Published on September 1, 2020 by Morgan Black  
Military Salute

Samford University's Cumberland School of Law has launched the first full-service law school clinic in Alabama for veterans. The Cumberland Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic (C-VETS) provides free legal assistance to veterans and their families in an eight-county area of north central Alabama including Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Cullman, Etowah, Jefferson, Shelby and Walker counties. 

C-VETS is now accepting applications for legal assistance in a wide variety of civil matters including consumer debt, landlord-tenant, contracts, uncontested family law matters and wills. Law students and practicing attorneys may also assist with criminal matters such as expungement, driver license issues and fines and court costs. 

The clinic is led by supervising attorney Judge John L. Carroll. Carroll, alumnus and former dean of Cumberland School of Law, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War and has many years of experience representing veterans with legal issues. He assists veterans on cases referred by The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program headquartered in Washington, D.C., and was a leader in helping the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program establish the Veterans Help Desk at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in downtown Birmingham. 

“A core value of Cumberland School of Law and of the legal profession is service to others,” Carroll said. “C-VETS provides a unique way for our students to truly answer the call to serve by providing free legal assistance to veterans and their families. Veterans and their families have given so much to our country and the creation of C-VETS allows our students and attorneys to give something back to them.” 

In addition to classroom instruction, participating law students will conduct an average of 12 hours per week of out-of-class casework including volunteering at the Veterans Help Desk at Birmingham’s VA Hospital, working with the reentry program of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Alabama, and with Veterans Treatment Courts throughout our area. Students may also be responsible for legal research for cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims as needed. 

C-VETS clinic students gain experience in addressing veterans’ legal needs; collaborate with classmates and supervisors to research and write about legal issues and devise solutions for clients; and learn professionalism, including civility, responsiveness and identification of ethical issues as they arise in cases. 

C-VETS was launched after significant efforts put forth by Professor LaJuana Davis, Cumberland’s newly named director of clinics, who wrote the syllabus and oversaw compliance with American Bar Association (ABA) requirements. Through her work, in conjunction with Carroll’s expertise in the representation of veterans, C-VETS is set to be an asset to Cumberland students and the north central Alabama region. The clinic has been generously supported by Cumberland alumnus and veteran Stephen B. Moss ’68, and a $10,000 grant from The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. 

Learn more about C-VETS and how to apply for legal assistance at samford.edu/cumberlandlaw/c-vets.