The Military Spouse J.D. Network Foundation (MSJDNF), the charitable arm of MSJDN, announced a partnership with the American Bar Association’s Military Pro Bono Project to expand legal resources for Gold Star families.

Justice for Military Families (JMF), provides pro bono and low bono legal assistance to Gold Star families, military veterans, and their surviving family members. Cases from all over the United States are referred to JMF through the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network, and other similar organizations, as well as through self-referrals. JMF volunteers then work to connect these deserving individuals with resources and attorneys who provide the requested legal advice or representation. In the past six months alone, JMF volunteers have connected twenty-four Gold Star families and surviving family members with legal resources, advice, or direct representation. MSJDN members play a significant role in assisting JMF with case placement. Often, it is MSJDN members who volunteer to assist. But even if they are unable to directly assist the client, MSJDN members regularly reach out to their colleagues and networks to help find attorney volunteers as well as volunteer to manage the program’s day-to-day operations.

The ABA’s Military Pro Bono Project (MPBP), an online program accepting civil case referrals, functions similarly to JMF. The MPBP receives case referrals from military judge advocates and civilian attorneys on behalf of financially eligible service members and their families whose legal needs exceed the services they are able to provide. Once referred, the MPBP then works to place those cases with civilian attorney volunteers who provide pro bono legal advice or representation.

Collaboration between JMF and the MPBP will expand JMF’s reach and enhance its ability to assist military families who need legal advice or assistance. The partnership will allow JMF to expand its network by utilizing the MPBP’s existing systems and volunteer roster to expand its available network of volunteers. Under the new partnership agreement, JMF volunteers will screen cases to ensure they meet the MPBP’s existing eligibility requirements. A case is eligible for referral if it is on behalf of unrepresented family members of a service member who passed away or was incapacitated while on activity duty, and if it meets the financial eligibility criteria. Once screened and approved, JMF will submit cases to the MPBP’s case system for placement with attorney volunteers.

“MSJDNF is thrilled to partner with the ABA MPBP in this first-of-its-kind collaboration between MSJDNF and the ABA MPBP,” said MSJDNF Pro Bono Director, Samantha A. Sliney. “This partnership will enable both organizations to further their reach and assist deserving Gold Star families through pro bono legal representation. MSJDNF looks forward to many years of continued success for both programs. I’d like to thank all the ABA MPBP staff for their efforts towards this endeavor and the JMF Lead Intake Coordinator, Alicen Rodolph, for her dedication to making this partnership a reality,” said Sliney.

“The ABA is proud to partner with MSJDNF to assist military families,” said Kate Oler, Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP), which manages the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. “This collaboration will further the central goals of both programs: addressing the access-to-justice gap for service members and their families needing pro bono help.”