As you no doubt know, unless you’ve lived under a rock, there was big news in the last couple of days. By this, of course, I am referring to that tremendous spectacle that rendered an entire city paralyzed and represents a marvel of planning and preparation.

And apparently there was a wedding somewhere, too.

Wednesday, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where I went to law school, was hit by an F5 tornado.  I won’t link to coverage, because quite frankly it’s all I can do not to tear up as I look at a town that was, quite frankly, the most important place I’ve ever lived.

Anyway, there’s plenty of avenues to give of your time, energy, and of course money.  The American Red Cross, of course, is an outstanding avenue. One you may not have thought of is the Alabama State Bar.  Many of my colleagues have had severe losses, ranging from minor office damage to the complete flattening of their homes and practices. In addition, the bar is not only reeling from its own losses; it is attempting to respond to assist those who need help in other ways.  The following message is from Alyce Spruell, the President of the Alabama State Bar:

I am sending this message so that you will know what steps we are taking to provide assistance to our members and to those who have suffered such great loss following Wednesday’s tornado rampage throughout the state. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives have been affected by this devastating weather event. We share their pain and grieve with them as they try to make sense out of the destruction, and hope to assist them as they begin the process of rebuilding their lives and their homes.

Here is our plan:

  • As part of our disaster assistance effort, we plan to announce shortly the opening of pro bono clinics where members of the Volunteer Lawyers Program will provide assistance.
  • The Young Lawyers Section will be working with FEMA representatives at the Disaster Recovery Centers that will be set up.
  • We have requested that FEMA provide us with a toll-free Hotline so that we can direct inquiries to the appropriate pro bono program.
  • We will create an online “Bulletin Board” on our website that will allow members to post information directly (need office furniture or equipment, willing to provide office space, office furniture, etc.)
  • The Practice Management Assistance Program will be providing materials online about how to reconstitute a law office following a disaster.
  • Vendors of online legal practice management software have contacted us about offering their service at no charge for a limited time to lawyers who are experiencing a business interruption.

We are working with local leadership and our commissioners throughout the state to try to use the bar network to gather information, especially where the destruction makes communication difficult or impossible. We have already received numerous phone calls from members and others who want to help and I cannot tell you how grateful we are for this heartfelt response. It is at times such as these when the true measure of a profession can be gauged and when our motto, “Lawyers Render Service” shines so brightly.

As your President and especially as a Tuscaloosa resident, I thank you for your prayers, for your service and for being there for those who need our help.

My best to each of you.

Alyce Spruell

President, Alabama State Bar

If you want to give to support the Bar’s efforts, please call 334-269-1515.

We now return you to the coverage of what’s really important: whether the Court will continue to make it easier for large corporations to screw you and me (Hint: it will).