Lawyers rally pro bono efforts in wake of storm Sandy

New York lawyers are rallying to provide free legal advice to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the devastation inflicted earlier this week by hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane damage: lawyers help pick up pieces Getty images

Local media report that the state bar association will meet today to co-ordinate pro bono efforts as New York City and the wider eastern seaboard struggles to recover from one of the worst storms to hit the region in living memory.

Coming together

Seymour James, president of the state bar, told the New York Law Journal that ‘New York City attorneys have a history of coming together to provide legal assistance to disaster victims’, pointing to similar efforts following last year’s hurricane Irene and the 2001 terror attacks on the city and Washington DC.
Top of the agenda, according to Steven Banks, the chief lawyer at the Legal Aid Society, will be advice to victims regarding assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as the position over access to food stamps, Medicaid, electricity and water and other housing issues. Mr Banks told the Journal: ‘Before the storm, there was a huge increase in demand for our services because of the continuing economic downturn. The storm clearly exacerbated those problems in a number of our client communities.’

Back to life

The offices of Manhattan’s many global law firms are reported to be gradually creeping back to life. While those downtown remain without power today, others with midtown premises are getting back to normal as lawyers and staff are able to travel to work on a partially operating subway and now fully-functioning bus system.
Most state courts are reported to open in New York, but federal courts in lower Manhattan remain closed.

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