Natural Disasters

ABA Prez Calls for Haiti Donations After 'Heartbreaking' Quake; BigLaw Gives Big Money

After a disastrous earthquake in Haiti earlier this week that is conservatively estimated to have killed 50,000 and devastated much of the country, American Bar Association President Carolyn B. Lamm is calling for members to support humanitarian relief efforts to help residents recover and rebuild.

“On behalf of the American Bar Association, I want to extend to our members and their family and friends in Haiti, the Haitian legal community, and the people of Haiti our deep condolences and full support following this week’s terrible earthquake,” she says in a written statement posted on the ABA’s website today.

“The initial reports present a heartbreaking picture of destruction and suffering. We hope that the casualty figures will be less than so far indicated. But we know, unfortunately, that the suffering will be immense.”

Read the full statement for Lamm’s suggestions about charities to which donations may be sent.

Meanwhile, a number of well-known law firms are already contributing.

Stepping up with big money donations, are these BigLaw firms:

• Weil Gotshal, according to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, announced Thursday that it will contribute $100,000 to the American Red Cross, Save the Children and Oxfam. On top of that, the firm hopes to raise at least another $100,000 for relief efforts.

• Kirkland & Ellis announced in a press release today that the firm’s charitable foundation, lawyers and staff are making an initial donation of $100,000.

• Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker has also given $100,000, notes Legal Blog Watch.

• Skadden Arps will make an “aggregate donation” of $100,000 for Haiti disaster relief efforts, Law Blog notes.

Others are matching or collecting smaller donations.

Law Blog, which is continuously updating its list of law firm donations, notes that Holland & Knight’s Charitable Foundation will hold a firmwide “Casual Day for a Cause,” and match individual contributions up to $100,000 to donate to the American Red Cross.

At Reed Smith, those in the firm’s 23 international offices are being encouraged to coordinate their own donations, which the firm will match, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.

“We’re encouraging local support directed by each of our offices,” says David Egan, the firm’s chief marketing officer.”We’ll have a matching effort firmwide for that. All of the details haven’t been worked out.”

Caution is called for before simply handing over money to a charitable organization with which the giver is not familiar, points out CBS News in an article that offers specific ideas about checking out a charity.

Additional and related coverage: “Lawyers Among Those Missing and Feared Dead in Haiti” “US Deportations to Haiti Halted After Devastating Earthquake”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “US may grant undocumented Haitians legal status”

Room for Debate (New York Times): “The Help That Haiti Needs”

Last updated at 5:34 p.m. to link to subsequent post.

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