Pro Bono Program

We provide legal services to veterans seeking access to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and assistance with military discharge upgrade applications through the Department of Defense. Each year we help hundreds of veterans access their benefits, but thousands more need our help. In 2009, we launched the Pro Bono Program to increase our capacity to reach more low-income and homeless veterans.

Veteran benefits are not automatically awarded and not all veterans qualify for care. The legal process to obtain veterans benefits can be complex and confusing to those without legal training. Our Pro Bono Program places cases with volunteer attorneys in three areas of law:

  • VA service-connected disability compensation claims
  • VA eligibility for those with less than honorable discharges
  • Military discharge upgrades and records corrections at the Department of Defense

Our Pro Bono Program offers both limited and full scope volunteer opportunities, with the following estimated time commitments:

VA Disability Claims

  • Military and medical records review
  • Evidence development
  • Written advocacy brief and application
  • Estimated time commitment is 25 – 50 hours per case

Military Discharge Upgrades

  • Military and medical records review
  • Evidence development
  • Written advocacy brief and application
  • Estimated time commitment is 35 – 60 hours per case

Staffing Legal Clinics

  • VA benefits assistance, record requests, records review
  • Assistance on applications for discharge upgrade and correction of military records
  • 4-hour commitment to staff a Bay Area Legal Clinic

Over 35 Bay Area law firms and in-house counsel currently partner with Swords to Plowshares’ Pro Bono Program. For more information on the Pro Bono Program and firm involvement, please contact us at [email protected].


Pro Bono Training and Resources

Swords to Plowshares Legal Team provides free training for VA accredited attorneys on veterans’ benefits law and military discharge upgrades.  In collaboration with the Practising Law Institute and the State Bar of California, classroom and live webcast trainings are held annually in November and available for free on-demand year round. The first three hours of the training qualifies for VA accreditation CLE purposes.

Register with PLI:


Cy Pres

​As a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services in addition to wraparound support services for homeless and low-income veterans, Swords to Plowshares is eligible to receive nominations and awards for cy pres funding.

Visit our Cy Pres page or download our information page:
Nominate Swords to Plowshares for Cy Pres Awards.pdf