The Veterans Legal Assistance Project offers legal assistance to low-income veterans, with a special focus on veterans who are currently excluded from VA health and disability benefits because of their discharge status. Students will represent veterans in discharge upgrade applications and in claims for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Veterans Legal Assistance Project is currently taking on new cases. If you are a veteran with an other-than-honorable, undesirable or bad-conduct discharge and you are interested in obtaining legal help with a discharge upgrade application or benefits case, please call (919) 962-2888. We represent low-income North Carolina veterans, and will give preference to veterans from the Piedmont and Sandhills regions. Due to resource limitations, we are not able to take every case. If we cannot take your case, we will assist in finding other resources that may help you.
The best way to reach us is to call the UNC School of Law Clinical Programs at (919) 962-2888 and ask to speak to someone in the Veterans Legal Assistance Project.
The Project is a one-semester clinical offering. Students work in teams of two and share responsibility for their cases. Students will be given as much autonomy as possible in making decisions about their cases.
Students will receive training on the steps involved in filing benefits and discharge upgrade applications, including interviewing clients and witnesses, analyzing military medical records, requesting and coordinating medical examinations, and preparing client claims submissions. Each student will have at least one opportunity to draft a legal brief for submission to an agency, among other written work. Depending on the case, students may also appear in VA administrative hearings. Throughout the process, students maintain regular contact with their clients, advising and counseling them at each stage.
As part of their clinic work, students meet as a group at a regularly scheduled time to discuss assigned readings and review cases. In addition, case teams will have weekly team meetings with their supervisor at a regularly scheduled time to be determined at the start of the semester.
Registration and Requirements
Registration for the Veterans Legal Assistance Project is limited to third-year students. A lottery registration meeting for Externship and Clinical Programs is held approximately one month into the spring semester of your second year. Notices are posted throughout the law school and emailed to the second-year student listserv. After the lottery registration meeting, students are given an opportunity to register for their program preferences online.
While not required, Administrative Law is recommended as a pre- or co-requisite.