July 29, 2022

New York State Division of Veterans’ Services Announces Recipients Of New York State’s “Justice For Heroes” Grant

New York State Division of Veterans’ Services Announces Recipients Of New York State’s “Justice For Heroes” Grant
Four law schools to receive state funding for innovative programs addressing Veterans’ unmet legal needs

The New York State Division of Veterans’ Services is pleased to announce the four recipients of New York State’s “Justice For Heroes” grant, providing much-needed funding to law schools offering innovative collaborative programs to assist veterans, service members, and their family members with previously unmet legal needs.

Albany Law School, the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, New York Law School, and the University at Buffalo School of Law will receive $50,000 apiece from New York State to establish or enhance experiential legal education initiatives that help bridge the justice gap confronting many individuals who have served or are serving in the United States Uniformed Services.

Each recipient school has the possibility of renewing this grant for an additional $50,000 award for each of the next two years.

These legal services are provided free of charge to veterans, service members and their families. These grant recipients will assist with a variety of legal concerns including discharge upgrade cases, appellate cases to the Federal Circuit and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, veterans who are confronting imminent foreclosure or eviction, and other fundamental civil legal needs. The grants have been used to create virtual tools, Veteran Law Days, fund Legal Fellows, and create legal “help desks” across New York. This grant enables the law schools to build on the important work they are doing with the financial backing of New York State.

“The Justice for Heroes grant program plays a vital role in addressing the unmet legal needs of veterans, service members and their family members,” said New York State Division of Veterans’ Services Director Viviana DeCohen. “Governor Hochul’s support of these law schools to create or continue their legal justice work on behalf of these individuals demonstrates New York’s ongoing commitment to ensuring our State provides a holistic approach to meeting the unique needs of the population we serve.”

Albany Law School will continue to use this funding to increase the number of workshops, referrals, and services their law clinics provide to the community with law students assisting veterans, service members and their family’s pro-bono in a wide range of practice areas. Albany Law School will use this grant to join with community organizations to provide information workshops and further veterans’ legal assistance opportunities throughout the year.

“Albany Law School is thrilled to continue to partner with the State of New York through the Justice for Heroes grant program. Through this funding, Albany Law School students, alums, faculty, and volunteer attorneys will continue to serve veterans, active-duty service members, and their families in the Capital Region,” said Edward W. De Barbieri, Director, Community Economic Development Clinic at Albany Law School. “With legal advice, referrals, legal information workshops, and full representation by one of our in-house clinics in The Justice Center, members of the community who have served are able to obtain impactful legal advice not otherwise offered in our area.”

The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University will use the Justice for Heroes funding to broaden the scope of its Veterans Law Clinic. The Robert W. Entenmann Veterans Law Clinic currently has students represent veterans in disability appeals before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. It will expand to focus attention on areas of growing importance including by serving veterans who are survivors of military sexual trauma and racism in the military.

“This grant will enable the Robert W. Entenmann Veterans Law Clinic to continue the important work serving the broader New York veteran community. Not only does the Clinic provide crucial legal services for our veterans, but it also provides Hofstra Law students with the ability to receive hands-on training in working with this underserved population,” said Samantha Kubek, Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor and Director of the Robert W. Entenmann Veterans Law Clinic at Hofstra University. “This grant will ensure that more students will have the opportunity to serve the veteran community while providing culturally competent, trauma-informed legal services.”

New York Law School plans to use this grant to expand services to veterans, service members and their families at two of their legal clinics: Veterans Justice Clinic and Nonprofit and Small Business Clinic. The Veterans Justice Clinic The clinic provides New York Law School students with the opportunity to offer legal assistance to low-income veterans in the New York City area with a focus on poverty law to include housing, family, and public benefits access. In the Nonprofit and Small Business Clinic students spend the year assisting nonprofit organizations and small businesses with their legal needs and incorporates lectures with fieldwork.

New York Law School has a long and proud history educating and providing legal services to veterans and service members. We are inspired by receiving a Justice for Heroes grant from New York State. This funding will directly increase the service capacity of two of our clinics, the Veterans Justice Clinic and the Nonprofit and Small Business Clinic, thereby allowing NYLS students to assist more veterans and service members build better lives and have deeper impacts in their communities,” said Kim Hawkins, Stephen J. Ellmann Dean for Clinical and Experiential Learning at New York Law School. “We will be able to better reach across our existing clinical programming to create a new focus on their legal rights and, the same time, shape how the next generation of lawyers will enter the practice and advocate on veterans’ rights issues.”

The University at Buffalo School of Law will use these funds to further increase their ability to reach more veterans and their families within Western New York to meet their unique legal needs. Student attorneys will be able to further delve into the veterans’ law realm during their clinical programs. These clinical programs will help to serve the Western New York veterans’ community while providing student attorneys with the opportunity to further their hands-on experience in the ever-expanding realm of veterans law. 

“As is true many places across the country, Western NY veterans often face severe access-to-justice issues. Though we are fortunate to work with expert local community partners who serve veterans in certain specialty areas, there are gaps across multiple areas of legal services. With new funding from New York State’s Justice for Heroes grant, the University at Buffalo School of Law’s #UBLawResponds team will add capacity to serve veterans in various spaces where our longstanding clinical program has deep expertise, such as family law issues, small business and entrepreneurship needs, public benefits appeals, civil rights and working with incarcerated veterans seeking resentencing, parole and post-conviction hearings,” said Kim Diana Connolly, Director of Clinical Education, University at Buffalo School of Law.We will also continue to integrate Veterans Law into our curriculum and expand other vital skills training, including working with clients, functioning in teams, operating with proper trauma-informed lawyering, restorative practices, and using reflection and self-evaluation to ensure excellence from our Student Attorneys who serve those who served.”