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TJSL Opening a Veterans Self-Help Legal Clinic

March 7, 2013

Veterans Self-Help Clinic

Thomas Jefferson School of Law will open a Veterans Self-Help Legal Clinic on March 20 to help former military service members with their legal needs. The veterans will be assisted by volunteer lawyers from the community working side-by-side with TJSL law students.

The self-help clinic will be appointment-only and will operate the third Wednesday of every month from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at 495 Eleventh Avenue. The clinic is now taking appointments.

“San Diego is home to more recently returned veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan than any other city in the country,” according to the clinic’s director, Professor Steve Berenson.  “Many of them are grappling with a variety of legal issues without the assistance of counsel.  The new clinic is designed to provide as much help as possible to these struggling veterans to represent themselves successfully in their legal matters.  The clinic will also provide an additional opportunity to students at TJSL to get hands on legal practice experience, work with established volunteer lawyers, and serve the San Diego community.”

On March 6, Professor Berenson presented a training session for the volunteers who will be staffing the self-help clinic – both attorneys and law students.  The class focused on the substantive issues that are likely to arise in the clinic. The class can be viewed online. The Powerpoints can be viewed below.

“The class went very well,” said Professor Berenson.  “We had some of the top practitioners in San Diego presenting on issues that are likely to be prevalent among the veterans seeking services from the clinic.  They included former VLAC Fellow Tiffany Gilmartin ’10 addressing family law issues; Patrick Long ’10 discussing veterans benefits; Susan Clemens ’85 addressing offender reentry issues; and Michael O’Halloran discussing bankruptcies.  We also had Steve Binder ’84 from the Public Defender’s office discussing his experience in nearly three decades of working with struggling veterans here in San Diego.”

Each appointment at the Veterans Self-Help Clinic includes a half-hour consultation with a licensed attorney and a law student, who will provide limited assistance only, and not full or ongoing legal representation.

A number of important self-help services are available to veterans.

  • Document Assistance: Help with filling out forms to be submitted to the court.
  • Computer Access: The computers will be available to assist with filling out legal forms and conducting legal research.

  • Document Review: Pre-filled out forms will be reviewed prior to submitting them to the court.
  • Additional Resources: Information on how to move forward with your case.

Since 2006, TJSL has operated a highly successful Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic at Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD). Our law students have been specially trained to work with VVSD’s residents on with their many legal issues. This new Veterans Self-Help Clinic expands the law school’s commitment to help our country’s veterans with the many legal issues they may also face.

As mentioned, the new clinic has begun making appointments and to make an appointment, please call 619-961-4369.

Here are the PowerPoint Presentations from the MCLE Clinic:

Veterans Self-Help Clinic


Family Law

Expungement and Dismissal

Veterans Benefits