Harvard Law School, the legendary institution in Cambridge, Mass., has initiated a veterans law clinic to provide assistance to needy veterans in the school’s geographic region. Through its close association with the law firm of Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick, LTD of Providence, R.I., DAV has had a number of opportunities to make its presence felt at Harvard.
“Much of the work at the clinic is performed by law students under the close supervision of faculty, as well as the lawyers from CCK,” explained Harvard professor Daniel Nagin, who runs the program. “We believe that this gives the law students a valuable hands-on educational experience, while at the same time making them aware of the tremendous need that veterans, especially disabled veterans, have for various kinds of assistance. We are well aware of DAV’s nationwide programs to assist disabled veterans and their families, and Harvard is proud to join the army of advocates—lawyers and non-lawyers alike—devoting themselves to this important cause.”
In September, DAV General Counsel Christopher Clay addressed the veteran law students on the first night of the new semester, reminding them that DAV National Service Officers have been the backbone of the VA representation system for decades and will continue to be so far into the future. “We at DAV claim to represent veterans better than anyone else, and our results prove it,” Clay told the students.
Clay reported that security at the Harvard clinical buildings was quite tight, in order to protect the client records that are kept there. He feared he wouldn’t be able to make it to the classroom in time for his lecture. Clay quipped, “I guess this is what they mean when they say that it’s hard to get into Harvard Law School.”
National Adjutant Marc Burgess praised the Harvard program for providing a number of services to veterans that are outside the DAV’s area of focus. “I commend Harvard for realizing that veterans need help with matters such as estate planning, that traditionally fall outside the scope of DAV’s programs. I am also impressed that an institution of this caliber is open and welcoming to our organization, which has been the leader in non-lawyer advocacy for veterans for so many years. I am especially grateful to our friends at CCK for helping us forge this alliance.”
The relationship with Harvard did not end with Clay’s lecture. In October, DAV was again represented as the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) held oral arguments at Harvard in a case that came from our Board of Veterans’ Appeals office. Student advocates argued on behalf of the appellant, and the court ruled in favor of the veteran. DAV Washington Executive Director Garry Augustine noted, “The students were mentored by CCK lawyer Zachary Stolz, who received his training from DAV. Of course they were good.”
Finally, in November, the DAV Charitable Service Trust provided funding for Harvard Law Clinic to engage a DAV Fellow,” a full-time public interest lawyer who will expand the services of the clinic even further. CST Chairman Richard Marbes stated that the Trust “helps veterans where it finds them and is particularly proud to be associated with this fine program. The union of DAV and Harvard Law School is truly a marriage of the best with the best, and we thank CCK for being the matchmaker.”