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 Regional Office and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals levels, as well as before the Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims. Students are supervised by an experienced attorney at each step and 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 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 documents and prepare briefs
- Interact with other practitioners in the area of federal veterans law, thereby encouraging networking developments.
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, data collection, witness statements, medical records analysis and appellate brief writing. Importantly, the clinic highlights the importance of pro bono work in a lawyer’s professional life while serving the needs of our veterans on behalf of a grateful nation.
The Veterans Clinic is directed 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. Professor 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.
Professor 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 also teaches Trial Practice and Pretrial Litigation at the University of Missouri School of Law.
In June 2018, the Veterans Clinic welcomed a second attorney, Brent Filbert, who is an MU alumnus. Previously he was deputy chief defense counsel for military commissions at the Pentagon, a partner at Shook, Hardy & Bacon and litigation counsel at Hughes, Hubbard & Reed.
Professor Filbert joins Professor Angela Drake in supervising the students in the Veterans Clinic as they work to assist veterans in the claims process at the Regional Office and appellate levels.
Tigers for Troops
The Veterans Clinic has launched this exciting new initiative to provide assistance to veterans in rural Missouri. Under this program, the Clinic is partnering with the University of Missouri Extension to have students and supervising attorneys visit extension offices throughout the State to educate veterans about available resources, as well as to assist them with disability claims and appeals and discharge upgrades. Clinic personnel will also train attorneys on veterans’ law to increase the number of attorneys qualified to help veterans in Missouri’s rural areas. Go here to register for an upcoming Tigers for Troops event.