CJP Feature – Bar Sections Respond to COVID-19 and Prepare for the Recovery

Jun 25, 2020 | News

Ericka Garcia for the Public Interest Law Section:

The Public Interest Law Section is one of the smallest, but that hasn’t stopped section leaders from moving quickly to provide valuable content for 350 members, said Chair Ericka Garcia.

The section is sponsoring a May 7 webinar, “COVID-19, Landlords and Tenants: Housing Law During COVID-19.”

Largely made up of public defenders, prosecutors, and legal aid lawyers, the section expects its clients, many of them indigent or low-income, to bear the brunt of the economic fallout.

“Housing is going to be a big issue,” she said.

Since public schools switched to online instruction, some transgender youth are reporting problems with the way the platforms identify them to their peers, Garcia said.

“Their classmates may have not known that they legally had a different name, it’s kind of like being outed,” Garcia said, stressing that the problem is technical, and not the fault of school districts.

PILS members have been trading information about court procedures for such things as dependency hearings, and tips on how to prepare indigent clients for online hearings, Garcia said.

As CEO of Collaborative Justice Partners, a national consultant for legal aid societies, Garcia said she is seeing a decrease in legal aid traffic across the nation since the COVID-19 crisis began.

But that is expected to change in the coming months, Garcia said, after clients deal with the immediate fallout. That’s usually the way disasters work in legal aid, she said.

“It takes a little while for legal aid clients to show up at legal aid, because first, it’s survival, finding food and water, you think about safety.”

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