On May 12th, recent Alabama Law graduate, Scott Sloss, was inducted into the 2021 Equal Justice Works Initiative Class of Fellows. Joining a talented group of awardees among an initial pool of more than 450 applicants, Scott was one of a limited number of highly talented students from across the nation to receive this award. He credits his 20-year military service, faith, and family for this great success.
Recipients of the Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellowship have a choice between joining an existing EJW program or creating a fellowship of their own that helps an underserved community. Considering his military career and several additional years working with the VA, Scott has decided to design his own fellowship offering legal assistance to Tuscaloosa County veterans. His hope is to create a long-term clinic at Alabama Law.
“This clinic will be different from any other clinic because it will focus on the veterans and any legal challenges they may face. I understand firsthand what they are going through, and I feel that my years of service have prepared me to be an effective advocate for their community,” Scott explained.
Through the life of the fellowship, Scott will be sponsored by global companies Shearman and Sterling LLP and Thompson Reuters as he serves the nearly 10,000 veterans that live in Tuscaloosa County. He will offer direct representation and legal advice for these individuals and their families, host legal clinics in the Tuscaloosa County area, and attend veterans’ organization meetings
Scott discovered his passion for helping fellow veterans in his first year of law school at the Cumberland School of Law after his professor, Judge John Carroll invited him to come volunteer at the Pro Hops Vino clinic in Birmingham. Following that year, Scott transferred to Alabama Law where professors Yuri Linetsky and Glory McLaughlin encouraged him to apply for the EJW Fellowship.
As Scott begins the fellowship, in addition to serving the legal needs of local veterans, he has a particular interest in educating and advocating for the receipt of equal benefits for service women in Tuscaloosa County. Scott was introduced to the need after meeting his wife Beth in the Army more than a decade ago.
“For many years the military has been centered around men. But now, women are in combat—which is great—but both the veteran benefits and healthcare systems were designed for men. Both in the service and after leaving, many women veterans struggle to receive the medical benefits they’re owed.”
Scott recognizes that the challenges women face in and after military service go even deeper than receiving equal benefits—though it is a good place to start. He recalled, “When people see my wife and me in public, they thank me for my service, but they never thank her. When I tell them that Beth is also a veteran, they act shocked, but they still don’t express their gratitude to her. It bothers me that the expectation for a veteran is some old guy—I want to change that.”
As Scott prepares to begin his service through the fellowship, he expressed his appreciation to Alabama Law for helping prepare him to take on this new role. He explained that his hands-on law clinic experience with the Law School’s Civil Law Clinic, paired with volunteer opportunities he engaged with at the Tuscaloosa VA help desk, have given him immense confidence, and that he knows he has a team of great Alabama Law professionals behind him for guidance and mentorship.
When asked about Scott and his pending fellowship project, Kristen Uhler-Mckeown, vice president of fellowships at Equal Justice Works, shared, “Scott’s unwavering passion for service and his commitment to supporting veterans and their loved ones is inspiring. His experience as an Army veteran will be invaluable in his work as an Equal Justice Works Fellow advocating for the veteran community.”
Scott is eager to begin his fellowship in the fall. Looking to the future, he shared a piece of wisdom that he and his wife often recount.
“We always say ‘Be You’—meaning be genuine. Be genuine to who you are and with how you treat other people. Everything always comes back to that,” Scott explained.
Scott is confident that with his passion, his family, and the support from Alabama Law and its clinical programs, the future of the veteran’s clinic is bright.