Free legal services provided at third Veterans Dial-A-Lawyer Program

Issue November 2008 By Kelsey Sadoff

Vietnam veteran Harvey Weiner, Esq., a partner at Peabody & Arnold LLP in Boston, thinks veterans are the most underserved and ignored segment of the population relative to their legal rights. “I saw the ad about the Veterans Dial-A-Lawyer Program in Lawyers Journal,” said Weiner. “This is a wonderful thing the Massachusetts Bar Association is doing and I wanted to be a part of it.”

On Oct. 16, the MBA held its third Dial-A-Lawyer Program devoted exclusively to addressing the legal needs of veterans. Eleven volunteer attorneys offered veterans advice for two hours, answering pressing legal questions concerning landlord/tenant disputes, bene-
fits and family issues.

“I want veterans to know that people are grateful for their service and their willingness to serve,” said volunteer Susanne M. O’Neil, Esq., whose sister is a veteran and whose brother is a judge advocate in the Marine Corps. “Volunteering for this program is my way of demonstrating my personal gratitude for their service.”

A supplement to the monthly Dial-A-Lawyer Program, the veterans program is a public service of the MBA with the financial support of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation. The MBA acknowledges its partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services and thanks it for its important role in the success of this program.

“The MBA began offering this program in October 2007 and saw that there was a definitive need to help veterans with their legal questions,” said Elizabeth O’Neil, director of the MBA’s Public and Community Services Department. “Veterans are not only dealing with issues surrounding their veteran’s benefits, but also areas of law that are affecting the general public. This program allows veterans and families of veterans the opportunity to call in, speak to an attorney and get the information that they need to move forward.”

“The biggest benefit of this being the third Veterans Dial-A-Lawyer Program offered is that there is a growing awareness [in the veteran community] that there is help out there,” said Lawrence Feeney, general counsel for the Department of Veterans Services. “Within the veteran community, there is a general sense that someone is there for them on a professional level. There is a gap in the service delivery system for veterans, in legal services, and this program is a tremendous effort to close that gap.”