Newtown lawyers said they will willingly help families of victims of the Newtown massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on a pro bono basis. But they doubt that any requests for help will be coming right away.
"It's so early... people are just getting through these funerals right now," attorney Ron Bellenot, whose practice focuses on criminal and civil litigation and foreclosures, said in the middle of last week. "They're just trying to get through his week. There still are more funerals to come," he said, just as a procession moved past his office at 280 Main Street.
Bellenot guesses that the first requests for pro bono assistance could be for probate work or help with insurance- or medical-related claims. "If someone needs us pro bono, we will help them," he said.
Bellenot said his office has offered sympathy and condolences to many people in the community. He added that the law firm's door is open to anyone who needs anything. "We are willing to help anyone," he said. "We put it out there, we are willing to help. We sent out a note to everyone we know."
Lawyers from all over the country have been calling and contacting his office out of the blue, seeking a Newtown contact who might offer advice as to how they can help victim's families. Bellenot recalled one family lawyer in Seattle who wanted to know the best way to go about donating to help the victims' families.
The outpouring of kindness toward Newtown from all corners of the earth has been uplifting, he said. "It looks like the good in the world overshadows the bad, a million to one," Bellenot said.
Newtown attorney and Selectman Will Rodgers noted that Newtown is a small town, and that all the lawyers practicing there know people affected by the tragedy. He said, sadly, that Joy Previdi, a Newtown lawyer, lost a grandchild in the massacre.
Rogers and two other lawyers one who lives in Newtown but practices in Bridgeport, and another who lives in Newtown but practices in Danbury are lending their legal expertise to charitable organizations that are sprouting up to funnel money to the elementary school and to the families of the victims. "You can't just start up a foundation" as a laymen, without legal advice, he said. Some expertise in law and accounting is necessary.
Rodgers said that the local bar might not have all the expertise needed to handle matters evolving from the shooting. He noted that celebrities many of A-list quality and sports leagues are "lining up to help Newtown in some way."
"We will need an entertainment lawyer. We are hoping to get one to volunteer," Rodgers said.