Marine Dan Rock serves vets in need of legal helpAs a student coordinator for the Veterans Law Center, third-year law student and Marine Dan Rock works hard to help area veterans get the legal assistance they need — all while balancing school, work and family.
Why did you choose to attend UW Law School?
I had a rather unique decision process about which law school to attend because it was not up to me, but to the Marine Corps. Before I started law school, I was in the Marine Corps for over five years. I was commissioned in 2006 and served as an intelligence officer for most of that time. Right before law school, I was stationed in Quantico, Virginia.
Wisconsin was definitely my first choice because I could get a great legal education. Plus, I’m from Wisconsin and could be closer to my family for three years. The Marine Corps ultimately agreed to send me here because I could get in-state tuition, making it a very affordable option for them.
Why did you become involved in the Pro Bono Program?
I got involved to help set up and operate the Veterans Law Center (VLC) through the Pro Bono Program. When I heard about VLC, I thought it was really a win-win proposition, since the student volunteers get the opportunity for practical, hands-on experience dealing with clients and attorneys, and the veterans get free legal advice that they may not be able to get elsewhere.
What does the Veterans Law Center offer that veterans can’t get elsewhere?
While there are a lot of legal resources available for veterans, it can be confusing: often when veterans have legal problems, they have no idea how to fix them. The volunteer attorneys and students at VLC help them determine what their next step should be and point them in the right direction.
How have you applied your experience in the Marines to your work at VLC?
The Marine Corps instills a certain work ethic in an individual, and that has been important in getting VLC up and running. Probably even more important is that I am also a veteran and have an understanding of what it means to serve in the military — I can relate to other veterans.
How do you balance school, work, and family?
Time management is very important. I treat school and VLC like regular jobs and get as much done during the day as I can. When I get home, I focus on my family. I also try to keep my weekends free. I normally spend some time on Sunday preparing for school and VLC work, but I keep the rest of the weekend open to spend time with my family.
Will you continue to work on veterans’ legal issues after law school?
After law school, I’ll continue to serve in the Marine Corps as a judge advocate. I find out where my next duty station will be this spring. The Marine Corps will certainly keep me busy, but when I have time, I will definitely continue to work on veterans’ legal issues.