McGuireWoods associate Matt Kapinos was presented with the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation’s first George Hettrick Leadership Award for his pro bono efforts to aid fellow military veterans. The newly created honor recognizes lawyers who are leaders in providing pro bono services to the underserved and who have employed innovative efforts to improve the legal landscape in an area of critical need.
Kapinos was recognized for co-founding the Veterans Task Force, an initiative of the Virginia Bar Association that matches returning and active duty service personnel with volunteer lawyers. Task Force co-founder Bob Barrett and volunteer attorney Heather Lockerman were also honored.
The Veterans Task Force offers free and reduced-cost legal services to returning veterans, many of whom face various legal challenges, including domestic relations issues, creditor or landlord disputes or employment challenges. In 2015, the Veterans Task Force aided 154 military personnel either with direct or referral services.
Before becoming a lawyer, Kapinos, a 2001 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, fought in the Army during the second Gulf War and in Afghanistan. He served as an infantry officer of the 82ndAirborne and was involved in both combat and humanitarian missions. In 2009, he and Barrett, a fellow veteran, founded the Veterans Task Force to help meet a tremendous demand for legal services among Virginia’s approximately 840,000 veterans. Kapinos is proud that the program, now in its seventh year, has demonstrated its durability.
“We started as a small program housed at the Virginia Bar Association,” Kapinos said. “Last year, we transferred the Task Force to the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation. In addition, several hundred lawyers have now joined the Veterans Pro Bono Volunteer List, which shows that the program has become sustainable.”
Pro bono lead partner Scott Oostdyk said, “Matt has conceived, led and developed significant service efforts to veterans. He is a strategic leader and highly deserving of this award.”
McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen opened the awards ceremony, which was held on Veterans Day before a crowd of 150 lawyers and guests, including U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. You can view a video saluting the work of the VTF that was shown during the awards ceremony below.