We launched a national roundtable series in June 2018 to discuss topics of cross-cutting interest to disaster legal aid practitioners across regions. Roundtables will be held monthly throughout November and hosted by leading programs and subject matter experts in the area of disaster response. The purpose of these roundtables is to discuss the work and challenges associated with legal issues in the aftermath of the 2017 & 2018 natural disasters and to aid programs in preparing for future events. They will be hosted by Pro Bono Net, Lone Star Legal Aid, and the Legal Services Corporation. 

Upcoming Roundtable

Thursday, August 30, 2018 4 pm ET | 3 pm CT | 1 pm PT | 2 pm MT | 10 am HST- Disaster Recovery and Recoupments 

Building on past discussions of sources of disaster recovery funding, this discussion will review what happens when an agency providing that funding believes it has given an individual funding in error. We will discuss the “sequence of delivery” from the Stafford Act, other sources of law on federal agencies’ authority to investigate and reclaim alleged disaster recovery assistance overpayments, the ways in which recoupment allegations have played out for survivors of Sandy, and the ways in which differing duplication of benefit policies across agencies and administering entities complicates and frustrates recovery. The goal of this roundtable is to provide a starting point or refresher on recoupment law and policy, and discuss some policy solutions to help simplify, expedite and improve the fairness in individual disaster recovery.

Discussion by:

  • Jessica Limbacher, Esq.; Staff Attorney, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice
  • Aaron Scheinwald; Acting Director, Storm Response Unit, New York Legal Assistance Group 

Past Roundtables

We welcome all leaders and staff at public interest legal organizations, law school students and faculty, pro bono counsel from law firms and corporations and allied efforts involved in disaster legal aid work after a disaster. We also welcome those who are interested in the discussion of specific issues, such as FEMA appeals and title clearance.

Round-tables will be led by a moderator and are expected to last 1 hour. Round-tables will be hosted approximately once a month in 2018, beginning in June.

Each round-table will be co-moderated by staff from partner organizations from the National Disaster Legal Aid Resource Center, along with one or more subject matter experts. Subject matter experts will be identified by the National Disaster Legal Aid Resource Center’s partners but suggestions and volunteers are more than welcome. An agenda with discussion items on the subject will be distributed by Pro Bono Net at least two days before the scheduled round-table. When feasible, the agenda will be accompanied by a list of related resources on the subject to be discussed. Participants are encouraged to review the resources beforehand. Participants who want to submit ideas for discussions can do so by emailing Jeanne Ortiz, PBN Disaster Response Legal Fellow, at jortiz@probono.net. We ask that you please RSVP in advance by registering via the GoToWebinar invitation for each month. Invitations will include information so you can dial in or connect via computer.

Discussion Topics

Potential discussion topics include: 

Contractor scams


FEMA-related issues and program benefits

Elderly community issues

Benefits for immigrants

Law student engagement in relief efforts

Housing - foreclosures, leases, repairs, evictions

Insurance and flooding

Outreach strategies to reach vulnerable communities

Title clearance

Landlord-tenant issues

Will, trusts, probate matters

State experiences with the “Katrina rule”

Engaging large law firms in relief efforts

Fair housing

Coordinating state disaster planning efforts

Language access strategies in disaster response

Effective uses of technology and social media in disaster response efforts