News

Pro bono cases taken on by corporate attorneys don’t usually end like this.

David DePippo, L’02, was part of a legal team that restored educational benefits to potentially millions of post-9/11 veterans with an August 2019 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The case concerned the way that Veterans Affairs calculates GI Bill benefits.

DePippo, senior counsel at Dominion Energy, participated in the case pro bono, or without expectation of payment, which attorneys often do as part of the profession’s commitment to promoting justice and making it equally accessible to everyone.

Pro bono cases for corporate attorneys like DePippo are typically one-offs, say helping a client draft a will or settle a landlord-tenant dispute. Benefits cases involving federal agencies, however, are often very complex and require a significant, ongoing commitment by the attorneys involved.

DePippo’s client — a four-time combat Army veteran and current FBI special agent — was eligible for both Post-9/11 and Montgomery GI Bill benefits. He ran into trouble after he was accepted at Yale Divinity School and the VA denied educational benefits because of how it interpreted rules about the two GI Bill programs. If the August ruling continues to hold up after additional appeal by the VA, it will benefit DePippo’s client and restore 12 months of educational benefits to an estimated 1.7 million veterans.

“That’s satisfying, knowing firsthand what it did for you,” said DePippo, himself a Coast Guard veteran who used the GI Bill to attend Richmond Law. “If you can hold the victory, you have the opportunity to change a lot of people’s lives and allow them to continue to better themselves, their families, and contribute to society.”