American Bar Association / ABA, Biglaw, Disasters / Emergencies, Pro Bono, Public Interest

Lawyers and Law Firms Contribute To Hurricane Sandy Relief and Recovery Efforts

An awning taken down by Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy hit the legal world hard, as we’ve chronicled in these pages. And many lawyers and legal employers are still feeling its effects — quite literally. If you work at one prominent downtown law firm, for example, we hope you’re wearing thermal underwear.

As we mentioned on Friday, some individuals have been exploiting the Superstorm Sandy crisis to take advantage of others. The Justice Department and the SEC have issued warnings about various “Sandy scams.”

On the opposite end of the decency spectrum, some lawyers and law firms are stepping up to the plate and supporting Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery efforts. Let’s see what they’re doing — and give them some well-deserved kudos for their work….

There is, of course, a long and impressive tradition of major law firms supporting humanitarian efforts in response to natural disasters. For example, Biglaw offered big responses to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011 and to the Haiti earthquake of 2010.

We have previously mentioned one firm’s support for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. McGuireWoods is encouraging its partners and employees to support the American Red Cross through a matching contribution program. The firm will match up to $50,000 in individual contributions.

Another firm is making an even bigger statement — or at least writing an even bigger check. On Friday afternoon, Weil Gotshal made the following internal announcement:

In order to assist with the relief efforts, the Firm will immediately make a contribution of a total of $200,000, spread among three organizations – the American Red Cross, AmeriCares and the Salvation Army.

In addition, the Firm will match Partner and employee contributions up to a total of $200,000 for donations made to [specified] organizations, or similar charitable organizations dedicated to the hurricane relief efforts.

The full Weil memo, which lists a variety of reputable relief organizations, appears on the next page.

Supporting Sandy recovery isn’t all about the benjamins. Firms and their lawyers can contribute time and effort as well. For example, McDermott Will & Emery is pitching in on various pro bono legal efforts.

And support for hurricane relief goes beyond Biglaw. From the ABA Journal:

In a [recent] statement, ABA President Laurel Bellows notes that the ABA Young Lawyers Division is coordinating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to staff emergency disaster hotlines with lawyers who can provide expert advice to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. The ABA is also a participating organization in the National Disaster Legal Aid website, which provides information to donate to or volunteer with legal aid programs.

We commend McGuireWoods, Weil Gotshal, McDermott Will, and the ABA for their efforts and contributions. These are just a few examples of how lawyers and law firms are helping others and promoting the public interest in the destructive aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Are you aware of a major law firm that is supporting Hurricane Sandy recovery work, through the contribution of time, or treasure, or both? If so, please email us (subject line: “Sandy Relief Efforts”). If we receive enough additional information, we may prepare a follow-up post. Thanks.

P.S. On the theory that charity begins at home, we have also gently suggested that law firms announce and pay staff and lawyer bonuses as soon as possible, to help affected employees cope with unanticipated expenses arising out of Superstorm Sandy.

UPDATE (11/6/2012, 12:00 PM): For additional law firm pro bono efforts and charitable contributions related to Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, check out Am Law Daily.

(Click through to the next page to see the full Weil Gotshal memo, which could serve as a template for announcing similar initiatives at other law firms.)

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