Pro Bono Opportunity – Washington Vets Will Clinic, 10/24 (Seattle)

Date: Saturday, October 24, 2015
Time: Day-long, TBD
Location: University of Washington School of Law, 4293 Memorial Way Northeast, Seattle, WA 98195
Registration: To volunteer, complete the Volunteer Application
Contact: Click here

Volunteers Needed: Attorney, Notary Public, Law Student, or Community Member

The Washington Vets Wills Clinic (“Clinic”) has been providing pro bono legal advice and free estate planning documents to eligible Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserve members, and their spouses for three years. Founded in 2012, the Clinic is a coalition of philanthropic, educational, civic, and veterans’ service organizations dedicated to giving back to former members of the military. The Clinic assists Veterans while providing pro bono opportunities to the legal community and experiential learning through service to law students.

The first North Sound Clinic will be hosted in Seattle on October 24, 2015, by the University of Washington School of Law. The Clinic’s goal is to ensure that every attending Veteran and spouse meets with a lawyer and leaves the Clinic with an executed and notarized will, power of attorney, and health care directive.

To participate in the Clinic, Veterans apply online and the information requested in the application is used to create unique estate planning documents for each Veteran client. Not all that apply are accepted, and the Clinic reserves the right to determine rules of use and participation. Once the Veteran and spouse are accepted, Clinic staff assigns them an appointment time. On the day of the Clinic, Veterans register, enjoy refreshments, and visit with the partners and each other until their appointment time.

At their appointment time, the assigned law clerk greets the Veteran and their spouse, and accompanies them to a room where they meet in confidence with an assigned lawyer. The lawyer interviews, counsels, and advises the clients while the law clerks draft any changes to the packet of pre-filled estate planning documents. The lawyer reviews these with the clients and, once final copies are printed, guides them through execution of the documents. Volunteer notaries public assist with formally executing the documents. Finally, the law clerk escorts the clients back to the lobby.

A free Continuing Legal Education training class precedes each Clinic event, to teach lawyers and supporting volunteers the estate planning process, and to acquaint them with the basic documents used at the Clinic.

As one second-year law student volunteer observed, “As I saw the Vets leave after their sessions, they left holding hands with their spouses, smiling and thanking volunteers. It was apparent that the services we provided had both legal and emotional benefits for the clients.” Those legal and emotional benefits extend to the students, who find it very gratifying to serve the Veterans population, while learning about estate planning from practicing attorneys.

Law Student Role: Law students can volunteer in two ways. The first is to volunteer for the day of the clinic, for a morning shift, afternoon shift, or all day (both) shift. The day of shifts will involve a combination of observing attorneys advising veteran clients, as well as general all-around and administrative tasks. The Clinic will work diligently to provide a combination of exposure to legal work as well as general purpose work. The second way to volunteer is for making confirmation calls to the veteran clients of their appointments, which will be decided. This option allows for an hour or two of service, though the confirmations are more administrative than legal work. Please volunteer through the online volunteer form.