Touro Law Center has received a $40,000 grant to hire a lawyer to recruit, coordinate and organize efforts of law students from across the nation who want to provide pro bono help to Long Island’s Hurricane Sandy victims. The gift comes from the Rauch Foundation, a Long Island-based nonprofit that invests in projects benefiting children, families and the environment. Touro’s grant will pay for an attorney-coordinator to pair student volunteers with disaster relief agencies that are already helping storm victims.
Students will work with government agencies and nonprofits to help people facing legal questions on FEMA, foreclosures, insurance, landlord-tenant issues, employment issues and rebuilding issues. Though students may help in other areas affected by Sandy, Long Island is the first priority.
Touro opened an emergency hotline days after Sandy in partnership with the Suffolk County Bar Association. The call center still provides referrals and legal advice for Long Island residents and small businesses. The new project is modeled after the Student Hurricane Network, a national association that created volunteer opportunities for law students after Katrina.
Since Sandy, Touro Law said it has received calls from groups at other law schools, some out-of-state, interested in helping. The school developed its own project and applied for the Rauch grant based on student interest. Touro seeks to hire an attorney coordinator immediately and is also recruiting law students to spend their spring or summer breaks doing Sandy-related work. The coordinator position will last for six months.