Alliance of law firms, legal aid organizations, and bar associations will provide free legal counsel and representation to residents and businesses in need during COVID-19 crisis
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced the launch of L.A. Represents, a pro bono initiative unprecedented in scope and scale, to provide free legal services to L.A. residents facing hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coalition of law firms, bar associations, and legal aid organizations has agreed to enhance their existing pro bono commitments to provide COVID-19-related legal services — including helping vulnerable tenants, domestic violence victims, and low-income Angelenos with employment, consumer debt, and bankruptcy matters.
Additionally, L.A. Represents will build a new support system for small businesses devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, overseen by volunteers and advocates at Bet Tzedek Legal Services. Now, small businesses least likely to have access to effective legal services can receive pro bono assistance as they confront new workplace regulations, renegotiate commercial leases, apply for government relief programs, and navigate compliance with emergency health and safety orders.
“The COVID-19 crisis is putting people in some of the most painful, difficult, and complex situations they have ever experienced — and legal assistance can mean the difference between ruin and recovery,” said Mayor Garcetti. “L.A. Represents will get urgent help to Angelenos who may not be able to afford the advocacy they need at a critical time in their lives.”
The Mayor and City Attorney have assembled a coalition of partners that includes Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Inner City Law Center, Public Counsel, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Neighborhood Legal Services, in addition to Bet Tzedek Legal Services.
“Our message is clear: If you are struggling, we are here for you,” said City Attorney Feuer. “Los Angeles’s legal community is full of experienced, dedicated lawyers eager to make a difference for those in need. This crisis has taken an enormous toll on our city, but it has also brought out the best in us. The lawyers and law firms of L.A. Represents will be heroes to their new clients. All Angelenos can be very proud of them.”
Angelenos needing assistance and legal professionals interested in joining the partnership can find detailed information at coronavirus.lacity.org/
“I am proud that our legal community is enthusiastically supporting L.A. Represents,” said Los Angeles Police Commission President Eileen Decker, a former United States Attorney who assisted in assembling the coalition. “Their commitment to helping their fellow Angelenos — especially those who are struggling as a result of this public health emergency — is truly inspiring and reflects the best of our profession.”
“For 45 years Bet Tzedek’s work has been premised on the belief that volunteer attorneys can make a meaningful difference to those who need the protection of the law the most,” said Bet Tzedek President & CEO Diego Cartagena. “As we launch this unprecedented initiative, we are particularly grateful for the remarkable contributions of more than two dozen local firms who have committed resources to this work.”
“I know so many of us are trying to find ways — in addition to staying home and healthy — to help our community survive and thrive despite the pandemic,” said civil rights attorney Jessie Kornberg, a former president of Bet Tzedek who has been instrumental in starting the program. “L.A. Represents is a special opportunity for lawyers to do just that.”
Law firms participating in L.A. Represents include Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP; Arent Fox LLP; Blank Rome LLP; Cooley LLP; Covington & Burling LLP; Davis Wright Tremaine LLP; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Goodwin Procter LLP; Hogan Lovells; Irell & Manella LLP; Jones Day; King & Spalding LLP; Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Larson O’Brien LLP; Latham & Watkins LLP; Law Offices of Lawrence S. Middleton; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP; Milbank LLP; Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP; O’Melveny & Myers LLP; Paul Hastings LLP; Perkins Coie LLP; Seyfarth Shaw LLP; Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP; Steptoe & Johnson LLP; Vedder Price; and Winston & Strawn LLP; as well as attorneys at Southern California Edison. Additional firms, bar associations, attorneys and corporate legal teams will be added in the weeks ahead.