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State Bar Association Adds Canadian County to Disaster Response Initiative

(Oklahoma City – June 13, 2013) A program aimed at providing free legal advice to disaster victims has been extended to those in Canadian County. The assistance is being offered through the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Disaster Relief program and its partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

Press contact:
Lori Rasmussen

Assistant Communications Director
Oklahoma Bar Association
Phone: 405-416-7017
Toll-free: 800-522-8065
Email: lorir@okbar.org

Victims seeking disaster-related legal advice can visit www.okbar.org to complete a legal assistance form or call toll-free 866-341-8416. Those seeking assistance are asked to provide as many details about their situations in the online form as possible.  Applications of victims seeking help will be reviewed to determine the areas in which they need assistance and then paired with a volunteer attorney who has experience in those areas of the law.

OBA President Jim Stuart of Shawnee said, “Hundreds of lawyers have already volunteered to serve their fellow Oklahomans. Now that the victims’ immediate needs for food and shelter have been met, providing free legal assistance related to this disaster will become essential as people begin to put their lives back together. We stand ready to help anyone who needs it.” 

Aid will be provided free of charge regarding insurance claims, landlord-tenant law, repair contracts, consumer protection, mortgage foreclosure, legal document replacement and more.  Advice will only be offered for legal questions related to the recent storms. OBA Disaster Response and Relief Committee Chair Molly Aspan of Tulsa is spearheading the bar’s efforts to assist victims.

The program continues to be offered to residents of Caddo,Cleveland, Comanche, Creek, Garfield, Grant, Greer, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan,McClain, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Pawnee, Payne and Pottawatomie counties.

More information about the OBA’s disaster response efforts and historical information about the program is available on the OBA website.

Additional Background

When the U.S. President declares a major disaster, FEMA, in cooperation with the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division,establishes a toll-free number for disaster survivors to request legal assistance.  The ABA Young Lawyers Division in turn partners with state bar associations and other legal organizations to recruit volunteer lawyers in affected areas to handle survivors’ cases.

Partnership Members

The following organizations have joined forces to establish a toll-free phone line for Oklahoma tornado survivors to request free legal assistance and to provide volunteer attorneys to handle cases arising from recent storm damage:

Oklahoma Bar Association
The 17,000-member Oklahoma Bar Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was created by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to advance the administration of justice and to foster and maintain learning, integrity, competence, public service and high standards of conduct among Oklahoma's legal community.

American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division
The ABA YLD, the largest national organization of young lawyers, provides leadership in serving the public and the profession, and promotes excellence and fulfillment in the practice of law. Its parent organization, the ABA, is the national voice of the legal profession and the largest voluntary professional membership group in the world.

Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing,mitigation the effects of, responding to and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.  Through an agreement with the ABA, FEMA underwrites the cost of operating toll-free legal assistance lines for survivors in areas designated as federal disaster sites.