Natural Disasters

Attorneys Asked to Give 1 Hour's Pay to Haiti; Lawyer Pilots Plane Bringing Aid

As Haiti seeks some $3 billion in aid to help rebuild after a devastating earthquake on Jan. 12, a state bar association has made a suggestion that may help make a daunting project seem more doable.

Each member of the state bar should donate an amount equal to one hour’s pay at his or her regular billable rate, suggests the Florida Bar in an an e-mail sent last week to all 88,000 members by president Jesse Diner and Francisco Corrales, who heads the group’s international section. If everyone gave an average of $200, the fundraising effort could bring in $17 million, reports the Daily Business Review in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

The American Bar Association and law firms throughout the country have also been encouraging donations. Although authorities have been urging those who want to help to send money rather than goods, a few lawyers have been able to make a difference by providing hands-on assistance.

Among them is Dale Thuillez, a New York lawyer who also is a pilot.

And the Albany, N.Y., trial attorney has a Pilatus PC-12, which is fast, fuel-efficient and easy to land on a small airstrip, Fox News reports.

Thuillez said he didn’t hesitate to step in when he was asked to help out, even though, as he tells the ABA Journal, “you always worry about landing at an unknown airport.” On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, he flew doctors and supplies to Jacmel, Haiti, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., bringing passengers back from Haiti on the return trip.

His plane is one of the few aircraft capable of performing this mission, he says, explaining that it can land on a narrow strip of asphalt.

“We’d go in and unload the plane as fast as we could and then go load up the passengers we were bringing back to the states and take off,” Thuillez tells the Fox network.

It is expected to cost more than $3 billion to rebuild the country, where not only homes but the infrastructure—including schools, hospitals, courthouses and at least one penitentiary—were devastated, reports the Miami Herald.

There will be little insurance to help, because many buildings were uninsured. Substandard construction using plans and materials that provided little or no safety margin to protect against predictable earthquake stress believed to be part of the reason why the 7.0-magnitude tremor caused so much damage, according to the Age. The Australian newspaper’s article apparently relies on information from Agence France-Presse, the Guardian and the Telegraph.

A meeting with representatives of nearly a dozen countries is planned shortly in Montreal to try to coordinate an aid scheme. Some are calling for a “Marshall Plan for Haiti” and warning that the United States alone will need to contribute $5 billion over the next few years, the Age recounts.

A total of 150,000 have been confirmed dead from the earthquake, and that figure could double.

Related earlier coverage: “ABA Prez Calls for Haiti Donations After ‘Heartbreaking’ Quake; BigLaw Gives Big Money”

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