Veterans Legal Clinic
About the Clinic
The Veterans Legal Clinic focuses on the civil legal needs of veterans in the central Illinois community. Students provide high-quality legal help in civil matters such as family law, expungements, consumer disputes, and estate planning matters. The Clinic also assists veterans with service-related matters such as discharge upgrades. Students collaborate with local veteran service organizations and an in-house social work student to holistically address the needs of their clients.
Students learn to interview and counsel clients while working with veterans to solve their legal problems and otherwise advocate for them. Aside from client counseling and interviewing, students practice fact investigation, case planning, negotiation, brief writing, and oral advocacy. Our classroom component explores the lawyer’s role and helps students develop the skills necessary to be an effective advocate.
Assistant Clinical Professor
Veterans Legal Clinic Director
Professor Curtis joined the University of Illinois College of Law faculty in fall 2018 to direct the Veterans Legal Clinic. Before joining the University of Illinois, she taught at the University of Michigan Veterans Legal Clinic as a clinical fellow. She also worked on administrative appeals as an Associate Counsel for the Board of Veterans Appeals. Read more about Professor Curtis.
“Most veterans under 40 have an immediate family member who served. That’s especially striking considering that some statistics suggest fewer than 1% of Americans have any military service time. We are increasingly becoming a society where some families bear a disproportionate responsibility for defending our country. Most of my students have not had sustained relationships with veterans on a personal level prior to clinic, but I hope that all of them leave the clinic with a greater understanding of the veteran experience and renewed confidence in their ability as legal practitioners.”
Student Clinician Experiences
Abisoye Ariwola, ’23“My time in clinic has been one of the best experiences of my law school career. I not only learned how to become a spokesperson for those in need, but it has given me the ability to gain practical experience. My clients provided me with the ability to build quality traits that will be useful in practice. I was also able to build personal and professional bonds with my clinic mates that I will cherish forever.”
Minji Kim, ’23“Participating in the Veterans Legal Clinic was a life-changing experience for me in law school. I experienced various civil cases such as divorce, child custody, lease violation, insurance issues, and expungement at the Veterans Legal Clinic. Learning statutes in textbooks and having real-world experiences in the clinic are totally different, and you will learn a lot more than what you can be taught from textbooks. Every aspect of the work, including client interaction, is fun, educational, and memorable, and it serves as a stepping stone to prepare yourself as a professional lawyer who can really handle legal issues and any future clients. Professor Curtis is an amazing supervisor, and you will get through the cases that you were assigned and be prepared as a confident prospective lawyer.”
The Chez Center provides academic and career services to student veterans on campus.
Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network provides civil legal services across Illinois. It is a network of more than 10 legal aid organizations and law school clinics.
Illinois Joining Forces is a non-profit that helps service members and veterans find the support and resources they need when they need it.
For Prospective Clients
If you are a veteran who has a civil legal issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217-244-9494 to speak with our staff and see if a free legal consultation is appropriate for your situation.