Features - In the Wake of Katrina Where to Find Answers about Courts, Lawyers

Robert Ambrogi, Editor of Bull’sEye from IMS ExpertServices. Bob Ambrogi is the only person ever to hold the top editorial positions at both national U.S. legal newspapers, the National Law Journal, and Lawyers Weekly USA. An experienced attorney, ADR professional, writer and legal technologist, Bob formerly served as director of the Litigation Services division at American Lawyer Media.

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In the path of Hurricane Katrina, law offices were lost, courthouses were closed and dockets were suspended. The impact on the legal system is beyond measure.

Lawyers throughout the country were left with questions about the status of cases and the whereabouts of peers. To help you in finding the answers, we offer this guide to essential information sources on the Web.

Federal Courts

Congress passed emergency legislation allowing the federal district and bankruptcy courts in New Orleans to relocate their operations to Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Houma. Filing deadlines in the district court were suspended.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles appellate cases from Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, relocated to Houston for three months, and then will move to Baton Rouge. It extended to Oct. 3 all filing deadlines from Aug. 24 to Sept. 30.

More information on specific federal courts can be found at:

State Courts

As of September 16th, the Louisiana Supreme Court and the state's Fourth and Fifth Circuit Courts of Appeal remain closed. Local courts in New Orleans are closed until at least Oct. 1. The governor ordered the suspension of all legal deadlines until at least Sept. 25.

In Mississippi, the Supreme Court ordered all filing deadlines between Aug. 29 and Oct. 31 extended by 90 days.

In Texas, the state Supreme Court issued an order authorizing displaced lawyers to practice law there without fear of engaging in unauthorized practice. The order can be found at:
www.supreme.courts.state.txus/advisories/katrina_advisory.htm.

Additional information on state courts can be found at:


Associations – National

National bar associations are coordinating relief efforts within the legal community. Key sites include:


Associations – State

The Web site of the Louisiana State Bar Association, www.lsba.org, quickly became a leading portal for information on Katrina's impact on lawyers, law firms and clients. It includes messages boards, court orders, disaster training manuals and comprehensive links to legal, government and private resources.

State bars throughout the country devoted sections of their sites to Katrina information and relief. For first-hand information from affected states, useful state bar sites include:


Associations – Local

Local bars across the country reacted to Katrina through their Web sites. Among those with useful information and resources are:


Technology

Several sites provide information and resources related to law office technology, practice management and disaster/data recovery:


Blogs and Message Boards

Several sites serve as virtual bulletin boards for posting announcements, requests for assistance and offers of help. They include:


Disaster Training

The Louisiana State Bar Association compiled training materials to help lawyers provide legal assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina. These are:

Law Schools

Law schools throughout the country responded with offers of help for students and faculty displaced by Katrina. Key sites for information on law schools affected by Katrina are:

Insurance

The insurance industry has created the Hurricane Insurance Information Center, www.disasterinformation.org, to provide information for consumers affected by Hurricane Katrina.

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This article is reprinted with permission from IMS ExpertServices.