skip to content

The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program

PRESS RELEASE: The Veterans Consortium Announces Our 2020 Equal Justice Works Fellows

The Veterans Consortium (TVC) is pleased to announce our 2020 Equal Justice Works Fellows. In September 2020, aspiring public interest lawyers, Chesley Roberts and Nicqelle Godfrey, will begin a two-year Fellowship with TVC working on special projects developed to increase access to justice for veterans in need.

Each year, Equal Justice Works (EJW) selects a class of passionate public service leaders who have designed projects in partnership with legal services organizations that help build sustainable solutions for communities. The projects are funded by the generous support of law firms, corporations, foundations, and individuals.

TVC is fortunate to have been selected to host two outstanding EJW Fellows who will join us to support new initiatives focused on serving the needs of veterans. We are very grateful to their sponsors, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Covington & Burling LLP for their generosity and commitment to veterans and to supporting real life solutions to serve their unique needs.

Equal Justice Works Fellow, Chesley Roberts, is originally from Tallahassee, Florida and is a recent JD graduate from Stetson University College of Law. Her two-year project sponsored by Lockheed Martin, will focus on the legal needs of women veterans and the unique issues they face. Chesley's project will be to support the recently launched TVC Pro Bono Legal Clinic for Women Veterans, which is held in the Washington, D.C. VA Medical Center's Women's Health Clinic (DC VAMC). This legal clinic is exclusively for women veterans and staffed by female volunteer attorneys. Chesley will help to manage the clinic, provide direct legal services, and research and compile resources to navigate certain legal issues and other barriers that women veterans face. Chesley will work with our volunteer attorneys, law schools, and Veteran Service Organizations to further understand and address issues that impact the lives of female veterans. We look forward to welcoming her as part of the TVC team.

"In my second year of law school I began working at the Veterans Advocacy Clinic at Stetson, where I was able to see the unique need for services specific to female veterans," says Chesley. "Growing up in a military family, I witnessed firsthand the sacrifices veterans and their families must make. I'm passionate about making sure our veterans receive the help they deserve and I'm very grateful to Lockheed Martin for sponsoring me and allowing me to serve women veterans."

Equal Justice Works Fellow, Nicqelle Godfrey, grew up in Sacramento, California and recently earned her JD from Georgetown University Law Center. She is being sponsored by Northrop Grumman and Covington & Burling LLP. Her two-year project will focus on the development of a program to provide education, support, and free legal services to immigrants seeking naturalization through military service. According to the Immigrations and Nationalities Act, those who serve honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible for expedited naturalization. However, in recent years there has been a decline in the number of naturalization applications, an increase in the obstacles to application, and an increase in the denials of such applications. The rate of denials among non-citizen military personnel is now higher than their civilian counterparts. To succeed in serving this community, Nicqelle will create and distribute resources to veterans that outline the process of naturalization through free legal clinics and immigration assistance projects nationwide. She will develop a referral program that can be delivered to veterans organizations to expand the reach of this program. She will conduct outreach to create a new Volunteer Corps to identify and train new attorneys who are interested in assisting immigrants with military naturalization. Finally, she will provide free legal assistance to veterans who are applying for military naturalization and appealing naturalization denials.

"Serving non-citizen veterans through naturalization is a perfect blend of my family background," says Nicqelle. "One of my grandfathers was a Korean War veteran; the other an immigrant to the United States. I'm excited for this opportunity and very grateful to Northrop Grumman and Covington & Burling LLP for their sponsorship of my fellowship and of this important initiative."

During their two-year fellowships, Chesley and Nicqelle will advance the cause of justice for veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. Their respective projects have the potential for enormous impact on the lives of our veterans.

"It has been exciting to see our team collaborate closely with Chesley and Nicqelle to design these groundbreaking projects and then celebrate their selection as EJW Fellowships," says Steve Jordon, TVC's Executive Director. "We are deeply grateful to their sponsors, Northrop Grumman, Covington & Burling LLP and Lockheed Martin for investing in these young lawyers and supporting new initiatives in veterans law. We look forward welcoming them in September and creating positive change for veterans."

The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program (TVC) is a leading national 501(c)(3) charity providing free legal services in federal venues for veterans in need. TVC operates a global federal Veterans Pro Bono Program in service to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to represent pro se veterans denied care, benefits, or compensation earned from military service. Our TVC National Volunteer Corps℠ attorneys also litigate cases that are appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. Our TVC Discharge Upgrade Program℠ represents service men and women before military Discharge Review Boards and Boards of Correction for Military Records.                

For more information about TVC, how to get involved, how to support the organization and our national outreach initiatives associated with the federal Veterans Pro Bono Program please visit our website, www.vetsprobono.org or contact TVC via email at outreach@vetsprobono.org.