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March 26, 2014

2014 Vermont Poverty Law Fellow Selected

We are pleased to announce that Katelyn Atwood, Vermont Law School Class of 2011, has been selected as the Vermont Poverty Law Fellow for 2014-16.

She will develop a project to increase legal resources, including access to direct representation, for Vermont’s military veterans.

Katelyn was selected from a national pool of 64 applicants. Among her many activities and placements at Vermont Law School, she was a Moot Court Team member; clerk with both the South Royalton Legal Clinic (SRLC) and Sirotkin and Necrason, PLC, in Montpelier; a legal intern in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Billings, MT; and a legal extern in the chambers of Hon. Peter W. Hall, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Since graduating she has served for one year as a clerk in the Chancery Division, New Jersey Superior Court, and for the past 18 months as an attorney (volunteer, then on contract) with Montana Legal Services. Her work there focuses on domestic violence, with additional work in housing and consumer affairs. Once weekly she travels to the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations to participate in general intake, plus public education.

Katelyn will be placed at SRLC in South Royalton, and will become a member of the Clinic staff. The focus of her work will be statewide, designed both to provide some direct civil legal aid representation to veterans, and to expand the opportunities for such representation through development of a network of volunteer attorneys and cooperating agencies. In addition, she will work with the Vermont Bar Foundation (VBF) and the Vermont Bar Association (VBA) to help raise awareness of the need for adequate civil legal services in Vermont, and participate in VBA continuing legal education activities.

There are over 50,000 veterans in Vermont, and they face a wide array of legal issues from qualifying for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to civil legal needs in areas as diverse as family law, public benefits, access to health care, consumer, housing, employment and wills.

Katelyn will work collaboratively with existing providers such as Vermont Legal Aid (VLA) and Legal Services Law Line of Vermont (Law Line) to enhance representation of veterans. VLA housed the first three Poverty Law Fellows: Grace Pazdan, who focused on mortgage foreclosure; Jessica Radbord, who worked on Tropical Storm Irene relief and housing; and Jay Diaz, the current fellow, who is concentrating on education issues. The SRLC is Vermont Law School’s on-campus civil legal aid office. Its four attorneys supervise up to 24 law students each semester in the provision of a wide spectrum of civil legal services. The VLS campus is home to a new Veterans Law Student Association; principals from it and the Legal Clinic staff have met with the coordinator of the VA’s Veterans Justice Outreach Project in recent months, in preparation for arrival of the Poverty Law Fellow in August.

The Vermont Poverty Law Fellowship is sponsored by the VBF and the Vermont Access to Justice Coalition, and is funded by an annual Campaign sustained by contributions from Vermont lawyers, businesses, and individuals.

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