Veterans Issues Task Force seeks 200 more great attorney-volunteers
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Posted by: Rand Robins
Joelle Laszlo and Mark Villapando are leveraging their law degrees. Both young attorneys struck gold when they found their new favorite clients: veterans in need.
For William & Mary law grads Laszlo and Villapando, representing veterans on a pro bono basis has provided a deep sense of personal satisfaction and professional development.
“This is a great way to improve someone’s life, to be as engaged as you want to be,” Laszlo said. “This is the absolute least we can do to help.”
“The opportunity to serve those who served our country has been one of the highlights of my legal career,” Villapando said. “This type of service is what is needed to show these veterans that citizens at home are ready to help.”
In November, The Virginia Bar Association will commemorate the fourth annual Veterans Legal Services Month with a volunteer drive. Headed by soldiers-turned-lawyers Bob Barrett and Matt Kapinos, the VBA’s Veterans Issues Task Force (“VITF”) seeks to add 200 volunteer attorneys to the VBA’s Veterans Pro Bono Volunteer List.
Together with the VBA, Barrett and Kapinos will jump start the effort with a kick-off event November 12, 2013, from 7:45-8:45 a.m. at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. Register for the Veterans Legal Services Month event by Nov. 8. The invited special guest is decorated Vietnam War veteran, celebrated author, and noted veterans advocate, Bill Haneke. Find details at vba.org/veterans and in the event invitation.
“There is a tremendous demand for legal services among Virginia veterans,” said Barrett, who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an officer the U.S. Army. “Our biggest needs are for lawyers willing to take on family law matters in Tidewater and Northern Virginia.”
Kapinos, who also served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, emphasized that free training is available to lawyers willing to help a veteran in need. “Prior experience is absolutely not required to volunteer, and we have mentor attorneys ready to walk volunteers through their first few matters.”
Laszlo was ebullient when she discussed her experiences representing veterans. “At the end of the day, I ask myself what I wish I had done more of,” she said. “Every day, the answer is, ‘more of this.’”