Law students praised for pro bono work

A group of students from the Washburn University School of Law, which has been providing legal education since 1903, was commended by an official presiding over a debriefing conference in Washington D.C. The students were praised for the work they did on a veteran’s disability case.

Kenzie McCoy

A group of law students, under the guidance of visiting professor, Joseph McKinney, have been com­mended for their work on a veter­ans benefit case.

The students represented a veter­an who was injured during the Cold War and is appealing the Depart­ment of Veteran’s Affairs for their denial of his disability claim.

Law students Courtney Kelley, Joe Pilgrim, John Nichols and An­astasia Willy all participated with this case. Pro bono volunteer Su­zanne Lueker and students Melissa Leach and Jordan Clothier were also instrumental in assisting with this case.

“The students did the bulk of the work,” McKinney said. “I was very proud. They surprised me and at first I underestimated the students, but they really care about what they are doing. Many students go to law school because they want to help people and this [was] their first opportunity to practice what they came to law school for.”

Helping with this case was not an easy task. It was extremely time consuming, the students spent many hours going through veter­an’s regulations, files and paper­work.

“This case presented a unique challenge because of the complex­ity and unfamiliarity of the veter­an benefit system,” Kelley, a third year law student, said. “In addition to having to learn an entirely new body of law, we had to read hun­dreds of pages of medical records and military reports. We also con­ducted a significant amount of out­side research both scientific and legal.”

McKinney says the court system is notorious for taking years to de­termine cases similar to this one, so the group will have to wait on the outcome.

“The course is only a semester long so our group transferred the case to a new group of students in January,” Kelley said. “Professor McKinney gives us updates.”