Monday, March 2, 2009

Michigan Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP)

The Legal Community in the State of Michigan supports our warrior community (servicemembers, veterans and their families) in a variety of ways.

For the Warrior Community

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School hosts a Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program, which
"... offers free legal assistance to military personnel returning from deployment. This unique program offers consultations right at reserve centers and other military locations during drills or military events, and it is the only civilian program in Michigan specifically designed to assist with the immediate needs of military personnel returning from deployment.

Cooley professors have offered over 70 consultations and made nearly 50 referrals to attorneys and area agencies. The program has prepared wills and powers-of-attorney for over 200 deploying troops as well."
Please see its brochure or contact

The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law has a couple of innovative programs. Its Project SALUTE has the subtitle and mission "Students and Lawyers Assisting U.S. Troops Everywhere Exclusively with Federal Benefits".
This week, the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (UDM Law) launches its nationwide tour of its Mobile Law Office (MLO) which will provide free assistance and/or representation to thousands of low-income veterans exclusively on federal benefits issues throughout the United States. The tour officially kicks off in Detroit on Thursday, February 7, at 10:00 a.m. at the UDM Law Atrium at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, 651 E. Jefferson, across from the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. To donate to the Veterans Clinic, visit our Veterans Clinic donation page.

UDM Law is the only law school in the country with an MLO, a Recreational Vehicle that has been outfitted as a law office. For the national tour, General Motors is donating a specially designed, custom built, state-of-the-art RV. Through the MLO, volunteer attorneys and UDM Law faculty and students counseled and/or otherwise assisted over 800 people during the past year. The MLO has made numerous stops at regional senior centers, churches, and other similar facilities, as well as regular stops at facilities where veterans congregate.

“When we started our Veterans Clinic, we were overwhelmed by the response and the requests for assistance from veterans both in Michigan and around the country,” said Mark Gordon, Dean of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. “Our veterans deserve the best care available, and with the nationwide launch of our MLO, our Veterans Clinic will be able to help additional low-income veterans seeking federal benefits assistance.”

To maximize the reach and impact of UDM Law’s national MLO tour, a number of local attorneys and legal support groups will be assisting low-income veterans exclusively with federal benefits in a pro bono capacity in each city. During the tour, UDM Law will provide training on federal benefits issues to attorneys around the nation who are willing to donate time to assist veterans on a pro bono basis. The law school is also asking additional law firms and attorneys across the country to volunteer providing pro bono assistance to veterans."
Learn more here.

In addition, Mercy School of Law has pioneered a Veterans Law Clinic
"... to address the compelling legal needs of veterans. The Clinic focuses on veterans' legal issues through representation, pro bono attorney referral, and education.

The Veterans Law Clinic represents low and moderate income veterans in their disability claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and Court of Veterans Appeals. Under the supervision of the clinic instructor, students interview clients, draft briefs, and argue before administrative agencies and appeals courts.

The Clinic also provides education and outreach to veterans through the Mobile Law Office.
Students and clinic professors speak to veterans throughout Michigan through presentations regarding disability and other veterans' issues. Lastly, Veterans Law Clinic has established a network of private attorneys who have agreed to represent veterans without attorney fees. These pro bono attorneys are able to represent veterans in some cases the clinic does not handle. The clinic and its pro bono attorneys do not address criminal or fee-generating matters.

To contact the Veterans Law Clinic for assistance, please call 313.596.0262"
Or, see
Information about clinics, a schedule of upcoming visits of its Mobile Law Clinic and the announcement from the Brennan Center.

In an exciting and innovative program, U.S. Troops serving in Iraq will now have access to legal services free of charge via video conferencing under a new partnership formed by Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Chrysler LLC, and the Freedom Calls Foundation. For more information, read this announcement.

Lawyers in Michgigan and the VA have collaborated on a free Guidebook for Incarcerated Veterans in the State of Michigan

Active duty service members may wish to go first to Armed Forces Legal Assistance's nice online database to "locate active duty legal activities offering general legal services within the continental United States". A query for the state of Michigan is here

Servicemembers, veterans and their families, like everyone else, can try
"... a statewide guide to free legal services for low-income persons and seniors in civil (non-criminal) cases. To locate information on all of the free civil legal aid programs, including basic eligibility and contact information, plus links to related sites on the web, and legal education documents that give you basic information on a number of common legal problems, see:"
The Findlaw website has a city-by-city list of lawyers interested in representing active-duty military personnel, military reservists, and veterans here.

For Lawyers

Attorneys interested in providing pro-bono services to military personnel with non-military legal issues through the Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program should contact at (517) 371-5140 ext. 4112 (per press release).

Attorneys interested in volunteering for project SALUTE (see above) can learn more here.

State Bar of Michigan offers an easy Online Registration to Volunteer Pro Bono Services.

If you have more information on the above, or on other efforts to provide legal help to our warrior community, please leave a comment below. The purpose is service!

See also

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