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Lawyers statewide keep helping Joplin

Members of the legal community continue to help in recovery efforts in Joplin, where a May 22 tornado killed more than 150 people and displaced thousands.

Lathrop & Gage gave $8,282 to Salvation Army and the American Red Cross. That includes about $6,200 from partners and staff and another $2,000 from the firm.

Led by paralegal Lydia Kirkham and legal assistant Tammy Troutner, employees of the firm’s Kansas City office also donated clothes, canned goods, pet food, diapers, cleaning supplies and other items. The firm’s Springfield office helped family and friends of employees affected by the tornado. They collected food, personal hygiene items and supplies for children, and they began an initiative for people to adopt families in need.

“We have a lot of clients and families who live close, so certainly we’re very supportive,” said Joel Voran, chief executive officer of Lathrop & Gage.

Two St. Louis law firms, Williams Venker & Sanders and Senniger Powers, raised $16,000 on June 2. The firms organized a used-book sale, bake sale and raffle, and the firms matched the event’s fundraising. All proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross-Ozark Chapter. 

Meanwhile, proceeds from Thompson Coburn’s recent “Jeans Day for Charity” were donated to the United Way and other charitable organizations. Contributions from attorneys, staff and the firm totaled $10,000.

Saint Louis University School of Law clinic students and faculty helped with cleanup efforts in Joplin and interviewed victims for their legal needs. They came to Joplin on June 3 with $1,000 worth of storage bins and gift cards and donated the items to Catholic Charities. John Ammann, director of SLU Legal Clinics, described their trip in an email to the law school.

As the vans carrying the volunteers turned the corner in Joplin, “the chatter among the volunteers ended abruptly as we caught sight of the mile-wide footprint of the tornado,” he wrote.

“As far as the eye could see,” he wrote, “foundations with no homes, yards with no pets, trees with no branches, streets with no names.”  

Ammann said the bins would help families store what they could salvage from their homes. They also served as transport for food, diapers, clothing and cleaning supplies.

“It was a truly moving experience for the 19 students and faculty from the clinic, as well as staff from Catholic Legal Assistance,” he said. “The degree of devastation is enormous, and the families there will need our help for many months to come.”