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Free Legal Assistance Available for Georgia Disaster Survivors

September 20, 2017 -- A disaster legal aid hotline is now available for Hurricane survivors in Georgia who reside in Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Coffee, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties and cannot pay for an attorney (additional counties may be added later). Disaster survivors may call 1-866-584-8027 (toll free) or (404) 527-8793 (local) between 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday through Friday, to request assistance. When connected to the hotline voicemail, callers should identify that they are seeking disaster-related legal assistance, brief details of the assistance needed and in which county they are located. Individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with Georgia lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal assistance. Survivors may also request assistance online by emailing yld@gabar.org. (Download the press release.)

The type of legal assistance available includes:

  • Securing FEMA and other benefits
  • Making life, medical and property insurance claims
  • Dealing with home repair contractors
  • Replacing wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the hurricane
  • Helping with consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems or landlord/tenant issues

Background
When the President declares a major disaster, FEMA, in cooperation with the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, establishes a toll-free number for disaster survivors to request legal assistance. Funding for the toll-free line comes from FEMA under the authority of Section 415 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-707). The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division in turn partners with state bar associations and other legal organizations to recruit volunteers in affected areas to handle survivor's cases.

Survivors should be aware that there are limitations on disaster legal services. For example, assistance is not available for cases that will produce a fee (i.e., those cases where attorneys are paid part of the settlement by a court). Such cases are referred to a local lawyer referral service.

Currently disaster relief services are available to survivors in the Georgia counties that have been declared major disaster areas. For survivors seeking legal assistance outside of the declared counties, please contact Georgia Legal Services Program at (800) 498-9469 or Atlanta Legal Aid Society at (404) 524-5811.

Partner Members
The following organizations have joined forces to establish a toll-free phone line for Georgia disaster survivors to request free legal assistance and to provide volunteer attorneys to handle cases arising from the recent disaster in Camden, Chatham and Glynn counties.

American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (http://www.americanbar.org/groups/young_lawyers.html) The ABA YLD, the largest national organization of young lawyers, provides leadership in serving the public and the profession, and promotes excellence and fulfillment in the practice of law. Its parent organization, the ABA, is the national voice of the legal profession and the largest voluntary professional membership group in the world.

State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division
(www.georgiayld.org) – The Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the State Bar of Georgia is a professional service organization comprised of all members of the Georgia Bar in good standing under 36 years of age, or those admitted to the Georgia Bar as their first bar within the past 5 years. The YLD coordinates various programs across the state designed to serve the public, advance the legal profession or both.

Georgia Legal Services Program
(www.glsp.org) – GLSP is a non-profit law firm serving rural and small town Georgia. They offer free legal services in civil cases to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. With 11 offices around the state, they can serve people where they live. Their work ensures that low income people have access to justice and opportunities out of poverty.

Atlanta Legal Aid Society
(www.atlantalegalaid.org) – Atlanta Legal Aid Society helps low-income people meet basic needs through free civil legal services. Their mission is "to deliver legal services and legal education designed to improve the social, political, and economic conditions of low-income persons; to serve as a catalyst for social change to benefit low-income persons; to prepare and furnish information to low-income persons about their rights so as to provide full benefit, enjoyment, and protection of their legal, economic, and social rights." 

Contacts:
State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division
Disaster Legal Assistance Committee Chairman
Bert Noble
Jenkins & Bowen, P.C.
15 South Public Square
Cartersville, GA 30120-3350
(770) 387-1373
rnoble@ga-lawyers.pro

Georgia Legal Services Program
Pro Bono Director
Heide Behnke
104 Marietta St. NW, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 206-5175 or (800) 498-9469
hbehnke@glsp.org

State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division
YLD Director
Mary McAfee
104 Marietta St. NW, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 523-8788
marym@gabar.org

Atlanta Legal Aid Society
Pro Bono Coordinator
Laura Rashidi-yazd
54 Ellis St. NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 524-5811
lrashidi-yaz@atlantalegalaid.org

Director, Disaster Legal Services
American Bar Association
Young Lawyers Division
Andrew VanSingel
(616) 293-4729
vansingelDLS@gmail.com