Pro Bono

Jones Day and ABA develop VetLex legal referral network to provide pro bono help to veterans

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Jones Day is hosting programs at 18 of its offices on Friday to introduce lawyers and executives to a referral program being developed with the ABA that will link veterans to pro bono and low-cost lawyers.

The program, expected to launch in the spring, is called VetLex, report Bloomberg Big Law Business, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Daily Business Review (sub. req.). Working with the ABA, local bar associations and law schools, the firm hopes to recruit, train and certify lawyers to participate.

Legal advice offered through the network will extend beyond benefits disputes, according to a Jones Day press release. Help will be provided in areas such as landlord-tenant relations, family law, employment matters and business start-ups. The program will also link veterans to needed social services.

The Jones Day Foundation gave the ABA a $250,000 grant to develop the electronic platform for the program, according to the Bloomberg article and an ABA press release. Veterans seeking legal help will be able to visit the website to find lawyers who can help them.

The program will begin in five to 20 pilot cities before expanding.

Jones Day partner Miguel Eaton said in the press release that in-house lawyers who aren’t licensed in the state where their offices are located can’t participate in traditional pro bono work, but they can help veterans with some of their most significant matters. “In recruiting and training in-house lawyers to qualify to work with veterans, we will tap a huge pent-up demand for volunteer work that can make a difference,” he said.

ABA President Linda Klein commented on the program in the press release. “Despite all the excellent work under way for veterans throughout the country, the need to augment this work with more pro bono effort is clear. VetLex is a tool that can effectively support the recruitment, training, placement, and management of volunteer lawyers who want to make a difference for veterans,” she said. “Jones Day’s efforts to step forward with both financial support from its Foundation, and pro bono support from lawyers, is a driving force needed to help so many.”

Laura Ellsworth, partner in charge of global community service initiatives at Jones Day, noted in the press release that the ABA has developed expertise using pro bono lawyers to serve active duty military personnel and veterans through its Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel. Klein has prioritized expanding legal services to veterans, “making the timing of VetLex even more important,” Ellsworth said.

Lawyers interested in participating can register here.

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