The Coalition seeks to bring together resources from all parts of the legal community (law school faculty, students, and practicing lawyers), as well as non-lawyers, to facilitate the fair distribution of federal, state, and private disaster relief to New Orleanians (wherever they may be) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We will also assist other groups that provide emergency legal services to those in need.
Though the Coalition developed from the efforts of Tulane Law School faculty, students, and alumni, the Coalition is independently organized as the From the Lake to the River Foundation, Inc., membership and participation are open to anyone (especially lawyers and law students) who want to help with this crucial relief effort.
The Coalition serves as a contact point and clearinghouse for legal information designed to assist Hurricane Katrina victims (wherever they may be located). In addition, we serve as a watchdog and oversight group to ensure that public and private resources are distributed on an equitable basis.
As a clearinghouse, we conduct and compile research on areas of law relevant to the relief effort (e.g., benefit programs, insurance, bankruptcy). We will also produce and distribute our own materials for distribution to victims and direct service-providers, to inform them of their rights and to help them navigate the complex layers of governmental and private aid available to them. In addition, we will recruit law students, other students, and lawyers to assist other groups providing direct legal services to victims.
The Coalition firmly supports and will work in partnership with organizations, such as Louisiana Bar Association, that are currently organizing efforts to provide direct emergency legal relief to Hurricane victims. We are particularly interested in providing help to those low-income victims who have been unable to obtain support or assistance through other channels. Because the Coalition,s members have both prior and current connections to the New Orleans area, we stand in the unique position of being able to provide long-term and continuing support to low-income Hurricane victims.
In its watchdog/oversight capacity, the Coalition will monitor and research the relief efforts, to identify areas that stand in need of improvement, and will suggest appropriate changes to the government, the press, and the public. As a coalition of law professors, students, and alumni with direct local knowledge of New Orleans and its neighborhoods, we are able to understand the practical impact of complex benefit schemes and to ensure that the intended beneficiaries actually benefit. When necessary, the Coalition will sponsor or participate in litigation to address particular problems related to the distribution of relief.