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VETERANS LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOUNDATION

If you are a veteran who needs legal help with their claim for benefits, or a lawyer prepared to assist such veterans, the Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation is here to help.

The Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation is a charitable organization that supports access to justice for Canadian veterans. The Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation was established to provide Canada's veterans funding to private practice legal counsel to reduce the burden of legal fees associated with proceedings before administrative tribunals and courts. Eligibility for funding is reviewed and selected by the Board of Directors through an application process.

To view the press release click here.

Funding for the charity occurred as part of the Manuge SISIP Clawback class action settlement. A $1-million donation was made by firms that received fees in the Manuge settlement – McInnes Cooper and Branch MacMaster LLP.

To qualify for assistance, individuals must meet the definition of "veteran" as defined by Veterans Affairs Canada. Assistance is discretionary and with a priority placed on issues broadly affecting veterans nationally. Personal legal matters, such as family and criminal matters, are not eligible for funding. We encourage veterans facing issues with respect to accessing benefits to apply by consulting with local legal counsel who can contact the fund administrator to determine eligibility.

To make a claim for support for your legal expenses, please send your request via email to veteranslegalfund@mcinnescooper.com.

Your request should ideally include a letter from a lawyer prepared to assist you if the funding is made available. However, we do have names of lawyers who may be able to assist you if necessary.

Your request should set out:

  1. the status of your claim for benefits,
  2. the next steps for which you need funding;
  3. the amount of funding you would like to receive.

Members of the VLAF Board meet approximately once a month.  Should your matter be accepted, you will be notified shortly thereafter.

If you are a lawyer who would be prepared to accept referrals from veterans approaching the Foundation for funding, please email wbranch@branmac.com so we can add you to the roster.

The Board Members are:

Peter Driscoll [link to http://www.mcinnescooper.com/people/peter-driscoll/,
Ward Branch Q.C. [link to http://www.branchmacmaster.com/ward-branch/]
Megan Seto [link to http://www.mcinnescooper.com/people/megan-seto/
Christine Nault [link to http://www.stewartmckelvey.com/en/home/directory/details/default.aspx/cnault/964
and
Peter Stoffer [link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Stoffer

"We're very pleased to see something like this being made available to veterans," said Dennis Manuge, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran and representative plaintiff in the SISIP class action. "Our ability to legally pursue disability claims should not be hindered by our personal budgets." 

"We recognize the cost of hiring a lawyer can be a financial burden on veterans, but the likelihood they will receive a successful result is much better if they have professional representation," said Ward Branch, Q.C., Branch MacMaster Partner and Veteran's Legal Fund Board Member. "This fund will make the legal system easier for many of Canada's veterans appealing disability benefits."

The mandate of the Veterans Legal Fund is to assist veterans with access to justice by providing funding assistance enabling them to retain qualified legal counsel. The framework for the funding assistance program would be similar to that of legal aid.

"As lawyers, we are often introduced to people and organizations that have difficulty gaining access to justice due to their personal financial situation," said Peter Driscoll, Chair of the Veteran's Legal Fund Board.

"Legal fees on an appeal for disability benefits can cost a veteran $15,000 to $50,000," said Peter Stoffer, Veteran's Legal Foundation Board Member. "A veteran's right to seek an appeal to a decision should not be limited by his or her financial means."