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March Volunteer Feature: City Bar Justice Center Honors Goldman Sachs and Shearman & Sterling LLP for Work with the Veterans Assistance Project

The City Bar Justice Center is proud to honor The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (Goldman Sachs) and Shearman & Sterling LLP for their work with the Veterans Assistance Project (the Project). Forty attorneys from both firms have participated in the partnership by gaining accreditation from the Veterans Administration, attending a training session, interviewing clients at legal clinics, and working on on-going cases. So far, nineteen disabled veterans and family members have been assisted by the team.

The Project helps clients to access their service-connected disability benefits from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), an often daunting and difficult process, even when a veteran's disability is clear. Most veterans have never had legal assistance and are extremely appreciative of the help from the Goldman Sachs and Shearman attorneys.

The Project also assists survivors of deceased veterans. A team of two attorneys from Shearman and one from Goldman Sachs met with a woman, Mrs. M, whose father was a veteran who had passed away. Mrs. M had been trying to locate a lost benefits check for her elderly mother who has dementia. The attorneys were able to prove that the check had been lost, got it reissued, and made sure that their client received the much needed $7,000.

Not all cases can be so quickly resolved. After participating in two legal clinics, one in July 2009 and one in January 2010, attorneys from the partnership are continuing to work on eleven matters. One such matter involves Mr. L, who has back problems that date to his service in the Army in the 1960s. Mr. L applied for benefits from the VA once before, but was denied because he had been unable to locate the records from the hospital in Germany where he was treated.

Attorneys at Shearman are now attempting to locate these records themselves so that they can submit a more complete claim for benefits to the VA. Goldman Sachs and Shearman attorneys are also working on cases involving PTSD, bipolar disorder, and exposure to Agent Orange.

Carol Bockner, Director of Pro Bono Initiatives at the Justice Center, oversees the Project. "This has been an extremely successful partnership; the teams from Goldman Sachs and Shearman & Sterling work together seamlessly," she says. "They're providing a great service to a needy and often overlooked population, and we are so grateful for their commitment to the Project."

Marty Schmelkin, head of the Pro Bono Steering Committee at Goldman Sachs, is enthusiastic about the partnership. "The Veterans Assistance Project provides a vital service for an incredibly important group of men and women. Goldman Sachs is grateful to be a part of the Project."

Saralyn Cohen, Shearman & Sterling's Pro Bono Counsel and Director of Pro Bono, also speaks highly of the partnership. "Our firm has enjoyed a strong partnership with Goldman Sachs as a client for several decades," she says. "We were so pleased to have the opportunity to work with them on this pro bono project, which can make such a positive difference for our nation's veterans."

The extraordinary advocacy of attorneys from Goldman Sachs and Shearman & Sterling will greatly increase these veterans' hopes of accessing VA benefits. The City Bar Justice Center is excited to honor Goldman Sachs and Shearman publicly for this work and looks forward to continuing its relationship with this great team.

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