Annals of pro bono legal service: New York trial lawyers still serving 9/11 crisis 22 years later

Past president recalls the initial crisis

September 11, 2023 Special from New York State Trial Lawyers
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WORLD TRADE CENTER — New York Trial Lawyers undertook the largest pro bono effort in the history of American Law in response to the September 11 attacks.

Trial lawyers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia banded together in 2001 to launch Trial Lawyers Care, an initiative that has provided free legal services to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

It’s estimated that over 800,000 hours — more than 100 years’ worth, in total – of time and work was donated by this team in the 22 years since the terrorist attacks.

“The New York State Trial Lawyers will never forget the enduring horror of September 11,” said Steve Peskin, New York State Trial Lawyers Association president emeritus and Partner at Tolmage Peskin Harris Falick. “Many of us were affected personally: we had offices in and adjacent to the towers, lost loved ones and worked closely with first responders who heroically charged into the twin towers that fateful day. For us, 9/11 was just the beginning. Some two decades later, these cases remain the most meaningful work the New York State Trial Lawyers Association has ever done.”

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In the aftermath of 9/11, 1,092 Trial Lawyers Care attorneys represented 1,745 claimants free of charge. It is the largest pro bono undertaking in the history of American law.

“I’ll never forget a client who, in the days after the disaster, posted photos of her husband all over the city in hopes that someone would find him. Such cases have been the most unforgettable of my career. And we will continue to seek justice for her, and all of our 9/11 clients, for as long as it takes,” said Peskin.

“Twenty-two years ago, our city was under attack,” said David Scher, NYSTLA president. “That day was just the beginning. Not only did first responders and civilians lose their lives, but more than two decades later, victims of Ground Zero illness are still coming forward. The trial lawyer community worked closely on programs created by the Zadroga Act to help families who lost loved ones in the attacks, as well as those sickened by airborne toxins. On this tragic anniversary, we honor the 9/11 heroes and rededicate ourselves to continue working on their behalf.”

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