YLD seeks volunteers to help those impacted by COVID-19
A message from Young Lawyers Division President Santo DiGangi
Dear Florida Young Lawyers,
As our nation deals with the unprecedented COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, we hope you and your families are safe. Though many of our personal and professional lives have been upended, it is still incumbent upon us to assist our neighbors and fellow citizens during this uncertain time. We need your help. Due to the devastating effects of COVID-19, we are in the process of re-opening the Bar’s Disaster Relief Hotline in the event a federal disaster is declared. After a disaster hits, many people need simple advice about how to get their life back in order. All of us want to help. Here’s how.
SIGN UP HERE to volunteer to answer the questions of fellow citizens who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 on a pro bono basis. The Disaster Assistance Manual for Legal Services Advocates explains what you need to know to assist. At this vulnerable time in their lives, your guidance is needed to assist in navigating recovery options available through FEMA and other organizations. Importantly, this work can be done remotely and will not expose you or your loved ones to any additional health risks. It’s a small service with a huge impact.
Many young lawyers shy away from pro bono work because it’s new or feels uncomfortable and I understand. But, once you have helped someone who truly appreciates you, your advice, and your willingness to care, you will be forever changed by the experience. We became lawyers to help others, and this opportunity is when you are most needed.
Additionally, The Florida Bar will be promoting this volunteer opportunity on all of its social media platforms. Please share those posts and encourage your friends and colleagues to volunteer!
Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you participate, here are the lawyerly details. The Florida Bar YLD, in conjunction with the ABA Young Lawyers Section and FEMA, has set up 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. Volunteers should complete the sign up form and review the Disaster Assistance Manual for Legal Services Advocates. The volunteers assist by returning calls placed to the YLD’s 1-800 hotline or at FEMA centers. To be a volunteer, you simply have to indicate a willingness to serve, and have a basic understanding of common problems experienced by disaster victims. The Florida Good Samaritan Act and the Federal Volunteer Protection Act provide protection for the volunteers who offer assistance. The legal assistance provided will be to people who cannot otherwise afford representation and counts as pro bono hours for reporting purposes. The types of legal questions that will most likely be asked involve landlord/tenant and other housing problems, employment issues, healthcare questions, and consumer protection matters.
More information can be found on The Florida Bar YLD’s website.
Thank you for your time and please encourage other lawyers to volunteer their time as well to help the citizens of Florida who are affected by disasters.
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division
The Florida Bar is posting court and Bar updates on our website as they become available regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.