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Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Representing the 14th District of Michigan

Rep. Lawrence introduces HR 3976 to link military members with legal assistance

November 11, 2015
Press Release
Legislation will connect junior enlisted personnel with pro bono legal services for personal, civil litgation

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI-14) this week introduced HR 3976 to link available pro bono legal assistance to junior enlisted personnel, and their dependents, in connection with personal, civil legal affairs in honor of the estimated 34,141 veterans who live in the 14th District, and of all U.S. veterans living and serving worldwide.

“Members of our Armed Forces deserve to be protected legally in the same way that they protect the United States militarily. For many junior enlisted personnel, who earn an average base salary of $16,495 for a newly enlisted member, civil legal matters can wreak havoc on their financial security, putting the military member and their family at risk,” Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence said. “My legislation allows military members seeking legal assistance to be referred to pro bono attorneys and will ensure that all military members ranked E1-E5 are aware of the legal services available to them.”

Rep. Lawrence’s legislation, which was introduced in time with Veterans’ Day 2015, would help connect eligible military personnel with organizations, such as the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, that can accept case referrals from military attorneys on behalf of junior-enlisted, active-duty military personnel and their families with civil legal problems. The Project then places these cases with attorneys who provide pro bono services when legal assistance is needed. The Project is also the platform for Operation Stand-By, through which military attorneys may seek attorney-to-attorney guidance.

“It is completely unacceptable that the brave men and women who defend our freedoms are unable to defend themselves in civil legal battles due to the high cost of legal services. By developing a uniform policy across all military branches, our military members – and their dependents – have a path to avoid crippling financial burdens associated with legal fees,” Rep Lawrence said. “I believe strongly that our military members should be honored for their service and sacrifice every day and that we in the federal government can best do that by ensuring that they receive the services and support that they need and deserve.”