Renowned trial attorney and 1977 law school alumnus James E. “Jim” Butler Jr. has bolstered his pledge to provide 100% of veterans with scholarship aid by creating a newly endowed fund that ensures every military veteran attending the School of Law in the future will receive financial support.
“It is important to recognize the selflessness of those who served our country, and being able to assist these service men and women as they receive first-rate legal training is a great honor for me,” Butler said. “One of my great regrets is that I never had the opportunity to serve due to injuries in a car wreck when I was 17.”
Butler has been a steadfast supporter of those who have served in the U.S. military. Approximately 18 months ago, he established the Butler Commitment, which guaranteed financial aid for every veteran enrolled in the fall 2019 entering class. An effort that is now being extended in perpetuity.
He also made a lead gift to establish the law school’s Veterans Legal Clinic, which assists former military members in Georgia with claims before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The clinic opened its doors to Peach State veterans in the summer of 2018. Law students, under the supervision of clinic attorneys, provide free legal representation to veterans for claims related to benefits from the VA.
“We receive two to three new calls each week from veterans across the state,” the clinic’s Director Alexander W. “Alex” Scherr said. “We evaluate each call based on our goal to help as many veterans as possible while maintaining our commitment to train law students to handle administrative law cases effectively.”
The clinic manages approximately 35 veteran claims at any given time. Since opening its doors, the clinic has secured nearly $1,000,000 in additional financial relief for former members of our country’s military.
Cases include helping veterans receive or increase their compensation and benefits from issues such as chronic post-traumatic stress disorder from time in service to medical complications from exposure to Agent Orange during combat. The clinic team also prevented a veteran and his extended family from being evicted from their home last winter.
Butler has made his veteran-related gifts to the School of Law in memory of his father, Lt. Cmdr. James E. Butler Sr., who was a U.S. Navy fighter pilot, and his brother, Dennis Butler, who served in the U.S. Army.
“I’m extremely grateful to Jim for his gifts supporting former military members,” Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge said. “Jim Butler is a strong ally of those who, like his father and brother, have served. We are grateful to honor our veterans and their families with this support.”
Specializing in deferred or denied claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Legal Clinic provides veterans in Georgia with legal assistance that they might not otherwise obtain or be able to afford. Individuals seeking help from the clinic can call 706-542-6439 or send an email to email@example.com.
For the cases not accepted by the Veterans Legal Clinic, Scherr said the clinic offers a wide network of referrals, including a pool of attorneys to whom they can refer clients.
The clinic has also helped to organize a coalition of stakeholders at UGA to identify university initiatives that can help veterans and communities around the state with a variety of needs.