Sandy spurs talk of legal assistance disaster fund

New Orleans City Business
Maria Clark, staff writer

Martha Bergmark, founding president of the Mississippi Center for Justice, is on a mission. She’s currently trying to raise awareness that money should be in place at the national level for legal services in the aftermath of a natural or manmade disaster. “The same people who suffer the most after a disaster are the least likely to get legal assistance,” she said.

Bergmark helped secure funding for a region-wide legal services program from Kenneth Feinberg, the original administrator of the BP oil spill claims program, and more recently has spearheaded the Mississippi Center for Justice’s efforts to provide legal services to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

On Friday, she spoke at the Legal Services Corp. forum at the Louisiana Supreme Court on Royal Street about ways to ensure equal access legal services after a disaster. At the forum, board members of the LSC suggested a formulaic approach to calculating how much funding would be needed in a region impacted by disaster.