Veterans Programs

“Veterans and military spouses may not take a traditional path to a career in the law, but they bring other strengths and skills that make them valuable hires. Grit, determination, relentlessness, a global perspective, leadership experience – those are qualities that all of us as lawyers want to have.” – Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie in The National Law Journal

Five years ago, we began talking about how we could do more to support veterans and their spouses. We wanted to hire, but we couldn’t find a venue to source veterans who are lawyers. So we created one. Our annual Veterans’ Legal Career Fair is one of the many ways we work with the legal community to support the women and men who have served our country.

We also have an active Veterans' Forum, led by Stephen Lessard, who served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, to support our own vets. And we are doing innovative pro bono work on such issues as discharge upgrades and policies affecting transgender military personnel.

Veterans’ Legal Career Fair

Our career fair is the only legal career fair in the United States devoted exclusively to veterans, active-duty service members preparing for a transition out of the military, and military spouses. Since 2015, we have helped over 500 active service members and veterans connect with top legal employers such as Microsoft, Deloitte, Bank of America, Juniper Networks and Goldman Sachs.

Active service members travel from U.S. military bases around the world, joining veterans and their spouses in Washington, D.C., to participate in a full day of interviews, panels and an open career fair. Over forty employers from across the U.S., including law firms, corporate legal departments and government agencies, participate each year. One attendee, who received an offer, said, “This fair really is making a difference in the lives of attendees – and I can say that now from personal experience.”

Our VLCF website has more information, including details about next year’s fair, to be held Friday, October 25, 2019.

Staff Hiring

Our commitment to recruiting veteran talent includes staff roles as well. We partner with Hire a Hero, the leading job board and employment resource for veterans and military spouses, and encourage qualified candidates to apply for positions with us.

Advocating for Veterans

Our pro bono representation of veterans is some of our most important work. We’ve helped many clients petition the Department of Defense for discharge upgrades, which is a key step toward getting their lives on track. Recently, our team established new precedent for vets who seek benefits for pain-related disabilities. Now these vets can receive benefits after decades of government refusal to issue them. Another pro bono team helped define what constitutes “in the line of duty,” securing benefits for our client after a 15-year fight. We’ve also recently helped two military veterans obtain increases in benefits for ongoing conditions resulting from sexual assaults while in the military.

This work continues through our collaboration with the New York County Lawyers’ Association to create an innovative program to help veterans suffering from PTSD to upgrade the characterization of their discharge and obtain important medical and other veterans’ benefits.

Together with the National LGBT Bar Association, our lawyers successfully represented three transgender veterans who petitioned the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy to modify military records to reflect their correct names and identities. The executive director of the National LGBT Bar called the outcome a “life-changing victory.”

In London, we are advising Company of Makers, which funds workshops for ex-service personnel and their families who are acclimating to civilian life, on a new lease for their building. 

Our Community and Law School Partners

We partner with many other organizations that serve veterans, including:

  • National Veterans Legal Services Program
  • Lawyers Serving Warriors
  • New York City Bar Justice Center’s Veterans Assistance Project
  • Swords to Plowshares
  • Urban Justice Center Veterans Advocacy Project
  • Transgender American Veterans Association
  • National Association of Veterans’ Research and Education Foundations

We helped found and continue to counsel others, including:

  • American Women Veterans
  • Heroes’ Voices
  • High Ground Veterans Advocacy

We also work with law schools:

  • We sponsor a fellowship at Stanford Law School that enables a veteran law student to pursue a project to benefit other veterans.
  • Working with the University of Michigan Law School, we launched the Veterans Legal Clinic.
  • We participate in events hosted by the Military Law Society at Georgetown University Law Center.

Testimonials

We know veterans possess qualities that make both great lawyers and great leaders. They are out-of-the-box thinkers, team building experts, skilled at working across borders and cultures and extraordinarily resilient.
Lorraine McGowen, Orrick's Co-Chair of Diversity & Inclusion
When you're in the military, you need to be ready for that story to end. This is great prep for the epilogue.
An Army JAG Candidate at the Veterans' Legal Career Fair