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September 03, 2021

From the Chair: Pro Bono Assistance Needed in the Wake of Disasters

By: David Bienvenu, Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service

Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana this past week as a devastating Category 4 storm. Wildfires continue in many areas of the country, along with flooding and storms in Tennessee and elsewhere. In the wake of these disasters, legal assistance is a critical piece of the disaster recovery effort. One common way that attorneys can help disaster survivors is with applications for post-disaster assistance from federal and state programs. Other common post-disaster legal needs include consumer/contractor fraud cases, insurance claims, SBA applications and appeals, ownership and property title issues, landlord/tenant issues, unemployment, and document replacement.

Legal aid programs alone do not have the capacity to help all those in need of legal assistance without the help of pro bono attorneys. ABA Model Rule 6.1 establishes a professional responsibility to provide pro bono service. According to Model Rule 6.1, a lawyer should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services per year to persons of limited means.  Lawyers and law students can make a difference by providing pro bono in various settings through a variety of tasks. 

Find an opportunity near you today by visiting the National Pro Bono Opportunities Guide.  The ABA Disaster Legal Services (DLS) program provides services to disaster survivors at no charge. The DLS program is currently seeking attorneys to register as pro bono attorneys on standby to assist Louisianans. Interested attorneys can register here. Another way to easily help disaster survivors is through ABA Free Legal Answers, an online virtual advice clinic where clients can post questions to be answered by volunteer attorneys. There are so many individuals in need due to the current disasters across the country. We need your help to join in the pro bono efforts and make a difference in the lives of those who cannot otherwise afford legal assistance.