The average week for a typical law school student involves poring over a list of daunting cases and deconstructing complicated arguments. But on Oct. 30, the work of three Harvard Law School students included something else: an appearance in federal court. The students, who are part of the School’s Veterans Legal Clinic, stood before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims last Wednesday to argue for the rights of their client, a decorated U.S. Army veteran.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs denies a soldier’s claim for disability benefits for an injury that occurred while he was on active duty. But the decision is handed down while the soldier is redeployed to Afghanistan, and he doesn’t realize he has the right to appeal until after he returns stateside—after the appeal deadline has passed. For students in HLS’s new Veterans Legal Clinic, the chance to work on this case and others like it is eye-opening.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals denies a soldier’s claim for disability benefits for an injury to his lower extremities. But the decision is handed down while the soldier is serving in Afghanistan, and he doesn’t realize he has the right to appeal until after he returns from his deployment—after the appeal deadline has passed. For students in Harvard Law School’s new Veterans Legal Clinic, the chance to argue that the appeal deadline should have been tolled and the case allowed to proceed on the merits is proving invaluable educationally and personally.
Harvard Law School Professor Laurence H. Tribe ’66 appeared on PBS’s Charlie Rose show July 11 to discuss his participation in Valentini v. Shinseki, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by Tribe, Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver, the ACLU and numerous veteran representatives and advocates against Veterans Administration Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Veterans Affairs is misusing its West Los Angeles VA Campus.
The following op-ed, Why Wounded Warriors Sleep in Dumpsters, written by Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe ’66 and Bobby Shriver, appeared in the June 9 edition of The Wall Street Journal. An expert on Constitutional Law, Tribe was appointed Carl M. Loeb University Professor in 2004. His most recent book is The Invisible Constitution (Oxford University Press 2008). He recently served as senior counselor for access to justice in the U.S. Justice Department.