The UCLA School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic allows law students to assist underserved and marginalized veterans in Los Angeles while developing lawyering skills under the supervision of the Clinic's Faculty Director and Assistant Professor of Law, Sunita Patel, and Wilbert (Will) Watts, Co-Director of the Clinic.
Part of UCLA School of Law's Clinical and Experiential Program, the clinic is distinct from the student-run El Centro Legal clinic that also assists veterans.
The UCLA School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic is housed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles campus. The campus is currently undergoing redevelopment, with the goal of providing not only services, but also permanent housing, to some of the more than 300,000 veterans living in Los Angeles.
Clinic clientele includes veterans who are chronically homeless and those who are aging, disabled and returning from incarceration.
In the clinic associated with the course, students' primary case work entails assisting veterans in securing benefits to which they are entitled and representing veterans as they seek to address tickets for infractions that might curtail their access to housing, employment or services.
Clinic students practice before the agencies, boards and courts in which clients' matters emerge, gaining essential lawyering skills including interviewing, counseling, fact investigation and case theory.
The Veterans Legal Clinic was launched in 2017 as part of UCLA's 10-year, $16.5 million commitment to provide new programs and support services at the West L.A. VA campus.
"Professionally, the Veterans Legal Clinic was an extraordinary opportunity to put what I learned in the classroom into action. I wrote real legal briefs, I prepared arguments to give in court, I appeared in front of a judge with a client. Personally, as the stepson of a veteran and someone who is dedicated to addressing the ongoing crisis of homelessness in our city, it was an incredibly meaningful experience."
Ian Grady, Class of 2019
"The UCLA School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic allowed me to develop essential lawyering skills and apply them to serve a community that is close to my heart. As a veteran, I found the clinic to be an amazing opportunity to give back to those who gave so much."
Nathan Goncalves, Class of 2018
U.S. Army, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment "Wolfhounds"
Serving those who served (UCLA Magazine, April 2018)
UCLA, VA launch first-of-its-kind family wellness center, new legal clinic for veterans (UCLA Newsroom, Nov. 27, 2017)
UCLA opens veterans support centers on the West LA VA campus (KPCC, Nov. 27, 2017)
Rep. Lieu celebrates opening of new veterans clinics in Los Angeles (Press Release, Nov. 27, 2017)
Veterans gain vital legal aid through new UCLA Law clinic (UCLA Newsroom, Nov. 2, 2017)