Internship gives Elon Law student legal experience working with veterans

Theresa Brunner L’22 was one of only four law school students from across the United States selected for a summer program with The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, which represents clients before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Theresa Brunner L’22

An Elon Law student with close family ties to the military was one of four law students selected for a summer program that gives interns with The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program hands-on experience helping former members of the armed forces in navigating legal claims.

Theresa Brunner L‘22 is assisting the national legal services nonprofit by drafting screening memoranda and preparing legal briefs for appellate cases before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and applications to military discharge review boards. In addition, she provides support for the pro bono clinic for women veterans.

“To help veterans get through the mire of a claim that has gone on for 10, 12, 15 years? When you think about what they sacrificed in service, it warms my heart to think maybe I played a small role in helping them to get the benefits and compensation they have earned,” Brunner said.

The David Isbell Summer Internship Project, named after the organization’s founding executive board chairman, welcomes each summer only four law students from across the United States. The work is personal for Brenner, whose father and husband are both military veterans.

Since its founding in 1992, the Consortium has handled more than 60,000 requests for legal assistance, placed over 6,700 cases for qualifying clients, and trained more than 5,500 pro bono attorneys and associated professionals for the National Volunteer Corps.

“With each assignment, TVC staff could trust that Ms. Brunner would approach the work conscientiously and diligently,” said Courtney Smith, senior director of volunteer outreach with The Veterans Consortium. “She has been of immense assistance with our veterans benefits and discharge upgrade legal assistance program, and in her interactions with our clients, she is compassionate, articulate, and professional – an outstanding professional with high values and a tremendous work ethic.”

Before attending Elon Law, Brunner served as a command support team representative with the U.S. Navy, which involved working with command families to maintain their well-being and morale, particularly during periods of deployment. Brunner also developed and coordinated crisis response in support of family members of deployed sailors.

This opportunity with TVC to assist veterans with legal services has encouraged her to maintain involvement with the military community as a practicing attorney in the years ahead.

“This has been an outstanding opportunity for me as a first internship,” Brunner said. “It has allowed me to acquire lawyering skills while working with the constituency that I really have a heart for. I’m just really honored to be able to play a small role in advocating for veterans.”