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WASHINGTON, DC, April 21, 2008 — The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims presented Covington & Burling LLP senior counsel James C. McKay with the Hart T. Mankin Distinguished Service Award on April 14. The award was presented on the Court’s behalf by Chief Judge William P. Greene, Jr.
Mr. McKay received the Mankin Award in recognition of “his outstanding legal representation of our nation's veterans; his tireless dedication to veterans’ rights; and his significant contributions to the efforts that resulted in the enactment of legislation that provides veterans full legal representation at all levels when pursuing their benefits under law.”
Prior to Mr. McKay’s recent efforts, a federal statute prohibited veterans from retaining and using counsel in the initial stages of proceedings to secure benefits for service-connected injuries. In 2006, Mr. McKay wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post titled “Who Can Fight for the Soldiers?” The op-ed ignited an effort by Congress to amend a law that, since the Civil War, had effectively barred veterans from hiring lawyers to represent them in disability claims filed with the Veterans Administration. Mr. McKay’s efforts culminated in the December 2006 passage of a law allowing veterans to hire lawyers in disability proceedings before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
A veteran of World War II, Mr. McKay has also done extensive pro bono work on behalf of individuals. Mr. McKay has handled 24 cases on behalf of veterans under the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. Mr. McKay, who joined Covington in 1948, has had a distinguished career at the firm and in public service. He was recently named a “Legend of the Bar” by Washingtonian magazine and regularly serves as a mentor to junior lawyers at Covington.
To learn more about the firm’s pro bono work, please click here.