NORMAN — American Bar Association President Laurel G. Bellows announced this week the ABA is organizing volunteer legal assistance for survivors and offering disaster-related resources for lawyers.
“The American Bar Association joins our nation in expressing our sorrow and offers the help and expertise of our lawyers,” Bellows said. “They stand ready to offer pro bono assistance to the people of Oklahoma as they deal with the impact of the tornadoes that changed their lives.”
At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s Disaster Legal Services Program is coordinating volunteer lawyers for a toll-free hotline. Low-income survivors can call 1-866-341-8416 to receive free help on disaster-related legal issues such as bankruptcy, contract and contractor problems, landlord/tenant concerns, wills and insurance.
The ABA is working with the Oklahoma Bar Association and Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma to recruit lawyers to help with the hotline. The ABA encourages lawyers to spread the word about this program and to volunteer as their jurisdictions allow. Lawyers who wish to participate can contact David Nguyen, Disaster Legal Services director, at email@example.com.
The ABA also participates in the National Disaster Legal Aid website, which serves as a resource for people who are looking for legal assistance in dealing with the aftermath of a disaster. It also provides information for lawyers who want to volunteer or donate to legal aid programs.
For lawyers and law firms, the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s Disaster Initiative offers a series of podcasts, teleconferences and programs that address issues arising out of disasters such as preparedness, risk management, recovery and response, liability, insurance, claims and litigation. The ABA Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness provides sample disaster plans and data on safeguarding records and serving clients and the public, both before and after a disaster. And the ABA Law Practice Management Section has a free webzine on emergency preparedness and response.