When you need to hire a lawyer, it is wise to have a list of questions prepared ahead of time. An attorney is an expert who works for you. Therefore, you want to be sure they have the credentials you need for your unique case. If you are a veteran, however, you will need to find a VA accredited attorney. This is because the Veterans’ Administration (the VA) will reject filings from lawyers who don’t have accreditation. However, this accreditation is for the sole purpose of providing representation services to VA claimants. It does not imply that a representative is otherwise endorsed by the VA.
In other words, accreditation is not a guarantee the lawyer you speak with is any good. Always do your homework before hiring anyone.
4 Questions Every VA Accredited Attorney Should Answer
Among the list of standard attorney vetting questions, be sure to also ask questions specific to veterans. Below are four questions any VA accredited attorney should answer with confidence:
1. Do you have VA attorney accreditation?
If yes, then ask: How long ago did you complete your training and certification? This is the first set of questions you should ask any lawyer you consider to represent your claim.
You can actually find out this information yourself ahead of your consult with any attorney you are thinking about hiring. To do so, search here for the name of the VA accredited attorney in question.
For more information about why this matters, read our article about VA attorney accreditation here.
2. What associations do you belong to that are specific to helping out veterans?
For example: “Are you a member of the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates?” The National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, Inc. (NOVA) is a not-for-profit educational membership organization. It was formed in the District of Columbia in 1993. NOVA members act as advocates for disabled veterans and work to stay informed each week with the latest and most important news in the industry. Therefore, its members benefit from the expertise and knowledge of the entire peer network provided by the organization.
3. What happens if we need to appeal my case to the BVA?
Another great question to ask is, “Have you ever had to argue an appeals case before the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims?” The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has exclusive jurisdiction to provide judicial review of final decisions by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. This is an entity within the Department of Veterans Affairs. This Court reviews appeals involving a claim of entitlement to benefits for service-connected disabilities and survivor benefits. The BVA also hears cases for other benefits, such as education payments and waiver of indebtedness. The Court also seeks to help ensure that all veterans have equal access to the Court. Having a VA accredited attorney on your side ensures you have access to every legal option for securing those benefits and services.
4. As a VA accredited attorney, what can I expect from you if I choose to move forward with my case?
“How often do you communicate with clients and give updates on the status of their claims?” is just one good example question to ask. These types of questions are so important, even when speaking with a VA accredited attorney. Be sure you know what the next steps will be if you choose to hire the lawyer you’re evaluating. How long do they think your case will take to resolve? How often will your VA accredited attorney want to meet with you to discuss your case? When can you expect a call?
Ask for specifics and be sure you understand every part of their fee agreement.
Why Working with a VA Accredited Attorney Matters for Veterans
Veterans should never work with attorneys that don’t have VA accreditation. Why? Because the VA will reject claim paperwork and communications from firms or lawyers that don’t have it. As a result, it makes any other firm’s legal services essentially useless to veterans. However, despite the VA’s efforts to ensure accredited individuals are responsible and qualified to provide representation on VA claims, claimants should use caution when selecting a representative.
If you are ready to talk with a VA accredited attorney, reach out to our network today to find a qualified expert. Your case is important, and you deserve the right help.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online veterans benefits evaluation now!
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.