One day a week we post just one photo. A photo, which speaks to the value of humanity. A photo, which reflects the need for equal access to justice.
Archive for May, 2011
We are clearly busy bees here at TALS, since it’s 3:00 and I’m just getting to a post Exciting things are happening though. Here’s what’s going on in our world…
1) Disaster Legal Services Update
General Tennessee Disaster Information
- Tennessee Statewide Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) site
- Helpful links including regional VOADs and Emergency Management Directors (EMAs)
- TEMA Update
- FEMA Update
- Shelby County Update
Volunteer Opportunities for Attorneys
As the TALS Executive Director Erik Cole said in his recent article, volunteer lawyers’ participation in Disaster Legal Services is a marathon, not a sprint. Many disaster victims are still in survival mode, but soon there will be expanded realization of related legal needs.
In anticipation of providing pro bono services to disaster victims, there is a Disaster Legal Services Manual created by the Young Lawyers Division of the TN Bar Association. Free webcasts of their disaster legal services CLEs are available through the TN Bar Association as well.
- OnlineTNJustice.org is LIVE. We encourage attorneys to register to provide volunteer services to flood victims through this new web based resource.
- Sarah Hayman, email@example.com, is also developing a list of attorney’s willing to assist with pro bono cases related to disasters in Tennessee. Please contact her if you’re interested in volunteering. Western Tennessee Counties are in specific need of volunteer attorney’s, so be sure to let Ms. Hayman know if you’re willing to help in this area.
General Disaster Legal Services Information
- ABA diagram of the Lifecycle of a Disaster Legal Services Hotline
- The ABA/YLD Disaster Manual
- ABA National Disaster Resources
- TALS Disaster Legal Assistance Facebook Group
Opportunities for Everyone to Help
- Contact your Local Red Cross’ Volunteer line to find ways you can help
Resources for Tennesseans in Need
2) Legal Services in the News
- OnlineTNJustice.org Unveiled
- Article misleads on federal budget cuts
- Local bar association to conduct free legal clinics for storm victims
- United Way Disaster Services Update
- TN Justice Center – Mother of the Year Awards
- LSC Programs Gear Up to Help Flood Victims
- Special Education Training at the TN Disability MegaConference
- NLADA - Client Impact Leadership II
- Equal Justice University 2011
As always, thanks for reading and let us know if you’d like to contribute a posting or question (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Peace and Peanut Butter,
Civil Legal Services in the News
- DLS Hotline in the News
- Shelby County Flood Update
- FEMA TN Updates
- TEMA Update
- Ask a volunteer lawyer a question by email
- More DLS info from TALS
- Disaster Legal Clinics for the public
- Missed our ‘Thoughts Over Lunch’ series “Expanding Our Capacity to Serve’ the firt time around? You can catch up and read them all here!
- Just can get enough info about the Legislature? We’re coming to the end of the session, so brace your self for some great wrap up info soon!
- Have a story to share with our blog readers? No problem! Contact Linnet Overton (email@example.com) about being a guest blogger, linking to your stories, or to share post ideas!
Peace and Peanut Butter!
Every once in a while…
One day a week we post just one photo.
A photo, which speaks to the value of humanity.
A photo, which reflects the need for equal access to justice.
Expanding Our Capacity to Serve: The Special Skills of Civil Legal Services
Guest Author: Linnet Overton, LSMW, TALS Outreach and Development Director
- Federal and State budget cuts
- Increased competition for grant funding
- Secondary trauma and burnout
- The list goes on…
Today, in the final installment of this series, we will address expanding our capacity to serve by highlighting legal providers’ necessity, their special skill set, and new opportunities to expand and use these skills.
Legal Needs are Basic Needs
When people think of life’s basic needs, what comes to mind? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs considers the most basic needs to include food, water, and shelter followed by safety. Stan Burkey, author of People First: A Guide to Self-Reliant Participatory Rural Development, describes basic needs as, “clean (unpolluted) air and water, adequate and balanced food, physical and emotional security, physical and mental rest, and culturally and climatically appropriate clothing and shelter.”
Civil legal needs are often over looked when considering basic needs in the lives of low-income and vulnerable individuals. This can result in a skewed perspective that legal representation is a luxury not a necessity. This in turn effects funding and support for civil legal services and ultimately limits the people served by these programs.
However, as legal aid and pro bono attorneys know well, meeting the civil legal needs of our communities is a necessity. Why? Because meeting people’s legal needs can prevent future needs from developing.
For example, managing a landlord/tenant issue with free civil legal assistance can prevent homelessness. Intervening in an employment or consumer protection issue can prevent a foreclosure, and/or the need for public benefits such as food stamps, or bankruptcy. The maintenance of health coverage can prevent unemployment or advanced illness. Providing legal assistance to an individual in a domestic violence situation can protect the safety of an entire family including the lives of children and public safety officers.
Food. Shelter. Water. Safety. These are basic needs. AND these are what civil legal services protect in the lives of vulnerable Tennesseans.
The Special Skills of Civil Legal Services
Attorneys and paralegals are especially skilled to assist individuals with legal situations that affect their basic needs, because they are:
- Litigants, masters of articulating and arguing an issue both verbally and in writing,
- Excellent at drawing attention to pertinent details and identifying discrepancies in fairness and legality that could harm someone,
- Interpreters of the law who can assist everyone with clarifying their rights.
Legal aid advocates, and public interest and pro bono attorneys bring yet another dimension to their practice as well. These attorneys are expert advocates for the poor, the elderly, and victims of domestic violence, because they serve these special populations everyday and attend unique trainings.
Share your Skills – Get Engaged
Legal professionals’ distinct knowledge and skills provide them the ability to affect the lives of vulnerable populations in a way that no one else can. These women and men change lives and affect the most basic needs of people across Tennessee every day. However, many legal professionals are not recognizing all they have to provide their communities OR they are not aware of new opportunities to share their gifts. To help YOU and your coworkers expand your engagement and capacity to serve, we’ve gathered the information below.
TALS offers free and reduced trainings to legal aid, pro bono, and public interest lawyers on a regular basis. If you are interested in attending one of our trainings please contact Lisa Primm, the TALS Policy and Training Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are just some of the trainings TALS has coming up:
- Free CLE on Disaster Legal Aid: Handling Contractor/Home Repair Issues (Hosted by the TBA and featuring and TALS and TBA presenters)
- Special Education and 504 Information for Attorneys and the Public
- The 2011 Equal Justice University: A two day access to justice conference
- Additional Free Disaster Related CLEs available from the TBA
- Attorney’s interested in volunteering to help with Disaster Legal Service are encouraged to contact Sarah Hayman at the TBA, email@example.com
- Register with OnlineTNJustice.org to provide pro bono services through this new website
- Want to send a law student or an access to justice advocate to EJU? You can for less than $1/day! Contact Linnet Overton, the TALS Outreach and Development Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Local Red Cross centers have disaster donation information. Additional disaster donation information available here.
Thank you to everyone who attends TALS trainings, volunteers for our projects, and is actively engaged in the access to justice community! TALS is always seeking to grow and expand our capacity to serve and we’re thrilled to have you on this journey with us!
Linnet Overton, TALS Outreach and Development Director
This week, is all about welcoming our new TALS family member!
There’s more information to come, but here’s the skinny:
- Her name is Samantha Sanchez,
- She’s very organized, detail oriented, and kind,
- She’s passionate about serving her community and equal access to justice, and
- She volunteered in Alabama to help with post-disaster recovery.
The long and short of it is we’re excited to have her! Thanks for joining the team Samantha!
Tennessee’s Disaster Response
Author: Erik Cole, Executive Director of TALS
“How high’s the water, mama?”
As I have watched the flood waters rise in Lake County, then Dyer County and now in Memphis, I can’t get this old Johnny Cash refrain out of my head. In Memphis at least, the Mississippi crested at 48 feet, just below the 1937 record flooding level. Tributaries are backed up into neighborhoods and the water won’t have anywhere to go for days, maybe weeks.
In East Tennessee they have faced additional struggles following the tornadoes that ripped through Hamilton, Bradley, Washington, and other counties.
May has once again brought unpredictable weather and widespread destruction to the Volunteer State. As incredible as it sounds, almost one year to the day after the May 2010 floods, violent weather and heavy rainfall have again left their scars all across Tennessee.
Here we go again
As of today, fifteen counties have been declared federal emergency areas by FEMA as a result of storms and flooding that began in late April. And currently, a federal state of emergency is still active for four West Tennessee counties who are still in the middle of a major disaster event as water levels rise in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The storms and flooding have left hundreds of Tennesseans displaced, thousands of properties damaged, and whole communities disrupted.
Once again, Tennesseans are stepping up and responding to help their neighbors. Right now, that means folks are filling up sandbags, mucking out houses, and staffing Red Cross shelters as survivors try to get their basic needs met. However, as we have all learned over the past few years, disasters are marathons and not sprints. The recovery process can take months, even years….and for some people, the financial and physical matters are easier to handle than the emotional strain.
Disaster Legal Services
Over the next weeks and months, victims will need more skilled assistance in the form of legal advice and trained case management to put their lives back together. TALS, along with our partners, has initiated the statewide Disaster Legal Services Hotline at 1-888-395-9297. To staff the hotline and back up the legal aid lawyers working with flood victims, we need pro bono assistance. Private attorneys looking to get involved can go and register to be a Disaster Legal Services volunteer at the TBA website or email Sarah Hayman at email@example.com.
As a service to volunteer attorneys, the TBA, TALS and TN legal aid offices have also been working to create free disaster related trainings and materials. Please take advantage of FREE CLEs and trainings offered online.
Also, this year, a new tool, www.onlinetnjustice.org is available to provide legal advice to flood and storm victims. Already over 230 attorneys have signed up to answer all types of legal questions over the Internet. We have added a disaster category and are taking disaster-related legal questions over the site as well. Right now, questions are being answered in an average of about 8 hours!
Immediate needs: shelter and avoiding fraud
The immediate assistance that we, as legal aid providers and lawyers, can provide during the immediate disaster response phase is to help people make positive, informed decisions about their shelter, their insurance and federal benefits, and their steps to recovery. We can help them avoid fraud, con-artists, and mistakes caused by moving too hastily to rebuild or repair their homes.
Attorney General Bob Cooper and Gary Cordell, director of the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Division of Consumer Affairs, have warned all Tennesseans to be alert to potential price gouging, particularly in East and Southern Tennessee:
Two community education pieces are particularly helpful to victims during the disaster response phase. They are:
Disaster victims’ need for assistance from volunteer attorneys will not stop in the next couple of weeks. As people get their basic needs met, they will begin to realize that they have serious financial and legal issues to address. This requires a long term commitment from Tennessee’s lawyers. The challenge we face in the coming months is to remain engaged as the waters recede.
At times this May has felt like ‘deja vous’ all over again. However, Tennessee is a better prepared state this time around. Our organizations, government, and citizens have developed new systems for managing and responding to disasters. And we have proven to ourselves that we can band together and rise up in the wake of a storm.
- Erik Cole
Erik Cole, Executive Director of TALS
Great Resources and Information from Around the State
- Flooded River Takes Aim At Mississippi Delta
- Along The Mississippi, An Old Sense Of Dread Rises
- 5/11/11 Shelby county Update
- TN.gov Resources for Storm Victims
- Hundreds in Memphis evacuate as river keeps rising
- Mississippi River crests in Memphis; massive cleanup needed
- USDA Farm Service Agency Offers Disaster Assistance Programs
- Lawyers needed to help disaster victims
There are many ways to help Tennesseans in need. How will you reach out to your community today?
Here it is again. Wednesday.
What are you going to do to make this one stand out?
- Tennesseans will need volunteer attorneys in the coming weeks! Please contact Sarah Hayman at the TBA (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you think you can be of assistance to people in West or East Tennessee with disaster legal questions. Don’t feel prepared to help disaster victims, but still want to help? There’s training available from free CLEs here!
Share Disaster Resources with your Community?
- OnlineTNJustice.org - a web-based legal resource for low-income Tennesseans
- Emergency Preparedness Fact Sheets from the USDA
- Portable Gererator Safety Tips
- Bradely County Disaster Response Info
National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed several factsheets for parents, teachers, teens, and children. At the Psychological First Aid page on the NCTSN website (http://www.nctsn.org/content/psychological-first-aid) you can now download the entire manual or parts of it in English, Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese. Here are some resources available:
- After the Tornado: Helping Young Children Heal
- Parent Guidelines for Helping Children after a Tornado
- Questions To Ask Your Children About the Tornado
- Teacher Guidelines for Helping Students after a Tornado
- Tornado Response for Kids: Right after a Tornado
- Tornado Recovery for Kids: Making Things Better
- Tornado Response for Teens: Right after a Tornado
- Tornado Recovery for Teens: Making Things Better
- Tips for Parents on Media Coverage of the Tornadoes
Go to a training?
- This Friday there will be a FREE webinar about Disaster Legal Services,
- And here’s what’s coming up at TALS in the next couple months.
Whatever you do, we hope you have a GREAT Wednesday!
Peace and Peanuts!