Dear Florida Lawyer:
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the ABA Young Lawyers Section and FEMA, has set up the Disaster Relief Hotline. All Florida Bar members eligible to practice may volunteer to provide basic civil legal services for people who cannot otherwise afford legal representation in non-fee generating cases. Volunteers should complete the sign up form on this page and review the Disaster Assistance Manual for Legal Services Advocates. The Disaster Assistance Manual for Legal Services Advocates explains what you need to know to assist victims. At this vulnerable time in their lives, your guidance is needed to assist in navigating recovery options available through FEMA and other organizations. It’s a small service with a huge impact.
2023 Hurricane Season
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division needs volunteers to assist disaster survivors in the aftermath of these life-changing events. Please consider offering your time by providing free legal services to fellow Floridians in their time of need. You can assist by returning calls placed to the YLD’s 1-800 hotline or at FEMA centers. To be a volunteer, you simply have to indicate a willingness to serve, and have a basic understanding of common problems experienced by disaster victims. The types of legal questions most frequently asked as related to hurricanes or disasters involve landlord/tenant and other housing problems, consumer protection matters, and home repair contracts.
We understand you may have concerns regarding conflicts of interest in assisting survivors with legal matters related to a federally declared disaster. However, in 2017, The Florida Supreme Court adopted Rule 4-6.6 that alleviates some of these concerns by easing the application of the conflict of interest rules in these situations. For more information regarding the adoption of Rule 4-6.6, please see the Florida Bar News article here. Note that if you decide, however, to take on a case and representation of a disaster survivor, you should run a full conflict-of-interest check at that time.
Many young lawyers shy away from pro bono work because it’s new or feels uncomfortable. However, serving those in need, at a time when they need it the most, is a fundamental part of our role and commitment to the public. We appreciate your willingness to serve, and thank you for your time.
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division