From left to right, Catherine Weiss of Lowenstein Sandler, Sylvia Ayler of Merck, and Diane K. Smith, Executive Director of LSNWJ. Photo taken by Gary M. Wingens of Lowenstein Sandler.
April 9, 2014 – The White House and The Legal Services Corporation invited the Veterans Justice Initiative – a partnership among Lowenstein Sandler, Merck, and Legal Services of Northwest Jersey (LSNWJ) – to present its progress at the White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice. The forum was held on April 8 with senior members of the Obama Administration and leaders from the legal community.
The Veterans Justice Initiative (VJI) offers comprehensive legal services to veterans residing in a transitional housing facility at Community Hope, the largest nonprofit in New Jersey serving veterans and their families. The partners launched VJI in April 2011 to help formerly homeless veterans living at Community Hope overcome the legal barriers that obstruct their transition to independent living. Lowenstein, Merck, and LSNWJ attorneys assist the veterans with access to disability benefits, restoration of suspended driver’s licenses, expungement of past criminal convictions, consumer and other debt counseling, and a variety of family law issues. Since April 2011 VJI has provided legal assistance to 121 veterans in 169 matters.
“It is an honor to be selected to present at this important showcase of Legal Services-sponsored programs that are having a measurable community impact,” said Catherine Weiss, Chair of the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest. “The Veterans Justice Initiative is a great demonstration of how Legal Services can increase the resources available to needy clients by partnering with committed and passionate private organizations. The veterans at Community Hope would not otherwise have access to legal services, yet such services are critical in enabling them to make a successful transition to independent living. We are proud to work alongside our colleagues at Merck and Legal Services of Northwest Jersey on behalf of these veterans.”
“Each of the partners in the Veterans Justice Initiative brings its own resources and experiences to the collaboration,” said Diane K. Smith, Executive Director of LSNWJ. “The combination results in a highly effective program. All of the veterans assisted by the program were empowered to take action to resolve their legal issue. Eighty percent of the veterans served by VJI achieved a successful outcome, which would not have been possible without an attorney at their side.”
“Merck’s pro bono team and the Merck Foundation are truly honored to support the Veterans Justice Initiative,” said Sylvia Ayler, Director, Intellectual Property, Office of the General Counsel, Merck. “Through the partnership, veterans are offered much needed legal counsel on issues, such as the expungement of a criminal record, the restoration of a revoked driver’s license, securing government benefits, and filing for bankruptcy. It is very rewarding to give back to individuals who have faithfully served our country.”
The White House and Legal Services Corporation invited three programs to present at the forum. The other programs represented partnerships between DLA Piper and LAF Chicago, and 3M and Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services.
Lowenstein Sandler is a national provider of transactional, litigation, and bankruptcy and creditors’ rights legal services to many of the country’s top companies and funds. Close to 300 lawyers in our New York, New Jersey, and California offices immerse themselves in our clients’ industries in order to deeply understand their businesses. We are characterized by our passion for our clients’ success, our commitment to our people, and our pro bono and public interest work in the communities that we serve.
Legal Services of Northwest Jersey is a non-profit law firm, funded by government, foundations, and individuals, that provides free legal services to low-income people residing in the five counties in northwestern New Jersey. The legal assistance provided by LSNWJ staff and volunteers makes a critical difference in people’s lives and in the community. Essential needs such as housing, income and assets for self-sufficiency, family relationships, personal safety, access to health care, and autonomy are met for more than 3,000 individuals and families each year because of the work of LSNWJ.
Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube