News Releases


News releases regarding important events and development involving legal aid in Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network are listed below:


Today, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) presented its new report: "The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans” during a congressional briefing at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. The report updates and expands LSC's 2009 study of the "justice gap" in the United States.

The newly updated study reports in the past year, a staggering 71 percent of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal problem, such as an eviction notice, wrongly denied benefits, or a family court suit resulting from domestic violence. Of the Americans facing such problems, 86 percent received inadequate or no legal help because they couldn’t afford it.


HARRISBURG, PA – Today, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, a bicameral, bipartisan Committee of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, released a report on the use of the Access to Justice Act filing fee funds that support the provision of civil legal aid low-income Pennsylvanians and survivors of domestic violence. The report found that the Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Board, where the funds are distributed, and the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN), where the services are delivered, do an excellent job fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to properly administer the funds and that the actual provision of services with these funds is of high quality.


PLAN Excellence Award - photo

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. (PLAN) is honored to announce the 2017 Excellence Award winners as well as the recipient of the Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services. The exceptional individuals, groups and corporation receiving awards have demonstrated excellence in their efforts to expand access to justice for those who have nowhere else to turn for help when facing a critical legal problem.

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award winners will be formally honored at the PLAN Excellence Award Banquet on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at the Hilton Harrisburg in Harrisburg, PA.  The ceremony will feature a video tribute of each honoree highlighting their accomplishments. 


Former Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. CastillePennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) has appointed former Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille to its governing board. The board took this action at its regular meeting of June 9, 2016.

Board President, James P. DeAngelo commented, “We are very pleased that Pennsylvania’s retired Chief Justice has agreed to join the Board of PLAN. Retired Chief Justice Castille has had a strong demonstrated history of supporting the provision of civil legal aid and access to justice for those who have nowhere else to turn. We are especially pleased he has agreed to join our board because he not only brings the prestige, knowledge and background of his prior office to the role but also his personal commitment to fairness for those facing major civil legal challenges, such as mortgage foreclosure, domestic violence, threatened eviction or loss of necessary utilities, loss of custody, and many other areas.”


The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) honored twenty-two recipients of the PLAN Excellence Awards at its annual awards banquet on Tuesday evening, March 15, 2016 at the Harrisburg Hilton. PLAN Excellence Award honorees includes legal aid advocates, private attorneys, lay advocates, community organizations and government groups who demonstrated excellence in their daily work providing access to justice to people regardless of their ability to pay.


Excellence Awards 2016

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards.  

Each year, PLAN requests nominations from across the Commonwealth and honors individuals, groups, and/or organizations that have established excellence and diligence improving the availability and quality of civil legal services for low income people and victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania.


The Honorable Debra McCloskey Todd, Supreme Court of PennsylvaniaThe Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) honored the recipients of the 2015 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards on March 23, 2015 at the annual awards dinner held at the Hilton Harrisburg. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Debra McCloskey Todd served as the keynote speaker for the event.


Attorney Carrie M. Bowmaster says is glad to be working in York for many reasons. First and foremost, she will get to help a lot of people in need. “My chief goal in going to law school 24 years ago was to help people.  I’ve gone back and forth between private practice and legal aid. Helping people remained my number one goal.” She has been with MidPenn for the last eight years. “We have great staff in our York MidPenn office.  I’ve been working here part time for a few months and I know they care about our clients.  They look for any way they can to be of assistance.” In addition, she says she is thrilled to be working with the very active York County Bar Association.


Robert B. Hamilton, Esq.

The MidPenn Low-Income Tax Clinic (LITC) will provide free representation for low-income taxpayers who need legal assistance to resolve disputes with the Internal Revenue Service.  Attorney Robert B. Hamilton has joined the Cumberland County MidPenn Legal Services Office to do this work.

MidPenn Executive Director Rhodia D. Thomas says, “The IRS has provided these grants to better assist taxpayers and encourage voluntary compliance.  It is a complicated area and they want to make it easier to get answers and resolutions.”


Coalition Urges Creation of New Commission

A report released by the Pennsylvania Civil Legal Justice Coalition on May 6, 2014 concludes that the staggering number of unrepresented low-income litigants in civil legal matters adversely impacts the quality of justice for all parties in Pennsylvania courts, negatively impacts the courts’ administration of justice and undermines the rule of law.

The report, which was released at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recommends the creation of a first-ever Access to Justice Commission to serve as a vehicle for studying and implementing measures to expand access to justice in the state.