Volunteers Needed

Use your skills to help Californian disaster survivors

Why Our Neighbors Need Your Help

Survivors of natural disasters face a wide array of overwhelming legal problems, all hitting them at once.  “Do I have to pay the rent if my apartment is uninhabitable, or make car payments if the car is destroyed?  FEMA denied my request for benefits and I need help appealing it.  My insurance company keeps asking me for more documents.”  These problems, and more, are legal problems and have legal answers.  Be a part of the answer.

We offer training and mentoring for volunteer attorneys.  Volunteer attorneys may help staff a hotline, a clinic, or a table at a centralized resource center for survivors, or may take on full-scope cases through a partner legal services provider.

When you sign up to volunteer  you will receive regular emails with the latest training and volunteer opportunities.

Volunteer Here

How You Can Help

Disaster Legal Assistance Hotline

California Free Legal Answers

Title Clearing

FEMA Clinics

Interpretation Services

  • We currently have volunteer opportunities available for both attorneys, law students and non-attorneys.
  • Remote volunteer opportunities include California Free Legal Answers, FEMA clinics and the Disaster Legal Assistance Hotline.
  • Provide remote and in-person title clearing education and assistance.
  • In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, volunteers will also help staff Local Assistance Centers (LAC) or Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC).
  • Volunteers are also needed to handle pro bono cases to assist disaster survivors
  • Online trainings are available.
  • Malpractice insurance will also be provided by the local legal services provider for all pro bono work through the programs
Volunteer Here

Know Anyone Else Interested in Volunteering?

Please let them know about our volunteer opportunities by clicking here

For more information about volunteering, contact us

Our Programs

Any attorney admitted in California is welcome to volunteer

Legal First Responder sm Program

Be part of the team staffing hotlines and answering questions online. We need volunteers to help with disaster legal questions. You can train to answer COVID-19 and/or disaster legal questions

All trainings are online, free, and include MCLE credit

Trainings total 8 hours

Once trained you can volunteer on our hotline or online Free Legal Answers platform

Samantha's Story

Samantha and her husband Bob lived just outside of Santa Rosa in a mobile home park with their 2 children; he worked at a Sonoma County vineyard, while she worked at a small shop in town. When the Tubbs fire started, they had just enough time to grab the kids and the cat and jump into their van, and drive to a motel in a small town 20 miles away. Their mobile home was completely destroyed, as was the car Bob used to get to work. Over the days immediately following the evacuation, they learned that Bob’s vineyard also burned, and he no longer had a job. They couldn’t remember how much the insurance was on the mobile home (or even who the company was), and they really needed to find someplace to live. The bills kept arriving, though – rental of the pad on which the mobile home sat, Bob’s car. They applied for FEMA benefits, but were turned down, and weren’t sure why. Finally, at the Disaster Recovery Center in Santa Rosa, they met volunteer attorneys staffing a table with Legal Aid of Sonoma County. They got legal advice about their bills, and they signed up for a free clinic (with more volunteer attorneys) on how to file an appeal of the FEMA benefits denial. Later, they got help from a different set of volunteers who helped them understand their insurance issues, and get financial help to pay basic living expenses while they looked for a new place to live. Their lives were still hard, but the legal volunteers helped them start to move past the fire, and to begin the long process of recovery.

Legal Needs After a Disaster

1-6 weeks after an event:

  • Landlord-Tenant questions
  • Present insurance claims, pro-active steps to maximize coverage, flood insurance
  • Apply for FEMA assistance (temporary housing, home repair/replacement, other needs)
  • Apply for SBA Disaster Loans to individuals, Disaster Unemployment
  • Replace documents (ID, driver license, SS card, EBT, custody, immigration, deed, etc.)
  • Referral to community services (Red Cross, local government, religious, etc.)
  • Apply for or redirect unemployment, TANF, SNAP/Food Stamps, Medicaid, SSI benefits
  • Wage/Labor Theft Redress
  • Respond to public agency requests for emergency rule modifications on health, human services, and utility concerns.

1-6 months after an event

  • Appeal FEMA assistance denials
  • Renew rent subsidies from either FEMA or HUD
  • Evictions and private lease termination/repair questions
  • Utility shutoffs
  • Security deposits
  • Displaced public housing participants
  • Section 8 portability
  • Mobile home questions
  • Foreclosure prevention
  • Clearing property titles
  • Access to public education while displaced, IDEA and 504 issues
  • Insurance claim disputes
  • Consumer price gouging and other scams, including insurance claim scams
  • Repair contractor scams and disputes
  • Powers of Attorney to care for a child or elderly person
  • Guardianships and Supportive Decision Making for those needing
  • Emergency conservatorships (custody)/Modifications
  • Modification of parenting orders to reflect new home and school locations
  • Domestic violence response, including protective orders

6 months to years after an event

  • Foreclosures
  • Bankruptcies
  • Flood Insurance Proof of Loss preparation and FEMA Flood Directorate Appeals
  • Defend FEMA recoupment
  • Apply for disaster tax relief
  • Civil and disability rights cases
  • Legal counsel for community based organizations on rebuilding plans
  • Litigation to redress systemic disaster response problems
  • LL/Tenant Issues concerning repair issues, non-repair, mold concealment, etc.
  • Disputes regarding home elevation certificates and flood plain zoning
  • Disputes regarding significant damage determination against homeowners