Social media campaign to promote Pro Bono Week
FloridaProBonoMatters.org takes center stage
The Florida Bar Foundation will launch a Pro Bono Week social media campaign during the ABA’s National Celebration of Pro Bono October 22-28 to increase participation in pro bono legal services statewide, and they invite participation from law firms, legal aid and pro bono programs, and other interested groups.
The primary focus of this year’s campaign will be on getting lawyers to test drive FloridaProBonoMatters.org, a new interactive website funded by The Florida Bar Foundation that enables lawyers to filter and search for pro bono cases posted by multiple legal aid organizations and indicate their interest in taking a particular client’s case. Recent posts to the site include a renter whose home has leaks and was flooded with 2 feet of water, causing loss of personal property. After seeing the damage, the landlord stopped communicating.
The Pro Bono Week social media campaign will use #FLProBonoMatters to highlight new cases posted to the site, pro bono heroes and success stories, and the week’s special events.
“We estimate that 90 percent of the legal needs of low-income Floridians go unmet,” said Ericka Garcia, director of pro bono partnerships at the Foundation. “During Pro Bono week, we hope to inspire more Florida lawyers to give of their time and expertise so that we can help more of our neighbors who so desperately need it, especially those struggling to recover from a major natural disaster.”
Since Hurricane Irma, FloridaProBonoMatters.org also now advertises opportunities to get involved in local pro bono clinics organized by legal aid and pro bono programs. These clinics are designed to help residents, at one time and in one place, with hurricane-related civil legal problems such as landlord-tenant issues, FEMA and other public benefits applications and appeals, insurance claims, replacing legal documents lost in the storm, and consumer protection matters. As an example, Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida hosted a Post-Irma Ask a Lawyer Legal Advice clinic on September 28.
Attorneys who would like to volunteer are encouraged to visit FloridaProBonoMatters.org, through which legal aid organizations and pro bono programs upload cases in real time. Attorneys can sign up to be alerted by text when appropriate cases are posted, and they can share cases from the site with colleagues as well. Soon, an organic search function will provide another easy way to find cases.
Need for civil legal aid is expected to rise in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, as 1.7 million Floridians have already applied for assistance from FEMA because of Irma, and the state already has begun receiving U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Maria, adding to the numbers of those in Florida who will need disaster-related legal assistance, according to the Foundation.