Volunteers to staff shelters and free legal clinics
NASHVILLE, April 28, 2011 — Tennessee lawyers are mobilizing to provide free legal assistance to victims in the wake of storms, tornadoes and flooding in the state this week. "Tennessee lawyers step up to help disaster victims just like they help people every day," said TBA President Sam Elliott. "The TBA offers a platform for lawyers to organize and deliver that help."
Today, the TBA began recruiting lawyers to volunteer their time and expertise to help disaster victims. As affected communities begin to take stock of their needs, lawyers will be available to staff disaster shelters or operate disaster-specific legal clinics. When a federal disaster declaration is granted, victims also will have access a toll-free phone number they can use to request free legal assistance.
To provide immediate assistance, the TBA has developed a website where members of the public can access information from the Tennessee Attorney General about disaster insurance, flood-related scams and advice on how to avoid price gouging. The site can be accessed at www.tba.org/volunteer.
A new resource available immediately is the OnlineTNJustice.org website. A joint project of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association, OnlineTNJustice.org is a virtual walk-in clinic where clients can request brief advice and counsel about a specific civil legal issue from a volunteer lawyer. Lawyers then will provide information and basic legal advice. This service will be especially valuable to storm or flood victims in rural areas who may not have ready access to traditional legal support.
In addition to providing resources for the public, the TBA also is providing a forum for lawyers to help their colleagues. Lawyers in need of assistance such as office supplies, equipment or temporary office space may register their need on the TBA disaster website at www.tba.org/volunteer. Lawyers willing to donate supplies, equipment or space are encouraged to volunteer their resources on the site as well.
Special thanks is due to Dell, Microsoft, the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC and the Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission for its critical support of the OnlineTNJustice.org website.
Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) -- The TBA is the largest professional association in Tennessee with more than 11,000 members. Founded in 1881, the TBA provides opportunities for continuing legal education, professional development and public service. The TBA's dedication to serving the state's legal community is evidenced by its membership roll, which represents the entire spectrum of legal practice: plaintiff and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers and legal services attorneys.
Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) - TALS is a statewide non-profit organization that seeks to build partnerships to support the delivery of effective civil legal services to low-income and elderly Tennesseans. TALS is committed to increasing equal access to justice across Tennessee. For more information contact (615) 627-0956 or visit the alliance online at http://www.tals.org.