This year has been extremely stressful for lawyers, most of whom are receiving more cases than usual amidst a dangerous pandemic that has also changed how they must do business. Most casework can be completed at home or in an office with appropriate social distancing procedures in place. But clients have mostly been barred from these environments. Meetings take place over the phone or on Zoom clients instead. It hasn’t been easy.
And there are other issues, too.
Most Americans couldn’t afford a $400 emergency expenditure. Well, almost all of those people have had to try to afford a $400 emergency expenditure — because many Americans have lost their jobs. The economy is slowly crawling back, but the GDP growth has collapsed for the first time in many years.
Pro Bono New Jersey has expanded its resources to help many clients in northern states, but the workload is unsustainable in the long-term. Those in southern or western states can try Pro Bono Net, but should expect many of the same concerns. The ABA also provides detailed information on how to find a pro bono lawyer.
What does the American Bar Association have to say? They want you to know that there are still lawyers out there who can help you. Also, taking a look at the ABA website can help you find some resources you didn’t necessarily know were already free. For example, the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) has made its library of online courses available to anyone who signs up — and every single one of those course is completely free. You can create a guest account without signing up for an ABI membership.
Those who require legal services right now can reach out to the ABA Young Lawyers Division, which established a national hotline in order to provide easy information resources.
As always, many pro bono opportunities are still available: ABA Free Legal Answers provides virtual legal advice for those who need it the most. You can simply post a legal question. If it has not already been asked, a qualified lawyer will answer it promptly. The Massachusetts COVID-19 Pro Bono Portal helps residents find pro bono projects that could apply in a given situation. Many of these projects are currently remote in nature, making it easier for those who cannot travel.
The National Disaster Relief Pro Bono Portal connects victims of natural and other disasters to lawyers who are well versed in finding alternative avenues of compensation. COVID-19 is included under the umbrella of disaster relief, so it’s worth a try. The National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center provides similar help. Go there if you cannot find what you are looking for from the previous Pro Bono Portal.
The ABA also links to resources offered by the CDC. This is a great place to look if you’re having trouble coping in strictly non-legal ways, i.e. depression or anxiety about the future.