2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Leo Flor

Leo Flor

Name of Host Organization: Northwest Justice Project
City, State: Seattle, Washington
Issue area: Veterans' Rights
Sponsors: The Microsoft Corporation; Fenwick & West LLP

The Project

Leo built enduring capacity in Washington for complementary civil representation of criminal justice-involved veterans through client representation, legal-cultural education, and stakeholder collaboration.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Nearly one in 10 people in Washington State is a veteran and as many as 13 percent of the state’s prisoners are veterans. These figures do not capture the large number of veterans who come in contact with the criminal justice system but are not ultimately incarcerated. As veterans struggle to re-enter civilian life, they carry burdens from combat that often lead to depression, homelessness, substance abuse, suicide, and involvement with the criminal courts. Conventional criminal courts are ill equipped to address the complex circumstances facing veterans. Even specialized Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) leave unmet the civil legal needs that complicate veterans’ rehabilitation and elevate their risk of recidivism. This project bridges that gap by partnering with VTCs and prisons to provide veterans with an array of civil representation that complements their criminal defense or pre-release planning. The results are a justice system that better understands how to help veterans and individuals who will leave the justice system better prepared to succeed.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During his Fellowship, Leo has:
• Created RepWaVets.org, a website that provides extensive information on numerous areas of veterans law, which has been viewed more than 13,000 times by more than 3,500 unique visitors since its launch in May 2015
• Advised or represented more than 120 veterans in 18 legal issue areas, including discharge upgrades, advocacy before the VA, and civil matters in Washington State
• Created innovative partnerships to integrate civil legal aid for justice-involved veterans, including legal clinics in prisons and jails, dedicated civil legal support for veterans treatment courts, and training for public defenders and military defense attorneys on veterans’ legal issues
• Served on the King County Public Defense Advisory Board
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Leo will continue his mission to integrate veterans' civil legal aid resources into key institutions in Washington's criminal justice system as a staff attorney with Northwest Justice Project.

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