Daily Record columnist Joe Surkiewicz writes today about the Veterans Legal Assistance Conference and Training, which will take place on Friday, June 5, at the University of Baltimore School of Law. (Read the op-ed here.)
Surkiewicz interviewed Professor Hugh McClean, the director of the law school’s Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic, one of the event’s sponsors.
McClean said that, this year, the annual conference and training event will offer more than just the three hours of continuing legal education that pro bono lawyers need to remain certified with the Veterans Administration.
“We’re offering a concurrent advanced training on discharge characterization upgrade petitions, where a military member’s other-than-honorable discharge may be a barrier to obtaining VA benefits, housing and employment,” McClean told The Daily Record.
McClean noted that The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic had just completed its first academic year, in which 10 students counseled 50 veterans. More than half of those veterans’ cases involved mental-health disorders, McClean said, adding that 1,820 student hours were dedicated to helping all the veterans served.
The clinic is part of a wider University of Baltimore initiative to help veterans that is supported by UB alumnus and veteran Bob Parsons.
Friday’s conference and training event will feature Baltimore attorney Susan Burke as the keynote speaker.
Burke has represented midshipmen at the Naval Academy in sexual-trauma cases, as well as Iraqis who sought settlements for injuries and deaths following the Blackwater massacre, McClean recounted, adding that Burke also represented prisoners from Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
“She has been involved with the most pressing issues facing the military — detainee abuse and prisoner torture, military sexual trauma, and the privatization of military security functions,” McClean said in the Daily Record interview.
Conference organizers include the Pro Bono Resource Center, the Homeless Persons Representation Project, the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic, and the Veterans’ Affairs and Military Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association.
Co-sponsors include the Elder Law & Disability Rights Section of the MSBA, the Veterans and Military Law Section of the Federal Bar Association and Saul Ewing LLP.
The conference is free and the training is free to lawyers who agree to a pro bono commitment. To register call Kiah Pierre at 443-703-3046 or write her at email@example.com.