Director of Stetson Veterans Law Institute Tapped for Federal Judgeship
Stetson University College of Law Veterans Law Institute director and Professor of Law Michael P. Allen has been selected by President Trump for a federal judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims based in Washington, D.C. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Professor Allen is a renowned expert on the law of veterans’ benefits, and has testified before Congress and written widely on veterans’ benefits issues. Congress created the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in 1988 to hear appeals from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Before the court was created, veterans who were denied benefits did not have access to judicial review. Today, the court hears an average of between 4,000-5,000 appeals every year. The original seven-member court has expanded to nine.
“I can’t imagine a greater honor than to be able to serve those who gave so much to protect our freedoms,” Professor Allen said. “It is incredibly humbling to be able to live out the exhortation of President Lincoln to care for those who have borne the battle.”
Allen has served in a variety of roles at Stetson since 2001, receiving numerous awards for excellence in scholarship and teaching as a professor for 16 years and as an associate dean for four years, overseeing both academic affairs and faculty and strategic initiatives. Professor Allen also directed Stetson’s internship programs at the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. He coached 15 student moot court teams during his time at Stetson. Along with Stetson alumnus Jason Stearns J.D. ’08, Professor Allen coached the Stetson student teams which won the National Veterans Moot Court Competition at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims for four of the past eight years.
“Professor Allen has been a leader and a tremendous colleague at Stetson. For over 15 years, he has helped to transform Stetson as a law professor, associate dean, and mentor to so many students,” said Dean and Professor of Law Christopher Pietruszkiewicz. “He launched our Veterans Law Institute, has been a leading advocate for veterans, and I am certain that his work on behalf of veterans will have a profound influence as he joins the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Our entire Stetson family thanks him for his great work and we wish him success in this new role – a role in which he is destined to make great things happen.”
Several Stetson alumni, including Javier Centonzio J.D. ’12, LL.M. ’14, Veterans Law Judge and Board of Veterans’ Appeals member Angel S. Caracciolo J.D. ’03, Brian Redar J.D. ’06, and Daniel Smith J.D. ’08, have served as judicial law clerks with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The court, based in Washington D.C., travels to law schools across the U.S. to educate people about the role of the court and the expanding area of veterans law. Former Stetson Professor of Law Robert N. Davis is presently serving as chief judge of the court.
Stetson’s Veterans Law Institute, founded in 2012, serves to increase legal services available to the growing population of military members, veterans and their families in the Tampa Bay, Florida, region by bringing together volunteers, faculty, students and other community organizations. Stetson’s Veterans Advocacy Clinic, as part of the Institute, provides representation to Tampa Bay area veterans appealing decisions denying Veterans Administration disability benefits. In the past 10 years, the number of law school clinics across the U.S. helping veterans has expanded, exposing law students to the complex area of veterans law while helping veterans with legal issues.
“Professor Allen has been a tremendous force behind the growth of the Veterans Law Institute at Stetson and is responsible for Stetson’s emergence onto the national stage in the area of veterans law,” said Professor Stacey-Rae Simcox, director of the Veterans Advocacy Clinic at Stetson. “Professor Allen has tirelessly educated veterans, communities, lawyers, judges, and even Capitol Hill on the issues that are important to our veterans. It is wonderful to know that he can continue to teach and mentor students while being a member of the court through clerkships and internships.”
Stetson University College of Law, Florida’s first law school, has prepared lawyers and leaders since 1900. Today, Stetson leads the nation in blending legal doctrine with practical training, evidenced by its top-ranked programs in advocacy and legal writing. Through our academically rigorous curriculum and commitment to social responsibility, Stetson lawyers are ethical advocates ready to succeed in the legal profession.