The National Association of Consumer Advocates’ Military Consumer Justice Project Selected as Presenters at the 2013 Equal Justice Conference

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NACA’s Military Consumer Justice Project (MCJP) has been selected for the honor of presenting at this year’s Equal Justice Conference, put on by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA). The Equal Justice Conference will take place May 9-11, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, in St. Louis, Missouri.  NLADA and the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service provide this educational forum for those in the legal services and pro bono community.

The Military Consumer Justice Project’s proposal for a session on consumer justice for service-members was chosen through a competitive selection process. NACA’s MCJP is joining forces with the Tarrant County Bar Association to offer a joint session focusing on developing relationships to advocate for both active service-members and veterans. This workshop is titled: Building Strong Partnerships to Promote Justice for Service-Members and Veterans.

This joint session between the National Association of Consumer Advocates’ Military Consumer Justice Project and the Tarrant County Bar Association will begin with an introduction from both organizations and brief explanation of why it is important to advocate for current miltitary service-members and those who served our country in the past (veterans).  We will explain how although we are using different methods, both of our organizations are striving towards the common goal of furthering justice for those associated with the military.

Two members of NACA’s Military Consumer Justice Project will describe establishing contacts with military bases, understanding military command structure and culture and how to work effectively within it, the type of consumer education and litigation trainings that will benefit the military base, how to tailor the presentation to the audience, and how to access educator resources. The session will also explore how to establish working relationships with JAG and military legal assistance officers to best serve military servicemembers.

NACA’s presentation will enhance legal services and pro-bono attorneys’ cultural aptitude regarding the military.  Participants will be able to identify the key features of military culture and specific areas where service members face consumer challenges.  Additionally, participants will learn strategies for establishing connections with military base/servicemembers.  The interactive lecture format will help garner audience feedback for the diversity of knowledge that currently exists among the legal community with respect to military culture and rank structure.

The second half of the session will illustrate  how a small/medium size bar association, such as Tarrant County Bar Association, can create a sustainable pro bono program to help veterans.  The course studies how a statewide program was adapted to meet the needs of the community; and, how by creating partnerships, the program has run with a low budget and mostly on volunteer hours. The session will further equal justice for the veteran's community by highlighting the unique legal needs of that community and the challenges that the legal community faces when reaching out to that population.

The joint session will conclude with one speaker from the Tarrant County Bar Association and one speaker from NACA’s Military Consumer Justice Project discussing 3-5 key tactics that apply to building strong partnerships in both programs.  The workshop will also conclude with the comparison of the two organizations’ techniques and experiences of helping veterans and service-members and the rewarding results from their programs.