Pro Bono News
Philadelphia VIP, the hub of pro bono legal services in Philadelphia, hosted its signature volunteer appreciation event on March 16 at the Suzanne Roberts Theater to honor volunteer attorneys who provided pro bono services to low-income Philadelphians in 2014.
Nearly 1,000 volunteer attorneys said yes to VIP clients in need of high-quality legal representation last year. These attorneys worked with VIP’s professional staff to assist more than 2,800 individuals and families with critical legal needs in 1,449 civil cases. Thanks to these volunteer efforts, VIP served more clients, recruited more volunteers and raised more money in 2014 than in the past three years.
VIP Executive Director Sara Woods shared these numbers with an audience of more than 170 guests including members of the judiciary, attorneys, law students, and legal administrators. Matthew Gutt of the Exelon Business Services Company Legal Department provided the Sponsor perspective.
The evening began with the presentation of the individual volunteer awards. VIP Board Member Dylan Steinberg presented the Outstanding New Volunteer Award to MK Feeney, Esq. of the Law Office of MK Feeney. VIP Board Member Megan Watson presented Leslie Love Engle, Esq. with VIP’s Outstanding Veteran Volunteer Award. NextGen Reporting was awarded VIP’s Juris Award, presented by VIP Board Member Steve Foxman.
The Honorable Sheila Woods-Skipper then introduced Dawn Smith (name changed to protect her privacy), a VIP client, and her volunteer attorney Sarah Jones, an associate at the Law Offices of Gregory J. Pagano. Sarah, a first-time VIP volunteer, helped Donna gain custody of her three young children, one of whom has Asperger’s Syndrome. Shown, Left to right is Ms. Dawn Smith and Ms. Sarah Jones. Photo Credit: Rusty Kennedy.
Members of the Philadelphia VIP Board of Directors then presented the 2014 Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Awards to the following winners:
- Berner Klaw & Watson LLP (Small Firm)
- Willig, Williams & Davidson (Medium Firm)
- Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (Large Firm)
- GlaxoSmithKline (Corporation)
- Donald Parman, Esq. (Solo Practitioner)
VIP Executive Director Sara Woods took the stage again to present the Amicus Award to longtime VIP supporter and friend, photographer Rusty Kennedy. Board President Carmen Romano delivered closing remarks and a reception immediately followed.
Philadelphia VIP succeeds only because of the dedication of time and talent of thousands of attorneys and volunteers from the greater Philadelphia area. To find out how you can support Philadelphia VIP’s work, contact them today at 215-523-9550.
A pilot program that links lawyers who want to volunteer their services with clients unable to afford legal help in the appellate courts has been created by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The program provides a centralized clearinghouse of lawyers willing to participate and creates a communications network for them to make their services known to those in need.
Provisions of the program outlined in an order issued on March 5 call for an appointed coordinator to administer a statewide list of lawyers with appellate court experience who are interested in providing free, or pro bono, representation to indigent litigants.
The coordinator will provide and regularly update the registry to the western, middle and eastern offices of the Supreme Court prothonotary — the state high court’s chief record keeper. David R. Fine, a Harrisburg attorney who spent six years on the Supreme Court’s Appellate Court Rules Committee, was appointed coordinator in the Court's Order.
Participation in the program is limited to those representing themselves, or pro se, who have filed petitions of discretionary appeal in the Supreme Court from the Commonwealth or Superior courts. Those eligible may include parties in both criminal and civil cases — such as someone facing involuntary termination of his or her parental rights.
An order accepting an appeal involving a qualified self-represented litigant will trigger the coordinator to contact potential attorneys on the list. An attorney from the list would be approved by the prothonotary with the litigant’s consent.
After a nine-month trial period, the coordinator will evaluate the program to determine if it ought to continue as is — or change — and forward the recommendations to the Supreme Court for consideration. The pilot program is based on one used in the federal courts.
The Pennsylvania Bar Association presented County Bar Recognition Awards during the 49th Annual Seminar of the Conference of County Bar Leaders, Feb. 26 – 28, 2015 at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster. Twenty-six 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.
"The voluntary efforts of lawyers, who so willingly invest their time and their expertise to improve their communities and the legal profession, are worthy of recognition," said Francis X. O'Connor, president of the PBA. "We applaud them for their efforts and hope even more legal professionals are inspired to participate in their good works."
The following local bar associations received awards for notable projects and programs:
- Allegheny County Bar Association: "Practice for Success" Seminar
- Beaver County Bar Association: Ohio River Trail Council's Gear & Cheer Music Festival, Basic Trial Advocacy Program, and Center Civic Women's Club Cancer Fund
- Berks County Bar Association: End-of-Life Decision Making
- Bucks County Bar Association: Judicial Portrait Project
- Butler County Bar Association: Veterans Court Program
- Centre County Bar Association: Introduction to PACFile, Low-Fee Attorney Referral Program and Centre County Community Super Fair
- Chester County Bar Association: Past Presidents' Council and Preservation Campaign
- Cumberland County Bar Association: Adopt-a-Family and Law Day Programs
- Dauphin County Bar Association: Veterans Disability Appeals Lawyer Referral Program
- Delaware County Bar Association: Expungement Seminar for the Public and Lunch and Learn Series with the President Judge
- Erie County Bar Association: Business Partners Program and Launch of Women's Division
- Franklin County Bar Association: Law Day Program and Wilson College Professional Development Conference
- Lackawanna Bar Association: 2014 Hon. T. Linus Hoban Memorial Forum
- Lancaster Bar Association: Young Lawyers Section's Program for Boys and Girls Club
- Lawrence County Bar Association: Educational Programming
- Lebanon County Bar Association: Bar Headquarters Relocation
- Lycoming Law Association: "Hon. Malcolm Muir – A Pioneer in the Efficient Administration of Justice" Documentary, Law Day and Mock Trial Competition and Young Lawyers Division Angel Tree Toy Drive
- Monroe County Bar Association: Legal Services Donation and Strategic Plan
- Montgomery Bar Association: Young Lawyers Month of Service and Ongoing Outreach Efforts, MBA Connect Campaign and MBA Leadership Academy
- Northampton County Bar Association: Law Day Program and Charity Quoits Tournament
- Pike County Bar Association: Law Day "Senator for a Day," Community Funds Programs and Adult Literacy Program
- Schuylkill County Bar Association: Committee Days, Community Outreach and Picture Perfect
- Washington County Bar Association: "Run Your Briefs Off" WCBA Running Club and Youth Law School
- Westmoreland Bar Association: Diversity Seminar, Pro Bono Help Center and Wellness Program
- Wilkes-Barre Law & Library Association: "The Ashley Special" Seminar, Legal-Medical Seminar and Young Lawyers Division Holiday Basket Charitable Fundraiser
- York County Bar Association: Impact Grants, Legal Aid and Scholarship and "Wills for Heroes" Program
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 American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and The National Legal Aid and Defender Association invite nominations for the 2015 Harrison Tweed Award.
The Harrison Tweed Award was created in 1956 to recognize the extraordinary achievements of state and local bar associations that develop or significantly expand projects or programs to increase access to civil legal services to poor persons or criminal defense services to indigents.
Any local or state bar association in the United States may apply or be nominated that has:
- Developed or significantly expanded a project or program for providing access to legal services for the poor
- Demonstrated long term excellence in maintaining projects or programs providing such access.
A bar association is not eligible if it has been a recipient of the award for the same or a substantially similar program within the past 10 years. Nominations are particularly encouraged with respect to associations that have developed programs for joint involvement of the private bar with organized legal services or public defender programs.
Nominations of state or local bar associations are encouraged from pro bono programs, legal services offices, public defender programs, individual lawyers and the public. Bar associations may also submit their own applications.
Nomination forms and all supporting materials must be received by the close of business on Wednesday, April 1, 2015.
Full information on the award and nomination process is available from the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants.
The Dauphin County Bar Association (DCBA) will hold a training session for members free of charge to become certified to accept veterans’ disability appeals cases on April 23, 2015 from 2:00 pm - 5:30 p.m.at the DCBA, 213 North Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101.
Training will be provided by Professor Tom Reed and Jeremiah Underhill who oversees the DCBA program currently in place to assist local vets.
Those who take advantage of this training and the accompanying CLE credits are required to take on one case in the following 12 months.
In order to attend the training and be certified, please follow the instructions below.
REMINDER for Anyone seeking to practice Veterans Law:
- They must get their Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Accreditation form at Accreditation - Office of General Counsel, http://www.va.gov/ogc/accreditation.asp, and have their accreditation notice back from the DVA before the CLE.
- The CLE is required pursuant to 38 C.F.R. § 14.629(b)(1)(iii) and (iv), (a qualifying CLE course must be approved for a minimum of 3 hours of CLE credit by any state bar association)
The Practising Law Institute continues to offer this training online for free and will report the CLE credits to the PACLE for free. Anyone interested in attending this On-Demand training can get more information from the PLI website.
Registration deadline for the DCBA Training: Monday, April 20, 2015
If you have any questions about the Dauphin County training, please contact Liz at the DCBA at (717) 232-7536 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has issued a Request for Letters of Intent to Apply for 2015 Grant Funding describing the conditions for submitting Letters of Intent to Apply for 2015 funding under the Pro Bono Innovation Fund. The Pro Bono Innovation Fund is LSC’s newest competitive grant program. It was created after the LSC Board of Directors formed a Pro Bono Task Force in 2011 to identify ways to better engage pro bono lawyers and other volunteers to serve low-income people.
The purpose of the Pro Bono Innovation Fund is to develop and enhance pro bono programs that serve larger numbers of low-income clients and that improve the quality and effectiveness of the services clients receive by using pro bono volunteers. Projects should be innovative (new, replicable models and approaches to pro bono delivery) or replicate prior successful models. The Pro Bono Innovation Fund is designed to address issues identified in the 2012 report of LSC’s Pro Bono Task Force. The report provides a summary of findings that illustrates the current crisis in legal services and suggests ways that pro bono can be used to increase the supply of lawyers and others who are available to provide legal assistance to low-income people. The key goals of the Pro Bono Innovation Fund are to:
- Address gaps in the delivery of legal services to low-income people.
- Engage more lawyers and other volunteers in pro bono service.
- Develop and implement new, innovative, and replicable strategies that address persistent challenges in pro bono delivery systems.
Applicants must be current LSC grantees. LSC welcomes applications from a wide variety of areas without targeting its FY 2015 grants to specific areas of interest. Consistent with the key goals of the Pro Bono Innovation Fund, however, applicants are encouraged to consider developing projects that propose to replicate effective models of pro bono delivery or propose novel and innovative solutions to persistent challenges in their current pro bono system. Such challenges and solutions may include, but are not limited to:
- Addressing duplicative or fractured pro bono efforts by forming partnerships with pro bono and community stakeholders or adding new partners to existing collaborations (e.g., working with state and local pro bono committees, specialty and minority bar associations, aligning with state Access to Justice Commission initiatives, and complementing selfrepresented litigant efforts).
- Developing strategies to bring pro bono services to the locations and communities where clients reside or are accessing services (e.g., medicallegal partnerships, mobile or remote services for rural populations, or adopting a neighborhood), particularly for hard to reach populations.
- Developing quality controls and setting goals for timely, effective pro bono work. This can include technology solutions and/or innovative ways to provide more mentoring, training, and support for volunteers (e.g., designating experienced volunteers to mentor newer pro bono attorneys, developing process improvements to share resources through common data portals, and sharing case updates and files with shared case management systems).
- Streamlining the process of matching, supporting, and training pro bono volunteers.
Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant awards will cover either an 18- or 24- month project period. Applicants' proposals should cover the full period for which a grant award is requested. The project period is expected to commence in October 2015.
Letters of Intent must be completed and submitted into the online system at http://lscgrants.lsc.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday, February 23, 2015.
LSC will be hosting an informational webinar on Monday, February 2 at 3 PM (ET) to discuss the Pro Bono Innovation Fund LOI and full application processes for 2015. Register for the webinar.
Detailed information on the application process for 2015 is contained in the Request for Letters of Intent to Apply for 2015 Grant Funding. For more information about current Pro Bono Innovation Fund projects, please contact Mytrang Nguyen, Program Counsel, (202) 295-1564 or email@example.com. If you have a general question or questions about the Pro Bono Innovation Fund application process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indiana County President Judge William J. Martin was presented with the Pennsylvania Bar Association Judges Award at a ceremony and reception held on January 23, 2015.
The award was presented by PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis. The award recognizes Judge Martin's work opening the court to the neediest among the citizens of Indiana County.
Also present and pictured at right with Judge Martin (center) are Laurel Legal Services Attorney David Flowers and Indiana County Bar Association President Beverly A Gazza.
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 2015.
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. The Internship Committee may also consider any other factors it determines are appropriate in making its selection. An interview may be required of finalists.
All applications must be submitted on or before 5:00 pm on February 20, 2015.
Questions regarding the application process should be directed to Richard H. Friedman, Chair, PA Bar EEL Section Internship Committee at (717) 237-5469 or email@example.com.
Additional information on the application process is available on the Pennsylvania Bar Association website.
The Lycoming Law Association presented numerous pro bono and public service awards during its annual banquet in January, 2015. Highlighting the award presentations was the presentation of the 2015 Honorable Thomas Wood. Jr., Equal Access to Justice Award to Lycoming County Attorney Kathleen Raker.
After the presentation of the Thomas Wood Award, Kathleen received a second award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. David K. Trevaskis, Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Coordinator, presented her with the PBA Pro Bono award for 2015. This statewide award recognizes Kathleen's pro bono efforts on a statewide level.
Angela Lovecchio, who received the 2014 Honorable Thomas Wood, Jr., Equal Access to Justice Award was also presented with a 2014 Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award by PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David K. Trevaskis, Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Coordinator, at the 2015 LLA annual banquet.
The Association also presented its Outstanding Law Firm Achievement Awards 2014 in recognition of outstanding commitment by the attorneys in the firms to Equal Justice for the Poor as demonstrated by 100 percent participation in the Lycoming County Pro Bono Referral Program. The firms recognized were:
- Campana, Lovecchio, and Morrone
- Carpenter, Harris, and Flayhart
- Dinges, Dinges, and Waltz
- Elion, Wayne, Grieco, Carlucci, and Shipman
- Kilgus Law Firm
- Law Firm of J. Howard Langdon and John Pietrovito
- Law Offices of Charles Greevy III
- Mathers & Stapp
- Murphy, Butterfield, and Holland
- Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Harris, Waters, and Dohrmann
- Susquehanna Law Group, Inc.
- Waffenschmidt Law Firm
The Lycoming Law Association Fair Share Awards 2014 were also presented to participating attorneys for their commitment to Equal Justice for the Poor by fair share participation in the Lycoming County Pro Bono Referral Program.
The Immigration Advocates Network and the American Bar Association, in partnership with Pro Bono Net, have announced the launch of a new website, the Unaccompanied Children Resource Center at www.uacresources.org. It was created in response to the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children seeking refuge in the United States.
The site brings together the country's leading bar association, pro bono lawyers, and resources from leading immigrants' right organizations to increase access to justice and reduce barriers for children navigating the deportation process. It features training manuals, webinars and practice advisories to help nonprofit legal staff and pro bono attorneys represent children in proceedings. It also includes a national directory of volunteer opportunities for pro bono lawyers, links to key resources, and up-to-date news and events.
For the families and guardians of unaccompanied children, the site offers basic legal information, including videos on what to expect in immigration court, and plain language materials on immigration law and procedure. Children and their guardians can search for legal help through a national directory of nonprofit legal service providers. The website is updated regularly with news, upcoming trainings and events, new developments in the law, materials for clients, and highlights on initiatives and partnerships that share information, match children to counsel, and more.
Each year the Standing Committee presents five awards to individual lawyers and institutions in the legal profession that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. The awards are presented during a luncheon at the ABA Annual Meeting in August.
The Pro Bono Publico Awards program seeks to identify and honor individual lawyers and small and large law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments and other institutions in the legal profession that have enhanced the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to our nation's poor and disadvantaged. These services are of critical importance to the increasing number of people in this country living in a state of poverty who are in need of legal representation to improve their lives.
The commitment, energy and new approaches to the delivery of pro bono service demonstrated by past recipients serve as models for others in the legal profession.
Some candidates will be nominated for their longtime dedication to the delivery of pro bono legal services to the poor. Others might be nominated for their creative approaches to the delivery of volunteer legal services or their commitment to representing low-income persons. Some may have brought about legislation that contributes substantially to legal services to the poor.
Nominations must be submitted by Friday February 27, 2015.
Nominations may be submitted by completing an online nomination form, with supporting materials being submitted by email. Full information on the Nomination Criteria and Process may be found at the link below.