Mason Pro Bono Legal Clinic for Military Featured in Article
Mason Law's Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers and Veterans (CLASV) is the subject of an InTheCapital article focusing on the history of the clinic and its contribution of $1 million in pro bono services to past and present members of the nation's armed forces and their dependents.
Professor Laurie Neff, director of the clinic, provides an understanding of how the clinic operates. "It's basically a law firm within the law school," says Neff. "Students are always first chair on the trial, if there's a trial. They run the case. It's a real hands-on experience."
Neff also points out that the clinic offers students an opportunity to learn about cultural competence.
"Lots of my students are veterans, spouses, or active duty members, but some have had no connection to the military, so we work hard to get them up to speed on the cultural awareness of this population," Neff comments. "We spend a lot of time talking about the military and what their specific issues might be."
Neff mentions post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a current issue in the military population.
"We talk a lot about PTSD and how to talk to clients about their PTSD," Neff explains. "Lawyers that are practicing normally don't have training in how to deal with clients with PTSD or traumatic brain injury." A trauma therapist comes in to help the clinic students learn how to serve these types of clients.
Throughout the process, students form bonds with their clients, becoming more and more invested in the outcome of their cases, Neff says, with a significant number of graduates going on to become JAG officers.
The Law School Clinic That Has Offered $1 Million in Pro Bono Services to Veterans, InTheCapital, November 28, 2013. By Stephanie Greenberg.