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Veterans Law Practicum

In the Veterans Law Practicum, students provide information, legal advice, and representation to veterans. Students will work on cases to secure service-connected disability compensation, discharge upgrades, overpayment issues, and other related claims.

Participating in the Practicum

During the semester, students will perform various types of legal advocacy work:

  • Representing and assisting military veterans in disability benefits appeals, discharge upgrades, and other legal matters.
  • Providing legal advice and referrals to veterans and service members seeking legal assistance.
  • Coordinating with community partners and stakeholders across central and western New York.

The students will interview veterans and conduct substantive research into the applicable law, including Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations, Uniform Code of Military Justice, and Federal Legislation. Students will also draft legal memoranda and may prepare briefings for Veteran District Offices and/or the Board of Veterans Affairs. Students may have the opportunity to appear virtually at hearings.

In addition, students may circulate veterans benefits information to the community in conjunction with the Tompkins County Department of Veterans Services.

To apply, students should submit a brief statement of interest in the online application process on the current student community website.

Danielle Bernard (left) and Jimmy Hardwick (right) smiling in The Gallery at Cornell Law School
Danielle Bernard (left) and Jimmy Hardwick are practicing attorneys with Legal Assistance of Western New York and the instructors for the Veterans Law Practicum. photo / Rachel Philipson for Cornell Law School

Course Components and Learning Goals

Course Components

This course connects law students with local veterans in need of legal assistance. The course carries three credits:

  • Two credits for 26 hours of seminar meeting time
  • and one credit for 42.5 hours of casework: Supervised by the professor and staff attorney, students will provide direct legal services to clients. Students will interview the client, engage in legal research pertaining to the client’s needs, draft memoranda applying the law to the facts of the case, discuss the case with the professor and/or attorney (either during case rounds in the seminar or during office hours), and provide supervisor-approved advice or advocacy.

Learning Goals

By the end of the semester, students in this course will have the opportunity to:

  • Provide legal assistance to veterans in upstate New York who may not find help elsewhere.
  • Learn about the day-to-day practice of law, including relationships with clients, adversaries, other lawyers, agencies, and the courts.
  • Understand and practice ethical obligations.
  • Develop legal research and persuasive writing skills.
  • Learn case management skills.
  • Acquire knowledge and competence in veterans law.

Practicum Faculty

Danielle Bernard
Adjunct Professor of Law
Adjunct and Associated - Clinical
Cornell Law School
130 Hughes Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
James Hardwick
Veterans Law Staff Attorney and Adjunct Professor of Law
(607) 254-1272
Adjunct and Associated - Clinical
Cornell Law School
128M Hughes Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

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