What is VetLex
VetLex (“Vet” for veteran, and “Lex” for law) is a national, dedicated network of coordinated pro bono and reduced fee legal service providers to serve the legal needs of veterans of all eras. VetLex does not provide legal services; rather, it is a cooperative system of intake, assessment, and referral designed to more efficiently and effectively bring together veterans in need of legal services with those who can best assist them. VetLex will provide veterans a method to request legal aid on a particular matter while providing existing pro bono and low income legal service providers a way to connect to these veterans needing their services. Although focused on deployment and use at the local or regional level by providers within those communities, VetLex will create accessibility to legal services by any eligible service requestor anywhere in the country. In addition, VetLex providers will also have the capability to refer co-occurring needs (like: employment, housing, medical, etc.) to wrap-around service providers as part of a holistic, person-centered approach.
In sum, the goal of VetLex—for the veteran—is to provide a tool to access qualified attorneys who will provide pro bono or low bono legal services. The goal of VetLex—for attorneys and veterans service organizations—is to provide a tool that makes it easy to find veterans who need the kind of help they can provide.
What kinds of cases does VetLex handle?
VetLex’s initial focus is on civil cases, including debt repayment, family law, landlord tenant, and consumer lending. There is also a focus on administrative cases related to service, such as VA disability appeals, and discharge upgrades. The types of cases that VetLex can accommodate may differ in various jurisdictions depending on attorney availability.
Will VetLex include criminal cases?
VetLex’s initial focus is on civil legal needs. But since VetLex is a legal referral platform, it can accommodate intakes and referrals for a broad range of legal issues, including criminal cases. The limitation on criminal assistance will primarily be the availability of qualified and competent counsel willing to assist with such matters. If you have a criminal case, you should ask VetLex if it can help.
Who operates VetLex?
Jones Day has partnered with the American Bar Association—one of the world’s largest associations of attorneys and a group with an well-established record of community service—to develop VetLex. The ABA will house and operate VetLex at the national level. Since VetLex is an interconnected network, it will also be distributed to the regional and local levels for use by VetLex members who provide legal services at those levels, but with oversight and coordination with the ABA.
What population is VetLex designed to assist?
VetLex is for U.S. military veterans of all eras in need of pro bono or “low bono” (reduced cost) legal assistance. This includes National Guard and Reserve members who are not on active duty.
Will VetLex include family members, dependents, or caregivers of veterans?
Not currently. Providing pro bono legal assistance to individuals beyond the veteran presents unique issues. The ABA is currently considering a workable approach to assisting this population.
What legal service providers can participate in VetLex?
Veterans face a wide array of legal challenges, and we envision volunteer lawyers with all competencies being able to offer their expertise through VetLex, including law firms, corporate counsel, individual lawyers, non-profit legal aid organizations, bar associations, and law schools. The initial eligibility guidelines for attorney participation is being a member of a bar in good standing. VetLex will be able to accommodate customized eligibility criteria within the system, should legal providers use different participation criteria for their particular pro bono programs.
If I am an attorney or other legal service provider, how can I sign up for VetLex?
Just register at VetLex.org and fill out the questionnaire. VetLex will follow up with you.
As an attorney, will I only be able to take cases for veterans located near me?
It depends on the type of case. For example, a family law or criminal law case will likely require you to be barred in that jurisdiction and/or located near the veteran client. A disability benefit case, however, does not require that the attorney be located near the veteran. Those cases are handled either at regional Veterans Affairs offices or at the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington, D.C. Many of these proceedings are done via video teleconference.
Who will provide the malpractice insurance coverage for cases received through VetLex?
Attorneys who have their own malpractice insurance will be expected to utilize that insurance. For attorneys who do not have malpractice insurance (e.g., in-house corporate counsel), insurance can be obtained through the ABA.
What is Jone Day’s role?
The Jones Day Foundation has provided initial funding for VetLex, and Jones Day and the ABA will complete the design and ultimate implementation. Jones Day will also provide on-going leadership in this area by encouraging individual lawyers, law firms, corporate counsel, non-profit entities, and other legal service organizations to participate in VetLex.