Gulf Coast Claims Facility pays lawyers to offer free legal advice

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility is funding 17 attorneys, one working part time, to offer free legal service to low-income claimants trying to recover losses caused by last year’s oil spill.

The Mississippi Center for Justice is spearheading the program, which involves a dozen legal aid groups from the affected Gulf Coast states, according to center spokeswoman Sharon Garrison.

A critic of the claims operation said that the legal service program seemed far too small. The claims operation has had more than 475,000 individuals and businesses apply for money since Aug. 23.

“This effort seems grossly inadequate,” said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Democracy & Justice.

“Here we have 16½ lawyers for what I guess are tens of thousands of families and businesses,” said Doroshow, whose organization promotes the right to jury trials in civil cases. “You do the math.”

Doroshow also said there are ethical issues with the claims operation, which is funded by BP PLC, paying lawyers to advise people seeking to claim damages against BP.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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