Nov 06, 2017
Legal Aid for North Bay Fire Victims
Bar Associations Coordinate with State Bar on Disaster Relief Aid
Nov 06, 2017
By Mee Mee Wong
Several MCBA members have expressed an interest in volunteering to provide legal assistance to victims of the North Bay fires. This email will give you the link to sign up, and more information about what has been planned thus far.
First, several Bay Area Bar Associations (including the MCBA) and the California State Bar are collaborating to set up a legal advice hotline. The hotline is based in downtown SF and will offer callers brief legal advice on issues ranging from landlord-tenant, consumer, insurance issues, and FEMA benefits to employment and immigration. The Hotline for free legal advice related to the fire is (415) 575-3120. Link for more information.
The hotline had a soft launch on Oct. 16, and a more robust launch with volunteer attorneys is planned for Monday, Oct. 23. The tentative plan is that the hotline will be staffed by volunteer attorneys from 4-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, with attorneys taking live calls and returning calls received during the earlier part of the day. Details are still in formation. By the end of next week, a 3.5 hours webinar training video should be posted on YouTube. To volunteer, please sign up through this VOLUNTEER FORM.
In addition, volunteers will be needed to staff Disaster Recovery Centers that are being planned for Sonoma and Napa, and possibly Solano. These DRCs will be centralized locations that will offer one-stop resources for survivors of the fire, set up by local, state or federal authorities. Attorneys who volunteer to staff the DRCs will offer brief advice, and will help completing forms (largely FEMA benefits applications or insurance forms).
Volunteers will also likely be needed to help staff clinics in the affected counties focused on FEMA benefits. In addition, there will be volunteer opportunities to provide fire victims with ongoing legal help, with either full scope or limited scope pro bono representation in landlord-tenant, employment, insurance, FEMA and other matters.
We plan to post additional information on the MCBA website. Please check back here in our News Section for periodic updates about the training resources and volunteer opportunities, as they become available.
The California Bar Foundation has set up a fund to which anyone can donate. All funds will be dispersed to organizations working with victims of the fires. Here is their link. https://www.calbarfoundation.org/rapid-response-disaster-relief.html