The Florida Bar offers hurricane resources for lawyers and the public
While Florida largely escaped serious damage from Tropical Storm Elsa, the east and gulf coast is still expected to experience a very active and potentially dangerous hurricane season. It’s critical that Florida Bar members, and all residents, are prepared for what’s to come.
To assist members and consumers alike, The Florida Bar website includes a Hurricane Information Page that contains a wealth of resources and information, recently updated for the 2021-22 hurricane season. We encourage you to review the updated site, share with your colleagues and clients, and help-out where you can.
Resources for Bar Members
- More than a dozen Florida Bar member benefit providers offer free trials or initial services for Florida Bar members, including practice resources, legal forms, and legal research.
- The Florida Office of State Courts Administrator posts information when a hurricane affects the court system.
- LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar offers disaster planning information and resources for Bar members collected on a single page, including links to the ABA disaster response, preparedness, and recovery advice; a LexisNexis publication, “Surviving Disasters: Questions and Considerations for Law Firms Preparing Business Continuity Plans”; an “After Disaster Strikes” checklist; and disaster recovery services provided by the Florida Small Business Development Council.
How Bar Members Can Lend a Hand
- FEMA/YLD Disaster Hotline: After a storm, The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the ABA Young Lawyers Section and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, may activate the Disaster Relief Hotline. All Florida Bar members eligible to practice may volunteer to provide basic civil legal services for people who cannot otherwise afford legal representation in non-fee-generating cases. After a hurricane hits, many people need simple advice about how to get their lives back in order. Sign up to volunteer to answer the questions of hurricane victims on a pro bono basis.
- Florida Free Legal Answers: Although attorneys are strongly cautioned against engaging in the solicitation of hurricane victims (which is prohibited by Rule 4-7.18), the Florida Free Legal Answers program offers a relatively easy way to lend your expertise. Sign up to quickly and easily answer questions from the public. It is easy, quick, and crucial to those in need of assistance.
- Florida Pro Bono Matters is another way to assist Floridians via an interactive website funded by The Florida Bar Foundation — both during hurricane recovery and year-round. Members may view descriptions of available pro bono opportunities and indicate their preference. Participants will then be contacted by the posting organization with more information.
- National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center welcomes all advocates and volunteers from nonprofit legal aid organizations, bar associations, pro bono counsel from law firms and corporations, law school students and faculty, and allied nonprofits working on disaster legal aid. Visit the website to sign up. The website has links to a multitude of disaster relief manuals and training tools.
Resources for Consumers
- Disaster Relief Hotline: After a storm, The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the ABA Young Lawyers Section and Federal Emergency Management Agency, activates a Disaster Relief Hotline, 1-866-550-2929, to provide basic civil legal services for people who cannot otherwise afford representation.
- Florida Free Legal Answers: This online advice clinic matches low-income Floridians with licensed attorneys who can answer basic legal questions.
- Legal Aid Assistance: The Florida Bar Foundation created the Florida Hurricane Legal Aid Fund for civil legal assistance for Floridians affected by a hurricane that makes landfall in Florida.
- Mass Disaster Consumer Pamphlet: The Florida Bar’s consumer pamphlet for victims of mass disasters provides guidance for consumers on who to contact for legal assistance and how to protect their legal rights (en español aquí). The Bar also has pamphlets on homeowners’ insurance and rights and duties of tenants and landlords that could offer important information to people affected by a storm.
- Consumer Protection: The Florida Bar website offers information to consumers about who to contact about price gouging, unlawful solicitations, unlicensed practice of law, and legal complaints.
As Florida navigates what could be a busy storm season, remember to monitor active and potential weather systems on the NOAA Hurricane Center page, check the Florida Supreme Court’s emergency page for hurricanes, and follow the Bar’s social media platforms for additional updates.
The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30.