Justice Will T. Scott issued the challenge to me and I really had no choice: “Judge Schrader, you just put together Fayette County’s Veterans Treatment Court. Now, will you put together a pilot program to provide free legal services for all of our indigent veterans in Lexington?” I was never one to say no to a Supreme Court Justice, so in spite of running what turned out to be an unsuccessful re-election campaign, I volunteered for duty, “Of course, Justice Scott.” Not surprisingly, he left the details to me. I knew that Legal Aid of the Bluegrass was already serving the needs of these veterans, but had no idea it had handled 273 civil cases for indigent veterans in the prior year. My plan, Lawcare4vets, was so simple it actually worked. Legal Aid of the Bluegrass was more than happy to help us so it could devote its lawyers’ attention to other clients. We got the UK Law School on board, and they provided eager 3Ls who were willing to be mentored. The final piece of the puzzle was to get enough lawyers to volunteer to take on a mentee AND take on a pro bono case for an indigent veteran.
By the time a cadre of 90 lawyers had signed up, I was so proud of the Fayette County Bar Association that I opened my big mouth again. I boldly declared, “Our goal is to take on ½ of the 273 cases for indigent veterans the first year, and when we get a year of experience under our belt, we will take on ALL of the veterans’ cases.” We try to match the case(s) assigned to the lawyer according to his or her practice experience, but it may be necessary for an/ old dog to learn some new tricks to help a veteran in need. Our veterans did not let us down – now is the time for 40 more lawyers to step up to the plate. The need is real and the cause is noble.
Honor a veteran – please call me at (859)685-0035 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.