History of Veterans Law Institute

The Veterans Law Institute (VLI) was founded in 2012 and led by former Stetson Law Professor and VLI Director Michael Allen. With a generous donation from Judge Raphael Steinhardt (Stetson Law ’63), the Veterans Advocacy Clinic was able to move into a small house on the perimeter of the campus.

Over the years, the VLI has added staff and students to aid in its mission. It is now directed by Professor Stacey-Rae Simcox. In 2018, the VLI moved to its current home in the Veterans Building on Stetson’s campus.

Original VLI

The new VLI is designed specifically to accommodate our veteran clients and students in the workspace. The space is intended to provide a “healing environment.” It includes such aspects as:

  • Cognitive mapping;
  • An open format to avoid hidden corners or closed-off spaces;
  • State-of-the-art indirect lightning to alleviate the sensitivity of brain traumas;
  • Acoustic considerations for hearing disorders and privacy; and
  • Interior design that creates familiarity, calm, and comfort

The VLI is a unique wellness-based legal environment and is a gem of Stetson Law’s campus. View the plans designed by JAH Architects, LLC. 

old veterans law institute building

Current VLI

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.

new veterans institute building

Judge Raphael Steinhardt ('63)


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.

outside of the veterans institute ribbon cutting for veterans institute ribbon cutting outside of the building view of building from outside

On January 4, 2023, Judge Raphael Steinhardt passed away. He left behind a legacy that will not be forgotten. Judge Steinhardt was a long-time supporter of the College of Law, an inductee into our Hall of Fame, and a veteran of the United States Army. He is exceptionally special to us at the Veterans Law Institute, as his generosity helped us open our first facility in 2012 and to renovate our current facility, which opened in 2018. The building is named in his honor. Judge Steinhardt also donated generously to the law library, to restore artwork on our campus, and to endow several scholarships and awards. He served on the Board of Overseers and was recognized with an outstanding alumnus award.

Judge Steinhardt made a special request regarding the Veterans Law Institute – he wanted an American flag to be flown over the building. This flag has flown over both our old and new facilities and will now be gifted to his family in his honor.

american flag inside the building