Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Following up on my previous post: Law.com, Ahead of the Curve: A Clinic Rises From the Ashes:
Last year, Pepperdine University School of Law developed a one-semester disaster relief clinic to help people impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas to file appeals with the Federal Emergency Management Agency when their applications for financial assistance were denied.
Clinic director Jeff Baker joked at the time that the clinic framework would come in handy when an inevitable earthquake rocked Southern California and people needed FEMA help locally. But it turns out wildfires were the first major natural disaster to strike the area, with the Woolsey fire ravaging Ventura County. And Pepperdine is once again diving into disaster relief. This time, its client base is in the school’s Malibu backyard.
Baker and the Pepperdine are mustering volunteer attorneys from around the country to help wildfire victims learn about FEMA assistance, to file applications, and to sort out other insurance matters. Come January, Pepperdine will launch a formal clinic with law students assisting clients on those matters throughout the semester and perhaps beyond.
What’s especially remarkable about this is that Baker launched the project within four days of the fire’s worst devastation. “As we sheltered through the fire, I thought, ‘There’s no way we can’t turn this on again,’” he said of the disaster relief clinic.
And the response from lawyers who want to help has been swift. Ten volunteers stepped up within hours of Baker unveiling the project. “I have been brought to tears today by the outpouring of response to our call for our help, and the resources rolling in from all corners of the country. It’s really incredible,” he said.