Brad Hennings is an attorney at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. He represents veterans as a part of a the CCK Court Team at the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. He previously worked at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and as a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
To learn more about Brad, read our BLOG here.
Robert: Hi this is Robert Chisholm from Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. We’re here with Brad Hennings and this is part of our Meet Our Team. So Brad you have recently joined us here at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. How long have you been with us now?
Brad: Since January, about mid-January.
Robert: And what are you doing here at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick?
Brad: Well I’m doing a little bit of everything. I’m working both on the court team which handles appeals at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. I’m trying to help out on the agency side, the Department of Veterans Affairs and anywhere else the firm feels like they can use some of my knowledge.
Robert: So before joining us, you were working at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals?
Brad: Yes. So at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals I was a Veterans Law Judge or a Board Member, and what I did there was make final decisions on behalf of the Secretary for VA disability benefits, they were typically disability benefits and I was the one signing the decisions, I was holding hearings, and working with attorney staff to decide these cases.
Robert: And so the Board of Veterans’ Appeals is the last stop a case has at the agency level?
Brad: That’s right. So if you were a veteran applying for benefits, you typically start at the Regional Office and if they said no, you’d enter the appeal process and without going in to all of that, the end of the appeal process at VA itself is the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Robert: Okay. How long were you in that position?
Brad: So I was a Veterans Law Judge for about 3 and a half years at the Board.
Robert: And that is actually a presidential appointment, is it not?
Brad: It is. It is a secretarial appointment. The Secretary appoints me but it is with the approval of the President. They make you talk to somebody from the White House and go through a certain degree of vetting.
Robert: Okay. When you refer to the Secretary you’re talking about the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, correct?
Robert: Okay. Also before working at the Board, you were at the Court?
Brad: That’s right. So I worked as an attorney law clerk for Judge Allan Lance of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and I was there about 2 and a half years working for him.
Robert: Okay. And the Court is the court that actually reviews the final Board decisions?
Robert: So you have been on kind of a couple of different sides of the equation now.
Brad: Yes, I think it’s been really interesting because I have got to see it definitely from a number of different perspectives.
Robert: So you have seen it from handling the cases at the Board, actually deciding the cases. You have seen how the court reviews cases and now you are working as an advocate on behalf of veterans.
Brad: That’s right.
Robert: Okay. So tell us a little bit about your educational background. Where did you go to college?
Brad: I went to college at George Washington University in Washington DC and I majored in history there. After college, I later got a Masters degree in Information Systems from Stevens Institute of Technology. And then I went to law school at Rutgers School of Law at Newark, New Jersey.
Robert: So can you explain what a Masters in Information Systems means?
Brad: Sure. After college, I didn’t go to law school right after college. So I was working for about 6 years in IT, Information Technology. Information Systems, it was really about how do you manage information within organizations. I spent a lot of time working on ways of structuring what we think of as software, to be helpful to make decisions and operate organizations.
Robert: Okay. And what inspired you to go on to law school?
Brad: So law school was something I had thought about when I was an undergrad but graduating at 21 or 22 I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So I decided that at that time, law school was not a good choice because I did not want it to be a default option so I went to work. And then eventually, I figured out, in particular, with the passing of my grandfather who was an inspiration to me and a World War II veteran. He had told me that, hey listen, at the end of his life he said “I have had a good life. I don’t have any regrets.” And that really struck me as hey, I want to be able to say that when the time comes for me. And so I was working in IT at that point and said “You know this is not… I don’t love this” So I looked in to going to law school and talked to a lot of people and started that process.
Robert: Okay. And when you graduated from law school where did you first work?
Brad: So when I first graduated from law school I clerked for a New Jersey State Court judge, Judge Polifroni, he is currently the presiding judge of the Civil Division in Bergen County in New Jersey. So I did that for a year.
Robert: And you eventually ended up working for the Board as a Board Attorney before you went over to the court. Correct?
Brad: That’s right. I worked briefly in private practice in New Jersey. And then I went to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington DC as a staff attorney initially.
Robert: So how much time have you worked collectively in the VA world, let us put it that way.
Brad: So collectively in the VA world, I’ve worked 10 years, been in it about 10 years.
Robert: Okay. You were living in DC and you are planning to move up here soon?
Brad: Yes. I have an apartment right now and my family is planning on joining me at the end of the school year. We actually just put our house on the market in DC area.
Robert: It is great to have you here. So tell me about some of your hobbies. I understand music might be a hobby of yours.
Brad: Yes. I wish I got more time to do it. As you know as you get older with children, I have 2 children, it gets more difficult. But my hobby growing up and to now has always been music. I play the piano and saxophone and the guitar. I also play some drums and know how to use sequencers and recording equipment. That’s when I really need to relieve stress or just want to get away from things, that’s how I do that.
Robert: Well, Brad, thanks for joining us this morning. Anything else you want to say before we finish up that I have missed?
Brad: No, just that I’m really excited to be a part of the firm and I’m excited to continue to work on behalf of veterans.
Robert: Well we’re happy to have you and thanks for joining us this morning.
Brad: Thanks, Robert.