Army reservist, other volunteers answer veterans’ legal questions

Issue December 2010 By Bill Archambeault

As part of the twice-a-year Veterans Dial-A-Lawyer Program, a dozen volunteer attorneys answered calls on Nov. 17 from veterans seeking help with their legal problems.

"We were able to answer every call that came in to the Veterans Dial-A-Lawyer Program," said LRS/Public Services Manager Claudia J. Staten.

Paid for with a grant from the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the Massachusetts Bar Association, volunteers answered calls primarily related to family law issues and veterans' benefits. The Veterans Dial-A-Lawyer Program is part of the MBA's Serving Our Veterans in the Law effort.

One of the regular volunteers for the Dial-A-Lawyer Program is Richard A. Sugarman, an Air Force veteran and current U.S. Army Reserve major in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, assigned to the 804th Medical Brigade headquarters based at Fort Devens.

Sugarman, who has been mobilized with the Army since last February, will be deploying to Iraq in early 2011.

"The MBA Dial-A-Lawyer programs in general (veterans and non-veterans) are a great way for attorneys to help a large number of people in need of legal advice without incurring a large time commitment," Sugarman said, noting that the breadth of issues a volunteer lawyer handles in one night can be "fascinating."

"As a veteran and current Army reservist myself, I am especially drawn to wanting to help other veterans," he said. "With the state of economy as it is, coupled with the surge in the number of veterans facing legal issues, there is a great need to help these veterans. The Veterans DAL programs provide an avenue to help the veterans in an efficient and very beneficial way."

Representatives from the Department of Veterans Services and veteran service officers were on hand to help the volunteers with any questions that came up.

"We appreciate the funding through the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and the partnership we have with the Department of Veterans Services and Shelter Legal Services," said Elizabeth A. O'Neil, the MBA's director of Community and Public Services. "The Massachusetts Bar Association is committed to assisting veterans with their legal problems."

The next program, which has not been scheduled, will be held in the spring. Attorneys wishing to volunteer for the next program should call (617) 338-0556.