Legal Resources and Services for Veterans

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Veterans Law Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library is coming to an end. All month long, we've featured legal research materials throughout the Law Library, including the following:

We've also spotlighted a few of our online resources including the Veterans Legal Aid Portal from TexasLawHelp.org and military law titles available through HeinOnline.

All of these research tools will continue to be available in our collection and online. In addition, veterans can find a variety of services from organizations such as Lone Star Legal Aid, the Texas Veterans Commission, the Texas Legal Services Center, the State Bar of Texas, the Houston Bar Association, and the Texas Veterans Legal Assistance Project.

ABA Legal Checkups for Veterans and Others

According to a 2016 Civil Legal Aid Research Workshop Report from the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Science Foundation, two-thirds of adults face problems that can be resolved through legal intervention. However, many of those in need are unaware that legal remedies exist, and, consequently, they do not access the justice system to seek relief. Identifying that a problem is legal in nature can be the first step to getting legal assistance, and pointing people to the available resources is step two. For those of modest or moderate means, legal aid can sometimes be an option; sliding scale or alternative fee arrangements may be available as well. Depending on individual needs and circumstances, limited scope representation and pro- or low-bono services might also exist. In any case, resources are available, but recognizing the need for legal help and finding the best solutions can be a challenge.

Guiding people to achieve satisfactory legal outcomes using the resources available in their communities is the objective of the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. This committee is charged with providing improved access to lawyers and legal services for those of modest or moderate means. Among their many initiatives is a project currently in development to offer online legal checkups that help people recognize when their problems have legal solutions and point them to available resources that address their needs. One such tool, the Legal Checkup for Veterans, is already in place.

Those who access the Veterans Legal Checkup website can identify their legal issues and find clear paths to resolving them quickly, easily, and free of charge. Employment issues, family matters, and housing instability are just a few of the issues that the Veterans Legal Checkup can address. Users are guided through a series of questions regarding jobs, wages, housing, disability, marital status, and child custody arrangements to identify any potential legal needs. Links to resources including social services organizations, veterans affairs offices, and legal aid agencies are provided, along with additional information about what to say, how to prepare, and what to consider when contacting the suggested organizations. By providing this tool for veterans, the ABA is taking action to help a sometimes vulnerable and, unfortunately, under-served population that deserves better. Other "legal checkups" from the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services are expected to follow in the near future.

Houston Bar Association & Houston Volunteer Lawyers Help the Community

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June marked the end of the Houston Bar Association's calendar of activities. Looking back, it's clear to see that the HBA was quite active indeed, providing valuable service to HBA members, the profession, and the public. 

Houston Volunteer Lawyers provided in-person, one-on-one legal advice to more than 6,100 applicants at no expense to those served. Nearly 1,200 cases were referred to pro bono attorneys for long-term representation. Over 2,300 of those helped were U.S. veterans or spouses of deceased veterans.

HVL also assisted 6,561 pro se litigants with family law matters at the courthouse information both on the 17th floor of the Civil Courthouse, and expanded the pro se clinic to the Harris County Law Library where attorneys now meet with self-represented litigants five days a week from 9:00 am - 12:00 noon on a first come-first served basis. 

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More than 700 LegalLine volunteers answered 5,386 calls from residents of Harris County, and the Houston Lawyer Referral service made over 26,000 referrals to attorneys and other agencies. 

These are just a few of HBA's achievements over the last twelve months. Additional successes of the previous year are detailed in the May/June 2017 issue of the Houston Lawyer magazine. See page six for President Neil Kelly's message where he reflects on the HBA's service to its members, its initiatives in educating the public about the law, and its efforts to help the residents of Harris County. 

Houston Bar Association Veterans Legal Initiative Clinic – Tomball August 5, 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Veterans who need legal advice or legal assistance can visit a free legal clinic on Saturday, August 5, from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., at the Tomball VA Outpatient Clinic, 1200 W. Main Street, Tomball, TX 77375. The clinic is a public service of the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative and will be held in conjunction with a free Veterans Benefits Fair sponsored by the Texas Veterans Commission, the Veterans Land Board and the Department of Veterans Affairs.⠀

No appointment is necessary. Any veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran, can receive advice and counsel from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits. Veterans who need ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono attorney to handle their case.⠀

For more information on the August 5th clinic and other services for veterans, contact the Veterans Legal Initiative at 713-759-1133 or visit HBA VLI online