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California Pro Bono

Swords to Plowshares - A Veterans' Rights Organization

Swords to Plowshares' mission is to heal the wounds, to restore dignity, hope, and self-sufficiency to all veterans in need, and to significantly reduce homelessness and poverty among veterans. Swords to Plowshares was started in 1974 by six veterans volunteering at the Veterans Administration in San Francisco and a few others who were concerned that the needs of returning Vietnam veterans were not being addressed. They formed an organization whose guiding principle was that veterans must never again be treated as second-class citizens, such as they were after the Vietnam War, and that war in general causes wounds that last beyond the battlefield. Swords to Plowshares is a community-based organization whose programs have evolved to meet the changing needs of veterans. Swords to Plowshares' programs remain among the leaders in supporting our soldiers returning from our military abroad.

There are a few ways in which you can volunteer your time with Swords to Plowshares' Legal Pro Bono Program. We assist clients with two areas of law: VA disability compensation and pension claims (including Character of Service Determinations) and Military Discharge Upgrades and Reviews. Veterans are not automatically awarded benefits for disabilities related to their time in service. Through our Pro Bono Program you can help a veteran gather the necessary evidence and substantiate a successful claim for disability benefits. In addition, many veterans are discharged from service with a less than fully honorable discharge; this distinction can prevent the veteran from securing various benefits. By assisting a veteran overcome an unfavorable discharge you will help a veteran gain access to much needed benefits.

To apply to our Pro Bono Program you will first need to become an accredited attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). To do so, you will need to attend a training seminar and file the necessary documents with the VA. Please look to the Office of the General Counsel of the VA's website for more information on this process. See www.va.gov/ogc. Once accredited, please complete the Swords to Plowshares' Pro Bono Attorney Volunteer Application located on our website.

Once you are signed-up with our Pro Bono Program you will periodically receive an email with a list of clients in need of assistance. This list will include a brief summary of each client's case. Clients will be handed off on a first-come, first-served basis. If you agree to accept a client you will be assigned a mentor who can answer questions and offer guidance. If you have any additional questions please contact our Pro Bono Coordinator via email at probono@stp-sf.org.

Thank you and we look forward to working with you to assist veterans in need.

  • State of Volunteer Opportunity: California
  • Area of law: Veterans
  • Populations Served: Communities of Color, Elderly, General Public, Individuals with criminal histories, Individuals with physical/mental disabilities, Low Income, Working poor and unemployed
  • Opportunities For: Law school clinic, Law Students, Lawyers, Senior Lawyers
  • Hours for Pro Bono Opportunities: Evenings, Flexible, Weekends
  • Does the organization provide malpractice insurance for volunteers? Yes
  • Training Provided: Yes
  • Training Required: Yes
  • CLE credit for trainings: No
  • CLE credit for pro bono: No
  • Mentoring or supervision offered: Yes
  • Volunteer lawyers need to meet a caseload or hours requirement: No
  • Types of projects in need of Pro Bono help: Client counseling (e.g., brief advice), Draft legal documents (e.g., briefs), Litigation: Trial/Direct Representation, Legal Research
  • Long distance opportunities: Conduct Research, Draft or Translate Legal Documents
  • Volunteers may participate long-distance: Yes
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