Veterans Practice Student Programs | School of Law | SIU

Southern Illinois University




VLAP Student Programs

Welcome to the homepage of the Veterans’ Legal Assistance Program (“VLAP”) Clinic at SIU School of Law. The VLAP provides pro bono legal assistance to Veterans in southern Illinois who cannot afford or do not have access to legal representation in the appeals of claims for compensation for service-connected disabilities; and petitions for the upgrade of other-than-honorable discharges for military members with posttraumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) or victims of military sexual trauma (“MST”).

The VLAP program also provides referral services for veterans with other civil legal challenges.

Students who desire to participate in the VLAP program are required to take the course, Introduction to Veterans Advocacy, VLAP Clinic, Law 678, for 2 – 3 credit hours, which includes a weekly 1.5 hour classroom component the first semester of participation in the program. In addition to the classroom component, students are required to complete clinic hours by assisting Veteran clients in the appeal of denied disability claims and petitions for discharge upgrades.

VLAP Externship Course Objectives:

1.  The student will become familiar with Title 38, USC, Veterans, and apply various sections in research, writing, and advocacy for Veterans filing appeals in disability compensation claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs, and petitions for discharge upgrades. 

2.  The student will have the opportunity to represent Veteran clients in appeals of disability compensation claims before various levels of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

3.  The student will expand his/her research and writing skills through a comprehensive memorandum covering the factual and legal issues presented in a disability claims appeal;

4.  The student will improve his or her ability to learn from face-to-face interaction with clients and gain experience in representing a client in a claims appeal.

5.  The student will learn practical skills required for success in the practice of law.


clio logoThe VLAP is proud to partner with Clio Legal Practice Management Software through their generous Academic Access Program. Using Clio in our clinic provides our students with exposure to industry-leading legal technology and helps prepare them to succeed in the practice of law. The ability to access client files remotely from a central portal is critical in the mobile environment we work in and with the continually changing student advocates.

Using Clio Connect, the internal file sharing and communication portal, allows us to securely share documents with our clients. VA claims files often contain sensitive information, including social security numbers and medical records. Many of these files are also thousands of pages long. Clio Connect has an almost unlimited size capacity for the sharing of files.

We also use Clio Connect in our partnership with the SIU School of Medicine to securely share files with medical students.


The SIU School of Law Veterans’ Legal Assistance Program has a partnership with the SIU School of Medicine called VetLAMP. Law students draft a short case explanation for the medical students to provide guidance on what information we need to succeed on the claim. The medical student retrieves the medical records from a Veteran’s Clio file through Clio Connect, and reviews them to provide a general explanation of the Veteran’s medical conditions. They also identify potentially significant diagnosis and provide potential medical connections. The students, supervised by a staff attorney and a physician, have a phone conference to discuss the case and the results of the records review. This thorough review of the medical records by someone with the proper training provides the Veteran with a better chance of success on the appeal to the VA.

For additional information about the VetLAMP collaboration between the law school and the medical school visit these resources:

Southern Illinois University News – Law and medical school form unique partnership.

WSIUTV - VetLAMP program to assist veterans in claiming disability benefits.

The Southern Illinoisan– SIU Law, medical schools form partnership with aim to help Illinois veterans. 

For additional information on participation in the program contact Prof. Martin Parsons at (618)453-8797, or email: