, was hired to lead the Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic to continue providing top-notch legal representation by law students to veterans and active service members in Veterans Court and to expand the Clinic's docket to include cases involving disability benefits, discharge upgrades, and other issues relating to military service, as well as to engage in policy and advocacy work to promote the interests of our military members, their families and the community. In the Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic, students have the opportunity to help members of the military - retired and active - and, in the process, gain knowledge of relevant law and learn lawyering and advocacy skills within the educational environment of the Law College.