Veterans Legal Services (“VLS”) was started in 1991 by law students who identified that homeless and at-risk veterans faced legal barriers to stability and were not being served by other legal aid organizations. They established a free walk-in legal clinic at the New England Center and Home for Veterans (“NECHV”). In 1994, VLS incorporated and obtained 501(c)(3) status. VLS has since expanded and, in addition to continuing its services at NECHV, now also provides services at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, the Bedford VA Medical Center, the Norfolk County Veterans Treatment Court, Massachusetts Stand Down for Veterans, Yellow Ribbon events for deploying and returning troops, and various veterans’ fairs and expos throughout Massachusetts. Today, VLS remains the only legal aid organization in Massachusetts whose primary mission is to serve veterans. VLS prioritizes helping veterans who would not otherwise receive legal services and where representation may yield a life-changing result that restores a veteran’s self-sufficiency and dignity. VLS prioritizes cases for the disabled, victims of domestic violence, and cases where there is a significant disparity in resources or where the opposing party has representation. Its mission is to promote self-sufficiency, stability, and financial security of homeless and low-income veterans through free and accessible legal services. VLS services over 500 veterans’ cases per year.
The Veterans Legal Services/Harvard IOP Director’s Program Intern works closely with the Office Manager to complete various tasks associated with the following: case management, office management, fundraising, and volunteer training. Responsibilities would include communicating with potential and current clients and service providers by phone, mail, and email; assisting in training of other volunteers; case database management; nonprofit management; and fundraising tasks as needed. Enrichment may include, but not be limited to, assisting with grant applications and reporting, assisting at VLS walk-in legal clinics, and legal research and writing.
2017 Intern Reflection:
In my time at Veteran’s Legal Services, I have been able to serve those who have sacrificed so much in service to the United States. As a fellow with Veteran’s Legal Services, I am the first point of contact for many veterans who are seeking legal assistance from our organization. On a day-to-day basis, I am responsible for communicating with our clients and potential clients regarding their cases in addition to managing and completing the paperwork for their casefile. On a weekly basis, I am part of a team of volunteer undergraduate students and law students who perform the intake process with prospective clients, gathering the information that the staff attorneys will need in order to further assist our clients with their cases. In addition to my role in interacting with clients and managing cases, I also assist VLS staff in their fundraising efforts by writing grant applications and reports, and managing donations.
My time with VLS has been an opportunity for me to apply many of the skills that I have gained on Harvard’s campus, both in my roles as a student and as a leader in student organizations. It has also given me valuable insight into the work done by nonprofits and legal aid groups, informing me of potential career prospects as I begin to think of what I want to do beyond Harvard. Most importantly though, being a fellow at VLS has given me a newfound appreciation for those who have served our country and for the individuals in the nonprofit groups who work tirelessly to make sure that our nation’s heroes get the square deal that they deserve.
Matthew Moore '19