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Lawyers Travel to Haiti to Help After Quake; ABA Launches Disaster Relief Portal

Posted Jan 27, 2010 10:36 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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As lawyers, bar organizations and law firms gear up to support the relief effort in Haiti, some are donating not only money but their personal efforts, on the ground, to help out.

And it isn't easy. An obviously drained Dale Thuillez spent three days last week flying medical supplies and personnel to the earthquake-devasted country in his private plane and bringing individuals back on the return trip. The New York trial lawyer told the ABA Journal he didn't see much of the country as he rushed back and forth, but a Georgia lawyer did.

Peter Anderson of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan last week went along with two doctors from the ServHAITI nonprofit that Anderson helped found a decade or so ago. Although he has regularly traveled to the county since, as a board member of the faith-based organization, he described himself to the American Lawyer as disheartened and struggling to comprehend what can be done to assuage the suffering of 2 million to 3 million survivors who no longer have a place to live or the basic necessities of life.

"I think the best way I can describe it is that I saw things I wish I'd never seen. I was asked to assist in medical treatment care in ways that I thought I never would or could," the Atlanta litigation partner tells the legal publication. Nonetheless, he plans to return to Haiti again soon, to do what he can.

Attorney Thomas Griffin also rushed to the country from his Philadelphia law office after the quake, to see how the medical clinic he helped found in a Port-au-Prince slum in 2007 is doing. Although the Lamp for Haiti clinic was damaged, it was still standing, he was relieved to see. Organizers would like to offer food as well as medical care, but don't even have the resources to provide the medical care that is needed, he tells the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"The need is so great, we could go 24/7," Griffin says. However, the clinic can only operate three days a week and provide continuing care.

Like Anderson, he also plans to return to Haiti soon. And, like Anderson, he also is frustrated about the extent of the need and how it can be met. As he departed for home, 13 days after the earthquake struck and the international community stepped in to offer aid, homeless people were still living out in the open under bedsheets, he pointed out.

American Bar Association President Carolyn B. Lamm has called for ABA members to support the humanitarian efforts being made to help rebuild the country, and the ABA has also set up a Web portal to provide attorneys and others with information about how they can assist.

More information about the Web portal and an e-mail address for those who wish to offer suggestions is provided in an ABA press release.

Although cash donations are encouraged, it may also be possible to donate credit card points to the Haitian relief effort, according to the Bucks blog of the New York Times.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Haiti Quake Shakes Up Adoptions"

AmLaw Daily: "Mintz Levin Advises Undocumented Haitians on Options"

Daily Camera: "Boulder attorney unites Haitian orphans with U.S. parents"

Boston College Chronicle: "Boston College Law School leads area effort to help Haitian immigrants"

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