Active duty service members can go to Armed Forces Legal Assistance's online database to locate active duty legal activities offering general legal services within the continental United States. When you put in your state or ZIP code, and it looks up about a dozen of these offices in Virginia.
The Findlaw website has a city-by-city list of lawyers interested in representing active-duty military personnel, military reservists, and veterans here.
Virginia has two statewide bar associations that should not be confused:
- The Virginia State Bar (VSB) is an arm of the court system, and focuses on regulating the practice of law
- the Virginia Bar Association (VBA) is a voluntary association of lawyers.
- The Virginia State Bar's Military Law Section hosts Law Related Resources for Veterans webpage. Among other things, it mentions that Active Duty & Retired Military Personnel are eligible for pro bono assistance or a reduced fee through the VSB Lawyer Referral/ Pro bono Project: call 1 800 552-7977
More resources to check out:
- Virginia Department of Veterans Services The department operates more than twenty field offices to provide information, assistance, and advocacy for military veterans who live in Virginia. Areas the department can help with include pensions and benefits, homelessness, spousal conflict resolution, education, and home loans. Services are described at http://www.dvs.virginia.gov/veterans-benefits.shtml. Veterans can walk into the field offices and receive same-day service, or they can make an appointment. To find the field office nearest you, click on the map or call (804) 786-0294.
- Virginia Committee for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve:The volunteer lawyers and nonlawyers who make up this group serve as neutral ombudsmen in employment disputes governed by the Uniform Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Ombudsmen intervene in disputes in response to reservists who return from duty to find that their employer won’t take them back or restore them to an equivalent job. And they intervene at the request of an employer who feels the reservist did not meet his or her responsibilities to qualify for reemployment under USERRA. Much of the work is by telephone. Ombudsmen also provide training to inform employers of their rights and responsibilities under USERRA. In 93 percent of cases referred to the committee, the dispute is resolved with the help of the ombudsman - no need for anyone to sue! Learn more at http://www.esgr.mil/Contact/Local-State-Pages/Virginia.aspx To be put in touch with an ombudsman, call (800) 336-4590.
- Clinic for Legal Assistance to Service Members (CLASM):CLASM is a George Mason University program through which attorney-supervised law students help active-duty service members with a range of civil issues— contracts, landlord-tenant, uncontested divorces, and administrative matters, for example. Clients are persons who would suffer undue financial hardship if they were to hire a lawyer. Cases are selected that are manageable by students. Learn more at http://clas.law.gmu.edu/ To refer a client, contact (703) 993-8214. To volunteer or ask questions, contact Joseph C. Zengerle, executive director of CLASM, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Community Mediation Centers:Virginia's court system coordinates an extensive program of mediators. For more information, see http://www.courts.state.va.us/courtadmin/aoc/djs/programs/drs/mediation/cmcl.html.
- Virginia Lawyer Referral Service:
The Virginia State Bar operates this service to match people with lawyers in their communities. Some lawyers have indicated an interest in assisting with issues that affect military members or veterans. For a small fee, the lawyer will provide a half-hour consultation. See www.vsb.org/site/public/lawyer-referral-service. Persons seeking a lawyer may call (800) 552-7977.
- Dawn Chase's article for VSB's Virginia Lawyer Magazine is a good resource, although now a little dated (download here - PDF).
- Virginia State Bar's Military Law Section:
This is the group to join if you want to practice in this area.
- Virginia Bar Association Young Lawyers' Division: Host a number of hotlines; see http://www.vba.org/yldact.htm.
- Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service Organizations (JLC):
This group offers lawyers an opportunity to provide pro bono legislative advocacy on issues that affect veterans. The council includes representatives of twenty-five veterans organizations. Learn more at: http://www.dvs.virginia.gov/board-jlc.shtml
- Anyone with more information on these or other programs: Please add in a comment below. The purpose is service!