The Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law provides students the opportunity to assist current and former military service members with legal issues, including representing these individuals before local Veterans Courts and on administrative cases, as well as work on policy issues relating to military service.
There are more than 150,000 veterans in Southern Arizona, and Tucson is home to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, an active U.S. military installation assigned to the Twelfth Air Force and part of the Air Combat Command. The Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic is a hybrid, multi-disciplinary legal clinic that provides pro bono legal services to those who have served, and their families and communities.
- Veterans Treatment Courts
The Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic represents veterans in the AZ Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court and in the Pima County Justice Court Veterans Court. Our clients have included veterans from all eras, all branches, active duty, National Guard and reserve components.
- Discharge Upgrade Assistance
The clinic works on selected discharge upgrade cases and provides assistance to veterans who were discharged with a less than honorable status so that they may be eligible for benefits.
The clinic works on benefits cases, such as those before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, in order to help veterans obtain benefits to which they are entitled based on length of time, character of service, and percentage of disability. Such benefits may include health, disability and education.
- Intake and Referral
The clinic receives many requests from veterans for help with issues beyond our expertise and resources, such as family law, bankruptcy and housing. We refer them to specialized lawyers and organizations who can help them for free or at a low cost.
- Community Outreach
Our students also engage in policy issues and community outreach, such as hosting the Veterans Court Southwest Symposium and Workshop, speaking at the annual Arizona statewide symposium on veterans, and providing services at the Military Women’s Expo.
Kristine Huskey is a professor and the director of the Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic (VALC). She joined the College of Law in 2013. She has taught at Georgetown Law Center, American University, and the University of Texas, among other law schools, and was a litigator with Shearman & Sterling in Washington D.C. for eight years. She has litigated before the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts. In addition to teaching clinical legal education, Professor Huskey also teaches national security law and law of armed conflict. She received her B.A. from Columbia University and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. Kristine’s parents are veterans, and both of her grandfathers served during World War II, something that makes this mission personal for her as well.
Lori Lewis is the VALC Clinic fellow, assisting in the supervision of law students and teaching. She worked for the City of Tucson Attorney’s Office Criminal Division as a Senior Prosecutor, where she supervised prosecutors in the Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court since its inception in 2009. She graduated from Wellesley College and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU. Her husband served in the U.S. Army Armored Cavalry, leaving at the rank of Major to attend law school. Lori’s father was Navy ROTC at Brown and served in the Army as a medic during the Korean War.
Sandra Hallenbeck earned an undergraduate degree in English and Sociology from the State University of New York at Albany, a M.Ed. from Northern Arizona University, and a Paralegal Certificate from Phoenix College. She has worked in higher education for 25 years and, upon retiring, joined the College of Law in early 2017 as part-time staff. She supports the Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic, the Intellectual Property Clinic, and the Arizona Public Patent Program.
Angela Menard is a Tucson attorney focused on providing quality and affordable legal representation to our community. She is a graduate of Arizona Law and a 2015 Pat Tillman Military Scholar. Angie was a postgraduate clinic fellow for the VALC from August 2016 through June 2017 where she worked on veterans benefits appeals and discharge upgrade cases. Angie served in the United States Army and was deployed as a combat medic during the Gulf War. Many of her family members also served - her father was a Vietnam veteran, five uncles served in the Army, Air Force, and Navy, and her grandfather was a WWI Army tank commander.
Charles “Sandy” Mishkind is Of Counsel at Miller Canfield and has specialized in labor, employment, and benefits matters and litigation for over 40 years. He was selected as one of the World’s Top 25 Lawyers in labor and employment law by the Guide to the World’s leading Labour and Employment Lawyers in 2007. He is also a charter fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Council. Sandy assists VALC students with cases relating to benefits before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, as well as on other federal litigation.
Matthew Randle works in local veterans treatment courts and on discharge upgrade cases, supervising VALC students. He is also a part-time professor of practice at Arizona Law. Matthew was the post-graduate clinic fellow for the VALC from July 2014 to July 2015. Matthew is also an Arizona Law alumnus and was a Pat Tillman Scholar while in school. Before law school, Matthew was the director of the Veterans Education & Transition Services at the University of Arizona. He has been a member of the Veteran Advisory Council for three U.S. Representatives. Matthew served in the United States Army from 1998 to 2003 and was the co-founder of the University of Arizona VETS Program. He was also the chief of staff for Student Veterans of America.
Barbara Sattler is a retired Pima County Superior Court Judge and Tucson City Court Magistrate. Prior to being a judge, she was a criminal defense attorney for 17 years, including five years at the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. She was on the committee that conceived and implemented what is now the Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court in Tucson and served as a supervising attorney at the court for three years. She is currently a board member of The Haven, (a women’s drug rehabilitation treatment facility), and the Citizen Police Advisory Review Board. She has written two novels about the criminal justice system and is working on a third. Her father was a decorated World War II veteran.
Ernest ‘Skip’ Skinner graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1969. He served in the Air Force primarily as a fighter pilot in the A-10. He retired in 1997 and entered Arizona Law in 1999. Following graduation he served as a law clerk for the Hon. John Roll and prosecuted as a deputy Pima County attorney. For several years, Skip supervised VALC students in the Regional Municipal Veterans Treatment Court.
The Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic began in 2010 at the urging of Arizona Law graduate—then a student—John Barwell. Barwell, a former Marine, was joined in his efforts by fellow law students, Kris Carlson (Green Beret veteran,) and Russell Clarke (Marines).
They approached Arizona Law Professors Paul Bennett and Kenney Hegland, who were keen on helping veterans and educating students in the process. As luck would have it, Hegland's wife, the Hon. Barbara Sattler, was already working on a collaborative effort with the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System and other local organizations to establish a veteran’s court at Tucson City Court.
Under the exacting care of Judge Michael Pollard (an Arizona Law grad and Vietnam Vet), this court later expanded into the Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court (RMVTC) to serve several municipalities.
As a result of the dedication of many individuals and organizations, the RMVTC is up and running with Arizona Law students providing the majority of legal representation to veterans in a pre-trial diversion court under the supervision of UA law professors and local attorneys. The Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic received a startup grant from the Arizona Department of Veterans Services to work on this unique program and is considered as a model for veterans courts across the country.
In 2013, Professor Kristine Huskey was hired to lead the Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic to continue providing top-notch legal representation by law students to veterans and active service members in Veterans Court and to expand the clinic's docket to include cases involving disability benefits, discharge upgrades, and other issues relating to military service, as well as to engage in policy and advocacy work to promote the interests of our military members, their families and the community.
In its first three years, the Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic has provided legal representation to approximately 350 veterans in Veterans’ Courts. During this time more than 50 students have participated in this representation, including MSW social work students. This ensures we provide holistic legal services to veterans, addressing legal issues and the underlying causes such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), (traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other factors relating to military service.
Students have also represented a local veteran in a complex eminent domain case, resulting in a settlement favorable to their client and appeared as invited amicus in an appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (United States v. Kelly, 72 M.J. 237 (CAAF 2013)).
In February 2014, the Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic filed an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in support of an Iraq war veteran who was diagnosed with PTSD. The veteran was terminated from probationary employment as a criminal investigator with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after suffering from a flashback while off-duty. The amicus brief focused the Court’s attention on the symptoms of PTSD that distinguish it somewhat from other disabilities and pointed out the number of veterans who suffer from PTSD. As many as one in five service members who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. The brief also sought to persuade the Court to issue a decision that would not allow employers to terminate veterans after just one PTSD-related incident and that would require them to engage in reasonable accommodation as required under the law. The Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic was joined by 10 other law school veterans’ clinics as signatories to the brief.
Additionally the students of the Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic have won multiple awards, been nominated as the graduation speaker for the Class of ’14, founded organizations on campus, earned the top score on the Arizona Bar Exam, served as the Student Bar Association President, profiled in local and national media pieces and hired by some of the most prestigious law firms in the nation.
- Provide law students with a high-quality legal education
- Serve the community by providing free, high-quality legal services to service members, veterans, and their families who would otherwise lack access to counsel.
Legal Education Goals
- Provide students with primary responsibility in making case-related decisions, conducting legal and factual research for their assigned cases or projects, and carrying out other decisions in the case
- Help students become familiar with the doctrines, procedures, conflicts, customs, institutions, and ethical problems unique to the practice of law on behalf of veterans, in a manner that will not only inform future work in the field but will also provide tools and insights for approaching any area of legal practice effectively and with a critical perspective
- Improve traditional skills such as interviewing, case planning, legal research and writing, witness examination, and oral argument by engaging students in simulations
- Improve students' problem-solving skills by emphasizing a model of systematic decision-making based on
- deliberate planning;
- identification of all possible options and assessment of the relative advantages and risks of each;
- appreciation of the effects of time pressures, interpersonal factors, and emotions on decision-making; constant re-evaluation of decisions as facts change;
- involvement of the client in the decision-making process; and
- self-reflection or “after-the-fact” self-evaluation ("debriefing")
- Promote cross-cultural awareness, an appreciation of the way in which cultural differences may affect attorney/client interactions and case development, and an understanding of how to identify and help your clients overcome language, cultural, and racial and reintegration barriers
- Encourage responsible handling and thorough exploration of ethical issues
- Encourage professional creativity
- Help students improve their ability to successfully collaborate with colleagues
- Assist students in pursuing their personal goals for the course and future legal careers
Legal Services Goals
- Provide individual attention to service members, veterans, and their families with cases pending before the local veterans treatment courts
- Provide legal assistance to veterans wishing to apply for discharge upgrades
- Provide legal assistance to service members, veterans, and their families in other types of cases;
- Work in partnership with the local attorneys and veterans service organizations to identify individuals particularly in need of pro bono representation
- Provide referrals to service members, veterans, and their families in areas of the law outside the scope of the clinic’s mission and expertise
- Require all students be supervised by at least one licensed attorney, closely supervising student work (e.g., requiring drafts of all written work and mock witness examinations and oral arguments);
- Limit the number of student participants in the clinic
- Limit the number of individual cases handled by each student (usually assigning two students to cover one case jointly)
Joshua Sparling, J.D., Class of 2017
United States Army Veteran
Tillman Military Scholar
The Veterans’ Advocacy Clinic was the most rewarding experience I had in law school. It allowed me to integrate the practices I learned in my studies with practical courtroom experience, representing those who have given so much for our country. The teamwork this clinic exudes is unparalleled in anything else I have encountered since leaving the military. It has opened my eyes to treatment courts in general and enhanced my approach on how I see the criminal justice system.
Rhonda Martin, J.D., Class of 2017
Articles Editor, Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law
My involvement in the Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic was the best and most rewarding experience I had in law school. It made me a better advocate, researcher, and public speaker. Serving our nation’s veterans is always time well spent, and the VALC is a great place to maximize the amount of good you can do in that time.
Dayna Michael, J.D., Class of 2017
United States Army Veteran
As a veteran and law student, I felt compelled to enroll in the Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic. After four semesters with the clinic, I can say it has been the best choice I made during law school. This clinic has given me the ability to hone my professional skills as an attorney while providing a service to veterans in our community.
Angie Menard, J.D., Class of 2016
United States Army Veteran
My experience working in the Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic was the highlight of my three years in law school. It gave me the opportunity to learn valuable client interaction and courtroom skills while serving the veteran community. The clinic lecture series not only provided insight into the issues that face veterans, but taught skills that I can use no matter what area of law I practice.
Meredith B. Hochhalter, J.D., Class of 2015
The Veterans’ Clinic is a unique and rewarding experience where students get to help those in need, while gaining courtroom experience.
Matthew LaPrade, J.D., Class of 2015
United States Army Veteran
The Veterans’ Clinic offers you the opportunity to defend those who defend you!
Tristany A. Keikem, J.D., Class of 2015
Arizona Law Review, Senior Note Editor
The work I have completed in Veterans’ Advocacy Clinic is the most rewarding work I have done in Law School.
Maria Hubbard, J.D., Class of 2015
Although I had no prior criminal law experience, I never felt overwhelmed thanks to the presence of our supervising attorneys. Also, it has been a rewarding experience to assist our nation’s veterans.
Sean Estrada, J.D., Class of 2014
The Veterans’ Advocacy Clinic has allowed me to serve those who so bravely served our country throughout the decades. I have gained useful courtroom experience while representing our clients in Vet Court and I have been able to hone my negotiating skills while working out plea agreements with the prosecutors. It is truly rewarding watching a vet complete and graduate from the diversionary programs offered. It has been a great clinic!
Russell Boatwright, J.D., Class of 2014
The Veterans’ Clinic gives you a chance to get extensive client interaction, as well as an opportunity to work with the State and advocate before the judge. And, most importantly, it is a chance to serve those who have served our country.
Matt Randle, J.D., Class of 2014
My experience working in the Veterans’ Legal Clinic has been the unquestioned highlight of my three years in law school. The opportunity to give back to the community while learning and practicing the skills we are being taught is an amazing thing by itself, but doing this while helping America’s heroes is fulfilling beyond words. Knowing that I am helping honor those who uphold and defend the very laws I am studying gives me a sense of purpose equal to that I felt while serving in the Army.
Bradley Hyde, J.D., Class of 2014
United States Army Veteran
The University of Arizona Veterans’ Clinic has provided invaluable insight into the benefits of diversion courts, particularly those which focus on helping the men and women who have placed themselves in harm’s way in service to our nation. A well-rounded lecture series has provided insight into the physical and mental health issues that affect our returning troops, while also providing education on the nature and methodology of diversion courts. Judge Pollard and the Tucson Veterans Court have provided a much needed and heavy felt support system to our veterans in need, and it has been a great honor to participate in that process.
- Students must have completed one year of law school and have taken or be taking concurrently Evidence and The Legal Profession/Ethics. Courses such as Family Law and Administrative Law are helpful.
- Students new to the clinic must take the clinic for 4 units of credit. Returning students can take the clinic for 2, 3, or 4 units of credit.
- The law school requires 50 hours of work for each credit of a clinical course.
- All students must participate in an all day Boot Camp which usually takes place before or at the start of the semester. In addition, all students must attend the classroom component of the clinic, which meets for two hours once a week Thursday 3-5 p.m.
- The classroom component is partly a skills seminar (covering topics such as interviewing, brief writing, and oral advocacy) and partly a substantive law seminar covering topics in veterans law. Issues students confront in their casework are integrated into the classroom discussions so that students may learn from each other’s experiences and explore legal and practical issues in context.
- Students are also required to participate in one of the three veteran court sessions that occur every other Tuesday (1-5 p.m.) and Wednesday (8:15 a.m.-12 p.m. or 1-5 p.m.).
- Students also have to attend regular meetings relating to their clients in vet court. These meetings are attended by the judge, prosecutors, the VA, and other community service providers. Vet court meetings typically occur on Monday, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
- All students also prepare for and attend regularly scheduled individual and group case meetings with the clinic's director and/or clinic fellow. The purpose is to develop and review action plans; ensure thorough preparation and evaluation of all options in casework; and examine ethical, moral, cultural, and legal issues that arise in the course of working on behalf of our clients.
- In addition to attending class and completing the required number of hours per credit, students must complete all responsibilities they have undertaken on behalf of the clinic's clients and must complete all paperwork necessary to complete case files.
Last updated: 08/18/2017
Veterans Court Eligibility
Contact: S. Tony Rivera
RMVTC Project Coordinator
Tucson City Court
103 E Alameda St
Tucson, AZ 85701
Pima County Justice Court Veterans Court
240 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85701
Visit the Law for Veterans website (sponsored by the Arizona Bar Association) for a complete list of Legal Resources available to service members, veterans and their families in Southern Arizona.
Benefits Assistance and Education
- Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
3601 S. 6th Ave
Tucson, AZ 85723
- Resources for Vets & Families Living with Cancer
- Behavior Health for Veterans
Arizona Department of Economic Security – Veterans Program
316 W. Ft. Lowell
Tucson, AZ 85705
Arizona Coalition for Military Families – Arizona Military/Veteran Employment Program
Email the Az Coalition for Military Families
Last updated: 08/18/2017
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- Stars & Stripes Publishes Opinion by Prof. Huskey
- Prof. Huskey Opinion Piece in U.S. News & World Report criticizes Army's handling of soldiers discharged with mental illness.
- National Law Journal Features VALC in Vet Clinic Roundup
- VALC Receives Grants to Fund Growing Capacity
- 3L Matt Randle Featured on UA News
The clinic regularly hosts events, helps organize conferences, and participates in panel discussions at the College of Law and around the country. Check here for event updates and coverage.