Veterans Law Institute
The Stetson University College of Law Veterans Law Institute (VLI) improves veterans' circumstances in the Tampa Bay and national community through training and outreach, policy reform, advocacy for veterans with disabilities, and support of Stetson University College of Law students' well-being and education. To accomplish this the VLI has four pillars:
- Public Policy
- Community Outreach
- Support for student veterans and their families
- The Veterans Advocacy Clinic
The VLI students and staff participate in a number of activities each year that help further the national, state, and local discussions on issues important to our nation’s veterans.
Stetson College of Law’s VLI, was a founding member of the National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium (NLSVCC), creating the first nonprofit to bring together all of America’s law school veterans clinics and many pro bono providers of legal services, to veterans. The NLSVCC helps to support the creation of law school clinics across the county dedicated to helping veterans. Through this consortium, VLI students and staff have participated in numerous briefs supporting veterans’ positions in the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The NLSVCC was recognized as a Veterans Service Organization by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017.
The VLI has also provided commentary on numerous proposed regulations at the Department of Veterans Affairs and has testified before Congress and congressional committees on veterans matters.
The VLI has helped to advocate for veteran issues in the courts quite often individually and as part of a broader coalition of schools. In addition to direct representation, the VLI has participated in a number of amici briefs (friends of the court briefs) to help educate federal courts on complicated veterans issues before them.
The Veterans Advocacy Clinic students and staff help to research and draft these briefs both at the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the Federal Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.
Stetson Law’s VLI is dedicated to helping veterans and their families in our local community. The VLI cofounded the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Medical-Legal Partnership in 2017. Along with VLI partners, Bay Area Legal Services and the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, this partnership provides civil legal help to low-income veterans in the local area.
The VLI also conducts outreach in the local community and serves as a referral point for veterans in need of local and regional veterans resources.
Support for Student Veterans and Their Families
The VLI serves as a support network for the many veterans and family members of veterans who choose to make Stetson Law their home. We have a dedicated Student-Veteran Liaison who provides information to these students and helps them navigate Stetson Law and the local community. The VLI also provides support to those students considering entering the Judge Advocate General Corps of the various branches.
The VLI also supports the activities of Stetson Law’s Student Veteran Organization, the student-run organization on campus.
The Veterans Advocacy Clinic (VAC)
The VAC prepares law students to become effective and compassionate attorneys through interdisciplinary collaboration and pro bono advocacy by empowering them to be a voice for veterans with disabilities seeking compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs in the most difficult cases.
The Veterans Law Institute is housed in a building named for Judge Raphael “Ray” Steinhardt, a Stetson Law alumnus with a passion for giving back – especially to those who have served in the military. Judge Steinhardt, J.D. ’63, was inducted into the Stetson Law Hall of Fame in 2013. His enduring generosity toward the College of Law includes endowing a scholarship for student veterans and supporting the Institute’s daily operations. Without the contributions of Judge Steinhardt, the VLI’s critical work would not be possible.