Service Members and Veterans’ Legal Assistance Project
In 2011, Penn Law students founded the Service Members and Veterans Legal Assistance Project (“SVLAP”) to provide targeted and useful resources to Philadelphia’s veterans and service-members in need of civil legal assistance. SVLAP also supports attorneys in Philadelphia who have made it a priority to serve Veterans in our community.
SVLAP partnered with the Philadelphia Bar Association Military Assistance Program (“MAP”) in the spring of 2013 to offer pro bono legal assistance for veterans with economic hardship issues. Oftentimes, veterans return home from service to find their life in disarray. Not only may veterans find criminal allegations pending against them, but also credit card liens, child custody issues, suspended driver’s licenses and landlord-tenant disputes. SVLAP and MAP’s goal is to aid veterans in sorting through their legal issues so they can focus on reordering their lives as civilians.
Penn Law students play an important role in this process. After completing SVLAP training, students help veterans in financial distress by performing client intake, attending initial client meetings, putting together bankruptcy petitions when necessary, and seeing the bankruptcy process through to its completion. All of this takes place under the supervision of an attorney.
Beginning in 2016 students will also be aiding veterans in need of discharge upgrades and VA Benefits/Claims assistance. This area of assistance is frequently cited as the biggest need amongst the veteran community.