September 25, 2005 Press Release


Media Contact: Bryan Mauldin,, (901) 412-2554 (for media contact only).

New Orleans Coalition for Legal Aid and Disaster Relief Seeks Volunteer Law Students and Attorneys

September 25, New Orleans, LA - Tulane Law School faculty, alumni and friends have established a non-profit legal aid and disaster relief effort to facilitate the fair and prompt distribution of disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The newly formed From the Lake to the River Foundation established the New Orleans Coalition for Legal Aid and Disaster Relief to serve as a clearinghouse for legal information for victims of Hurricane Katrina and will monitor the relief effort to ensure the prompt and fair distribution of federal, state, and private disaster relief to New Orleanians.

"FEMA makes the IRS look user-friendly, and the torrent of forms necessary for other assistance would choke an alligator," said M. David Gelfand, President of From the Lake to the River and Professor of Constitutional Law at Tulane University Law School. "The Coalition is committed to protecting the rights of victims, to ensuring fair distribution of assistance, and to preserving the essential character of the New Orleans community."

The Coalition will seek to clarify the law and inform victims of their rights, will serve as a back-up center and clearing-house and will bring hundreds of volunteer law students to the areas where help is most needed. The Coalition will help victims navigate their way through the complex and unfamiliar bureaucratic processes necessary to secure the public and private assistance to which they are entitled. Lawyers and law students nationwide have volunteered their services to research the legal questions that those assisting disaster victims may encounter, such as benefit programs, insurance, and bankruptcy. This weekend, From the Lake to the River volunteers traveled to shelters and assistance centers across the country to help victims and service providers and to assess what can be done to facilitate the efficient delivery of disaster assistance.

The Coalition is composed of lawyers, law firms, law school faculty and students, and others from across the nation, including the Louisiana Bar Association, the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation, and the ACLU of Florida and Louisiana. Most Coalition members have longstanding ties to New Orleans, and, therefore, have direct knowledge and a personal understanding of the people, neighborhoods, demographics, and cultural influences that make New Orleans unique. Thus, they can help ensure that aid goes to those who need it most and that the special character of the city they love survives.

The Coalition is recruiting law students and attorneys to help in this effort. Volunteers should contact the New Orleans Coalition for Legal Aid and Disaster Relief at, visit, or call toll free 866 NOLA-AID.