A Lifetime of Service- Tom French ’57
Born in Muskegon, Michigan, Tom attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and received his doctorate in Juridical Science from the University of Wisconsin in 1961. In February 1961, he was admitted to law practice by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
Later in 1961, he received a Commission as a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. After attending basic training, he was stationed at Hunter Air Force Base in Savannah, Georgia as a Staff Judge Advocate as a member in a five attorney office. In late 1962, he was promoted to Captain and was transferred to Wiesbaden, Germany, arriving in mid-December 1962. At Wiesbaden, he was a Staff Judge Advocate also in a five attorney office.
At both Hunter and Wiesbaden, Tom practiced general military law at the base level. He prosecuted and defended many general and special court martial cases. He also represented both officers and enlisted men in administrative board hearings, as well as acting as counsel to the Air Force Hospital attached to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Headquarters also located in Wiesbaden. He also gave legal assistance to military and civilian personnel attached to the U.S. forces in Europe and was also the Claims Officer at both locations.
While in Wiesbaden, he met and married his wife, Cecilie. She was at that time an interpreter and translator for the Commander at Wiesbaden Air Force Base. They have two children, Danielle, and Thomas, both of whom were born in Germany. Tom now has six grandchildren.
Tom was honorably separated from active duty in December 1965. In October 1966, he was admitted to practice in Vermont by the Supreme Court of Vermont and was admitted to practice before the United States District Court for Vermont. In 1986, he was admitted to practice in Massachusetts by the Supreme Judicial Court. In 1991, Tom was admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
In June 1, 1967, he opened his own office in Brattleboro, Vermont to engage in general practice. He has represented individuals and corporations engaged in nearly every area in which law is practiced in Vermont: personal injury, contracts divorce, bill collection and estate as well as real estate immigration, military law, bankruptcy, trademark and patent. Tom’s practice has been international in scope presenting clients from Europe, China and Australia.
In 1989, Tom was invited by the U.S. State Department to be a member of a 750 person delegation to “assist the Soviet Union in its legal and economic restructuring”. He attended several conferences in Moscow and subsequently was one of the four founding members of San Francisco World Trade Associates, Inc.,(SFWTA) a corporation which advised the Russian national and regional governments on legal and economic issues. Tom retired from general legal practice in July, 2015.
Tom has been aware for quite some time that veterans were largely unrepresented in their efforts to obtain legal entitlements to their pension and disability benefits. He realized that his own personal experiences as an officer with the military as well as his legal practice might offer veterans advice and general help in gaining access to information and assistance in this important area. The Veterans Administration is a government agency, making it difficult for the lay person to navigate its bureaucracy. He felt that he could be of assistance to veterans and in April, 2015 applied and became a VA approved attorney. He has since attended seminars to learn the VA claims operating procedures, and has purchased the Veterans’ Benefits Manual. This Manual contains and identifies the sources of all of the VA procedures required to successfully process either a disability claim or a pension claim.
Since October 2015, Tom established a relationship with Post #5, American Legion, located at 32 Linden St., Brattleboro, VT 05301 (Tel: 802-257-1872) Tom will see veterans during his office hours or online.
Office Hours At the American Legion: Thursdays from 10:30-12:00 noon and from 1:30-2:30 pm each Thursday. Tom can also be reached at other times in his home office.