New York State Bar Association President Seymour W. James, Jr. today commended the state Court of Appeals for allowing out-of-state attorneys to volunteer their legal services to New Yorkers affected by Superstorm Sandy.
The Court authorized out-of-state attorneys-those who are not licensed in New York-to provide pro bono services in designated counties in New York. The attorneys cannot represent clients in court, but can assist with clinics and other services for storm victims under the supervision of an established New York bar association or other eligible legal service provider.
In explaining its decision, the Court said it "determined that an emergency exists that affects the justice system and that certain New York residents affected by the storm may benefit from the provision of pro bono services from outside New York." The measure is limited to New York City and Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties.
"With thousands of New Yorkers suffering, we welcome pro bono help from out-of-state attorneys. Many New York attorneys who might otherwise volunteer have themselves been displaced by the storm," said James (The Legal Aid Society in New York City). "We encourage attorneys upstate, downstate and out-of-state to volunteer to assist storm victims."
More than 1,600 attorneys have registered to participate in the State Bar Association's webcast today from 4 to 7 p.m. on "Providing Legal Assistance to Persons Affected by Superstorm Sandy."The free program will be webcast statewide from the State Bar Center in Albany. It also will be archived on the State Bar website for future viewing.
The New York State Bar Association has created a toll-free helpline (1-800-699-5636) for New Yorkers facing storm-related legal problems. Volunteer attorneys are answering storm-related questions about insurance, real estate issues (landlord-tenant and other property disputes) and general legal matters, such as replacing missing wills and other documents.
Presently, some attorneys from Florida and Illinois, who are licensed to practice in New York, are answering callers' questions about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Court of Appeals declaration will permit other out-of-state attorneys to offer their assistance. Many already have expressed interest in assisting storm victims and have experience dealing with prior disasters elsewhere in the country.
Today's training program, which is free of charge, is open to State Bar Association members and non-members. Pre-registration is required. To register online, go to www.nysba.org/SuperstormSandyFreeCLE.
The webcast can be viewed online or at one of four viewing centers.
Live Presentation (today from 4 to 7 p.m.):
• State Bar Center | One Elk Street, Albany, NY | (518) 463-3200
Program will be webcast (today from 4 to 7 p.m.) to groups of attorneys at:
• New York City Bar Association | 42 West 44th Street, New York, NY | (212) 382-6600
• Touro Law Center (with Suffolk County Bar) | 225 Eastview Drive, Central Islip, NY | 631-761-7005
• Nassau County Bar Association | 15th & West Streets, Mineola, NY | (516) 747-4070
Online (live today 4 to 7 p.m.; archived for later viewing):
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest state voluntary bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director of Media Services