Legal Ethics

Disaster Rule Speeds Legal Help

A proposal by the New York State Bar Association would allow out-of-state lawyers to offer free help to disaster victims without getting special court permission.

The proposal would allow outside lawyers to offer pro bono help to New York victims after officials declare a state of emergency, Associated Press reports. The lawyers would not need to go through the time-consuming process of pro hac vice admission in such cases.

Lawyers coping with a disaster in their home state could also practice temporarily in New York under the proposal.

The proposal is similar to an ABA model rule allowing pro bono help through established programs after a disaster, the AP report says.

Chief Justice Judith Kaye is reviewing the measure.

New York State Bar President Kathryn Grant Madigan said in a press release that lawyers can be a major help when calamity strikes. “Obviously, we never want to see a disaster happen, but when one occurs, we want to ensure that volunteer legal assistance is available,” she said.

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