As of Nov. 14, 2018
The State Bar of California is warning the public to watch out for and report potential fraud in response to the recent fires across the state. As a result of California’s ongoing fires, many people may wish to seek legal advice for various reasons, including insurance disputes, seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance, employment issues, landlord tenant disputes, consumer fraud, and more.
A legal hotline is now available for survivors of the wildfires in California in Butte, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties (additional counties may be added). Disaster survivors facing legal issues in Butte County who are unable to afford a lawyer may call the hotline at 800-345-9491. Disaster survivors facing legal issues in Ventura or Los Angeles county who are unable to afford a lawyer may call the hotline at 877-301-4448. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.
The type of legal assistance available includes:
Important things to know when seeking legal aid after a disaster. California law prohibits lawyers or others acting on behalf of a lawyer from:
In the wake of the fires, there is also the risk of victims being approached in person, by mail, email or other means, by people posing as attorneys. Consumers must carefully check that people offering legal services are legitimate and licensed to provide such services.
The State Bar, which regulates the practice of law in California, cannot represent clients or refer them to a particular attorney. But in order to ensure public access to legal services, the State Bar of California has contacted local county bar associations to coordinate legal services for victims of California’s recent fires. If you need a lawyer, contact the local bar association lawyer referral service in your area, or call the State Bar of California at 415-538-2250 or send an email to LRS@calbar.ca.gov to obtain the names of certified lawyer referral services.