Pro Bono News
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the country’s largest funder of civil legal aid programs for low-income people, has announced the development of online, statewide “legal portals” to direct individuals with civil legal needs to the most appropriate forms of assistance. LSC will partner with Microsoft Corporation and Pro Bono Net to develop portals for up to two statewide pilots intended to demonstrate how this approach can be replicated as widely as possible in an economic fashion.
There is no right to counsel in civil disputes in the United States, and each year as many as 80 percent of low-income people who face civil legal problems that can threaten home, family stability and livelihood are unable to obtain assistance in resolving their problems. The portals are intended to help the legal aid community, courts and other state justice partners to provide some form of effective assistance to everyone with a civil legal problem.
Microsoft has committed at least $1 million in funding, technical support, and project management services. Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation, will help convene local partners and provide service design expertise to execute the pilot.
“The current system of accessing legal services is confusing, opaque, and inefficient for many people,” said LSC President James J. Sandman. “The goal of the portals is to simplify the process by providing a single, statewide point of access to effective help for people needing civil legal assistance. Each user will be guided to available resources based on the nature of the matter and the user’s personal circumstances.”
“Technology can help empower the powerless—people who may feel lost without a lawyer in the legal system,” said Dave Heiner, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft. “Microsoft is thrilled to partner with the Legal Services Corporation, Pro Bono Net and the broader pro bono community to help close the yawning access to justice gap.”
“Many state justice communities are looking to develop collaborative approaches to meet the growing needs of low income and vulnerable individuals,” said Mark O’Brien, founder and Executive Director of Pro Bono Net. “We hope this initiative will strengthen those efforts and help spark creative, user-centered solutions.”
LSC will manage the state selection process, consulting with the National Center for State Courts, the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Self-Represented Litigation Network, and other national stakeholders to identify promising jurisdictions that will be invited to compete for the opportunity to develop the pilot portals.
As the initiative moves forward, LSC will work to attract other institutional funders and identify local resources to help ensure that the pilots are a success.
Developing access to justice portals in every state was one of the recommendations of LSC’s 2013 “Report of the Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice.” The portals, along with other developments called for in the report, are designed to help the legal aid community provide a form of effective assistance to everyone with a significant civil legal problem. Last year, the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators adopted a resolution supporting “the aspirational goal of 100 percent access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs.”
The Pennsylvania Bar Association Immigration Law Pro Bono Award will be presented to Reading-based lawyers Bridget Cambria, Carol Anne Donohoe and Jacquelyn M. Kline during the statewide association's May 13 Annual Meeting Awards Breakfast in Hershey.
The award recognizes PBA members practicing immigration law who have provided a unique service that has resulted in significant provision of legal services on a pro bono basis to the neediest of foreign nationals. The winners are selected in consultation with PBA leadership. The award is sponsored by the business immigration law firm of Green and Spiegel LLC.
Cambria, Donohoe and Kline have represented many immigrant families in the Berks County Residential Center, based in Bern Township, who are involved in immigration removal proceedings. The three lawyers have represented more than 200 asylum-seeking clients and have won many asylum and withholding cases.
Green and Spiegel LLC has made a donation of $1,500 in honor of the three lawyers to the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the PBA, to benefit the PBA Pro Bono Office.
Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 27,000 lawyers who are members of the association.
The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation will present the 2016 Louis J. Goffman Award to David J. Millstein of Greensburg on May 12 during the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon in Hershey.
The Goffman Award is named for a late PBA president and recognizes individuals and organizations committed to outstanding pro bono service.
Since October 2013, Millstein has served as the voluntary director of the Westmoreland Bar Foundation's Pro Bono Program. During that time, he has overseen the Pro Bono Custody Attorney Program, has been integral to the launch of an in-house divorce program, has met with clients in emergency situations, and has overseen the expansion of the program's office space. Last year, the Pro Bono Program handled more than 600 cases.
Millstein began his career in Pittsburgh, where he worked for one year at the Federal Communications Commission and one year with the law firm of Hollinshead and Mendelson. He returned to his native Greensburg and opened a law practice with Ray Hoehler, his Hollinshead and Mendelson associate. They remained law partners for eight years, when Millstein decided to become a sole practitioner. Fifteen years later, he joined with Jackie Knupp to form Millstein and Knupp, his current firm.
Millstein has worked as an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer; chaired the Pittsburgh Legal Committee; taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and at Duquesne University, where he founded the Hugo L. Black Civil Rights Law Clinic; and sat on the Board of the Westmoreland Bar Foundation.
Millstein holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Duquesne University School of Law.
The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, improves the public's understanding of the law and its appreciation of democracy and strives to ensure that citizens, particularly Pennsylvania's most vulnerable, have full access to our legal system. The foundation accomplishes its mission by making grants, seeking financial support from individuals and organizations both within and outside of the legal community, and encouraging bar members to donate their time, talent and expertise in service to the public.
Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), a partnership project of the Pro Bono Institute and the Association of Corporate Counsel, is now accepting nominations for the 2016 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award, which will recognizes innovative team approaches to pro bono work involving legal departments that partner with law firms or public interest organizations.
This year, CPBO will present two awards: (1) to a partnership that includes a legal department of 50 or more lawyers; and (2) to a partnership that includes legal departments of 49 or less lawyers. Recipients of either award may comprise a two-way (i.e., a legal department and a law firm, or a legal department and a public interest group) or a three-way (i.e., a law firm, a legal department, and a public interest group) partnership.
CPBO will present the awards at the Pro Bono Institute Annual Dinner in New York City on November 3, 2016. To nominate a pro bono partnership, please complete a nomination form and submit a letter of nomination to Corporate Pro Bono c/o Pro Bono Institute, 1025 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20036 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 20, 2016.
A Different View How Pro Bono Contributes to a Successful Career
By Samuel W. Milkes and Joseph A. Sullivan
(Article originally appeared in The Pennsylvania Lawyer, May-June 2016)
In a recent issue of The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine, Daniel F. Monahan contributed a short article tided “Top 10 Rules for a Successful Legal Career,” an incisive and thoughtful set of guidelines that he had written for a law student who worked in his office.
We commend Mr. Monahan not only for his wisdom but for taking the time to guide a young lawyer-to-be about how to get a good start in her career. However, we would like to offer a different perspective as to just one of the guidelines, namely, the one suggesting that the law student stay away from pro bono work and “let other lawyers do the heavy lifting.” Without specifying how long the new lawyer should stay away, Mr. Monahan suggests that pro bono representation should be left to other attorneys until the new lawyer established her career and was making enough money to start a nest egg.
While we are advocates for financial prosperity for all lawyers, we respectfully suggest that, for reasons we lay out here, there is no better time for a lawyer to embrace pro bono as a component of practice than at the outset. As we see it, from the start a new lawyer can and should incorporate pro bono as part of a healthy, financially successful and satisfying career. Here are our reasons.
Help Is Needed
In Pennsylvania, as in most other states, there are many thousands of low-income, disabled and elderly individuals and others in desperate need of legal representation for situations involving housing, domestic violence and health care who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. The statistics are staggering: A recent study by a statewide commission estimates that only 20 percent of low-income people in need of legal help but who cannot afford it are able to obtain assistance from legal-services or pro bono lawyers.
In Philadelphia’s landlord-tenant court, for example, fewer than 5 percent of tenants facing eviction are able to obtain counsel, while more than 85 percent of landlords in the same cases have counsel. Across the commonwealth, fewer than 10 percent of low-income parents in family court can get representation, even though the proceedings lead to life-changing court orders in matters such as divorce, domestic violence, child support and child custody. While legal-services agencies can help some of those in need, studies show that for every client accepted for representation by a public-interest law center, another who asks for help and qualifies for services is turned away. New lawyers, using good judgment, can make a huge difference in helping the elderly, the disabled, the homeless and others through pro bono legal work.
We would never claim that the provision of pro bono services will be enough to fill the gap between the need for legal representation of low-income Pennsylvanians and the availability of civil legal aid. That would not be realistic. Nor can pro bono lawyers be expected to develop the expertise to handle areas such as complex public benefits or public-housing regulatory issues. But pro bono lawyers can and do make a real difference in the lives of people in their communities.
Training, Training, Training
One of the less well-known but undeniable benefits of doing some pro bono early in a legal career is the enormous advantage young lawyers gain in learning the fundamental skills of legal practice that you need in order to succeed. Those skills may include negotiation, interpretation of applicable law and regulations, drafting and filing of pleadings or documents, motions practice, conduct of discovery, including document review and taking of depositions, oral argument in court and actual trial practice.
For all young attorneys, pro bono affords an opportunity to learn much earlier in a career how to handle client meetings effectively and develop strategic-thinking skills on how to advance a client’s rights or protect their interests. You are more likely to be the lawyer for your client and not just the junior associate on a large legal matter. Essentially, pro bono offers an opportunity to accelerate your professional development. Your local legal-services program, your bar’s pro bono program or other resources in your community will also be available to offer guidance on issues you may confront.
Doing pro bono as part of your larger practice from day one affords you the chance to get out into the larger community beyond the four walls of your office. You will meet a broader section of the legal community when you add pro bono work to your practice. You will also meet your colleagues at other private law firms and, in some cases, in corporate in-house law departments. You will gain exposure that will move your career forward. We have heard on more than one occasion that law-firm attorneys have impressed their corporate counterparts so much that, later on, fee work from the corporate side comes to the attorney’s firm.
Diversifying Your Practice
No matter how much a young lawyer may enjoy and thrive in fee practice, through pro bono many get an opportunity to do very different work, whether it is representing abused and neglected children, helping senior citizens stay in their homes when victimized by unscrupulous contractors or coming to the rescue of a small nonprofit that needs help with drafting or analyzing contracts or getting a zoning variance it needs to survive. Pro bono can provide a chance to show more senior lawyers in your firm that you are a leader and someone who knows how to take the initiative --yet more evidence that you are or are becoming a top-notch lawyer.
One of the essential elements of what makes practicing law a profession, in addition to being a business, is the commitment of every lawyer to uphold the law and contribute to access to justice. Indeed, access to the courts and access to justice are essential to upholding the integrity of the profession itself and to respect for the law in the wider community. Rule 6.1 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct calls on all lawyers to engage in “voluntary pro bono public service.” Many bar associations in Pennsylvania, including the PBA, have adopted formal resolutions stating an expectation that association members will handle pro bono cases and that they will participate in the pro bono program adopted in their county by accepting cases or making a financial contribution.
Annually for the past six years the commonwealth’s chief justices have written open letters to members of the Pennsylvania bar encouraging us to do just that. Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Thomas G. Saylor released a new letter in April 2016 renewing the court’s commitment, listing the forms of support for civil legal services and low-income Pennsylvanians the court has initiated as well as the support Pennsylvania lawyers have provided . It also renews the call for lawyers to take pro bono cases and to contribute to legal-aid programs in fulfillment of their pro bono responsibilities. We are very appreciative of this letter. Lawyers should begin fulfilling this basic duty at the start of their careers and not five or I 0 years down the road when this duty may be forgotten.
Encouragement by Your Firm and Clients
Many law firms, and even the clients of those firms, encourage your pro bono activity. We can’t speak for every firm, but many firms credit and encourage this activity. It is part of the culture of the firm. And many fee-paying clients, especially corporate clients, measure and encourage this activity.
In addition to the reasons cited above, we believe that lawyers should do at least some pro bono early in their careers because it will help them develop a balanced and varied workload from day one. By doing it now, the new lawyer, using good judgment and long-term thinking, will get used to balancing pro bono representation with the rest of his or her practice.
We won’t claim that every pro bono experience will produce the ultimate personal satisfaction for you, any more than we would make that claim for your fee-paying client experiences. But every lawyer who has done some pro bono work can tell you a story or maybe a few stories about the personal impact that comes with representing a desperate mother facing termination of her rights to have access to her children or a tenant who fell behind in her rent due to a medical emergency and is facing eviction or a disabled veteran facing homelessness and hunger unless he or she obtains Social Security disability benefits or support through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Each lawyer will tell you that there is nothing like the feeling of preserving a mother’s access to her children or keeping a family from disintegrating by helping them avoid eviction or finding food, shelter and access to essential medical care for a vet who then has a chance to rejoin the larger community.
In sum, the benefits for a new lawyer of doing pro bono from the start of his or her career are many, and they can affect every aspect of developing a high-quality, financially successful and personally rewarding career. Once again, we strongly support nine of the recommendations that Mr. Monahan suggests to his law clerk and commend him for his generosity and thoughtfulness in presenting them. But we respectfully suggest that young lawyers take another look at the idea of postponing pro bono to a time in the indefinite future and instead take the leap as soon as possible. As one seasoned partner told one of the authors when he won a difficult pro bono matter as a second-year associate, “It is nice to see you doing good, while doing well.”
Samuel W. Milkes is executive director of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Inc.
Joseph A. Sullivan is special counsel and director of pro bono programs at the Philadelphia based law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP.
In 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched Your Money, Your Goals, a comprehensive toolkit and accompanying training that helps social services and legal aid program staff, and community volunteers provide the people they serve with information on various financial topics. Whether someone wants to start saving for emergencies, learn how to improve their credit, build a plan to pay down debt, or just stretch their money a little further, Your Money, Your Goals can help.
In May, CFPB will be holding a series of free webinars open to the public for individuals and organizations who’d like to learn how to put Your Money, Your Goals tools and information to work in their community.
The webinars will cover how to plan your own training workshop, how others have adapted the training to fit their organization’s needs, and how you can order free copies of the toolkit. The schedule for the webinars is:
- Your Money, Your Goals for Social Services Programs
May 11, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EDT
- Your Money, Your Goals for Community Volunteers
May 12, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EDT
- Your Money, Your Goals for Legal Aid Organizations
May 25, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EDT
If you’d like to join an upcoming webinar to learn how to facilitate a Your Money, Your Goals training, contact CFBP and indicate which training you prefer at email@example.com.
Philip H. Yoon to Receive Service Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division
The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Young Lawyers Division will present its Michael K. Smith Excellence in Service Award to Philip H. Yoon during the state association's Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon, May 12, in Hershey.
The award is named in memory of a young Philadelphia lawyer committed to providing legal services for low-income people and to offering law-related educational programs to students. The award is presented to a Pennsylvania young lawyer who, through his or her exemplary personal and professional conduct, reminds lawyers of their professional and community responsibilities.
Yoon, the chief staff attorney for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, is active in the organized bar. He is the chair of the PBA Law-Related Education Committee, which oversees the association's youth education programs such as Celebrate the Constitution and Law Day. He volunteers for the Philadelphia Bar Association's Advancing Civics Education (ACE) program, which places lawyers and judges in Philadelphia public high schools to support social studies curriculum and to encourage students to engage in critical thinking about government, the law and dispute resolution.
Representing lawyers in Philadelphia, Yoon is a voting member of the PBA House of Delegates and the at-large zone chair for the PBA Young Lawyers Division. He is a member of the PBA Appellate Advocacy Committee and PBA Minority Bar Committee. He was a member of the 2011-12 class of the PBA Bar Leadership Institute, which develops future leaders of the association. He is currently a Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Young Lawyer Life Fellow. In addition, he served on the host committee for the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division's 2014 national conference that took place in Pittsburgh.
Formerly of Hazleton, Yoon also volunteers for the alumni society of his alma maters, MMI Preparatory School, the University of Pennsylvania and the Washington and Lee University School of Law.
Chief Justice Saylor Urges Pennsylvania Attorneys to Support Legal Aid Through Volunteering and Financial Support
Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor has again asked Pennsylvania lawyers to support civil legal aid programs by providing pro bono service through direct representation and financial contributions.
In a letter to Pennsylvania’s registered lawyers, the chief justice thanked the attorneys for their support of legal aid programs as a component of their annual attorney registration fees.
The Chief Justice's letter recognizes that every Pennsylvanian deserves their day in court, even if the ability to pay for counsel is limited. The letter states that The Pennsylvania Supreme Court supports civil legal aid in a variety of ways, from funding a loan forgiveness program for legal services practitioners to honoring the work of pro bono volunteers.
Chief Justice Saylor also recognized the significant contributions recently made to civil legal aid through the direction of class actin residual funds to the PA IOLTA Board and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. This process has contributed in excess of $3.4 Million to support civil legal services since the Court's rulemaking action regarding these funds in 2012.
The Chief Justice, together with Bill Pugh, President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, asked each of the nearly 70,000 attorneys registered in the Commonwealth to make a personal commitment to provide whatever pro bono service they can through direct representation of the poor and financial support of our legal aid programs. He stressed that it is these volunteer efforts, beyond any mandatory payment, that most greatly impact those in need.
The letter is being widely distributed to the legal community by the courts and the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
A panel presentation by the Legal Services Corporation entitled Innovations in Legal Services was made during the Pro Bono Institute's annual conference on March 24, 2016. The program discussed some innovative pro bono projects that were funded under the LSC Pro Bono Innovations Grant program.
The panel presentation was moderated by LSC President Jim Sandman and included the following panelists:
- Laurie Hauber, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri;
- Adam Heintz, Legal Services NYC; and
- Emily Jarrell, Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association.
The discussion may be viewed at the link below:
A panel presentation by the Legal Services Corporation entitled Innovations in Legal Services was made during the Pro Bono Institute's annual conference on March 24, 2016. The panel presentation was moderated by LSC President Jim Sandman and included the following panelists:
- Laurie Hauber, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri;
- Adam Heintz, Legal Services NYC; and
- Emily Jarrell, Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association.
The programs discussed some innovative pro bono projects that were funded under the LSC Pro Bono Innovations Grant program. The discussion may be viewed at the link below:
FedEx Ground Legal, Matthew D. Lee and Jeffrey A Mills Honored by PA Legal Aid Network for Work in Support of Pro Bono
The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) honored the recipients of the 2016 PLAN Excellence Awards at its annual awards banquet on Tuesday evening, March 15, 2016 at the Hilton Harrisburg. Recipients recognized for outstanding pro bono service included FedEx Ground Legal, Matthew D. Lee of Philadelphia and Jeffrey A. Mills of Lancaster. The Hardwood Estates Project Team, a group of individuals and organizations, including several public interest and pro bono attorneys, who came together to fight injustice and save a mobile home community were also honored for their efforts.
FedEx Ground Corporate Legal Department has created a robust pro bono culture that has benefited countless of low-income residents and victims of domestic violence in the Pittsburgh area since its inception. FedEx Ground is a member of the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership and today operates six active pro bono projects engaging the FedEx Ground legal team and support staff from the company’s Risk Management and the Protection and Preventative Services Groups. Projects include a Protection Form Abuse project; Wills project; Guardian ad Litem project; Education Law Clinic; and Veterans Legal Aid project.
Matthew D. Lee, Esq., a Partner at Blank Rome LLP and is very active in pro bono matters. He is the inaugural recipient of Blank Rome’s Edwin P. Rome Pro Bono Achievement Award for his commitment to pro bono service and devotion to the pursuit of equal justice for all. He has also served as a core member of a team of Blank Rome attorneys involved in a death penalty case, which resulted in a vacated death sentence and a new trial for his client.
Attorney Lee has provided dedicated leadership and an unwavering commitment to pro bono legal work through his involvement with Philadelphia VIP, the hub of pro bono legal services in Philadelphia, serving VIP as a volunteer attorney and trusted leader. Since 2001, Mr. Lee has taken numerous case referrals, primarily representing clients facing civil forfeiture of their homes and he has encouraged his fellow attorneys to volunteer with VIP by engaging a colleague to co-counsel with him on every case as way of supporting new volunteers. He has served VIP in many leadership roles on its Board of Directors, serving as Secretary, Vice President and President.
Jeffrey A. Mills, Esq., is a partner at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP in Lancaster where he chairs the Litigation Department. He has a wide background in civil litigation and more than fifteen years of experience in Workers' Compensation Litigation. He is also a lecturer and speaker on Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation law.
Attorney Mills has a long history of supporting legal aid in Lancaster County through accepting volunteer cases and in a variety of other ways and is active in the Lancaster Bar Association and the Lancaster Bar Association Foundation, In 2014, as Chair of the Lancaster Bar Association Foundation, he led the foundation’s successful Safe at Home Campaign to raise $225,000 for multi-year funding to retain a Family Law Attorney in MidPenn Legal Services Lancaster office. He assembled a highly motivated team of volunteers and led them through the solicitation process, providing inspiration and guidance to the campaign committee. His efforts, and those of the Safe at Home Campaign Committee, support orderly resolution of serious custody disputes for low-income families and showcase that Lancaster County lawyers care about poor families.
The Hardwood Estates Project Team of dedicated residents, lawyers, community leaders and organizations worked together in an unprecedented fashion to save Hardwood Estates, a 91 lot mobile home park in Conneaut Lake, PA. Members of the team included Wendy Carter, Director of Housing Administration for PathStone Corporation in Harrisburg; Nancy Close and Mel Reinhart the President and Vice President of Hardwood Estates Resident Association (HERA) in Conneaut Lake, PA; Robert Damewood, Esq., a Staff Attorney with Regional Housing Legal Services; Carla Falkenstein, Director of West Region of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; Kenneth Joseph, Esq., Of Counsel in the Real Estate Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP; the PA Department of Environmental Protection Safe Drinking Water Program; Charles G. Scalise, President and CEO of Housing and Neighborhood Development Services (HANDS) of Erie; and Wesley S. Speary, Esq., formerly an intern at Regional Housing Legal Services.
The following law firms were also honored with an Excellence Award in Cy Pres Advocacy for facilitating the transfer of approximately $5 million in residual class action funds to the PA IOLTA Board and Community Legal Services to expand access to justice:
- Barrack, Rodos & Bacine - Mark R. Rosen, Esq., Partner, Philadelphia PA
- Donovan Axler, LLC - Michael D. Donovan, Esq., Founding Member, Philadelphia, PA
- Feldman, Shepherd, Wohlgelernter, Tanner, Weinstock, Dodig, LLP - Alan M. Feldman, Esq., Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Philadelphia, PA
- Francis & Mailman, PC - James A. Francis, Esq., Founder, Berwyn, PA
- Kessler, Topaz, Meltzer & Check, LLP - Lee D. Rudy, Esq., Partner, Radnor, PA
- Wohl & Fruchter, LLP - Ethan D. Wohl, Esq., Partner, New York, NY
Others receiving Excellence Awards included legal aid staff members, Joseph R. DeCristopher, Esq. of North Penn Legal Service; William E. Gibbons, Esq. of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia; Mark A Krochka, Esq. of Neighborhood Legal Services Association; and Public Policy Advocate Rochelle L. Jackson from Just Harvest in Pittsburgh.
Video tributes were shown highlighting the accomplishments of each of the 2016 recipients of the award at the award dinner. Those video tributes and more information on the Award Winners is available on Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, inc. website.
Philadelphia VIP, the hub of pro bono legal services for low-income clients in Philadelphia, hosted its 35th Anniversary Gala on March 12, 2015. Over 475 supporters and sponsors attended the sold out event at the Westin Philadelphia. These supporters helped to raise over $500,000 which will be used to provide free legal assistance to low-income clients with critical legal needs through the services of pro bono attorneys.
Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit received the organization’s Pinnacle award for his commitment to access to justice issues. During his keynote address at the event, Judge Restrepo spoke of his work with VIP on the Prisoner Re-Entry Project, a program that matches prisoners with education, training and employment services to reduce their supervised release period and facilitate reentry into society. He also encouraged attorneys to answer the call to serve by taking on pro bono cases through Philadelphia VIP.
The other honorees of the evening included volunteers that have demonstrated outstanding efforts to assisting Philadelphia VIP’s clients. The William J. Brennan Award was presented to VIP’s Corporate Advisory Council, which provided support and planning to launch a project that would match attorneys at corporations with attorneys at law firms to take on VIP pro bono cases. Robert Scott, former Executive Vice President and General Counsel at TE Connectivity and Chair of the Corporate Advisory Council, accepted the award. Other awardees included: Dina Ronsayro, partner at Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel, LLP, for her work on family law cases; Dean Weisgold, principal attorney at Dean E. Weisgold, P.C., for his work on income related cases; John Macoretta, partner at Spector Roseman Kodroff & Willis, for his work on homeownership cases; and Frannie Reilly, owner of the Law Office of Frannie Reilly, for her work with small businesses and nonprofit organizations through Philadelphia VIP’s LawWorks project.
During the program, Philadelphia VIP’s Executive Director Sara Woods announced a matching grant given by a generous donor. The donor will match new and increased gifts to the organization this year dollar for dollar up to $100,000. The money raised through this challenge will be used to grow the capacity of Philadelphia VIP to meet its mission.
Philadelphia VIP, the hub of pro bono in Philadelphia, was founded in 1981 by the Philadelphia Bar Association and Community Legal Services to meet the legal needs of low-income Philadelphians by recruiting and training attorneys to provide pro bono legal services. Today, VIP’s diverse volunteers serve more than 3,000 clients annually with legal issues that affect basic human needs. Philadelphia LawWorks, a project of Philadelphia VIP, is a pro bono referral program that serves nonprofits, small businesses and homeowners.
Case Spotlight! Case Spotlight! Sailor Appointed Guardian of Ailing Father with Volunteer Attorney Help
A Navy servicemember’s father suffered a severe stroke rendering him incapacitated and needed someone to make healthcare and property decisions for him. However, he had not previously designated a power of attorney nor had he signed any healthcare directives. The sailor happened to be the only family member able to handle her father’s care, but in order to assume this role, she required court-appointed guardianship over her father. To complicate matters, the sailor was soon to be stationed in Japan for two years and therefore needed the guardianship to be in place quickly. The sailor’s military legal assistance attorney analyzed whether the client could submit guardianship papers on her own and concluded that having counsel in the servicemember’s guardianship proceedings was preferred.
Because her military legal assistance attorneys could not represent her in court, the ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to an experienced pro bono civilian attorney in her area. The volunteer attorney was successful in persuading the court to appoint the sailor as her father’s guardian for healthcare matters and located a local attorney to be named guardian of his estate. In addition, this attorney covered all court costs for the servicemember and finalized the documents necessary to make the guardianship official, allowing her to make essential healthcare decisions for her father going forward.
Find additional case stories on our blog to see how you, our volunteers, are successfully helping military families.Get Involved
ABA Military Pro Bono Project: Pro Bono Representation
The ABA Military Pro Bono Project accepts case referrals from military legal assistance offices anywhere in the world on behalf of junior enlisted servicemembers facing civil legal issues, and it places these cases with pro bono attorneys where the legal assistance is needed in the U.S.
Explore pro bono case opportunities under the website’s For Volunteer Attorneys tab, which is updated daily.
Operation Stand-By: Providing Legal Guidance to Military Attorneys
Through the Military Pro Bono Project’s Operation Stand-By, you may offer to provide attorney-to-attorney guidance to military attorneys so they can further assist their servicemember clients. If not already signed up with Operation Stand-By, join by logging onto the Project website to update your profile by clicking on “I am registering to join the Project's Operation Stand-By."
Already signed up with Operation Stand-By? Please log onto the Project website to review your profile to ensure that your contact information and substantive legal areas of interest are up-to-date.Press Highlights ABA Military Pro Bono Project Outstanding Services Awards Announced
The Project's success depends on its volunteers! Attorneys from law firms, corporate law departments, and other legal organizations throughout the nation accept pro bono cases from the Project. Thank you to all of the attorneys and pro bono coordinators who have registered with the Project and have accepted pro bono cases on behalf of our servicemembers!
Special thanks to the recipients of the ABA Military Pro Bono Project Outstanding Services Award, from the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP), for their extraordinary pro bono services through the Project.
Holland & Knight LLP highlights its longstanding partnership with the ABA Military Pro Bono Project and the Veterans’ Claims Assistance Network in announcing its generous donation in support of our pro bono projects.
Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C. and the ABA Section of Litigation highlight Bressler attorneys’ extraordinary time and efforts in providing legal assistance to servicemembers through the ABA Military Pro Bono Project.
News and Events
LAMP CLE Programs:
Visit the LAMP CLE webpage for information about upcoming CLE programs, along with materials from previous CLE courses.
Useful Books in the ABA Web Store:
Veterans Appeals Guidebook:
Guide to representing veterans in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
The Military Divorce Handbook: Resource for representing servicemembers and spouses.
A Judge’s Benchbook for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act: Information for judges of the provisions that protect servicemembers while on active duty.
American Bar Association Legal Guide for Military Families: Legal resource for servicemembers, veterans, and their families.
Ripped Off!: Guide for military personnel about certain types of sales, scams and abusive commercial practices.
ABA Military Pro Bono Project’s Online Library:
Did you know that the ABA Military Pro Bono Project has an online library filled with resources that focus on legal issues faced by servicemembers, veterans, and military family members? Log onto the website and visit the Library.
Thank you to all of our Star Ranking Supporters!
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Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. (PLAN) is currently seeking law students to serve as summer legal interns in the Martin Luther King, Jr Summer Internship Program. First and second year law students are sought who are willing to intern at a legal aid program during the summer of 2015. Interns must not have any geographical limitations.
The MLK Internship is an integral part of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network goal to initiate new lawyers to the lifelong commitment of providing access to justice for all individuals regardless of their ability to pay.
Students engage in unique situations through which one might better understand the special legal issues facing individuals who live in poverty and low-income communities. In turn, the summer interns provide valuable and necessary service to the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network program offices in which they are placed.
Law students experience the real world of legal aid advocacy. PLAN seeks opportunities for MLK Interns to experience direct client contact, participate in court hearings (for those certified), administrative hearings, legal research and writing on actual cases under the supervision of seasoned legal aid attorneys.
Interns are challenged to put classroom training and talent to work on behalf of the many needy individuals the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network serves, and to work creatively to reduce the barriers to a more just society. Each MLK intern is treated as a valuable member of the legal staff and is expected to participate in case strategy and contribute to overall case management.
For more information and how to apply, please visit the MLK, Jr. Program Page on the PLAN website at www.palegalaid.net/martin-luther-king-jr-program
The Pennsylvania Bar Association presented County Bar Recognition Awards during the 50th Annual Seminar of the Conference of County Bar Leaders, Feb. 25 – 27, at the Nittany Lion Inn, State College. Twenty-four county bar associations in Pennsylvania were honored this year for sponsoring projects that improve the legal profession, justice system and community. The awards, which are non-competitive in nature, are presented annually by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
"Numerous projects and programs aimed at improving communities and the legal profession are successfully completed each year thanks to the voluntary efforts of lawyers involved in local bar associations," said William H. Pugh V, PBA president. "We are proud to highlight their good works and hope this recognition inspires more legal professionals to participate in future efforts."
The following county bar associations received awards for notable projects and programs:
- Allegheny County Bar Association: ACBA Planning Ahead Guide
- Beaver County Bar Association: Children and Youth Services Holiday Drive and Best Friends' Spring Jamboree "Fiesta" Picnic
- Berks County Bar Association: Community Workshops
- Bucks County Bar Association: Women Lawyers Division Clothing Drive for CareerLink
- Centre County Bar Association: Centre County Law Day
- Chester County Bar Association: Advocacy Academy and 1L Diverse Law Student Summer Program
- Cumberland County Bar Association: Adopt-a-Family 2015 and Law Day: Magna Carta
- Dauphin County Bar Association: Lawyers for the Arts
- Delaware County Bar Association: Mentoring Program
- Erie County Bar Association: The Senior Law Project and Judicial Elections Education
- Franklin County Bar Association: YLD Wills for Heroes and YLD Law Day Mock Trial
- Lackawanna Bar Association: 125th Year Anniversary
- Lancaster Bar Association: Enhanced Member Benefits Program
- Lebanon County Bar Association: "Hire a Local Lawyer" Campaign
- Lycoming Law Association: Wills for Heroes, Law Day and Mock Trial Competition, and Angel Tree Project
- Monroe County Bar Association: Monroe County Bar Association Celebrates 100 Years! and MCBA Funds the Community
- Montgomery Bar Association: Informed Choices 2015, Keystone Leadership Celebration and Bar Guide Program
- Northampton County Bar Association: Positive Conflict Resolution and Mediation Skills Program for Easton Middle School
- Pike County Bar Association: Wills for Heroes and "All Star" Potpourri CLE
- Schuylkill County Bar Association: Bench-Bar Conference, 100th Anniversary Celebration and Superior Court Session
- Washington County Bar Association: Shred Day and City Mission Project
- Westmoreland Bar Association: Strategic Plan, Drug Court and IrvTalks
- Wilkes-Barre Law & Library Association: After the Child Abuse Report: What You Need to Know – A Medical/Legal Event, 250th Anniversary of Thomas Jefferson Passing the Bar: A Public Legal Seminar and CLE Program, and Travel CLE Committee
- York County Bar Association: Wills for Heroes, Impact Grants, Legal Aid and Scholarships, and Legal Aid Community Summit
The Conference of County Bar Leaders, whose membership includes leaders from county bar associations throughout the state and from the Pennsylvania Bar Association, organizes a yearly educational conference focusing on the exchange of innovative bar association projects and ideas and on the development of mutually-beneficial relationships among bar leaders that improve the legal profession.
The Environmental and Energy Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association is awarding one or more law students a $10,000 stipend to allow for a pro bono summer internship in the field of environmental and/or energy law ("EEL").
The selected law student recipient(s) will be awarded $10,000.00 (paid in three installments) starting with commencement of the internship in support of an unpaid, pro bono project of the student's choosing in the field of EEL performed during an 8-week period in the summer of 2016.
First- or second-year law students or third-year night law students, who are residents of Pennsylvania or who indicate their intention to practice law in Pennsylvania, and who demonstrate an interest in pursuing a career in the field of EEL, are eligible for consideration.
The pro bono project proposed by an applicant for the internship must be supported by a not-for-profit public interest or charitable organization, educational institution, and/or a local, state or federal government agency that agrees to provide oversight and supervision of the student and a mentor to assist the student in completion of a project in the field of EEL.
Students applying must demonstrate that the organization or agency for which they are applying meets these criteria, that the organization or agency has an internship opportunity available, that the organization or agency will appropriately supervise the intern's work, and that the organization or agency would not otherwise provide a salary for the internship position.
In making its selection, the Section's Internship Committee may consider the following factors: academic achievement; the student's demonstration of interest in the field of EEL, as evidenced by his or her academic studies, work or volunteer experience and interests; commitment to working as an EEL lawyer in Pennsylvania; benefits of the proposed pro bono project to the candidate, organization, general public and field of EEL; and financial need.
The Internship Committee may also consider the following factors related to the proposed project: relationship of the organization's mission to the field of EEL; relationship of the proposed work to the mission of the organization; potential impact and longevity of the proposed work on the organization and/or its constituency.
More Information and Application Instuctions