VetLex is a national, dedicated web-based network of coordinated pro bono service providers to serve the legal needs of veterans. VetLex does not provide legal services; rather, it is an online cooperative system of intake, assessment, and referral envisioned to quickly and effectively connect veterans in need of legal services with those who stand ready to provide them.
Jones Day and the ABA have partnered with Unite Us, a technology company, to build this network. VetLex currently has regional locations in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. It aims to expand nationwide, and can serve certain legal needs regardless of location.
For Veterans, the VetLex platform provides them an online tool for obtaining pro bono counsel for their specific legal need, which could be civil or administrative proceedings (benefit claims, for example). It also provides educational information on legal resources available to them.
For veteran-serving organizations, VetLex will provide a means by which an expanded number of lawyers can be called upon to assist the veterans these organizations serve. For veteran-serving legal organizations, VetLex is a comprehensive system of tools that facilitates volunteer recruitment, client intake, and case management and tracking.
For lawyers wishing to represent veterans, VetLex is a tool for lawyers who would like to represent veterans but don’t know how to get involved or how to find veteran clients. Lawyers can sign onto VetLex and create a profile that limits the kinds of cases they are willing to take on. For example, many in-house corporate attorneys have difficulty finding pro bono opportunities because they live and work in a place where they are not barred. Those attorneys can become accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs and take on veterans benefit cases. Another example is an associate at a large firm looking for pro bono opportunities. He or she can register with VetLex and take on a family law case. VetLex may also provide brief banks, chat boards, and other case management mechanisms to allow lawyers serving veterans to share resources nationally.
For all, VetLex also offers information about social service providers who can address issues that often occur in tandem with legal issues (e.g. employment, housing, medical, etc.). While VetLex may not conduct direct referrals to these “wrap-around” services, it provides a convenient and accessible way for veterans and their counsel to see what other services may exist in that community that would benefit the veteran.