Op-Ed by American Bar Association President Stephen Zack: ABA Takes Steps to Handle Disasters
The Gulf Coast has taught this nation a series of critical lessons in recent years.
Disasters raise many issues, from the closing of courthouses and loss of information about pending cases before the courts and prison population, to health and environmental impact. We must better prepare.
The American Bar Association recently endorsed development of a national strategy to mitigate the harm that disasters cause. Any of us can be affected by calamities, but lawyers have a professional stake and special responsibility to protect the legal institutions and governmental structures upon which we all rely to assure order and stability.
The Louisiana legal community thought before Katrina that it was prepared for hurricanes, but had never envisioned a disaster of Katrina’s magnitude.
The bar since has implemented common-sense measures to allow it to continue to serve its members, and to assist lawyers in the state to continue to help their clients, including new off-site protections and internal systems to enable it to continue work through a disaster. And it has encouraged and offered tools to help Louisiana lawyers prepare.
Since Katrina, the ABA has had a Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness. This year, the committee, led by former Louisiana Bar President David Bienvenu, will dramatically step up its efforts to prepare America’s lawyers and legal system to handle such crises.
The Gulf region is our example and our inspiration. Learning from that experience, we can all be better prepared the next time disaster strikes.
Stephen Zack, president
American Bar Association
As published in The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.)