1 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin March 04, 2010 Volume: 156 Issue: 43 3Members of legal community join forces to help the people of Haiti Maria Kantzavelos By Maria Kantzavelos Law Bulletin staff writer _h_3a.jpglionel Jean-Baptiste, president of the Haitian American Lawyers Association of Illinois, holds a baby at a camp he visited in February in Haiti, outside Port-au-Prince, where an individual in the neighborhood had taken in children whose parents had died or went missing in the catastrophic earthquake of Jan. 12. A fundraising and volunteer recruiting effort to benefit the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti is being planned for Illinois legal community on March 31 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. In the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti and left thousands injured and homeless, Lionel Jean-Baptiste, an Evanston lawyer who immigrated to the United States from Haiti when he was 14, paid a visit to his homeland for a firsthand look at the devastation. Jean-Baptiste, who is also an alderman in Evanston, was part of a delegation of elected officials from the United States that traveled to Haiti in early February about four weeks after the earthquake hit. Unlike the initial week after the earthquake, when "bodies were in the street, roads were blocked by the rubble, people were hurt in the street and disoriented, looking for loved ones and looking for assistance due to injuries, and trying to find a way to sustain themselves," Jean-Baptiste said he saw something he described as amazing. "The people were moving. They were limping, but moving. They were out and about, trying to engage in the daily life," he said. "Entrepreneurs were selling their wares. People were in motion; they were not sitting
2 back waiting for mana to fall from the sky." Though he acknowledged that the suffering of the people he saw in the hospitals he visited as part of the stops he made on his trip was difficult to see, Jean-Baptiste said he came away with a reminder that Haiti is comprised of a people "capable of rising out of these ashes." "They are a very hopeful people. This is a very strong, resilient people that have overcome a lot of obstacles," Jean-Baptiste said, referring to the history of a nation created out of a struggle for civil rights and a selfemancipation from slavery. Still, he said, "There are a lot of needs, and the demand outstrips the supply." Jean-Baptiste is also president of the Haitian American Lawyers Association of Illinois (HALA), a bar association comprised of about 30 Haitian-American lawyers, and some law students, that was officially formed in HALA, together with the Chicago Alumni Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, and the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti, another organization that Jean-Baptiste heads, is spearheading a fundraising and volunteer recruiting effort that aims to bring Illinois' legal community together for a cause on March 31. That's when organizers are planning to present "Lawyers United to Help Haiti Rebuild: A Call to Action," with a reception and dinner in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Organizers said the event, which is to begin at 5 p.m., aims to unite members of the legal community not only to raise funds to support the rebuilding efforts in Haiti, but also to volunteer time and legal services
3 with charitable organizations and legal associations helping with issues that have surfaced as a result of the tragedy. "As we are seeing the effects of the devastation, of this natural disaster, there are a lot of legal issues flowing out of it, including immigration and adoption issues, and family law issues," said Michele M. Jochner, PAD president and co-chair of the planning committee for the benefit. Jean-Baptiste pointed out a need for legal assistance to Haitian nationals in the United States seeking temporary protective status, and for lawyers here to assist with judicial reforms in Haiti. The event will feature a silent auction and reception followed by a dinner with reports from representatives of charitable organizations designated by HALA to receive funds. The charities, organizers said, are organizations HALA is already familiar with, and which have been active in Haiti for many years before the disaster. They include Partners in Health (www.pih.org), World Vision (www.worldvision.org) and a consortium Haitian-American organizations working to support specific projects in Haiti. Organizers said representatives of various charities will be available at the event to offer a picture of the rescue and relief efforts being made, and how contributions can help. Lawyers in attendance can talk with representatives of the selected charities and legal organizations at the event, with opportunities to sign up to lend a hand toward the effort, Jochner said. "We could really tap into the unique talents of our colleagues within the legal profession and offer them an on-the-spot opportunity to volunteer with charities at the event, and also with legal organizations looking for
4 attorneys to volunteer their talents." Jochner, along with co-chair Yolaine M. Dauphin, HALA's second vice president, kicked off the planning of a legal community-wide effort in the days after the earthquake hit Haiti. "We both felt the need to think of something to do, some response because of the magnitude of the tragedy. We felt called upon to do something," said Dauphin, a Haitian-American attorney in Chicago. "The response we've had has been very encouraging. We are doing things on a very short timeline. We have just been very encouraged by the people who have come on board to plan, brainstorm and offer their support." As of Thursday morning, nearly 20 area bar associations and legal organizations have pledged their support, with many sending members to serve on the event's planning committee. Representatives of several law schools have also signed on to attend the event and pledge support for the rebuilding efforts and encourage volunteerism within their student bodies, Jochner and Dauphin said. The the event is to also feature remarks from honorary co-chairs Jerold S. Solovy of Jenner & Block, retired Judge George N. Leighton, and Timothy L. Bertschy of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen P.C. in Peoria. The event's honorary host committee, which is still in formation, includes such officials as Mayor Richard M. Daley, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and Gov. Patrick J. Quinn, Dauphin said. "I think we're already seeing the spirit of unity and cooperation take root," Jochner said. "Out of tragedy, sometimes, very positive things can
5 come. We have seen so many different segments of the community really respond to the call of action that we've put out, including law firms, bar associations, law schools and individuals." Tickets to the event start at $150 a person or $50 (reception only) for students and attorneys admitted in Organizers said they are hoping to sell out. "You can see all these different segments of the legal community, different geographic areas of our state, coming together for a humanitarian event to really help others," Jochner said. "Law is a noble profession, where we want to do good and we want to help, and I think this brings us back to our roots in a lot of ways. It's giving people an opportunity to give back." For more information about the event, sponsorship opportunities and ways to donate items to the silent auction, contact the Illinois Bar Foundation, which is serving as the fiscal agent for the event, at (312) Click here to get back to main page by Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Content on this site is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, or retransmitting of any copyrightprotected material. The content is NOT WARRANTED as to quality, accuracy or completeness, but is believed to be accurate at the time of compilation.
7 Lionel Jean-Baptiste, president of the Haitian American Lawyers Association of Illinois, holds a baby at a camp he visited in February in Haiti, outside Port-au-Prince, where an individual in the neighborhood had taken in children whose parents had died or went missing in the catastrophic earthquake of Jan. 12. By Maria Kantzavelos Chicago Daily Law Bulletin staff writer March 4, 2010 Volume: 156 Issue: 43 egional and national efforts to mobilize and bring relief for and to the people of Haiti especially after the January 12, 2010 devastating earthquake. Notably, the Haitian-American Lawyers Association, the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti and the Chicago Alumni Chapter of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity mobilized the legal community under the banner Lawyers United to Help Haiti Rebuild: A call to Action to raise funds and to recruit volunteers held on March 31, 2010 to help charitable organizations engaged in Haiti relief work.