After a natural disaster, the affected population faces an increased need for legal services. To cite an example, con artists flock to an area hit by a tornado or hurricane to take advantage of disaster survivors’ fear and confusion. But as the team behind the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s Disaster Legal Services Program has recently found, the coronavirus pandemic is creating many additional legal issues across the country.
To help address these challenges, the ABA YLD and RingCentral have joined forces to launch a toll-free national hotline for people seeking legal assistance related to COVID-19.
Extending a partnership that helped victims of several disasters
RingCentral and the ABA YLD actually teamed up to launch the national hotline, 888-743-5749, prior to the coronavirus outbreak. The goal was the same, to help people gain quick access to disaster-related legal help. The two organizations set up the hotline originally to connect survivors of the December 2019 earthquakes in Puerto Rico and the March tornadoes in Nashville to their local DLS hotlines
That effort proved successful, helping to connect many people in need of legal assistance to the ABA YLD’s Disaster Legal Services Program.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a truly global natural disaster. And in addition to all of the typical legal challenges that arise from a local disaster like an earthquake, this one creates a new set of questions: about unemployment law, labor law, how to deal with ongoing court cases when everyone is sheltering-in-place, the list goes on. Complicating matters, during COVID-19 people are looking for legal assistance not from just one region but across the country.
The ABA YLD and RingCentral hotline, already active in Texas and Nebraska, continues to add COVID-19 legal services hotlines as they pop up across the nation.
How the COVID-19 legal hotline works
The setup for the COVID-19 legal-service hotline is simple. The ABA YLD uses RingCentral’s Contact Center technology to automatically receive and redirect calls to the hotline from around the country. When someone calls the number, Contact Center greets the caller in either English or Spanish and then offers a series of menu options to direct the person to the ABA’s Disaster Legal Services Program in their state.
“A national hotline adds tremendous value to the work already being done by the Disaster Legal Services Program,” said ABA President Judy Perry Martinez. “A centralized, never-changing number means easy access for survivors and reduced administrative burden for our federal, state and local partners.”
Continuing RingCentral’s mission to fight the pandemic
In addition to providing this free legal-service hotline with the ABA YLD, RingCentral is helping with pandemic-related challenges in other ways—including offering free use of our business communication solutions to essential organizations such as schools, healthcare providers, and government entities.
If you’re in need of disaster-related legal help, call the ABA YLD’s Disaster Legal Services hotline: 888-743-5749.
Originally published Apr 16, 2020, updated Aug 27, 2020