Hurricane Harvey: How You Can Help
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has announced the formation of a task force to mobilize pro bono legal assistance for Hurricane Harvey victims, as well as providing support to Houston-area courts crippled by the storm. City Bar President John S. Kiernan and Sharon Katz, Special Counsel for Pro Bono at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, will serve as co-chairs.
With the Texas Supreme Court having issued an emergency order that temporarily allows out-of-state lawyers to provide assistance to needy clients through any legal aid or pro bono program or bar association that provides services to Hurricane Harvey victims, lawyers are needed for the full scope of legal services relating to the disaster. Among its top priorities, the Task Force will work with Texas government officials and the Texas legal community to coordinate the pro bono efforts of New York legal volunteers to best address the needs of Texans affected by the storm, who may require help with home insurance claims, FEMA benefits, mortgage matters and other pressing legal issues.
Task Force members will also focus on assisting Houston-area courts crippled by the hurricane in their disaster management efforts, as needed, offering technical assistance in critical areas including restoration of records, telecommunications and information systems.
Read the full announcement here.
Meanwhile, the City Bar has reached out to its members in Texas (as well as bar associations in the region) in an effort to connect those in need to the right resources. And for New York lawyers who want to get involved, we offer the following information:
- Donate through the Hurricane Harvey Legal Aid Fund. The Texas Access to Justice Foundation will use all donations to fund Disaster Legal Aid to survivors of Hurricane Harvey.
- Register for temporary permission to practice in Texas to help those affected by Harvey.
- Sign up through the State Bar of Texas’s Disaster Relief Resources page or the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Project’s Volunteer Portal to learn about ways pro bono attorneys, including those out of state, can help.
- Follow Pro Bono Texas (@ProBonoTX) on Twitter for updates on remote trainings.
- Check DisasterLegalAid.org for emerging developments in Texas and other regions that may be impacted by Harvey in the days ahead. It is a joint effort of Pro Bono Net, Lone Star Legal Aid, the American Bar Association, the Legal Services Corporation, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and Texas Legal Services Center.
- Learn what bars in the affected communities and the ABA are doing and how you can help as the needs evolve: State Bar of Texas; Austin Bar Association; Dallas Bar Association; Houston Bar Association; San Antonio Bar Association; Louisiana State Bar Association; American Bar Association.
- For those who are admitted to practice in Texas and Louisiana, consider volunteering to answer legal questions on the Disaster Legal Services Hotlines in those states.
Moving forward, please check back to this page as more information becomes available on how New York lawyers can stay involved in helping post-Harvey.