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May 2012 Volunteer Feature: DLA Piper LLP Key to City Bar Justice Center Success in Expanding Legal Clinics under the Reopened 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

Friday, June 01, 2012

  • Organization: City Bar Justice Center

Picture of DLA Piper Volunteers

On January 2, 2011, President Obama signed into law the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-347) (Zadroga Act). Title II of the Zadroga Act reactivates the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 and requires a Special Master, appointed by the Attorney General, to provide compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the events of September 11, 2001, or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath.

Sheila Birnbaum, Special Master of the reopened Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), enlisted the City Bar Justice Center to host two preliminary legal clinics for potential claimants. The first clinic was held on November 7, 2011, the second on December 13, 2011. At the two clinics, 95 volunteer attorneys helped 54 clients with questions regarding claim applications and compensation procedures, and provided them with a roadmap for the online application process.

Since then, two more clinics were held, on March 12 and May 7, 2012. To date, 118 clients have been assisted at the clinics, and almost 100 pro bono attorneys from law firms and corporate legal departments were trained and mobilized to help.

Picture of VCF Clinic

The clinics were greatly supported by the pro bono efforts of Heidi Levine—member of the City Bar Justice Center’s Board of Directors and global litigation partner at DLA Piper LLP—and attorneys from DLA Piper. Levine coordinated and presented at the training for attorneys interested in volunteering at the clinics, and DLA Piper lent its technical support to the function of the clinics. At each clinic, Heidi managed “Table A,” where she helped clients with complex issues about their rights and options regarding their claims for compensation.

Heidi took on another challenge after the Justice Center helped to organize law student pro bono Spring Break online application clinics fort those VCF claimants unable to fill out the online form without help. Heidi and the DLA Piper team provided legal backup to students during the two weeks of Spring Break.

It can be safely said that without Heidi and DLA Piper, the clinics would not have achieved the success that they did. The City Bar Justice Center offers its heartfelt thanks to Heidi Levine and DLA Piper for their ongoing involvement and support from beginning to end.

The next VCF clinic will be held at the City Bar on July 10th from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

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