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Front Page - Friday, December 9, 2016

Legal assistance available for wildfire victims

Chattanooga attorney April Holland was the first in the city to volunteer to answer legal questions for victims of the fires in Gatlinburg and Sevier County. - Photograph by David Laprad

Chattanooga attorney April Holland says she was horrified when she learned about the Gatlinburg fires that broke out on Monday, Nov. 28.

She also felt helpless and wanted to lend a hand, but didn’t know how.

Through the collective efforts of the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA), the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) and the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, every attorney in Tennessee can now provide legal assistance for victims of the fires.

Attorneys across the state can volunteer to answer emailed questions on the TN Free Legal Answers website or respond to calls and messages received on the HELP4TN legal helpline.

Holland is doing both. “Volunteering to answer questions remotely is an easy way for me to support wildfire victims,” she said. “As a corporate transactional attorney, I was worried I wouldn’t have the legal expertise needed, but the TBA also provides disaster relief training.”

Lawyers interested in volunteering with TN Free Legal Answers can sign up at tn.freelegalanswers.org. Others willing to respond to calls to the HELP4TN legal helpline can sign up via the Disaster Legal Assistance Volunteer Form at www.tba.org/volunteer-for-disaster-legal-assistance.

Training resources and other materials for attorney volunteers are available on the TBA’s Disaster Legal Assistance web page at www.tba.org/info/disaster-relief-assistance.

“I hope more Chattanooga lawyers volunteer their time during this difficult period for Gatlinburg,” Holland, who practices at Miller & Martin, said.

Lawyers in East Tennessee who can volunteer in-person at a legal clinic should contact Kathryn Ellis with LAET at kellis@laet.org or (865) 637-0484.

The TBA’s Young Lawyers Division Disaster Relief Committee has also been activated and will be assisting with volunteer recruitment and coordination efforts. To volunteer, complete the Disaster Legal Assistance Volunteer Form at www.tba.org/volunteer-for-disaster-legal-assistance.

Source: TBA