February 06, 2009
Seeking Virginia Lawyers to Assist Military Clients on a Reduced Fee or Pro Bono Basis
There are military members, retirees and dependents in Virginia who could benefit from legal services beyond those available from the uniformed judge advocate officers at the military installations. Typical scenarios include landlord-tenant disputes or other commercial disputes handled by uniformed officers to a point, but that cannot be concluded successfully because there is no threat of final in-court representation for the aggrieved client. A Virginia lawyer being available to conclude such cases in court would help to leverage more equitable resolutions for such military members.
Potential clients are not eligible for Virginia legal aid or related services because they are not residents of Virginia or their incomes exceed the threshold for such services. Typically, anyone whose rank exceeds the E-2 pay grade (Private, for example) is not eligible for legal aid.
There is also a referral program for military members through the American Bar Association, the military Pro Bono Project. This service utilizes Virginia attorneys who have graciously volunteered their services. For such services, the legal assistance office must make a referral to the ABA, which will then select an attorney. Clients with a pay grade higher than E-6 (Staff Sergeant, for example), however, are not eligible for this service. Nonetheless, clients in these pay grades need to avail themselves of such services and frequently cannot afford outside counsel.
The Military Law Section of the Virginia State Bar and the legal assistance representatives present at the January 9, 2009, Military Law Section meeting felt uniformly that it would be a tremendous help to recruit additional attorneys from the VSB willing to volunteer their services to assist needy military members, family members and dependents, on a pro bono basis, with some limited in-court representation in cases that have come to fruition, but for which the uniformed legal assistance officers are not permitted to appear in court because they are not admitted to practice in Virginia.
- Local law firms are encouraged to participate in this pro bono program.
- The Virginia State Bar encourages local and specialty bars to further promote, assist, and participate in this program.
- The Military Law Section will promote this program further in its annual program and newsletter.
- The Military Law Section will compile this information into a list and furnish it to the legal assistance offices at Virginia military installations.
- Lawyers volunteering for this service must be eligible to participate in the VSB Lawyer Referral Service.
Attorneys who wish to volunteer may contact:
Christopher M. Dunne, Esquire
U.S. Coast Guard Judge Advocate General’s Office
2100 2nd Street SW, Room 1513
Washington, D.C. 20593
Note: This service is not yet available to potential clients. More information will be posted at www.vsb.org when it is available.
Updated: Feb 10, 2009