The University of San Diego School of Law develops resources and clinics that offer practical training to law students while making it possible for them to give back to the community. With San Diego County’s estimated veteran population of 250,000 and more than 2 million veterans living in California, there is no doubt that many have and will benefit from the school’s Initiative to Protect Student Veterans.
Launched in August 2012, the initiative -- the first of its kind in the nation -- supports the efforts of military leaders and elected officials to educate and protect veterans from the often-misleading practices of many for-profit schools and lenders. Under the direction of Patrick Uetz, a retired colonel and judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps, the initiative takes a multipronged approach, focusing on research, advocacy and providing free legal services through USD’s Veterans Legal Clinic. The initiative advocates on state and national levels to educate legislators and policymakers, raise awareness of issues related to veterans’ education, and propose changes in current laws and regulations to prevent future abuses.
USD professor of law Robert Fellmeth’s long-established efforts and success in increasing consumer protection through regulatory reform provide a ready framework to assist the initiative. During early 2013, he led successful efforts to defend and maintain the original purpose and effect of 2012 California legislation that better regulates many for-profit schools. In July 2013, following a successful USD-led legislative education campaign, it was decided in Sacramento that the detailed regulations would also begin applying to many of the larger for-profit schools, bringing the rules into broad application.
Led by supervising attorney Robert F. Muth -- also a Marine Corps veteran -- and staffed by upper-level USD School of Law student interns under his direction, USD’s Veterans Legal Clinic provides free legal assistance to veterans and military family members in disputes with for-profit institutions over the use of GI Bill funds and related loans. In addition to representing individual veterans, military personnel and their families, the clinic interns and Muth also conduct educational presentations to veteran service organizations to share news of the veterans initiative and clinic. They also provide clients pre-enrollment legal advice concerning their rights and obligations under a prospective school’s enrollment contracts in order to help them make informed decisions prior to enrolling in a specific institution.
The Veterans Legal Clinic is one of USD School of Law's 11 client-based legal clinics, which are devoted to training law students through hands-on legal experience and to providing free legal services to the San Diego community. More information about USD’s Initiative to Protecting Student Veterans and Veterans Legal Clinic is available online at www.law.sandiego.edu/veterans.
-Submitted by University of San Diego School of Law.