Students at the University of Missouri School of Law Veterans Clinic help veterans and their families secure disability benefits.
Student work is done at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals level and before the Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims. Students are supervised by an experienced attorney at each step, and will have the opportunity to work in a law firm atmosphere within the law school serving real client needs. Law students interested in personal injury, civil litigation or administrative law will benefit from the skills taught in this clinic.
The Veterans Clinic is an important addition to the school’s current clinical offerings. Other clinics at the law school address issues relating to domestic violence, criminal prosecution, criminal defense and mediation. The new Veterans Clinic is another opportunity for students to be better equipped to start the practice of law immediately after graduation.
The Veterans Clinic course includes a weekly lecture on the substantive law relating to veterans’ benefits, followed by work with the actual veteran files. Students:
- Interview clients, witnesses and medical personnel.
- Research and develop the law and facts of the case, draft pleadings, and prepare briefs
- Interact with other practitioners in the area of federal veterans law, thereby encouraging networking developments.
- Be encouraged to become members of the National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) and to attend one of the NOVA conferences which are held twice annually.
The Veterans Clinic is designed to teach a host of practical skills, including law firm and time management, client interviewing and counseling, problem solving, legal theory development, negotiation, data collection, witness statements, medical records analysis, appellate brief writing and argument. Importantly, the clinic will highlight the importance of pro bono work in a lawyer’s professional life and will serve the needs of our nation’s veterans.
The Veterans Clinic is taught by Supervising Attorney Angela Drake, who is a self-professed Army brat, and the product of the G.I. Bill. Her father, Major Joe W. Green, was a career Army officer killed in action in Vietnam on April 1, 1970. Those who served with Major Green wrote about his dedication and devotion to duty. Prof. Drake remembers him fondly as a real life G.I. Joe, who let his only daughter become a duly qualified “Junior Jumper” at the very jump tower he used for paratrooper training in Fort Benning before his final tour in Vietnam.
Prof. Drake has extensive experience in civil litigation, including cases involving medical records. She was a partner in the Kansas City firm of Niewald, Waldeck and Brown until 2003, and continued her practice in Springfield, Mo., with Lowther Johnson, LLC as a member of the firm through 2012. In her practice, she focused on insurance defense work and complex class action litigation. Prof. Drake remains of counsel to the Lowther Johnson, LLC firm and currently teaches Trial Practice, Pretrial Litigation and Insurance Law at the University of Missouri School of Law.