Spotlight on ICLC Fellowship Recipient Abbey Lent

April 2020

Abbey Lent went to law school to pursue a career providing services to the most vulnerable populations. While attending the University of Michigan Law School, she worked as a student attorney in the Michigan Innocence Clinic investigating claims of innocence and overturning wrongful convictions. She also interned at Legal Services of South Central Michigan doing eviction defense and public benefits work for indigent Michiganders. During the summer of 2017, Abbey’s passion for giving a voice to the most marginalized, oppressed, and underrepresented people brought her to Los Angeles and Inner City Law Center (ICLC). Thanks to the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) Foundation, Abbey, then a 2L, became the first-ever WLALA/ICLC Fellow, and spent her summer with ICLC’s Homeless Veterans Project representing women veterans experiencing homelessness in their claims for VA disability benefits and discharge upgrades. Serving the brave women who had chosen to serve their country inspired Abbey to come back to ICLC’s Homeless Veterans Project after graduating in May 2018 as a full-time Equal Justice Works Fellow.

Through her Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Abbey founded and now runs a Medical-Legal Partnership at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. She is embedded in a Homeless Patient-Aligned Care Team at the hospital that serves chronically homeless veterans and includes providers from several disciplines including primary care doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and peer advocates. Abbey meets with patients referred to her by the Team and represents them in claims for VA disability benefits, which can result in life-changing amounts of compensation for chronically homeless clients, often enough to get them into housing and gain financial stability. In one case, Abbey was able to help Matt[1], an Iraq combat veteran who was homeless, had zero income, and was experiencing severe post-traumatic stress symptoms, secure over $3,000 per month in VA disability compensation. Because of Abbey’s representation, Matt secured housing, and his newfound financial and housing stability led to more consistent mental health treatment. Not surprisingly, his physical and mental health symptoms have significantly improved.

Abbey wouldn’t be able to do what she does today without the support of organizations like WLALA. Her time as a WLALA/ICLC Fellow inspired in Abbey a commitment to advocating for vulnerable veterans, and now, Abbey is using her legal degree to give back to former service members who desperately need to get off the streets and access vital services and benefits that can change the course of their lives.

[1] Client name changed for privacy.