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Oklahoma Volunteer Lawyers Help Military Personnel

Monday, September 14, 2009

  • By: Jason Vail
  • Organization: ABA Military Pro Bono Project

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project is almost a year old. In that year, the Project has received 244 case referrals from military attorneys located in every part of the world. While most referrals have originated in the United States, many have come from overseas, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Asia and many places in between. The military attorneys serving as “case supervisors” screen the cases and ensure that all new referrals are complete, thorough, and that they meet Project referral criteria. Their hard work has resulted in referrals of important, deserving cases that create the best opportunities for our civilian volunteer lawyers to make a difference for servicemember clients. Of these 244 case, a few have been ultimately rejected for representation and a few rare cases could not be placed due to a lack of volunteers. To date thre Project has successfully obtained pro bono assistance for nearly 120 servicemembers, covering cases in 32 states. Of the "placed" cases, pro bono volunteers have reported completion and closure of 43 matters. These volunteers report that our servicemember clients received a total of 732 pro bono hours, valued at $231,593.00 for these 43 cases. Six Oklahoma cases were handled by volunteer lawyers in the last year. The Project is very grateful for the volunteerism of the Oklahoma bar. Recruitment efforts continue to be successful. As of September 2009, there are 409 military lawyers registered with our website, along with 474 pro bono volunteers. New members are added to the roster virtually every day. While the primary mission over the last year has been handling and placing pro bono cases, much time has been spent getting the Project up-to-speed: recruiting volunteers, refining and improving the intake system (which is a one-of-a-kind, custom-designed system), educating and training military attorneys and supervisors, engaging in outreach shaped by case-type trends, and all of the other administrative tasks necessary when running a nationwide intake-and-referral project. Jason T. Vail is the Director of the ABA Military Pro Bono Project and can be contacted at the American Bar Association, 321 N. Clark St., 19th Fl. Chicago, IL 60654-7598. Mr. Vail may be contacted by telephone at 312.988.5783 or by email vailj@staff.abanet.org.

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