December 11, 2013
Tulane Law School 2Ls Myranda Elliott and Graham Williams help clients with intake paperwork during the Veterans' Day legal clinic at VFW Post 8973.
Tulane Law School alumni Laurie Clark (L '93) and David Ross (L '09) help a law clinic client go through paperwork. Ross, a Marine reservist, served in Afghanistan.
Sitting in front of a poster that read “We fought for your right to vote … now use it!” Laurie Clark (L ’93) and David Ross (L ’09) studied stacks of papers overflowing from the four-inch deep red lid of a large Rawlings box. They were assessing how they could help a middle-aged military veteran with his claim for benefits.
Across the room at the Lyons Street headquarters of VFW Post 8973, Tulane Law School 2Ls Myranda Elliott and Graham Williams assisted a woman and man with intake paperwork to determine what kind of legal counseling they needed.
It was Veteran’s Day 2013, and these Tulanians were volunteering their time at a free legal clinic that saw a dozen clients with issues including VA benefits, creditor problems and landlord-tenant questions. Community service has long been ingrained in Tulane Law School, and it’s a tradition that students and graduates carry forward with enthusiasm.
The clinic was organized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars post, along with the Young Lawyers Division of the Federal Bar Association New Orleans Chapter and The Pro Bono Project.
Some of the lawyers who volunteered are veterans themselves, such as Ross, a Marine reservist who served in Afghanistan.
“It’s a good way for those who have served to keep on serving,” said Marshall Hevron (L ’09), a litigation associate at Adams and Reese in New Orleans who served with the U.S. Marines in the Iraq War. He’s been instrumental in bringing new life into VFW Post 8973.
Ross, an associate at Gordon Arata in New Orleans, was a Marine Corps officer before attending Tulane Law School. Later, as an officer in the reserves, he directed a $50 million training program for the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.
Though not a military veteran, Clark put two decades of experience to work in counseling vets who came in. She’s a civil litigator at Baker Donelson, concentrating on oil and gas, transportation, environmental, employment, insurance coverage and commercial disputes.
Hevron said the Veteran’s Day event was the third clinic the post has sponsored. The first one, last year, drew 50 clients in a single day. Some of the veterans who walk in can have their issues resolved that day; more complicated cases are referred to a pro bono attorney for assistance.
The pop-up clinic for veterans is the latest in a long line of pro bono leadership among Tulane alumni and students. Earlier this year, Tulane Law School marked the 25th anniversary of its groundbreaking Pro Bono Program. Tulane was the first law school in the nation to require pro bono service as part of training to become a lawyer. Many law schools since have followed Tulane’s lead, and the New York bar now requires the completion of substantial pro bono service before being admitted to practice in the state.