Disaster Legal Response Program
When Superstorm Sandy hit in October 2012, storm victims were faced with a wide variety of disaster-related legal issues, many of which had never been seen before in New Jersey. VLJ quickly organized the Disaster Legal Response Program (DLRP) to provide legal advice and representation to storm victims. The program assists clients statewide with any legal issue stemming from Sandy, including but not limited to insurance matters, contractor disputes, FEMA recoupment, grant appeals, and Blue Acres real estate closings. Even three years later, a significant number of Sandy victims---many of whom have not yet returned home---continue to face legal matters and are desperately in need of pro bono representation.
Who can volunteer?
All attorneys are welcome to accept full representation or advice-only cases through the DLRP. However, certain cases may require some prior experience in that area of law. VLJ can provide training materials on common Sandy-related legal issues, as well as experienced attorney mentors in some instances. Volunteers with no prior experience must review the training materials before taking on a pro bono case.
What do volunteers do?
DLRP cases vary depending on the legal issue and the assistance sought---some may entail simply providing advice via a phone consultation, while others may require litigation. A list of current cases is included in VLJ’s case opportunity list, which will indicate the type of case (i.e. “consumer/ contract”) and the level of service the client is seeking. Once an attorney confirms that s/he is interested in a case and has completed a conflict check, the attorney will receive the case file, containing the client’s contact information and all relevant documents. Attorneys are asked to review the case file, contact the client, and determine whether or not they can take the case within 10 days. Training materials and/or attorney mentors may be available depending on the subject matter of the case.
How to sign up
Cases are referred via VLJ’s case opportunities list, which is emailed out on the first and third Wednesday of the month. All new volunteers are immediately signed up to receive this email listing of available cases. If you see a case you are interested in, you should email the VLJ staff person on the case list who will then send you conflict information.