Working with Volunteers

Multiracial Hands Making a CircleAs word of the TLC program spread, offers of help poured in from attorneys around the country.

To ensure quality representation for the victims, the TLC board developed criteria for selecting volunteers. The board decided that volunteer lawyers must have law-practice and trial experience and—to avoid any potential for conflict—it required a pledge that the attorney and his or her firm would not handle any for-fee claims arising out of the 9/11 attacks. Also, with the help of the state trial lawyer associations, TLC developed a system to match the more serious and complicated cases with more experienced attorneys.

The fund’s compensation process was without precedent, and the volunteer attorneys needed guidance to navigate it. Within three weeks after the interim regulations were announced, TLC published a 300-page handbook, produced by AAJ’s Education department, covering all aspects of representing a victim before the fund. When the final regulations were released, TLC completely revised the handbook and delivered it to volunteer attorneys within a month.

Training the Attorneys

TLC also worked with the trial lawyer associations in the affected states to organize seminars on how to handle claims; 10 were held, open to all volunteer attorneys free of charge. TLC also offered 10 teleconference seminars on specific topics.

To keep volunteers updated about important developments, TLC regularly issued bulletins and posted new information on its website. In a secure area of the site, a client-attorney matching system enabled lawyers to share information about cases and compare claims and compensation. A list server allowed volunteers to communicate efficiently. Further assistance came from more than 200 pro bono expert witnesses whom TLC recruited to work on cases.

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