Alumni Emily Vaughan (JD ’14)

Taking the lead
in helping veterans

The summer after she graduated from law school at Loyola University Chicago, Emily Vaughan (JD ’14) returned to her alma mater as an inaugural Illinois Bar Foundation Public Interest Fellow assigned to the Community Law Center, one of Loyola’s six in-house legal clinics offering students the opportunity to contribute to society while gaining valuable hands-on training. Vaughan joined the Community Law Center full time in 2015 as assistant director, and in spring 2018, she was appointed director of the center’s new Veterans Practicum.

Under Vaughan’s supervision, third-year law students enrolled in the Veteran’s Practicum at Loyola use a Supreme Court Rule 711 license to represent veterans and their families in a myriad of civil legal matters. The practicum also includes a weekly classroom component to provide students with a theoretical overview of the lawyering skills that will be required of them in their casework.


number of Chicagoland veterans


of post-9/11 veterans report difficulty adjusting to civilian life


of veterans report barriers to accessing care for needed services

Students handle family law-related matters, minor and adult guardianships, and housing issues, and can execute simple wills and powers of attorney. The program is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between the Community Law Center and Loyola’s School of Social Work.

Many service members leaving the military and returning to Chicagoland aren’t prepared for the transition home, according to a 2016 study conducted by the University of Southern California’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families and Loyola’s School of Social Work.

“A wide range of organizations work to meet needs of veterans, but few—if any—provide holistic social and civil legal support to veterans, active service members, and their families,” says Vaughan (JD ’14).

Until now, veterans and their families have had to navigate multiple service providers to address intrinsically connected legal and social-emotional issues. The more complex access becomes, the less likely veterans are to pursue services, the study found.

It’s rewarding to be a part of a new program that has put Loyola on the map as a single destination where veterans, active service members, and their families can come for legal services and social-emotional support.
— Emily Vaughan (JD ’14)

“The Veteran’s Practicum is helping to eliminate a major barrier to access and also serves to promote a healthy overall transition back to civilian life,” she says.

Since the launch of the Veterans Practicum, Vaughan and Loyola law students have provided full legal representation, most requiring litigation, to more than 25 clients. 

“We’re thrilled to have Emily directing this important initiative that gives our student the opportunity to represent Chicago’s veterans who have served their country with great honor but are often underserved themselves,” adds Theresa Ceko, director of the Community Law Center.

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