Spring Conference 2015



NOVA’s 2015 Spring Conference

The NOVA 2015 Spring Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Financial District in San Francisco, California! The conference includes a one day New Practitioner Session scheduled for Thursday, April 16, 2015. The general seminar, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 17 & 18, is filled with a wide array of interesting and informative topics and presenters.

The NOVA Conference is intended for both new practitioners to the area of veterans’ law and more advanced practitioners. The seminar will increase your knowledge, confidence, and expertise in representing veterans before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition, your time may be credited to your jurisdiction’s CLE requirements. Please take advantage of our 20-year legacy and register today! We hope to see you in San Francisco!

To access our Spring 2015 Conference Brochure, please click HERE.

Where & When

April 16-18, 2015
Hyatt Regency Financial District in San Francisco, California

UPDATE: Our Hotel block is full. Please refer to this helpful list of other options in the area by clicking HERE.

How to Register

Online Registration is now closed.

Registration Cancellation Policy:
Before March 27, 2015...........75% of fee paid will be returned
On or After March 27, 2015......No Refund (Seminar Materials will be provided)

NOVA Panel Presentation

The NOVA conference in San Francisco will include a panel presentation regarding best practices when arguing for your clients before the Board of Veterans' Appeals.  The panel will be made up of two Veterans Law Judges and two NOVA members with extensive experience before the Board of Veterans' Appeals.

If you have questions you would like answered or topics you would like discussed by the panel, please e-mail them to Ralph Bratch at rbratch@lawyers4veterans.com.

William G. Smith Scholarships

Scholarships have been created in memory of NOVA Founding Member William G. Smith, Esq., who provided leadership and support to countless practitioners in veterans’ law. Scholarships cover the cost of registration only and are available to individuals who are not financially able to attend, and who would not otherwise be able to attend the seminar due to financial hardship. These scholarships are designated for attorneys, non-attorney practitioners, law students, and also accredited veteran’s service representatives.

To apply for the William G. Smith Scholarship Award, the following information is required: Your name, address and email; year of graduation from law school, if applicable; current employer and position; provide a brief explanation of how you intend to use this training; indicate your VA accreditation date, if applicable; explain why you need financial assistance to attend a NOVA seminar; and indicate if you have the financial resources to cover the costs to attend the seminar (i.e., travel, lodging, food) should you be awarded a scholarship. To complete the scholarship application, Click HERE. The granting of scholarships as well as the number of recipients shall be at the sole discretion of the NOVA Board of Directors. The deadline to submit a request for scholarship consideration has now passed. Please check back for scholarship opportunities for our upcoming conference in Chicago this fall.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, April 16

*Please be advised this schedule is subject to change.

7:30 a.m. Registration With Breakfast
"Questions and Eggs"
8:15 a.m. Welcoming Remarks
Kenneth M. Carpenter, Esq.
8:30 a.m. Overview of a VA Claim
Presenter: Zach Stolz, Esq.
9:30 a.m. Walk Through a Claim
Presenter: Leslie Gaines, Esq.
10:30 a.m. BREAK
10:45 a.m. Service Connection
Presenter: Chris Attig, Esq.
11:45 a.m. LUNCH (on your own)
1:15 p.m. Downstream Issues
Presenter: Christopher J. Boudi, Esq.
2:30 p.m. Evidence Development
Presenter: Robert Chisholm, Esq.
3:30 p.m. BREAK
3:45 p.m.  VA Update: Electronic Access Through eBenefits and SEP
Presenter: Robert T. Reynolds,  Director VA Benefits Assistance Service
5:00 p.m. Questions and Answers Session
Panel: All Presenters

Friday, April 17

7:30 a.m. Registration With Breakfast
"Questions and Eggs"
8:00 a.m. Welcoming Remarks
Michael R. Viterna, Esq., President, NOVA
8:15 a.m. CONCURRENT SESSIONS
Please choose one to attend:How to Use Recent Court Decisions (Advanced)
Presenter: Kenneth M. Carpenter, Esq.VA Regulation Update (Basic)
Presenter: Andrew Rutz, Esq.
10:15 a.m. BREAK
10:30 a.m. Update From the VA
Presenter: Thomas J. Murphy, Director Compensation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs (invited)
11:30 a.m. LUNCH (on your own)
1:00 p.m. CONCURRENT SESSIONS
Please choose one to attend: Spinal Disorders: Causes, Substantiation, and Maximizing Ratings (Advanced)
Presenter: Dr. Donald Miller, M.D., J.D.
Put It To Rest! VA Sleep Apnea Claims (Basic)
Presenter: Chris Attig, Esq.
2:00 p.m. CONCURRENT SESSIONS
Please choose one to attend:How to Use a Paralegal (Advanced)
Presenter: Jonathan Greene, Esq. & Michelle Martin
Deadly Impact of Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeuene (Basic)
Presenter: Eugene Powell, Esq.
3:00 p.m. BREAK
3:15 p.m. CONCURRENT SESSIONS
Please choose one to attend: CAVC Talk (Advanced)
Presenter: The Honorable Judge Mary J. Schoelen, United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
Moderator: Robert Chisholm, Esq.
Agent Exam (Basic)
Presenter: Cathy A. Derrig, Accredited VA Claims Agent
5:00 p.m. Reception & Social Hour
Atrium 3-4

Saturday, April 18

7:45 a.m. Awards Ceremony
8:15 a.m. Winning a Case at the BVA: A Joint Panel Discussion
Presenters: Joseph Moore, Esq. & Ralph Bratch, Esq.
9:45 a.m. Potential Pitfalls of Issue Exhaustion at VA
Presenter: Ronald L. Smith, Esq.
10:45 a.m. BREAK
11:00 a.m. Ethics
Presenter: Sandra Wischow, Esq.
12:00 p.m. LUNCH (on your own)
1:30 p.m. Extraschedular Consideration
Presenter: Kenneth M. Carpenter, Esq.
2:30 p.m. Making the VA Recognize Standard Vocational Principles
Presenter: John V. Tucker, Esq.
3:30 p.m. Closing Remarks