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Life Planning for Life Savers: BASF and JDC Lead Pro Bono Initiative for COVID-19 Frontline Medical Workers

While much of the world shelters in place, our medical frontline workers—the nurses, EMTs, and custodial staff maintaining our hospitals—are putting their lives in danger every day as they go about taking care of our communities and saving lives. To help healthcare frontline workers protect themselves and their families, the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) and the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) are leading a group of Bay Area lawyers and organizations to provide free life planning assistance to qualified individuals working on the medical frontlines.

The initiative, Life Planning for Life Savers, was developed and implemented within weeks, after former BASF board member Annette Hurst, Orrick, approached Executive Director Yolanda Jackson with the idea. Staff from both organizations collaborated, combining the invaluable experience of JDC’s Pro Bono Legal Services team and BASF’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) with the practice area expertise of BASF and Barristers Club section leadership.

Designing the initiative to operate virtually was a challenging key component during the ongoing efforts to protect public health and practice social distancing. After receiving training, volunteer attorneys sign up for shifts on JDC’s teleconference “office hours,” during which individual clients are matched up with pro bono attorneys for one-hour life-planning consultations. Experienced trust & estates practitioners are also available on a limited basis to help with more complex estate planning needs.

The initiative would not have been possible without the help and leadership of the many attorneys who volunteered their time and expertise to get the program up and running.

We thank BJ Chisholm, Deputy Managing Partner of Altshuler Berzon, who has helped connect us to local labor unions that represent medical frontline workers.

We also applaud leaders from the Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust sections and LRIS’s Trusts and Estates panel who designed a pre-recorded training for volunteer attorneys. Together, the following trust and estates attorneys pulled together the 1.5 hour Continuing Legal Education training in record time:

JDC Board member Alicia Gámez and James Patrick Lamping who are Co-Chairs of BASF’s Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Litigation Subsection; Simon Mayali and Richard R. Shu who co-chair the Barristers Club Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Section; and Deb Fox and Ron Peoples from the LRIS Trusts & Estates Panel.

We are inspired by the generosity of our volunteers and hope that Life Planning for Life Savers provides some comfort to medical frontline workers as they continue their daily work of helping people and saving lives.

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