Brad S. Karp, chairman of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, sent an email to over 1,000 lawyers at his firm in mid-March. In it, he asked for volunteers to assist in the creation of an online relief center that could serve as a repository for the hundreds of federal, state and local government programs available to people facing economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Within a few hours, hundreds of lawyers responded and an effort began to collate, decipher and organize an online relief center where individuals who desperately need access to these benefits would be able to find it.
Karp and partners Robert Atkins and Michael E. Gertzman, guests on this week’s episode of the Miranda Warnings podcast, discuss how the relief center came to be, what types of information can be found on it and the unique ability the legal community has to help the most vulnerable access government relief programs.
They talk about the types of federal programs that are available to workers and small businesses, including the tens of millions of workers who have been furloughed or discharged and need access to the increased unemployment benefits in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The relief center also has information for the small businesses and other companies that need loans to retain or bring back employees.
As Gertzman told podcast host David Miranda, “We believe that lawyers are well suited to break all this down and make the information available for everyone.”
The guests also discussed how partnerships within the legal community are imperative for establishing pro bono services including advice and assistance hotlines, training of volunteers and virtual consultations.
The New York State Bar Association has entered into a partnership with the New York State court system to form a pro bono network so that jobless New Yorkers can get the assistance they need during this dire time.
A training program for lawyers who are interested in volunteering will be offered free of charge from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14. Lawyers may sign up for the program, Applying for Unemployment: Client Counseling Under the CARES Act, at https://nysba.org/events/applying-for-unemployment-client-counseling-under-the-cares-act-webinar/.