Original Program Date :
|Deloise Mathews, ICLE Senior Program Coordinator, State Bar of Georgia, Atlanta, GA|
|8:35||WELCOME AND PROGRAM OVERVIEW|
|David A. Stevens|
|8:40||BASIC ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR VA COMPENSATION BENEFITS|
|Christopher A. Campagno, Stevens & Sullivan LLC, Atlanta, GA|
|9:25||ACCREDITATION, REPRESENTATION AND ELIGIBILITY FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES|
|J. Travis Studdard, Perkins Studdard LLC, Carrollton, GA|
|9:55||SERVICE CONNECTION/DISABILITY COMPENSATION|
|Douglas Sullivan, Stevens & Sullivan LLC, Atlanta, GA|
|10:50||CLAIMS PROCEDURE/RIGHT TO APPEAL|
|David A. Stevens|
|Victoria H. Watkins, Victoria Watkins Law, Marietta, GA|
|12:50||VA APPEALS AND UPDATE ON VA LAW|
|Drew N. Early, Shewmaker and Shewmaker, Peachtree Corners, GA|
|1:30||ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN REPRESENTING VETERANS|
|Eric A. Ballinger, Law Office of Eric A. Ballinger, Canton, GA|
|3:05||PANEL ON PROFESSIONALISM IN VETERANS LAW|
|Moderator: David A. Stevens|
|Christopher A. Campagno|
|Drew N. Early|
|Mark T. Eister, Vice President of Operations, The Warrior Alliance, Kennesaw, GA|
|Cary S. King, Scott King Law Group, LLC, Atlanta, GA|
|Norman E. Zoller, Attorney at Law, Atlanta, GA|
After graduating from law school in 2002, attorney David A. Stevens began his legal career as a felony public defender and consumer litigation attorney. During his early years in practice he was lead counsel in over a dozen jury trials and obtained favorable results for hundreds of clients while developing his skills as a litigator. In 2005, he began to focus his practice on disability representation while working with his mother, attorney Jane McElreath, who had been representing disabled applicants for Social Security benefits for over 30 years.
Expanding on the lessons learned earlier in his career, he later formed the firm Stevens & Sullivan, LLC with fellow disability attorney, Douglas Sullivan, and broadened the practice to its current focus on representation of disabled Veterans. Since 2012, they have successfully assisted thousands of Veterans in obtaining their Veteran’s disability compensation benefits, including representation at the agency level, appeals to the Board of Veterans Appeals, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Travis Studdard is a partner at Perkins Studdard LLC in Carrollton where he practices workers’ compensation and veterans’ disability law with his brother-in-law, Jason Perkins.
Travis received his undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Georgia, where he was a First Honor Graduate. He went on to receive his law degree with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2004. Upon graduation, Travis returned to the West Georgia area and began representing injured workers with a particular focus on catastrophic designation claims, which are similar to VA individual unemployability cases.
For the past few years, Travis’ practice has focused primarily on veterans’ disability law. Travis was a founder of the West Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, having served in various roles including President. He has also been very active over the years in the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and in particular the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Claimants Lawyers Organization, having served a number of terms on the Board of Directors and as Education Chair. He is also a sustaining member of the National Organization of Veterans Advocates.
Outside of work, Travis is active in his local church, where he has taught Sunday school for a number of years and just completed his second two-year term as lay leader of the congregation. The rest of his time he is either at one of his kids’ sporting events, fishing, or watching his Georgia Bulldogs dominate the rest of the SEC and country.
Douglas E. Sullivan, Esq. Stevens & Sullivan, LLC. 1270 Memorial Drive Atlanta, GA 30316 404-467-9017 firstname.lastname@example.org EDUCATION:
New England School of Law- Juris Doctorate 2006 ? University of Tennessee- B.A. Degree, Majors (Political Science and Spanish)
LEGAL EXPERIENCE: Over fifteen years of experience in the field of Veterans Law
Currently assisting over 500 veterans in claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs
Represented veterans/claimants in over 1,000 disability hearings before the Department of Veterans Affairs/Board of Veterans Appeals
Partner at Stevens & Sullivan (1/2013-present) ? Attorney at McElreath & Stevens (3/2012-1/2013)
Managing Attorney for Social Security and Veterans’ law at Stephen A. Friedman and Associates (12/2007-3/2012)
Associate Attorney/Lead Paralegal for Social Security and Veterans’ law at Law Offices of Michael J. Kelley, Boston, MA (5/2004-7/2007)
ADMITTED TO PRACTICE LAW:
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts- 2006
Department of Veterans Affairs- (Accreditation)- 2008
U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims- 2007
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit- 2010
National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) SPEECHES:
Given at State Bar of Georgia for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education of Georgia, 2010-present (VA topic varies annually): - “Representation before the VA” - “VA Claims Procedures, Appeals & Attorney’s Fees” - “Structuring a VA Practices” - “Right to Appeal & Disability Compensation” - “Basic Eligibility” - “RAMP Process” - “AMA Process”
Drew N. Early was born in Harrisonburg VA. Attended US Military Academy, West Point NY, graduating in 1979. Served in US Army, to include service with XVIII ABN Corps, Second Infantry Division, Tenth Mountain Division, and Third Army. Multiple deployments, including Haiti and several to the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, and the Emirates).
Graduate, with honors, US Army Command and General Staff College and follow-on attendance at US Army School of Advanced Military Studies, with an advanced degree in Strategic Planning. Then multiple planning assignments in the Army, to include Third Army, focusing on the Middle East. Received separate Master’s Degree in Management while on active duty.
Graduate JD, cum laude, from Georgia State University and currently of counsel with Shewmaker and Shewmaker for probate and related matters, focused on veterans’ assistance and elder law. Practicing veterans’ law since 2008.
-Adjunct professor at Emory University's College of Law.
-Executive Director of Emory School of Law’s Volunteer Clinic for Veterans.
Accreditations and Admissions:
Eric Ballinger is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of John Marshall Law School, Atlanta, Georgia, in 1993 and an honors graduate with a Master of Laws in Litigation from Atlanta Law School in 1994. He has practiced law on Main Street in Canton, Georgia since 1993 as a sole practitioner and “Main Street Lawyer” for nearly thirty years handling cases involving criminal defense, family law, child custody, corporate law, estates, and probate, as well as general litigation. Mr. Ballinger is rated 10.0 out of 10.0 on Avvo, Av Rated by Martindale Hubble, and a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters. Eric Ballinger has served on the Board of Governors for the State Bar of Georgia for the past fifteen years, having served as the Chairman of the Military Legal Assistance Program from 2013 to 2019 as well as the Chair of the Law Practice Management oversight committee, the Member Benefits Committee, the Bench and Bar Committee, and the Wellness Committee. Eric Ballinger is currently a part-time Judge in the Magistrate Court of Cherokee County. Prior to attending law school, Eric Ballinger was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps as an Infantry officer and served on active duty as a platoon leader, training officer, company executive officer, and company commander.
Cary S. King is an Attorney, Senior Partner formerly with Jacobs & King, LLC and now Senior Counsel with SK Law Group, his son Scott King’s practice.. With over 40 years practicing law, Cary has a wealth of experience assisting clients with their civil and criminal litigation matters including family law, business related disputes, estate and probate litigation, employment issues and real estate/construction matters. In mediation and arbitration matters, he brings the wide-ranging legal experience to objectively help attorneys and their clients find workable solutions to often complicated and contentious litigation. The book, “Accused” by Tonya Craft details one of his most significant cases and is often used by Criminal defense lawyers as a guide to trying difficult criminal matters. Prior to his work in law, Cary served in the U.S. Army and National Guard and was in the Infantry and Artillery in Vietnam commanding troops with the 1st Infantry Division, during 1967 and 1968 and later serving as S-2 of the 2d Brigade during the 1968 Tet Offensive. During his service Cary was awarded five Bronze Stars, two of which were for valor, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry wih Palm for Valor, a Purple Heart, five Air Medals, Army Commedation Medal with “V” Device for Valor, the Vietnam Campaign and Vietnam Service Medals, the Vietnamese Honor Medal, Air Crewman’s Wings, three Unit Citations and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. CARY’S PERIOD OF SERVICE IN VIETNAM , BOTH WITH THE INFANTRY AND THE ARTILLERY, TOOK PLACE AT THE HEIGHT OF THE WAR WHEN AMERICAN TROOP STRENGTH EXCEEDED 550,000. THE LARGEST BATTLE OF THE WAR, THE 1968 TET OFFENSIVE, INVOLVED MASSIVE SIMULTANEOUS SURPRISE ATTACKS IN EVERY MAJOR CITY AND BASE CAMP IN VIETNAM . THE UNITED STATES 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION (“THE BIG RED ONE”), ALONG WITH U.S. INFANTRY DIVISIONS AND AIR SUPPORT FROM THE ARMY, NAVY AND AIR FORCE HAD PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT SAIGON, THE CAPITAL OF SOUTH VIETNAM, AND ALONG WITH THAT TO PROTECT SAIGON’S MASSIVE AIR BASE, TAN SON NHUT, PROTECT THE THU DUC WATER PLANT, VITAL TO SAIGONS FRESH WATER SUPPLY, AND TO ROOT OUT ENEMY INFILTRATORS IN SAIGON ITSELF AND RESTORE ORDER. AFTER THE ENEMY TET OFFENSIVE FAILED, IT WAS THE JOB OF THE ARMY UNITS CARY SERVED WITH, TO PURSUE THE RETREATING ENEMY AND TO RESTORE ORDER AND CONTROL TO THOSE AREAS. MUCH OF THAT FELL TO THE SECOND BRIGADE OF THE BIG RED ONE WHO , THROUGH TASK FORCE WARE, PURSUED THE FLEEING ENEMY TROOPS. CARY WAS INVOLVED IN ALMOST ALL OF THOSE MISSIONS . AND IT IS DURING THAT TIME THAT HE RECEIVED MANY OF HIS AWARDS AND DECORATIONS. AFTER THE TET OFFENSIVE HE CONTINUED TO SERVE IN VIETNAM, COMMANDING TROOPS UNTIL HE RETURNED TO THE UNITED STATES IN NOVEMBER 1968 Licensed by the State Bar of Georgia and Chairman of the Military and Veteran’s Law Section for the 2015-2017 term. Cary has also been a Registered Neutral licensed by the Administrative Office of Courts and the Commission on Dispute Resolution. He is a member of the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section and the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association, where he has served as a past president and chairman, and is currently a Board member. IN addition to the State and Superior Courts of Gergia, Cary is also admitted to practice in the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Georgia Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Other service positions include volunteering with the Atlanta VA Medical Center Legal Clinic (which he helped found in 1998) and board member for Emma’s Ambassadors, a charitable organization providing financial assiatnce for families of children with autism. He previously served on the DeKalb County Veterans Advisory Committee and conducts oral interviews of Veterans for the Atlanta History Center and the Library of Congress. In the 1990’s, he was awarded the Martindale Hubbell A-V rating (the highest rating) and is a member of the Madison Who’s Who. In 2015, Cary was recognized among the “Friends of the YDL” by the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia for his contributions and continued support. He is a graduate of Georgia State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science, and John Marshall Law School, where he earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence. He also volunteers at the USO at the Hartsfield Jackson Airport meeting and greeting veterans along with other members of the AVVBA, where he is a Past President and Chariman of the Board. In 2012 the Military and Veterans Affairs Section of the State Bar of Georgia presented Cary with the Marshall-Tuttle Award designating him the Outstanding Lawyer for 2012 and in 2013 he was recognized by the General Counsel of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for his many years of service to Veterans. In 2014, Cary was awarded the Public Intetrest Law Award by John Marshall Law School for his continuing contribution to providing legal services for veterans. An Atlanta native, Cary lives in Brookhaven with his wife, Sherry. He enjoys spending time with his children and step children and his six grandkids, watching sports, particularly football, and support numerous animal rescues and organizations and providing help to fellow veterans. Cary is a supporter and volunteer with the Atlanta Humane Society, the U.S. Humane Society, the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the World Wildlife Foundation, Vietnam Veterans of America, The Society of the 1st Infantry Division, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Vietnam Memorial Foundation
A Cincinnati native, Norman Zoller has devoted his legal career to public service. Following undergraduate studies and active military duty, he served as principal administrative assistant to two Cincinnati mayors. He then served nearly a decade as the first Court Administrator for the Hamilton County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court. Thereafter he served as the first Clerk of Court for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta from 1981 until 1983, after which he became and was the Circuit Executive until his retirement in 2008.
A 22-year Army veteran, Zoller served almost seven years on active duty as a field artillery officer, including two combat tours in Vietnam, first with Special Forces (1964-65) and then with the 82nd Airborne Division (1968-69). Concurrent with his court responsibilities, he served 15 years in the National Guard and Army Reserves as a JAG officer, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Zoller graduated from the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Advance Course and from the Command and General Staff College. Among other military awards, he received the Combat Infantryman Badge and was a rated Senior Parachutist.
From 2009 until 2018, Zoller helped develop and then coordinated the State Bar of Georgia’s Military Legal Assistance Program, benefitting service members and veterans. He connected several thousand of them with an attorney. He currently serves as strategic advisor and legal assistance coordinator for The Warrior Alliance, a Georgia nonprofit organization providing an array of resources and support to service members and veterans.
Zoller recently co-edited two books, I’m Ready to Talk: Vietnam Vets Preserve Their Stories (2020) and I’m Ready to Talk Two (2022, Deeds Publishing).
In addition to holding an M.A. degree in Public Administration from the University of Cincinnati and a J.D. degree from Chase College of Law (founded in 1893), he is licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and in the States of Georgia and Ohio.
Christopher A. Campagno joined Stevens & Sullivan, LLC in June of 2021. His areas of expertise include Veterans Law, Disability Rights, and Military Justice. His current practice focuses on representing disabled Veterans throughout all stages of the VA disability claims process, to include the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans claims. In 2019, Christopher earned his J.D., cum laude, from Syracuse University College of Law. In addition to his law degree, he was awarded a certificate from the university’s Disability Law and Policy Program—which is widely considered the most extensive disability-related law school program in the United States. Prior to attending college, Christopher enlisted as a Chemical Operations Specialist in the United States Army where he served as part of a Hazardous Materials Search and Rescue Team. He deployed to Iraq in 2007 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and to Afghanistan in 2012 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. His highest enlisted rank earned was Staff Sergeant. In 2015, Christopher earned his B.A. in History from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While completing his degree, he served as the Battalion Commander of the University’s Army ROTC Program, eventually earning a commission as an Adjutant General Officer. In 2019, Christopher was selected to attend the Army’s Judge Advocate Basic Course in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he became a JAG Officer upon graduation. Co u rt Ad m issio n s and A cc red it at ion s: • U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims • Accredited by Department of Veterans Affairs • Rhode Island Supreme Court Edu ca t io n : • Judge Advocate Tactical Staff Officer Course • Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course • Syracuse University College of Law • University of Nevada, Las Vegas P ro fessio na l Affilia t io n s: • Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Bar Association • National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates • Rhode Island Bar Association
Mark Eister is the Vice President, Operations at The Warrior Alliance and is responsible for the operational excellence, strategy, financial, administrative, personnel and technology functions of the organization. Mr. Eister brings over 21 years of active military service plus 10 years of direct support of veterans and their families. His most recent position was Director of Military Outreach at Georgia State University, where he developed numerous programs designed to serve military and veteran students and to educate and inform staff and faculty on veterans’ issues. His efforts and leadership resulted in being ranked a perennial ‘Top Ten’ Veteran Friendly School, with GSU being ranked the #1 Military and Veteran Friendly School in the Nation on several occasions. Mr. Eister’s career in the U.S. Army culminated in the rank of E-9/Sergeant Major. Having served multiple overseas tours, a deployment to Afghanistan, and 15 family moves in 21 years, he fully appreciates the difficulties and sacrifices that service members and their families face. Mr. Eister also understands the unique challenges that veterans typically face as they transition from military to civilian life, which is why he is so passionate about helping veterans and their families thrive. Mr. Eister graduated from Liberty University with his Bachelor’s in Science degree (summa cum laude) and TUI University with an MBA (summa cum laude). Mark has been married to Tina (Hogan) Eister, also an Army veteran, for over 35 years and they have four adult children and one grandchild