Welcome to the Texas Disaster Legal Help Podcast
The Texas Disaster Legal Help project, a joint project of Lone Star Legal Aid, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, is hard at work, creating resources and integrating advanced technology, to ensure that volunteer attorneys are prepared to effectively respond to the legal needs of disaster survivors - before the next disaster occurs. In the coming months, we will be hosting a series of podcasts on a wide variety of legal topics that affect disaster survivors such as evictions, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and how to prepare for a disaster to avoid the worst of the legal hardships. Stay tuned to hear experts speak on these legal issues and hear the innovative resources made available through the project and find out how you can get involved.
Visit our website at www.texasdisasterlegalhelp.org
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Transcript Podcast Ep.1: Introduction
Welcome and thank you for listening to the Texas Disaster Legal Help first podcast.
The question I’m sure you're wondering is what or who is Texas Disaster Legal Help?
We're a coordinated project between Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Lone Star Legal Aid, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid aimed at improving access to justice for those affected by disasters our project allows both disaster survivors and pro bono attorneys to access critical resources in one place while at the same time making it easier to connect disaster survivors needing legal help with volunteer attorneys willing to provide it.
In this way, the project team hopes to increase the number of disaster survivor clients who receive high-quality legal assistance as they continue to navigate the recovery process after a disaster and provide the support and mentorship pro bono attorneys need to achieve success.
Why are we doing this?
After the catastrophic disaster that was Hurricane Harvey, we identified numerous challenges that needed addressing.
One conclusion was that Texas would greatly benefit from a statewide coordinated and collaborative approach to disaster recovery for pro bono volunteers and disaster survivors.
Pro bono volunteers are a critical resource in both short-term and long-term disaster legal services.
Volunteer attorneys providing their time allows legal aid agencies to continue providing legal services to the ever-growing population of those in need of both disaster and non-disaster legal assistance.
It is imperative that we recruit manage and sustain disaster-dedicated pro bono support.
One of the biggest challenges identified post-Harvey was that Texas did not have a state-level mechanism to quickly connect interested pro bono attorneys and law students to texas legal services providers and their clients in need.
The depth and breadth of Harvey’s immediate legal needs led to a call for volunteers by the State Bar of Texas and the state and national responses were tremendous.
Unfortunately, we lost critical time sorting and organizing volunteers and getting them in contact with the appropriate clients based on attorneys interest and available time
LSLA, LANWT, and, TRLA proposed the development of a statewide mobile-friendly website with a cloud-based disaster pro bono portal.
The portal includes online volunteer profile creation the ability of the attorney to choose cases remotely and attorney training via online clinics and CLEs on disaster law topics
These systems will result in faster around the clock services for disaster survivors with better referrals and an increased likelihood of connecting pro bono volunteers with disaster survivors.
The development of a coordinated statewide system for disaster survivors and pro bono volunteers will ensure Texas is prepared to provide increased and faster legal services to disaster survivors in future disasters and for years to come.
So how does it work?
In the coming weeks, we will be hosting a series of podcasts on a wide variety of legal topics that affect disaster survivors such as evictions, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and how to prepare for a disaster to avoid the worst of the legal hardships.
For those who wish to help clients pro bono, there will be a specialized disaster relief website or portal that allows attorneys to create an account with us and get training on some of the most pressing issues clients face after a disaster.
The attorney will have the ability to sign up for pro bono cases, clinics, or training that interests them.
The website portal and its tools can work with mobile devices without requiring an application download.
Be sure to stay tuned for updates on the upcoming texas disaster relief projects pro bono portal