Veterans Practicum

The Veterans Practicum at Pitt Law helps our nation’s veterans to secure the benefits to which they are entitled. Students and supervising attorneys assist veterans with their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits claims. Students also help veterans having less than fully honorable military discharges to upgrade their discharge status. Often veterans receive an unfavorable discharge status due to misconduct resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, or military sexual trauma that occurred during military service. The practicum seeks to reverse these unfavorable discharges.

The practicum has several pending federal court cases, and students will actively participate in handling this ongoing litigation. Students should expect to conduct legal research, draft pleadings, and write briefs. They will also interview clients, assemble evidence, and create administrative records. Eligible third-year students may be admitted to practice in federal court under the Western District of Pennsylvania’s student practice rule. Students may also have the opportunity to argue discharge upgrade cases before a panel of senior military officers in Washington, D.C.

The course is composed of both a classroom component and a fieldwork component. The classroom component teaches the law of veterans’ benefits. Knowledge of the VA benefit system is essential for students contemplating a law practice that includes assisting elderly and disabled clients.

If you are a prospective client, you can reach the practicum by calling 412-648-1285 and leaving a message. An attorney will return your call within 24 hours.

Three of Pittsburgh’s most renowned charitable foundations—the Buhl Foundation, Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation, and DSF Charitable Foundation—provided funding to launch the Veterans Practicum.

Adjunct Professor James Coletta, an attorney with many years of experience representing veterans, teaches the course component of the practicum. Adjunct Professor Jason Manne, who supervises students in their fieldwork on behalf of veterans, participates in the Veterans Consortium Pro-Bono Program and is a member of the National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA). He is accredited by the Veterans Administration and admitted before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Credits

Three (2 Contact, 1 Field)

Transcript / Awarding of Credits

End of the semester

Extension

Yes, for two credits. Second-year students may be admitted to federal court during the second semester of the course.

Eligibility Requirements / Prerequisites

Full-time student; two semesters of law school

Application Procedure and Selection Basis

Students register for the Veterans Practicum as they do for any other class and are randomly selected.

Faculty / Staff

Jason W. Manne, Adjunct Professor of Law

James P. Coletta, Adjunct Professor of Law

Press

Veterans will be able to look to a Pitt Law clinic for assistance (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)