JRCLS Disaster Relief Service
In light of recent natural disasters including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the Northern California fires, and the earthquake in Mexico, the JRCLS Service Committee has gathered the following suggestions for JRCLS members interested in providing legal or financial service to those in need. Please see the JRCLS FAQs page and your local Bar Association for information about pro bono practice rules and malpractice coverage: http://www.jrcls.org/?folder=pro_bono&page=faq
- The LDS Humanitarian Department has suggested that attorneys sign up through JustServe.org, which has set up special project pages for Harvey and Irma: https://www.justserve.org/. The services requested at the project pages do not include legal work, but attorneys can create a profile which specifies their willingness to provide pro bono legal service. JRCLS members can also contribute financially to the LDS Humanitarian Department: https://ldsp-pay.ldschurch.org/donations/lds-church/humanitarian-services/humanitarian-aid-fund.html?cde2=796
- The American Bar Association maintains a Disaster Relief Page with pro bono opportunities for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the Northern California fires, and links for donating to local legal service groups. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/disaster/disaster_relief.html
- Hurricane Harvey: The Texas Bar Association has temporarily modified its rules to allow out-of-state attorneys to provide limited legal assistance. Attorneys who sign up with the Texas Bar Association through the link at the ABA website above will receive an email directing them to submit a temporary practice form (volunteers should check their spam filter), and connecting them to Texas legal aid providers. Attorneys licensed in any state can also serve through Texas Free Legal Answers: https://texas.freelegalanswers.org/ The Texas Bar explains the ongoing need for legal assistance:
We know from past disasters that the first few weeks involve assisting people in the shelters with basic needs, like recovering personal documents and completing FEMA applications. The next phase typically involves issues around getting people back into their homes and restarting their lives, such as resolving landlord-tenant disputes. The last phase kicks in 3-6 months later and generally involves resolving issues, such as disputes with contractors, FEMA, private insurance, etc. If you signed up to help people on a limited scope basis or full representation, please know that it may take some time before you are contacted to take a case.
- Hurricane Irma: The Florida bar has not currently authorized out-of-state legal work, but the ABA and Florida Bar websites will notify volunteers of any change in Florida rules: https://www.floridabar.org/public/hurricaneinfo/#1505308831967-4b730d43-35ff Attorneys can contribute financially to Florida-based legal services agencies, some of which were damaged by the hurricane, through the ABA website above.
- Hurricane Maria: The ABA’s Young Lawyers Division is coordinating a legal hotline through the Louisiana Civil Justice Center; the destruction of legal service providers in Puerto Rico has made it necessary to host the hotline in the U.S. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfwhssOvTeSrx9scnNl_anp9o-lHGf35i08OVWVwq6Z-fD3HQ/viewform Legal assistance is also being coordinated by the Puerto Rican Bar Association: http://prbany.com/additional-ways-to-help-puerto-rico-legal-corps/ More information is also available at the ABA’s disaster relief page linked above.
- Mexico Earthquake Relief: Read the LDS Church statement on the devastating earthquake in the Chiapas region, and donate to relief efforts here: https://www.lds.org/church/news/church-offering-relief-support-in-aftermath-of-deadly-quake-in-southern-mexico?lang=eng
- Northern California Fires: Volunteers are needed to handle pro bono cases to assist fire survivors in the next 1-3 months. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/disaster/disaster_relief.html Online training and technical assistance are available. Malpractice insurance will also be provided by the local legal services provider for all pro bono work through the programs. Read more and sign up here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JVZPFQG
Please email the JRCLS Service Committee at RSheffield@fslaw.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions.