Pro Bono Committee
The Pro Bono Committee of the Task Force (“Committee”) is committed to furthering and improving access to pro bono civil legal services for active duty military service members and veterans, under the ambit of the Task Force’s overall mission. To that end, the Committee has developed a number of initiatives:
● JAG Officer Education: Prepared a multi-part video presentation on bankruptcy basics for use by Judge Advocates General (JAG) officers. Currently, the presentation is being finalized and is expected to be made available to JAG officers by January 2023.
● LAMP: Actively encouraging bankruptcy professionals affiliated with ABI to volunteer with the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee for Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (“LAMP”) Military Pro Bono Project (https://www.militaryprobono.org/), either as a direct pro bono service provider or as a volunteer with Operation Stand-By, in order to improve recruitment of financial professionals to assist active duty military service members.
● Volunteer Lawyers for Veterans: Developing and maintaining a roster of volunteer attorneys and non-attorney financial professionals willing to provide pro bono services to veterans.
● CARE Partnership: Prepared a multi-part educational series on issues of financial distress affecting veterans including scams, student loans, budgeting, and credit issues. Presentations on these topics are given in partnership with veterans service organizations (VSOs) either through zoom or in-person clinics. This group is also developing a text-based mobile learning platform focusing on the most popular presentation topics.
● Veterans Village Pop-Up Legal (Zoom) Clinic: In partnership with the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, Veterans Village San Diego, the University of San Diego Veterans Legal Clinic, and other service providers, co-hosted an on-site “pop up” legal clinic where veterans attended a legal resource presentation and met with a volunteer attorney to have specific questions answered.
● Legal Resource Database (http://veterans.abi.org/gethelp). Web-based resource directory listing, by geographic region and type of legal help available, nonprofit service providers provide civil pro bono legal help to veterans and servicemembers.
Following on its work to inform Congress about the HAVEN Act, the committee continues to work with Congress on legislation to identify areas in which the Bankruptcy Code can be updated to provide equitable treatment of veterans’ benefits in consumer bankruptcy cases.
Financial Education Committee
The committee has developed a series of answers to Frequently Asked Questions (https://veterans.abi.org/faq) to provide veterans and service members with a number of educational resources. It is also developing materials to provide service members’ and veterans’ organizations about the dangers of debt and credit.
The committee is working to provide educational resources and support for organizations with legislative initiatives. It is also working to provide information to teach new JAG officers about bankruptcy issues and where to find resources on those issues.
The committee interacts with Native American tribes to identify the unique needs of the veterans and service members within each tribe. The committee coordinates with various other committees to ensure that underserved areas like reservations and tribal lands may access pro bono, financial education, and outreach opportunities for all of their veterans and service members.