Course Description

601:722. Civil Practice Clinic - Veterans Advocacy Project (VAP)*

(4 credits) (S) (LE8) Overton


Prerequisite: Students must have already taken Professional Responsibility or must be taking the course concurrently.

Exclusion: Students may not simultaneously enroll in the law school’s Externship Program and a clinic without permission of both supervising professors. Students may not simultaneously enroll in another clinic and the Civil Practice Clinic – Veterans Advocacy Project.

Special Note: Second-, third-, and fourth-year students may enroll in this course. All students taking this clinic must be in good academic standing. Academic and disciplinary records will be verified with the Dean of Students.



Of the more than 400,000 veterans residing in the state of New Jersey, many return from deployment with service-related disabilities, arising from physical, psychological or neurological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Despite the VA’s benefits and services, many New Jersey veterans with disabilities live in poverty.

In the Veterans Advocacy Project, students will provide essential legal services to New Jersey’s veterans through direct legal representation, community outreach, and advocacy. Students will assist veterans who have had difficulty navigating the complex process of applying for benefits from the VA, including preparing and filing appeals of VA benefit decisions and assisting those who need to change their discharge status so that they can access any benefits at all.

Depending on the specific case, casework will include:

Conducting intake and fact-finding interviews with clients

Analyzing complex cases

Researching relevant law and medical journals

Consulting with medical experts

Investigating military records

Preparing claims

Drafting briefs to boards

Representing clients in court and administrative proceedings

Depending on the needs of the client, providing advice and legal representation in other

civil matters.

Along with learning and developing various lawyering skills, in the seminar component of the course, students will learn the laws and procedures relevant to this unique area of practice and will gain exposure to the policies and controversies underlying this country’s commitment to giving back to those who have served in the military.

*In addition to participating in the weekly seminar, students will also have regular weekly case supervision meetings with the professor and regular weekly meetings with their partner. Students must also be available to meet with their clients; client meetings may take place during regular business hours, the evening or on the weekend.

For more information, please contact Professor Traci Overton at overton@law.rutgers.edu.