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Lawyers make a difference for people and for society.
They solve legal problems, provide free legal help to
the poor, and give time to many other community efforts.

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pro bono service

Calhoun County Lawyer Sets Her Own Pro Bono Standard

Marshall attorney Paula Aylward is familiar with Michigan's suggested voluntary pro bono standard of 30 hours per year. But she never lets it stop her.

In fact, Aylward often satisfies the standard with a single case, as she did last year with her work on a veteran's matter she obtained through Thomas M. Cooley Law School's "Service to Soldiers" program. In that case, she helped a Jackson County Army vet navigate his way through a complex and messy divorce involving a pro-se, out-of-state spouse who suffered from physical and mental health issues.

Despite challenging legal issues and difficult military benefits questions, Aylward was able to help the vet obtain a divorce and move on with his life. Her reward—a warm hug and effusive thanks—which for attorneys like Aylward is payment enough.

Around the same time, Aylward was also helping another Army vet, who she found through her work with the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law's "Project SALUTE." In that case she sought to reverse the Department of Veterans Affairs' decision denying the Gulf War veteran his well-deserved compensation benefits. Her work entailed marshalling the evidence to point out the VA's errors, gathering additional medical records supporting her client's claims, and traveling to the Detroit VA office to present the veteran's appeal before a Decision Review Officer. As with all of her pro bono cases, Aylward left no stone unturned.

Aylward's passion for helping veterans is apparent, but her list of pro bono clients certainly doesn't stop there. She has also handled numerous cases involving everything from family law to animal rights to mental illness. Aylward has volunteered with State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) work groups, helped foreign graduate students with benefits questions, and worked with a mentally ill individual to get an out-of-state criminal charge dismissed so the person could obtain Michigan and federal public benefits.

Fortunately for Aylward, Michigan's voluntary pro bono standard is merely a suggestion.

—Michelle Erskine

Do you have a Pro Bono or Community Service story to share?
it today to be included in our "A Lawyer Helps" story bank.

Paula Aylward
Paula Aylward

Cooley's "Service to Soldiers" program and U of D's "Project SALUTE" rely upon Michigan attorneys donating their time and expertise to assist veterans.

For more information about how you can volunteer for the "Service to Soldiers" program, please contact Heather Spielmaker at (517) 371-5140.

For more information about how you can volunteer for "Project SALUTE," please contact Professor Tammy Kudialis at (313) 596-0235.



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