When Navy veteran Brooks Herring needed help seeking custody of his son, he turned to the Veterans Legal Clinic at the University of South Carolina’s School of Law.
“For the first 13 years of my son’s life, his mother had custody, and it was a struggle for me to be able to spend time with him,” says Herring, who served six years in the Navy and had a two-year civilian assignment with the Army. “I could never afford an attorney. Even being on active duty, JAG (Judge Advocate General’s Corps) doesn’t handle family court cases.”
After reaching out to the Veterans Legal Clinic, Herring, who earned a bachelor’s degree at USC in 2018 and a doctorate in physical therapy in 2021, found the help he needed to get full custody.
The clinic provides free legal services to low-income veterans living in South Carolina who are facing issues with credit and related financial matters, housing, government benefits and family law. It was established in 2018 by a grant from the South Carolina Bar Foundation. Thanks to continued support from Boeing — $450,000 to date — the clinic has been able to serve more than 70 veterans since opening, either through full representation or advice, counsel or referral.
Boeing’s latest grant of $125,000, along with funding allocated by the South Carolina General Assembly, will allow the clinic to hire a full-time faculty director and an attorney to handle cases on behalf of clients.
“With so many South Carolina veterans in need of legal services, it is critical that we expand the state’s only Veterans Legal Clinic,” says School of Law Dean William Hubbard. “We are grateful to Boeing and the General Assembly for helping us to better serve this important and often underappreciated population.”
The need is significant in South Carolina. According to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, there are about 400,000 veterans living in the state, comprising nearly 10 percent of the adult population.
“Boeing is committed to supporting the men and women of the armed forces who serve and protect, and that includes assisting veterans and military families as they transition back to civilian life after their service,” says Swati Patel, Boeing’s director of state and local government operations, who earned undergraduate and law degrees from USC. “We are proud to invest in the Veterans Legal Clinic to ensure that this important program continues to grow.”
For veterans like Herring, whose custody case was contested and lasted more than a year, the assistance was critical.
“I had a team of dedicated law school attorneys, paralegals, students and staff, coordinating with a team of attorneys in Horry County, who worked on my case,” Herring says. “I was always impressed with their professionalism, communication and attention to detail of the clinic staff and students, and I am grateful for their dedication to serving the veterans of our state.”