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Law students offer legal advice for homeless veterans

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Four Drake Law students assisted homeless veterans with the support of Drake faculty

Four Drake University law students offered legal assistance to more than 30 homeless veterans during the Veteran’s Administration StandDown last month.

Bob Rigg, Drake associate professor of law, supervised the students giving legal advice. Rigg and the students worked at the StandDown on Sept. 11, resulting in the addition of a group of new clients for the Drake Legal Clinic. Sixteen veterans were referred to the Volunteer Lawyer Project.

The StandDown lasted for three days on the grounds of the Iowa Judicial Branch Building near East 14th Street and Court Avenue in Des Moines.

Rigg said there were 200 to 300 veterans who attended the veteran’s fair last month.
“Our students meet veterans who served our country and have fallen up on hard times. It is an eye opening experience about poverty in America,” said Russell Lovell, professor of law and director of the Law School’s public service scholarship program.

“Our students leave feeling really good about having made a small contribution through the legal assistance they are able to provide them.”

The StandDown also gave homeless veterans the opportunity to register for medical care, social services, clothing and letter-writing services. In addition, this year they also were able to check their public records.

“It really was a good experience,” said Genevieve Reinkoester, a law student in the criminal defense program who participated in the event.

“It’s obvious that there are many veterans, as well as many homeless people (who also take advantage of the Stand Down), who at the very least need someone to lend a sympathetic ear, and at most need tangible legal help. It’s nice that we are able to contribute to helping them in this way.”

The first StandDown was organized in 1988 by a group of Vietnam veterans in San Diego. Between 1994 and 2000, StandDowns reached more than 200,000 veterans and their family members.

Read more information on StandDowns online.