After the Storm: Advocating for Clients Post-Natural Disaster

Session type
Live webcast
General credits
Total credits
Credit status
Pending Approval
Cost notes

Free for Legal Aid pro bono volunteers and staff of other legal nonprofits!

Hurricane season is only months away, and many folks in the eastern portion of our beautiful state are still rebuilding from damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.  This presentation will cover common legal issues arising out of disaster recovery in order to train attorneys to help survivors of natural disasters.  The session will be divided into three sections: the first will provide guidance on identifying and correcting real property title issues that impede homeowners' eligibility for loans and grants to repair disaster-related damages to their property.  The second section will train attorneys on title searches, chain of title, and provide some background on real property deeds and proof of ownership.  The third section will focus on homeowners and flood insurance issues, including the initial filing of claims, claim denials and challenging coverage amounts.  We have allotted 15 minutes for questions at the end of the presentation as well. 


Richard M. Klein is senior managing attorney of the Wilmington Office of Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc. (LANC) where he has worked since 1985.  He is LANC Regional Manager for southeastern North Carolina.   He previously worked as Litigation Director of Legal Services of North Carolina and Executive Director of Farmworkers Legal Services of North Carolina. He also worked as a staff attorney for legal aid programs in Wisconsin.   Richard specializes in employment, housing, education and civil rights law, and has litigated class actions in federal and state courts.  Richard is co-chair of the LANC Employment Law Task Force and co-manager of the Employment Law Practice Group.  He is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section Council.  He received a BS in Management Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1966 and his JD from Fordham Law School in 1969.  He is licensed to practice law in New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. 

Janet Steddum is a former real estate attorney in Raleigh and has represented national and local residential home builders. She has performed over 1000 closings including builder lot purchases, new construction sales, re-sales, refinances, and relocations. She has extensive title search experience and has given opinions on title to the major title insurance companies. Janet was a Lawyer on the Line volunteer for three years before joining Legal Aid as a staff attorney at the Helpline Office. 

Theodore "Ted' Smyth is Of Counsel at the Raleigh office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog.  He has been a litigation attorney since 1981 and has been involved in a wide variety of cases involving commercial, insurance, and tort-related issues.  He is named in Woodard/White's "The Best Lawyers in America" for Commercial Litigation, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Insurance Law, Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs and Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants. His interest in insurance law has led him to be named Woodard/White's 2011 Raleigh Insurance Lawyer of the Year.  In 2013, he was selected to be the founding Chair of the newly formed Insurance Law Section for the North Carolina Bar Association.  He has litigated many cases involving tort, insurance-related, and commercial issues, and spoken to professional organizations and written extensively on these topics. He enjoys litigating a broad range of  cases and has done so for plaintiffs and for defendants.  He believes it is useful in the courtroom to have the perspective and experience that comes from not limiting representation exclusively to either plaintiffs or defendants. Ted is listed as a North Carolina Super Lawyer and has been accorded the top AV ® ranking by Martindale-Hubbell.  He is the immediate Past President of the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.