After two long years in front of  Virtual Video boob tube Conferences, I finally feel confident enough to venture out and attend a conference in person. Having virtual cocktails with other virtual people in a 28- to- a- screen Zoom “gettogether” lacks that je ne sais quoi I seek. I did a test run Mon.-Tues. through the airport down to Houston for a TB hearing before a VLJ who looked like she just graduated from high school. I’ve been cancelled on the hearing three times. This went quite well. I joined CLEAR when it first started so I get to sail through the airport line at 78 rpm.

This Spring, we’re bellying up to the legal bar at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. I hear they have that crazy miniature goat yoga down there on site. Minigoats are a hoot. Nobody told them they’re vertically challenged. I’d just like to play with them rascals. I wouldn’t want one to shit on me. Besides, I have a bad back.


As a way of explaining the why of this shindig, all of us accredited as Attorneys or Agents (even accredited National Service Officers of major VSOs) are required to attend continuing legal education (CLEs) to keep us current in our knowledge of VA law. Very few VSO organizations are willing to cough up $2,500 for one of their poohbahs to attend though. VA  reg §14.629(b)(1)(iii) dictates:

(iii) As a further condition of initial accreditation, both agents and attorneys are required to complete 3 hours of qualifying continuing legal education (CLE) during the first 12-month period following the date of initial accreditation by VA. To qualify under this subsection, a CLE course must be approved for a minimum of 3 hours of CLE credit by any State bar association and, at a minimum, must cover the following topics: representation before VA, claims procedures, basic eligibility for VA benefits, right to appeal, disability compensation (38 U.S.C. Chapter 11), dependency and indemnity compensation (38 U.S.C. Chapter 13), and pension (38 U.S.C. Chapter 15).

Upon completion of the initial CLE requirement, agents and attorneys shall certify to the Office of the General Counsel in writing that they have completed qualifying CLE. Such certification shall include the title of the CLE, date and time of the CLE, and identification of the CLE provider, and shall be submitted to VA as part of the annual certification prescribed by § 14.629(b)(4).

I attend both spring and fall classes to keep my hand in. It’s like Cliff Notes™ for VA representatives. It’s cheap knowledge for the price. And we get to write it off, of course. But imagine if you will, the warm camaraderie of seeing old friends who are legends of the industry. It’s also heartwarming/refreshing to see new practitioners begin their legal journey into VA law. I only wish their numbers were increased one thousandfold. NOVA teaches us all manner of VA technique by our very own members. Even better, we have an inward-facing comment/query board for members who need something-be it that perfect precedential cite or an old 1953 version of 38 CFR.

I joined in 2015 and attended the spring conference in San Francisco. Imagine meeting  Court of Veterans Appeals Judge Mary Schoelen and talking shop. Where is that ever going to occur but at one of these soirées. When these hoedowns are held at the Hyatt in DC, all the old VLJs come over for some CLEs but mostly to hobnob with the big boys like Ken Carpenter and Robert Chisholm or the CAVC judges.

To me, being an accredited agent and a nonattorney practitioner at the CAVC is an honor and a privilege. I’m sure we’re more plentiful than granules of sand on the beach but if my phone ringing off the hook every day is any indication, we need more attorneys and agents desperately. No Veteran should ever have to walk this road alone. I did it for 28 years. Most VSOs mean well but most lack the extensive, continuing education needed to be successful. I don’t mean to be insulting but that’s the gist of it as told to me by VSO service officers who contact me for help with their client(s). What gives me hope is that I have mentored six and encouraged them to become agents. And there are more queuing in line every day.

The Resort looks upscale. I do hope Scottsdale’s warm enough to go swimming. I keep my ce-ment pond cranked up to 88° even in summer and it still feels marginal. Pickles would still love it if it was 36°.

Hope to see you there, folks.

P.S.3/13/2022— Just got an email pointing out I misspelled de nova.

About asknod

VA claims blogger
This entry was posted in 2022 Spring NOVA, NOVA Attorneys, Pickles, VA Agents, VA Attorneys and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Dennis Selby says:

    Your Goat Yoga reminded me of a story: I was an Army Recruiting Station Commander in IA in the early ’80’s. I was training a new recruiter and we went on a house call in farm country. We were sitting at the kitchen table in an old farmhouse. It was a nice spring day, door open, old wooden frame screen door. My Newby was doing his first “solo” interview and doing well. I sensed a movement to my left and watched a young goat enter the kitchen via the screen door. I watched it for a few seconds wondering what the new ‘city boy’ would think of this. To make it perfect, the goat immediately took a dump and little balls of goat crapped rolled down the slightly slanting linoleum floor towards the door. The look on the new guy’s face was priceless. Neither I nor the farm kid batted an eye!

  2. asknod says:

    Well, shoot, Calvin. She’s only 3 this spring. Gravity hasn’t taken its toll. Gotta plug the Wx channel in to Scottsdale this coming week. Might get to go swimming in their ce-ment pond.

  3. Calvin Winchell says:

    Scottsdale NOVA should be a hoot and, MLB spring training is happening a stones throw away. Always good to see events going back to normal and the Virus in the rear view mirror. Let me hope the VA gets the news and actually starts hearings that have been Long overdue. Pickles has kept her girly figure thru it all…..

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