Hurricane Relief – Legal Tech Effort

I’ve decided to do my posting about hurricane-related matters on the Between Lawyers blog (RSS feed) rather than on this blog so tht they can be collected in one place.
Although, obviously, there are many more immediate human concerns to be addressed, I did want to point to some of the efforts being made to pool resources to help law firms, courts and other parts of the legal infrastructure in the Katrina Aftermath.
The link at http://www.bashasys.net/support/viewforum.php?f=29 will give you a way to enter a discussion and organization process intended to help assist and coordinate these efforts.
Ross Kodner has allowed me to post a copy of an email he sent earlier today to help get this effort started. Please keep in mind that we all realize the importance of current humitarian efforts and encourage donations to the organizations involved in this effort, but want to help in something where we can be of some help.
Ross said:
“Good morning everyone,
I’m sure that all of you are experiencing something similar when watching the horrible images unfold on the news in Louisiana and Mississippi. I’m finding it hard to keep my composure watching and feeling pretty powerless to do anything. Sure, we can all donate money to the Red Cross and any other agency, but as in the aftermath of 9/11 four years ago, I do think those of us in the legal technology, bar association and the legal tech media world may be able to offer more practical assistance.
Here’s what I’m thinking – thousands of law practices have been disrupted, physically damaged and/or completely destroyed. The basic ability to communicate with employees likely no longer exists for many firms. Offices are not accessible, or have been damaged. I’m sure that computer systems are either totally offline, or if they were up by some miracle, there is likely little to no Internet connectivity (if they even have AC power at all). Paper documents for many are likely a total loss. All the data backups in the world aren’t going to help with business continuity issues if the media is not accessible and there is nothing to restore it to anyway.
Insurers, stretched thin and strappd like everyone else involved in the restoration efforts, are likely to focus on much more basic issues than replacing computer systems for lawyers and funding business disaster recovery – people, housing, etc. are going to come first.
What I think we can do is any of the following:
* The legal tech consultants I’ve included on this mailing (and any others) could make themselves available as resources to be consulted with free of charge on data recovery, data access, system re-designs, equipment acquisition, PC rental resources, re-establishing communications – anything a law practice would need to know quickly (and get right the first time) in trying to re-connect with employees, clients and resume operations
* Build a centralized system for anyone to post useful, categorized information about these topics as well as provide a communication network where lawyers involved in helping can post “services available” notices and those in need could find the information they need.
* The ABA’s LTRC posted on Lawtech this morning that they are building a list of links to resources – a great start – fragmentation of efforts will only dilute the overall effectiveness and accessibility to this kind of information.
* I think a Wiki may be the ideal mechanism for dissemination of this kind of information with full posting ability, categorization, etc. Opinions from those more knowledgeable than me would be helpful, quickly.
* Getting an online contact listing of all of us who are willing to volunteer our time with contact info, services listings, etc. is imperative.
* Getting the word out to the legal bloggers, Catherine Sanders-Reach at the ABA LTRC, your own bar associations and members that any such resource is available and can/should be linked to, referred to, etc. – and getting it out to the listserves like Solosez and others that all of you participate in to get the maximum reach to anyone who needs help. Solosez, for example, has a number of New Orleans area lawyers who have been reporting on the situation.
I propose we call this effort something easy to remember like “KatrinAID” or something like that. We need a domain registerered, a Wiki (or blog or whatever) built ASAP and volunteers coordinated. I am personally willing to devote any time needed to this project immediately – I intend to explain to my clients in other parts of the country that their projects may need to wait a bit. I think that by the end of the Labor Day weekend, we can get much of this work done, ready, in-place and announced.
Who is interested in helping with any aspect of this? Please say so and indicate specifically what you can help with a “reply all” to this message. I will try and act as a conduit/clearinghouse to get this initial communication working. I thought of as many people as I could right off the top of my head but I’m sure I overlooked some valuable people who could have something to offer – forward to anyone.
Immediate need –> Volunteers – a core group to rapidly brainstorm and then put in the time to execute the basic online information structure and then keep this organized. Again, a fragmented effort won’t help anyone
We have an opportunity to do some significant good for people in serious immediate need.
Regards,
Ross”

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]