Veterans Legal Practicum moves help desks online – UB Now: News and views for UB faculty and staff – University at Buffalo Reporter - Freelance Rack

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Veterans Legal Practicum moves help desks online – UB Now: News and views for UB faculty and staff – University at Buffalo Reporter

Since fall 2018, the School of Law has offered a Veterans Legal Practicum to serve the legal needs of those who have served and their families. As part of this grant, the practicum established “help sesks” at the law school’s clinic, WNY Heroes in Erie County and SERV Niagara.

Last month, COVID-19 interrupted this vital in-person work. What to do? The obvious: move online. The practicum has now begun operating its popular help desks through an online portal, using a confidential sign-up inquiry system to offer meetings via Zoom to interested veterans.

Veterans interested in seeking on-line assistance can use the link here.

“Willingness and an ability to adapt to unforeseen obstacles is part of everyday life for members of our nation’s armed forces,” says Anthony J. Kuhn, co-director of the Veterans Legal Practicum, adjunct instructor and a veteran himself. “In that regard, a lawyer’s life is quite similar.

“Our student advocates have quickly adapted to the circumstances and have worked to develop a plan that will allow our legal practicum to continue to provide much needed services, while helping to usher the University at Buffalo School of Law further into the information age.

“Together, we are showing America that we can stand up to this challenge and use this as an opportunity to strengthen our practices,” says Kuhn. “It is our intention to continue to implement similar virtual help desks and online training well beyond the end of the current pandemic.”

James McDonough, director of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services, also praises the move to online services.

“At the division, we expected nothing less from Buffalo law school’s Veterans’ Legal Practicum with its outstanding history of overcoming barriers to serve Western New York’s veterans,” says McDonough. “By moving their in-person legal services to an online model during the global COVID-19 crisis, they can continue to serve veterans and their families while safeguarding everyone’s health and safety during these difficult times.

“We are proud of the example University at Buffalo School of Law is setting by leading the way utilizing these new technologies to accomplish their mission.”

Kim Diana Connolly, director of clinical legal education at the law school and co-director of the practicum, says the quick and smooth transition to online services for veterans is a credit to UB’s clinical legal education program, law school staff and the ability of the students to be flexible.

“Now we can continue this important service-learning work,” says Connolly. “It makes an immediate difference in the lives of those who served, while offering new learning opportunities for online legal skills to our student advocates.”

The quick and effective move online also earned approval from Benjamin Pomerance, deputy director of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services.

“Having worked with the Veterans’ Legal Practicum since its inception, I once again applaud the resourcefulness of this first-rate program’s faculty and law students,” says Pomerance. “UB’s shift to an online model of service delivery proves yet again their commitment and devotion to serving veterans and their family members throughout Western New York.”

The practicum has also moved online a free ─ and open to the public ─ conference, “Veterans Law in a Virtual Age: Highlighting New Policy Developments and Continuing Progress in Therapeutic and Restorative Justice. It will be held May 1, and registration is available here. There will be continuing legal education credits available for attorneys.

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