To Serve Those Who Serve
Loyola Law School builds a new program to help U.S. war veterans.
Kurt Schlichter LLS ’94, who served in the U.S. Army in the Gulf War in 1991, is helping to establish a program at the Loyola Law School that will help military veterans and their families.
By John Kissell
A law school education and military experience would seem to make a formidable combination. But paying for law school is an obstacle many veterans can’t overcome. For them, a developing project of the Loyola Law School would be just the ticket.
Kurt Schlichter LLS ’94 is a member of the law school’s 14-member advisory committee that coordinates the Military Veterans Justice Project. An Army veteran who attended the law school after serving in the Gulf War in 1991, Schlichter is working closely with Victor Gold, dean of the law school, to make the program a reality. The project has two goals: to help veterans and their families navigate the Department of Veterans Affairs bureaucracy, and to provide scholarships to veterans enrolling at Loyola Law School.
“All Americans owe the men and women in uniform a debt; we ought to pay that back,” says Gold. “Training these dedicated veterans to become lawyers will be a good thing for the law school and for the profession.”
Gold sees the assistance for veterans dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs as especially important. “What’s happened to many returning veterans is a national scandal,” he says. “So often they get trapped in a bureaucratic bottleneck and go without the disability benefits they are owed.” The project would enable students and a professor to learn the ways of the federal bureaucracy and then — on a pro bono basis — help veterans and their families resolve problems and get assistance.
Schlichter, a partner with Schlichter and Shonack in Manhattan Beach, Calif., foresees no problem finding clients for the project. “There is a developed network of veteran support services and a ton of military from Ventura to San Diego,” he says. He also sees benefits for the law students: “Anytime students are on the telephone or sitting across the table and working with clients with real-world issues, they are learning. Veterans are exactly the type of people who need help and exactly what the students need.”
The second part of the project will provide financial support for veterans admitted to the law school. The leadership skills they acquired in the military and the sense of duty that inspired them to serve their country, equip veterans to be successful members of the legal profession, says Schlichter. Because of the structure of the federal G.I. Bill, however, the tuition burden falls mostly on veterans. The challenge now for Gold is to find enough financial support for the program. The project needs three to five years of funding before it can be made operational.
To learn more about the Loyola Law School Military Veterans Justice Project, go to www.lls.edu/programs/veterans or contact Barbara Ullman Schwerin LLS ’87, director of development, at 213.736.1139.