Serving Those Who Served
The NCBA Family Law Section’s latest initiative is designed to serve crucial unmet legal needs of North Carolina’s veterans. The project, “Serving Those Who Served,” will match pro bono attorneys with low-income veterans who need representation in family law matters.
North Carolina is home to the nation’s 8th largest population of veterans and servicemembers; the special experiences of those who have been deployed put many at greater risk of conflict requiring legal services. Currently, North Carolina does not recognize a right to counsel in most civil litigation, including many family law matters. “Serving Those Who Served” addresses this recognized service gap for veterans who cannot afford legal representation.
A veteran who contacts the NCBA with a target issue will be screened for income eligibility, and if eligible, he or she will be matched with a pro bono attorney in his geographic area. Attorneys who take cases will provide advice and/or representation, based on the client’s needs, on a pro bono basis. Attorneys with geographic flexibility in representation are highly encouraged to join the project; further, because time commitments will vary depending on the needs of the client, the project is available to volunteers with a wide range of availability. Our greatest need in serving this vulnerable population is for attorneys to take cases all the way to completion.
The project is open to any attorney wishing to serve veterans. While most of these cases will not require any special knowledge related to military service, it is recommended that advocates be cognizant of particular issues that may arise when representing veterans. To that end, Shelby Benton of Benton Family Law and Brentley Tanner of Sullivan & Tanner have put together a self-paced training webinar for lawyers who may be unfamiliar with the special legal needs of veterans. These materials may be accessed by any attorney who registers for the project (see details below).
For those who are new to family law, there are several upcoming CLEs offered by the NCBA that provide a solid foundation for this work, including “Basic Training: Boot Camp for Family Law Attorneys” and “Child’s Play: An Overview of Custody Issues.”
The project will also provide pro bono opportunities for law students on an as-needed basis. If successful, the project will expand in scope to include more matters related to veterans’ family law issues.
The project’s official launch is scheduled for this year’s National Pro Bono Week, October 19-26, 2014. Be on the lookout for event announcements from the NCBA!
Registration to volunteer with the project is now open! To sign up, please complete the volunteer registration here: http://bit.ly/FamilyLawVetVolunteer. If you have any questions contact Charlotte R. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your willingness to serve those who served!