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Hurricane Harvey: Non-TX attorneys may now help through ABA Free Legal Answers

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The Florida Bar is updating this post regularly to provide additional information and links regarding legal efforts to help Hurricane Harvey victims. 

Friday [Sept. 1]:

ABA Free Legal Answers: Non-Texas attorneys may now register to assist with Harvey relief

In the wake of the devastation of Harvey, the Texas Supreme Court issued an order permitting attorneys licensed in other states to provide legal services to victims of Harvey under the auspices of a legal aid program serving those victims. The order is posted to the court’s web page.

ABA Free Legal Answers is an online vehicle to provide legal assistance to the victims of Harvey. Attorneys from other jurisdictions may register and log in to the Texas site to assist with disaster-related questions. Our colleagues in Texas are putting together a CLE, a manual and other resources to support pro bono attorneys in their work, and these will be available shortly.

Here is an instruction sheet on how to help through ABA Free Legal Answers.


Message from State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick

The State Bar of Texas sent out an update from their President Tom Vick that contains links to resources, updated information on court orders and court closures. He also states that lawyers wishing to volunteer to serve Hurricane Harvey victims can do so by filling out the form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer. Read the full message here.


Thursday [Aug.31]:

Amended Orders From the Texas Supreme Court (amended as of Thursday, Aug. 31)

The Texas Supreme Court has amended orders relating to problems created by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, amending one to allow out-of-state lawyers to practice temporarily in Texas and adding others (1) to permit the Aransas County court at law to sit in San Patricio County and (2) extending the August 31 deadline to pay State Bar membership fees for attorneys whose principal offices are in areas subject to disaster declarations. The amended orders are posted to the Court’s web page.


Florida Bar President Michael J. Higer sent a statement with resources to Florida Bar members that want to help

In a letter to Florida Bar members, President Michael J. Higer addresses ways Florida lawyers can help people affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and now in Louisiana. They include volunteering to answer legal questions on the disaster legal services hotlines and donating to funds set up by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Louisiana Bar Foundation. The letter also provides links to what bars in the affected communities are doing. The Florida Bar will update this blog regularly to provide additional information and links on ways Florida lawyers can help.


Wednesday [Aug. 30]:

ABA President Hilarie Bass sent out this statement:

The American Bar Association stands with those coping with the crisis in Texas and will do everything possible to mobilize lawyers in America to provide the pro bono assistance that is required to assist those who need our help.  Numerous ABA entities are already activated and offering legal, monetary and other support to the victims of Hurricane Harvey.  As they have so often in the past, the Disaster Legal Services Program of the ABA Young Lawyers Division is coordinating with FEMA to provide direct legal assistance to disaster survivors.

To coordinate all our efforts, we have established a webpage: http://ambar.org/harvey.  This page provides our members the information they need to provide assistance to the victims of this disaster.  Please check the page regularly as we will continue to update it with important information about ways to support those in need.

People need our help—I have no doubt that the lawyers of America will rise to the occasion and work together to provide the legal and other assistance to victims that only they can provide.  Whether you provide direct pro bono assistance, provide answers online to legal questions or write a check to local legal service providers, there is something that each of you can do to help.  We will work together to make a difference during this crisis.  Thank you for volunteering to help!


Louisiana State Bar Association

The Louisiana State Bar Association has activated a Disaster Response webpage to provide information on displacement resources, court closures, emergency declarations and assistance for flood victims. The website’s Disaster Response Message Board is helping to facilitate the giving and receiving of non-monetary donations like housing help, office equipment, commuting assistance and employment opportunities.  Please visit the message board if you are willing to donate, or are in need of donations.


Louisiana Bar Foundation

As we have seen many times in Florida, legal aid is critical to those recovering from natural disasters. In addition to supporting organizations like the Salvation Army and American Red Cross, contributions may be made to the Hurricane Harvey Legal Aid Fund set up by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Louisiana Hurricane Harvey Disaster Fund administered by the Louisiana Bar Foundation.


Tuesday [Aug. 29]:

Florida Bar President Michael J. Higer released the following statement:

The Florida Bar’s thoughts and prayers are with our friends in Texas as they recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Our state unfortunately knows all too well the long and difficult road to recovery. We have been in touch and will continue to work with our colleagues at the State Bar of Texas. Our Florida attorneys stand ready and willing to help. 


State Bar of Texas (Please see above amended orders as of Aug. 31)

The State Bar of Texas announced [August 29] that the Texas Supreme Court will allow out-of-state lawyers to practice Texas law so that they can provide legal assistance to victims of Hurricane Harvey. Their announcement, which can be found here, reads:

The Texas Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday allowing out-of-state lawyers to practice in Texas temporarily if they are displaced by Hurricane Harvey or volunteering to serve hurricane victims.

The order allows an attorney licensed and in good standing in another U.S. jurisdiction to practice in Texas for six months from the date of the order if:

(a) the attorney is displaced from his or her home jurisdiction as a result of Hurricane Harvey and practices in Texas remotely as if located in his or her home jurisdiction, or (b) the attorney provides services to victims of Hurricane Harvey through a legal aid program, pro bono program, or bar association.

Under the order, the attorney must register for temporary practice in Texas as soon as possible after arriving and agree to abide by Texas disciplinary rules. Read the full order here.

Lawyers wishing to volunteer to serve Hurricane Harvey victims can do so by filling out the form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer.


Texas Supreme Court

The Supreme Court issued another order Tuesday regarding the statutes of limitations in civil cases related to delays caused by Hurricane Harvey. The order expires September 28 unless extended by the court. Read it here.

The court previously issued an emergency order authorizing modification and suspension of court procedures in proceedings affected by the hurricane.


State Bar of Texas

The State Bar of Texas has posted legal and recovery-related information at texasbar.com/disasters to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

The webpage provides information on a legal hotline (800) 504-7030 to help people find answers to basic legal questions and locate recovery resources.  Callers can find help with problems such as replacing lost documents, answering insurance questions, tenant/landlord matters, and consumer protection issues such as avoiding price-gouging and contractor scams. Those who qualify for further assistance are matched with Texas lawyers who have volunteered to provide free, limited legal help.

Texas Bar President G. Thomas Vick, Jr., details the resources and assistance available on the Texas Bar Blog, including information for attorneys including court closures.

Follow the State Bar of Texas on Twitter or Facebook for more updates.