Military Veterans Earn Law Degrees, Help Fellow Servicemembers at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School

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New enrollment figures show that John Marshall has enrolled an average of a dozen veteran law students a year over the last three years. The veterans who enroll at John Marshall say they chose the law school for its hand-on workload and the school’s understanding of a veteran’s specific skillsets and learning requirements.

Choosing the right law school can be a difficult choice for any law student. Active-duty and military veterans continue to choose The John Marshall Law School in Chicago where they’re afforded the chance to give back to their fellow servicemembers while they earn their degree.

John Marshall proudly has enrolled an average of a dozen veteran law students a year over the last three years. The veterans who enroll at John Marshall say they chose the law school for its hand-on workload and the school’s understanding of a veteran’s specific skillsets and learning requirements.

After hearing about the work John Marshall does with and for veterans, former U.S. Marine Joseph Wagner considered only one law school.

“I’m someone who has worked the system from both sides—as a vet applying for benefits and helping veterans as a legal professional,” Wagner said. “I want to help veterans understand the issues and the possible solutions to those issues, in order to get them the benefits they deserve.”

Wagner, who graduated in May 2014, spent five years in the Marines working as an aviation support equipment mechanic. After his tour, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, and then enrolled at John Marshall.

Among the programs that attracted Wagner to John Marshall was its Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic (VLSC). In the eight years since the VLSC opened its doors, it has grown into a place where military servicemembers can study and learn from others who have served. It is this type of hands-on learning that has attracted active military and veterans to attend law school at John Marshall.

One of the many opportunities John Marshall offers servicemembers is a chance to participate in the Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon GI Bill. Through the yellow ribbon program, John Marshall fully matches scholarship money that student vets are offered. In addition, the Student Veterans Resource Center brings together an experienced staff of veterans, admission counselors and student vets to create a support team for current and former members of the military applying to John Marshall.

Former Chief Petty Officer David Weiss enrolled in John Marshall with his sights set on the VLSC. He was called to active duty during his 2L year at John Marshall and served in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

“While I was deployed it became even more apparent to me that veterans could be helped tremendously by having an attorney assisting them with their disability issues. I knew this was what I wanted to do,” Weiss said.

After being sworn in as an attorney, Weiss began working with the American Bar Association Veterans’ Claims Assistance Network (ABA VCAN), a joint program between the American Bar Association, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and John Marshall. The ABA VCAN project is a pro bono program that matches attorneys with un-represented veterans who have pending disability benefits claims and the opportunity for expedited review by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Christine Kraly
The John Marshall Law School
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Marilyn Thomas
The John Marshall Law School
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