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Disaster Assistance

Legal Aid

Legal service may be provided to low-income individuals who require them as a result of a major disaster.

"Low-income" is defined as disaster victims who have insufficient resources to secure adequate legal services, whether the insufficiency existed prior to or results from the major disaster.

The regulations state the following:

CFR Title 44 Sec. 206.164 describes legal aid as follows:

Disaster legal services. (a) Legal services, including legal advice, counseling, and representation in non fee-generating cases, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, may be provided to low-income individuals who require them as a result of a major disaster.

For the purpose of this section, low-income individuals means those disaster victims who have insufficient resources to secure adequate legal services, whether the insufficiency existed prior to or results from the major disaster. In cases where questions arise about the eligibility of an individual for legal services, the Regional Director or his/her representative shall make a determination.

(b) Disaster legal services shall be provided free to such individuals. Fee-generating cases shall not be accepted by lawyers operating under these regulations. For purposes of this section, a fee- generating case is one which would not ordinarily be rejected by local lawyers as a result of its lack of potential remunerative value. Where any question arises as to whether a case is fee-generating as defined in this section, the Regional Director or his/her representative, after any necessary consultation with local or State bar associations, shall make the determination.

Any fee-generating cases shall be referred by the Regional Director or his/her representative to private lawyers, through existing lawyer referral services, or, where that is impractical or impossible, the Regional Director may provide a list of lawyers from which the disaster victim may choose. Lawyers who have rendered voluntary legal assistance under these regulations are not precluded from taking fee-generating cases referred to them in this manner while in their capacity as private lawyers.

(c) When the Regional Director determines after any necessary consultation with the State Coordinating Officer, that implementation of this section is necessary, provision of disaster legal services may be accomplished by:

(1) Use of volunteer lawyers under the terms of appropriate agreements;

(2) Use of Federal lawyers, provided that these lawyers do not represent an eligible disaster victim before a court or Federal agency in a matter directly involving the United States, and further provided that these lawyers do not act in a way which will violate the standards of conduct of their respective agencies or departments;

(3) Use of private lawyers who may be paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency when the Regional Director has determined that there is no other means of obtaining adequate legal assistance for qualified disaster victims; or

(4) Any other arrangement the Regional Director deems appropriate. The Associate Director shall coordinate with appropriate Federal agencies and the appropriate national, state and local bar associations, as necessary, in the implementation of the disaster legal services programs.

(d) In the event it is necessary for FEMA to pay lawyers for the provision of legal services under these regulations, the Regional Director, in consultation with State and local bar associations, shall determine the amount of reimbursement due to the lawyers who have provided disaster legal services at the request of the Regional Director. At the Regional Director's discretion, administrative costs of lawyers providing legal services requested by him or her may also be paid.

(e) Provision of disaster legal services is confined to the securing of benefits under the Act and claims arising out of a major disaster.

(f) Any disaster legal services shall be provided in accordance with subpart A of these regulations, Non-discrimination in disaster assistance.

 

 

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Last Modified: 100605 1136

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