Veterans Law CLE

Veterans Law CLE, taking place March 20-21, 2019

Veterans Law CLE

 

This program presented an exciting opportunity to learn more about VA benefits and appeals, military discharge upgrade issues, and other important issues for veterans. Attendees found education and networking opportunities for all veterans service providers, including attorneys, veterans service officers, tribal veterans representatives, and counselors and other mental health providers. Sessions offered both foundational and advanced instruction on topics important for all service providers assisting veterans with legal issues.

Presentations and panels on Wednesday covered all required topics for accreditation to practice before the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as other important issues for veterans, including military toxic exposure and veterans treatment courts. Chief Judge Robert Davis of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims led a panel on veterans law basics to get the accreditation topics started. The agenda finished with a focus on tribal veterans services and a roundtable discussion regarding the needs of veterans within Indian country.

Presentations and panels on Thursday were devoted to military discharge upgrade practice and advocacy for veterans with less-than-fully-honorable discharges. Topics included basic discharge upgrade applications and advanced advocacy tips for practice before the discharge review boards. We also had a live remote feed presentation from professors in the Yale University Department of Psychiatry about working with mental health experts to obtain forensic evaluations in support of discharge upgrade applications. We had panels and presentations on VA character of discharge determinations, creating a sustainable volunteer discharge upgrade program, and advocating for veterans through litigation, legislation, and rulemaking.

We had hoped to offer an open session of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in this program, but we learned prior to the event that the case set for oral argument settled. The Court shared this message regarding the decision to cancel this court session:

The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims regrets to announce that the Court will be unable to convene at the University of Montana Blewett School of Law in Missoula, Montana on March 21, 2019 as scheduled. Our planning for this trip in partnership with the School of Law has been extensive and, although judges, staff, and counsel for the parties were fully committed, the case scheduled to be heard was unexpectedly resolved, and we have been unable to reschedule another case for this date. Taking the Court on the road is one of the most significant opportunities we have to share the Court’s story and significance to the nation, and having to cancel a scheduled court hearing is almost unprecedented. Although the Court will not convene on March 21, 2019, the Court will participate in the CLE planned by the School of Law on that date.

Please see below for the updated agenda:

Wednesday, March 20

Agenda for Wednesday, March 20

8:15 a.m.

Introduction to CLE Sessions

  • Professor Hillary Wandler, Alexander Blewett III School of Law

8:30 a.m.

Veterans Law Basics

  • Chief Judge Robert Davis, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
  • Amy Odom, President of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Bar Association
  • Ken Walsh, Department of Veterans Affairs Office of General Counsel
  • Professor Hillary Wandler, Alexander Blewett III School of Law

10:30 a.m.

Service-Connected Benefits: Claims, Legacy Appeals, and the New Appellate Process

  • Maura J. Clancy, Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick, focusing on VA benefits and appeals

11:40 a.m.

Veterans Treatment Courts: Development & Best Practices

  • Judge Brenda Desmond, Missoula Veterans Treatment Court
  • Judge Colleen Herrington, Bozeman V.E.T.S. Court
  • Renee Boundy, Bozeman V.E.T.S. Court

12:40 p.m.

Networking Lunch

1:40 p.m.

Blue Water Navy & Military Toxic Exposure

  • Commander John B. Wells, USN (Ret), Executive Director Military-Veterans Advocacy & counsel for Claimant-Appellant in Procopio v. Wilkie

2:40 p.m.

Update on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

  • Chief Judge Robert Davis, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

3:40 p.m.

Technology Break

3:50 p.m.

Veterans Advocacy as Community Economic Development

  • Carol Scott, Bergmann & Moore, focusing on tribal veterans services

4:10 p.m.

Tribal Veterans Services & the VA Office of Tribal Government Relations

  • Peter Vicaire, VA Office of Tribal Government Relations, Tribal Government Relations Specialist, Continental/Midwest/North Atlantic Regions

4:30 p.m.

Roundtable Discussion, Tribal Veterans Services: Opportunities & Needs

  • Special Invitation for Participation by TVSOs and TVRs
  • Facilitated by students and faculty from the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic and Veterans Advocacy Clinic

5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Reception

Drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres

Thursday, March 21

Agenda for Thursday, March 21

8:00 a.m.

Introduction to CLE Sessions

  • Professor Hillary Wandler, Alexander Blewett III School of Law
  • Travis Cushman, ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel

8:10 a.m.

Intro to Discharge Upgrades with Some Intermediate Discharge Practice

  • Robert Cuthbert, formerly of Military Discharge Upgrade Clinic at the Veteran Advocacy Project of the Urban Justice Center
  • Alan Goldsmith, Chair Veterans and Military Law Section Federal Bar Association, Former Section Head, BCNR
  • Dana Montalto, Harvard Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic

10:10 a.m.

Technology Break

10:20 a.m.

Inside the Discharge Review Boards

  • Colonel Edward C. Segura, USAF; President, Air Force Discharge Review Board/Deputy Director, SAFPC/DRB Operations
  • Robert Powers, President, Naval Discharge Review Board

11:00 a.m.

VA Character of Discharge Determinations

  • Rose Goldberg, Supervising Staff Attorney, Swords to Plowshares

12:00 p.m.

Lunch Break

12:10 p.m.

A Day in the Life of a Federal Judicial Law Clerk

  • Law Clerks to Judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

1:00 p.m.

Technology Break

1:10 p.m.

Intro to Forensic Evaluation for Discharge Upgrades

  • Madelon Baranoski, PhD Yale University, Professor of Psychiatry 
  • Dr. Howard Zonana, MD Yale University, Professor of Psychiatry and Adjunct Professor of Law

2:40 p.m.

Creating a Sustainable Volunteer or Student Discharge Upgrade Program: Innovations, Frustrations, and Achievements

  • Patty Fain, Pro Bono Coordinator, Montana Supreme Court Pro Bono Program
  • Jennifer Fulmer, Managing Pro Bono Attorney, Legal Services of Northern Virginia
  • Stephen Lessard, President-elect New York County Lawyers Association/Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
  • Dana Montalto, Harvard Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic
  • Justine Pelham, Veterans Law Pro Bono Project, Legal Services of Northern Virginia

4:15 p.m.

Other Frontiers of State and Federal Advocacy: Litigation, Legislative Advocacy, Rulemaking

  • Dana Montalto, Harvard Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic
  • Yelena Duterte, Assoc. Professor & Director, Wohl Family Veterans Legal Clinic, Syracuse University College of Law
  • Rose Goldberg, Supervising Staff Attorney, Swords to Plowshares
  • Justine Pelham, Veterans Law Pro Bono Project, Legal Services of Northern Virginia

5:30 p.m.

Program Concludes

Speaker Biographies

Biographies for the Veterans Law presenters and panelists can be found here (pdf).

Presentation Materials

Download the presentation materials for the Veterans Law CLE.

Scholarship Information

Scholarship assistance was offered to Tribal Veterans Service Officers or Tribal Veteran Representatives that offset $150 of the cost of travel to the Veterans Law CLE, in the form of expense reimbursement.  

These scholarships are thanks to a generous grant from the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association, secured through competitive process by the FBA’s Veterans & Military Law Section.  The Foundation’s mission is to (1) promote and support legal research and education; (2) advance the science of jurisprudence; (3) facilitate the administration of justice; and (4) foster improvements in the practice of Federal law.  You can find more information about the Foundation here, and the Federal Bar Association’s Veterans & Military Law Section here

 

 

Please contact the Blewett School of Law at (406) 243-4311 with any questions.