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Front Page - Friday, April 24, 2020

Baker Donelson announces firmwide pro bono efforts in response to coronavirus outbreak

Allie Weiss, pro bono committee chair for Baker Donelson’s Chattanooga office. - Photograph provided

Baker Donelson has announced firmwide pro bono efforts focused on addressing legal needs created by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re calling on our attorneys to give back during this unprecedented situation by performing pro bono work to address the many legal issues brought about as this pandemic continues to touch virtually every aspect of life in our communities,” says Samuel Bowman, the firm’s pro bono shareholder.

“Just as we are continuing to provide uninterrupted legal services to our clients throughout this crisis, we are encouraging our attorneys to perform pro bono work for those most in need within the communities we serve.”

“Many communities are hurting right now, including Chattanooga, and our firm wants to be there to help,” adds Allie Weiss, pro bono committee chair for the firm’s Chattanooga office. “Given our attorneys’ experience and depth of knowledge, we are able to offer assistance with many of the issues that are arising as a result of COVID-19 across the firm’s footprint.”

As part of Baker Donelson’s related pro bono efforts, it is implementing an approach focused on multiple opportunities where its attorneys can serve.

Firm attorneys will be assisting state bar associations and local legal aid organizations with creating, managing and serving on COVID-19 task forces to provide remote counsel.

As an example, Baker Donelson’s Chattanooga office has been working with Legal Aid of East Tennessee to address various legal concerns brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

“A lot of the issues that are coming up right now are related to employment and housing,” Weiss says. “Given the severe economic impact the pandemic is having, it sounds like there are a number of people who are unfortunately facing eviction, and they will need advice on landlord-tenant law in the coming weeks, especially once the courts reopen for hearings.”

Baker Donelson attorneys will also be volunteering to address questions posed online on ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org.

This online platform allows any eligible user with an internet connection to access civil legal advice and resources at any time by posing questions to attorneys who provide pro bono legal counsel remotely.

Modeled after a legal advice portal created in Tennessee, ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org has become a national resource, offering a free service for low-income clients in 42 jurisdictions and access to more than 7,000 pro bono attorneys.

Weiss says several attorneys from the firm’s Chattanooga office are registered with FreeLegalAnswers, with some answering a significant volume of questions.

Baker Donelson’s attorneys will also be providing pro bono services to assist nonprofits, as they face many of the same operational, legal, regulatory and governmental issues as for-profit businesses as a result of COVID-19.

Baker Donelson is also working with other law firms nationwide on additional pro bono opportunities arising as a result of the pandemic.

As part of the firm’s existing pro bono efforts, each of its attorneys can receive billable hour credit for up to 100 hours per year of pro bono work.

“Just as we established a coronavirus task force focused on addressing the many legal issues our clients are facing, we are encouraging our attorneys to commit time to serve the people most in need who will be severely impacted by this crisis,” says Jennifer Keller, Baker Donelson’s president and chief operating officer.

“We’re proud of Baker Donelson’s longstanding reputation as a leader in pro bono service. This is a time of tremendous need when we can once again lead the way.”

Source: Baker Donelson