On November 30, 2018, Alaska residents experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. While there were no casualties, there have been nearly 5,000 aftershocks since. This has resulted in ongoing damage coupled with newly discovered damage with the spring thaw, presenting disaster survivors with a host of legal needs involving insurance, contracting, housing, FEMA appeals, and more.
To meet the considerable need for pro bono legal services and to supplement the efforts of the Alaskan legal community, the Alaska Supreme Court has issued an order allowing out-of-state lawyers to temporarily provide volunteer legal services to low-income Alaskans affected by the earthquake. The court welcomed the opportunity to elevate its pro bono response and continued commitment to access to justice to earthquake survivors. The Alaskan legal community hopes to have the participation from at least one lawyer in every state.
Lawyers can volunteer at a time and place convenient to them through ABA Free Legal Answers, an online portal that remotely connects pro bono lawyers with low-income individuals. The Alaska version of the site now accepts out-of-state registrations. Please see our information flyer for details on how to volunteer. In addition, information for out-of-state lawyers to volunteer remotely with the Alaska Legal Services Corporation is available at the “What’s New” section of the Alaska Bar Association website.
We thank the Alaska Supreme Court and Chief Justice Joel Bolger for making it possible for lawyers across the country to help those affected by the earthquake. And we encourage other states affected by disasters to adopt similar rules when needed, per a model court rule adopted by the ABA House of Delegates in February 2007 after Hurricane Katrina.
We also recognize the continued good work by the ABA Young Lawyer Division’s Disaster Legal Services Program with FEMA to support disaster survivors.
Thank you for participating and for alerting your professional and social networks to this opportunity for lawyers to serve.
Bob Carlson, President, American Bar Association
Follow President Carlson on Twitter @ABAPresident or email firstname.lastname@example.org.