As part of a national effort coordinated by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, several Washington law firms came together late last week to help Holocaust survivors apply for reparations under a German government program.
In the Washington area, 36 firms and corporate legal departments have offered to provide legal assistance to the hundreds of local survivors who qualify for the reparations for work done voluntarily while living in Jewish ghettos during World War II. The program will allot about $3,000 to each survivor who is eligible.
At last week’s clinic, Manatt was joined by lawyers from Vinson & Elkins; Goodwin Procter; Intel's corporate law department; and Howrey, which coordinates the program in the Washington area. Sixteen survivors attended the clinic at the Jewish Social Service Agency in Rockville, Md.
“D.C. has been a wonderful surprise. No other city in the country had as many firms jump on board,” says Cristin Zeisler, director of pro bono activities at Manatt.
Manatt got involved in Los Angeles last October when the firm held a clinic with Bet Tzedek, a pro bono legal service organization, to help Holocaust survivors in California fill out applications for reparations. After the success of the first clinic, Manatt worked with Bet Tzedek to expand the program to cities throughout the country. So far, lawyers in 28 cities in the United States and in Toronto have joined the effort.
Zeisler says there may be as many as 20,000 survivors nationwide who qualify for the reparations.