California Bar Journal
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Partnership offers free legal services to terror victims
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A new public-private partnership to provide free legal services for California victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was announced last month.

The partnership involves state and local bar associations and state government agencies, as well as a number of private law firms.

"Having met with hundreds of these victims and family members, I am aware of the many pressing needs that they are facing due to the loss of their loved ones," said Gov. Gray Davis, in announcing the initiative. "This effort will provide these victims and survivors with a trained advocate who can help protect their legal and property rights. This will help them make informed decisions."

Many victims and survivors face the loss of health benefits, immigration issues, loss of wages, child custody issues, wills and probate complications and financial problems as a result of the death of a family member during the Sept. 11 attacks.

Volunteer attorneys are being trained to help these victims and family members identify potential legal issues and to assist in resolving them, at no cost to the victims.

Families will be contacted by the state Victim Compensation Board to identify those who would like to receive free legal help. Those who are interested will be matched with volunteer attorneys who have been trained in victim-specific issues, including sources of economic relief, trusts and estates, and emotional and practical issues facing the families.