The Penn State Law Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic offers students hands-on experience representing veterans and current servicemembers in some of the unique legal issues they encounter. Under the supervision of a clinic director, law students (1) interview clients; (2) conduct medical and legal research; (3) develop legal theories for service-connection and increased ratings; (4) review and summarize medical records, military records, and claim file documents; (5) draft briefs, statements in support and VA submissions; (6) work with treating physicians and medical experts to develop medical evidence; (7) plan appellate strategy; (8) counsel clients; (9) draft amici briefs and conduct oral argument; (10) comment on pending legislation or rule making; and (11) advocate for changes in veterans and military law.
The clinic focuses its work in two areas:
- Veterans Benefits Appeals: The clinic provides pro bono (free) counseling services for veterans and Pennsylvania Offices of Veterans Affairs primarily concerning appeals of veterans disability, pension and education benefits claims. Occasionally, the clinic provides counseling services for the filing of a complex veterans disability or pension benefits claim where extensive medical research and evidence is required to document the claim.
- State and Federal Policy: The clinic seeks to influence and/or develop state and federal legislation that affects veterans or servicemembers, including, but not limited to: policies addressing military voting issues, creation of Veterans’ Courts, issues arising under the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, and regulations to improve the lives of those sexually assaulted during military service.
The clinic is directed by Professor Michele Vollmer, former senior counsel in the Division of Enforcement at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, where she was responsible for conducting all facets of complex financial fraud and insider trading investigations and litigation, including high profile investigations of Waste Management Corp., and Enron Corp. Professor Vollmer also worked as a senior counsel in the General Counsel's Office of the SEC handling EEOC, appellate, and litigation matters, and as a partner in a law firm handling commercial litigation matters.
Spring 2018 Projects
This spring Penn State Law’s Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic has a large team to work on many pending matters. The team is filing two claims and one appeal for Vietnam veterans with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and is writing a white paper to advocate that AML be added to the list of diseases presumptively connected to Agent Orange exposure. The clinic is also working on two other veteran disability appeals and is writing two amici briefs (one for the prosecution and one for the defense) on separate teams supervised by Professor Michele Vollmer and retired Vice Admiral James W. Houck. The briefs will be filed in a criminal appeal by an airman for a visit from the U.S. Air Force Criminal Court of Appeals. The court will conduct oral argument for that criminal appeal on April 6 at noon in Penn State Law’s courtroom in the Lewis Katz Building in University Park. Two students from the clinic will argue before the court, one for each side. Their arguments will follow after oral arguments are made by the prosecution and defense lawyers.