Lawyers in New York are trying to expand access to free legal advice during an expected increase in coronavirus-related disputes.
The state bar association and court system said in a statement Monday that they are putting together a network of pro bono lawyers that can respond to legal issues arising out of the pandemic, especially those affecting people who can’t afford to hire an attorney.
“Experts are already predicting a surge in a wide variety of cases as a result of the coronavirus crisis and aggressive steps taken to combat it,”
The courts and the New York State Bar will start by organizing meetings with local bar associations, the deans of New York’s 15 law schools, big law firms, legal clinics and others, they said.
“With New York City as the epicenter of the pandemic and the economy at a standstill, we are facing unprecedented legal challenges that will transform the profession and society as we know it,” said Henry M. Greenberg, president of the New York State Bar Association.
Pent-up legal issues involving poor New Yorkers will emerge “like a dam bursting once the virus subsides” and courts are able to get back to work on non-emergency matters, Greenberg said in a telephone interview.
Most of the legal problems will probably be landlord-tenant disputes, debt collection and issues with insurers, he said.
Greenberg said he hopes New York’s effort to expand access to free legal advice will be a model for other states.
(Updates with details from Greenberg statement.)
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