September 11th: Pro Bono and Disaster Resiliency
by Lynn Kelly, Executive Director September 11, 2018
After September 11th, the New York legal community mounted an incredible and unprecedented pro bono response to the legal needs of families who lost a loved one.
The late great New York State Chief Judge Judith Kaye, in her forward to Public Service in a Time of Crisis, called it “the Bar at its finest, its shining hour: thousands of lawyers, paralegals and staff members, hundreds of thousands of hours enthusiastically volunteered for the public good.” For those lawyers who experienced the event or who volunteered in the aftermath, lives were changed forever. And the pro bono work continued into the second decade with pro bono lawyers staffing clinics at the City Bar to assist pro se filers under the Zadroga Act.
This day of remembrance is also a reminder of the great pro bono needs facing the disadvantaged in our city. As Chief Judge Kaye wisely noted: “One disaster is more than enough for a lifetime of lessons, and September 11, 2001 surely was the ultimate experience. But the fact is that for families facing homelessness, or eviction, or deportation, or foster care or innumerable other life challenges, every day is also a time of crisis.”
To that end, we are fortunate that, seventeen years after September 11th, pro bono programs have expanded and New York’s legal community is better prepared than ever to volunteer to help. For example, the City Bar’s Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee recently released a rapid response protocol to help organize a mass pro bono response for the next disaster.
This year’s National Pro Bono Week focuses on disaster resiliency. We encourage you to participate by volunteering with the City Bar Justice Center to assist survivors of disasters when they strike. For more information, visit our Do Pro Bono page.
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