Foundation allocates up to $500,000 for hurricane-related civil legal aid
Seeks donations to Florida Hurricane Legal Aid Fund
The Florida Bar Foundation approved an allocation of up to $500,000 to support Florida legal aid organizations that suffer infrastructure damage or equipment losses and to assist their clients with hurricane-related civil legal issues in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The funds are from Florida’s share of a settlement between Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Justice and six states.
“Legal aid is critical after a natural disaster,” said Florida Bar Foundation President Jewel White, who is also Pinellas County Attorney. “Civil legal aid organizations often help clients not only in the immediate aftermath of a disaster but for years afterwards as they work to rebuild their lives and businesses. We want to make sure Florida’s civil legal aid delivery system is equipped for the massive job ahead, and we will work with our partners at The Florida Bar, the American Bar Association, and the Legal Services Corporation to make sure Floridians’ post-hurricane civil legal needs will be addressed.“
To supplement the funds it has allocated, the Foundation has created the Florida Hurricane Legal Aid Fund. All donations to the fund will go directly to civil legal assistance for Floridians affected by Hurricane Irma and any subsequent hurricanes that make landfall in Florida. The Florida Bar Foundation provides hurricane-related civil legal aid resources and an online donation link to the Florida Hurricane Legal Aid Fund at www.TheFloridaBarFoundation.org/storm-aid.
As legal aid organizations have gotten their power back and begun seeing clients post-Irma, The Florida Bar Foundation is working to ensure lawyers statewide will be made aware of their needs for pro bono support.
The Foundation, which earlier this year launched FloridaProBonoMatters.org to enable lawyers statewide to search for pro bono cases that suit their interests, has added new features to the site, including a way to share a case with a colleague who might be better able to assist, as well as a way for legal aid and pro bono programs to list outreach events for which they need multiple volunteer attorneys at a given time and place.
“We knew that legal aid organizations in the affected areas would be setting up clinics to help people with hurricane-related issues, so we created a way for them to post their clinics to Florida Pro Bono Matters, in addition to individual cases,” said Ericka Garcia, the Foundation’s director of pro bono partnerships
With the help of Florida State University law students, the Foundation is translating its Florida Civil Legal Storm Aid Resources webpage, www.TheFloridaBarFoundation.org/storm-aid into Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Portuguese. The page provides links to the hurricane resources pages of The Florida Bar and Florida Legal Services, as well as FloridaLawHelp.org, where residents can find their local legal aid office. The FSU law students are also helping Florida Legal Services translate a series of brochures with specific advice on different post-disaster legal issues that legal aid clients are likely to encounter.