ABA Journal

Natural Disasters

Disaster response news from the ABA Journal, American Bar Association legal resources, volunteering opportunities and disaster helplines.

Hurricane Florence/Sasa Kadrijevic via NASA (Shutterstock.com.)

Former BigLaw employee alleges she was wrongly fired for vaccine refusal

A former practice group assistant at Jenner & Block has filed a lawsuit contending that the law firm violated federal law when it fired her for refusing to get a vaccine for COVID-19.

Bosses mandated them back to the office. They took legal action instead

After more than two years of fighting against return-to-office mandates, workers are fed up with their bosses’ inflexible policies and are taking their battle to court.

Lawyer censured after calling governor ‘tyrant’ and lawmakers ‘spineless tools’ in COVID-19 litigation

A New Mexico lawyer has received a public censure partly for “inflammatory and misleading statements” in litigation opposing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, including a claimed right to disqualify judges who had received COVID-19 vaccines.

Relax with our favorite long reads of 2023

Hopefully you're going to have some time over the winter holidays to cozy up with a good story. We've curated a list of some of our favorite web and print long reads from 2023. There's a mix of popular features and some under-the-radar stories that you may have missed.

Lawyer suspended for charging inflated and fake fees to real estate clients; did everybody do it?

Updated: A New Jersey lawyer has been suspended after an audit found that she overcharged clients in real estate transactions by collecting fake fees or fee amounts that were higher than the actual expenses incurred.

Former Baltimore state’s attorney convicted for claiming pandemic hardship to get retirement cash

Federal jurors in Greenbelt, Maryland, convicted former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby on two counts of perjury Thursday for lying about COVID-19 pandemic hardship to take early withdrawals totaling $90,000 from her city retirement fund.

Lawyer suffering from pandemic stress censured for accessing judge’s computer, changing clerk’s time card

A New York lawyer has been censured for accessing a judge’s computer while she was experiencing mental health issues that partly stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic.

US pressure on social media over misinformation likely unconstitutional, 5th Circuit says

Updated: The U.S. government likely violated the First Amendment by pressuring social media companies to block COVID-19 misinformation and other content, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

FDA’s ‘tweet-sized doses’ of ivermectin advice can be challenged in lawsuit, 5th Circuit says

Doctors who prescribed the human version of a drug called ivermectin to thousands of their COVID-19 patients can sue the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Want to help survivors of the Hawaii wildfires? The ABA has options for you

The ABA is calling on attorneys to join the response to the Maui wildfires in Hawaii, which claimed the lives of more than 100 people and displaced thousands more earlier this month.

Louisiana man’s jokes about sheriff’s department are protected free speech, 5th Circuit says

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a Louisiana man who was arrested after posting on Facebook that a local sheriff’s department had ordered its deputies to shoot people who were infected with COVID-19.

Weekly Briefs: SCOTUS asked to hear high school admissions case over race; utility company faces suit after Hawaii wildfires

Supreme Court could hear high school admissions case involving race

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday was asked to hear a Virginia high school admissions case over race. The Coalition…

Federal initiative recovers over $836M in stolen COVID-19 relief funds, DOJ says

From May through July, the U.S. Department of Justice led enforcement actions against 718 individuals for offenses involving more than $836 million in alleged COVID-19 fraud.

Alston & Bird resolves dispute over legal advice during pandemic

Law firm Alston & Bird has resolved a federal lawsuit over its regulatory advice on the imports of hand sanitizing wipes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are law firm leaders having second thoughts on remote work?

Recent headlines suggest the flexible working arrangements many take for granted are not so settled in the minds of corporate CEOs and law firm leaders. Postings for remote work positions are waning despite high demand from applicants. That, combined with a softening economy, has some wondering if companies have newfound leverage to demand workers to come in.

Disaster Response Resources
Volunteering Opportunities

Florida attorneys can visit the Florida Bar Foundation to find post-storm volunteer opportunities for legal aid and pro bono attorneys, or visit Florida Pro Bono Matters.

North Carolina attorneys can find info on volunteering on the North Carolina Bar's Hurricane Florence page.

South Carolina attorneys can volunteer for the South Carolina Bar's disaster relief legal service hotline by filling out this form.

Not licensed in those states but looking to donate your time or money? Check out ambar.org/DisasterRelief.

ABA Journal Coverage
Disaster Helplines

The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) is a national hotline dedicated to providing year-round disaster crisis counseling. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text 'TalkWithUs' to 66746) to residents in the U.S. and its territories who are experiencing emotional distress related to natural or man-made disasters.

For low-income individuals with disaster-related legal needs, the following phone numbers are available:
North Carolina residents: 1-833-242-3549
South Carolina residents: 1-877-797-2227 ext. 120
Virginia residents: 1-804-775-0808 in the Richmond area, or 1-800-552-7977.
Florida residents: 1-866-550-2929.