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‘There are significant challenges ahead’

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‘There are significant challenges ahead’

Bar works to help its members and Florida’s citizens

The Florida Bar is focused on assisting its members and Floridians in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s devastation, according to Bar President Michael Higer.

“Florida is no stranger to hurricanes,” Higer said. “We have endured them before and will do so again. There are significant challenges ahead as we rebuild and recover, but together we will meet these challenges.”

The Bar has gathered many helpful resources at www.floridabar.org/hurricaneinfo and will continue to update that page as more information becomes available.

“Here are ways the Bar can assist you — our members — in recovery as well as ways you can volunteer to assist Floridians, and please check the Bar’s website frequently for updates,” Higer said.

Help for Florida Lawyers

The Practice Resource Institute’s website provides information about disaster planning and business continuity resources for Bar members. PRI advisors can assist members by phone by calling 866-730-2020 and the live chat feature at pri.floridabar.org is active. Members may also email for assistance: [email protected].

Michael Higer Higer said the Bar has created a system called the Florida Bar Member Disaster Recovery Connection to link Florida lawyers adversely affected by the storm with other lawyers able to assist. That assistance includes temporary housing; temporary office space; office furniture, equipment or office supplies; volunteer clean-up services; legal assistance; and other resources and services. An all member email with a link to a form to request or provide assistance has been sent to all Florida lawyers. Members may also check the “Lawyer Resources” section of the website for updates.

Fastcase is now offering complimentary access to its full research service to Bar members impacted by Hurricane Irma through December 20.

CLIO has agreed to offer free access to its cloud-based practice management platform for the next three months to lawyers affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Ruby Receptionists is offering Florida Bar members a month of free remote receptionist service if you need assistance answering your calls.

“It may help you to take advantage of the more than a dozen Florida Bar Member Benefit providers that offer free trials, demos, or initial services including practice resources, legal forms, and legal research,” Higer said.

Visit www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits for a continually updated list of these benefits. In this episode of The Florida Bar Podcast recorded at the 2017 Clio Cloud conference, host John Stewart talks to ServeManager’s Trent Carlyle, Fastcase’s Ed Walters, Clio’s Andrew Gay, and Ruby Receptionist’s Austin Lindsey about their products and what their companies are providing to those affected by hurricane Irma.

Annual Fees and CLEs

If you have been impacted by Hurricane Irma and have not yet paid 2017-18 annual fees and late fees as a Florida Bar member, Authorized House Counsel (AHC) or Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP), the deadline to pay has been extended to October 30. If you have any questions or need additional assistance, call the Bar’s Membership Records Department at 800-342-8060.

If you have been impacted by Hurricane Irma, and your Florida Bar member, AHC, or FRP Continuing Legal Education Reporting Cycle ends on September 30, an extension is being granted until October 30. Questions about CLE reporting can be emailed to [email protected]

Courts

The Supreme Court is posting announcements about state court closures, re-openings, and tolling orders following Hurricane Irma on an emergency information webpage (www.floridasupremecourt.org/emergency.shtml) — check this page if you have business pending in the state courts. The webpage also provides links to local courthouses to access the latest local information.

Assisting Floridians

The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, working in conjunction with the ABA Young Lawyers Section and FEMA, set up a Disaster Relief Hotline 866-550-2929 and an online request for assistance form, and 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. (See story, here.)

Florida Free Legal Answers now has a Hurricane Irma category, and a temporary increase of the qualifying cap is in effect so all Floridians can pose questions relating to Hurricane Irma. To volunteer for Florida Free Legal Answers, a virtual civil legal advice clinic, visit https://florida.freelegalanswers.org/Attorneys/Account/Agreement. Those registering and current volunteers should indicate in the “my subscriptions” section their designed practice areas, and they will receive email notifications when questions are posted in those areas.

The Florida Bar Foundation created a webpage with resources and volunteer opportunities for legal aid and pro bono attorneys, as well as information to help Floridians seeking civil legal aid.

Florida Pro Bono Matters is another way to assist Floridians via an interactive website funded by the Foundation — both in hurricane recovery and year-round. Lawyers can view descriptions of available pro bono opportunities and indicate an interest in any of them, and then will be contacted by the posting organization with more information. (See story, here.)

“Now is the time for each of us to help each other, help our colleagues, help our neighbors, and help our communities. Together, we will make a difference and we will recover stronger than ever,” Higer said.

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