The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division is looking for lawyers to join its Statewide Emergency Legal Services Response Plan (the “Florida Plan”) to assist Florida citizens with legal issues following a disaster, such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and other disasters, including the approaching Hurricane Dorian should it be necessary.
Under the Florida Plan, which is activated during any declaration of emergency in the state and implemented in conjunction with the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, volunteers provide basic legal services for low-income individuals in non-fee generating cases. The volunteers participated by returning calls placed to the YLD’s 1-800 hotline or at FEMA centers. The most pressing need is for volunteers to return calls.
To be a volunteer under the Florida Plan, member simply need 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 Plan provide protection for the volunteers who offer assistance. The legal assistance provided will be to people who otherwise afford representation and counts as pro bono hours for reporting purposes. In addition, there is a manual which can be accessed here to help you answer victims’ questions. The types of legal questions most frequently asked as related to hurricane disasters involve landlord/tenant and other housing problems, consumer protection matters, and home repair contracts.