Pro Bono News
The Court of Common Pleas of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, serving Philadelphia, is currently seeking nominations for its 2015 Pro Bono Roll of Honor.
The First Judicial District recognizes the importance of performing pro bono work in order to ensure justice for the citizens of Philadelphia and seeks to recognize the tremendous effort that many attorneys expend in providing pro bono services to litigants in the Court of Common Pleas or Municipal Court in the 2015 Pro Bono Roll of Honor.
The Court will publish the Pro Bono Roll of Honor for 2015 and honor those attorneys at a reception on October 29, 2015.
Nominations for recognition on the 2015 Pro Bono Roll of Honor should be submitted pursuant to the Court's instructions using the standard form adopted by the Court.
The criteria for eligibility are as follows:
- The attorney must practice in Philadelphia County and have provided the pro bono services to a client or client group for a case pending before the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania for the period October 1, 2014 to September 25, 2015;
- The attorney must not be employed by an organization that has, as its primary purpose, the provision of free legal services to the underprivileged;
- The attorney must have (1) provided services to a client or client group who does not have the resources to compensate another attorney for the services, or (2) organized, implemented or managed an initiative to expand pro bono legal services in the courts;
- The attorney does not receive a fee or have any expectation of receiving a fee for the services.
Nomination forms should be submitted by September 25, 2015 to Victoria Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org, by facsimile to 215-686-3748, or by mail to:
Victoria H. Johnson
Court Administrative Officer to
Charles A. Mapp, Sr.
Chief Deputy Court Administrator
First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
336 City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107
The Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators adopted three resolutions in support of legal aid and access to justice at their joint conference at the end of July. The resolutions adopted were:
- Resolution 4 – In Support of the Statement of Best Practices for State Funding of Civil Legal Aid Prepared by the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives
- Resolution 5 – Reaffirming the Commitment to Meaningful Access to Justice for All
- Resolution 7 – Reaffirming the Critical Importance of Adequate Funding of the Legal Services Corporation
This trio of resolutions clearly demonstrates the very strong commitment of CCJ and COSCA to access to justice and legal aid.
Resolution 4 came out of the Government Affairs Committee, chaired by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman of New York. The Best Practices referred to was created by the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiative and is entitled Supreme Court Leadership on State Legislative Funding for Civil Legal Aid.
Resolution 5 states that that the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators support the aspirational goal of 100 percent access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs and urge their members to provide leadership in achieving that goal and to work with their Access to Justice Commission or other such entities to develop a strategic plan with realistic and measurable outcomes.
Resolutions 7 resolved that the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators reaffirm their support for civil legal aid and again call upon all members of Congress to provide funding to the Legal Services Corporation at the level necessary to enable legal services providers to furnish critically-needed legal assistance and advice to low-income and vulnerable Americans.
The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service will recognize two individual lawyers, one law firm, one law school and one business legal department with its 2015 Pro Bono Publico Awards on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. In addition, two national organizations will receive special pro bono awards for their contributions in expanding pro bono legal services.
ABA President William C. Hubbard will host the 33rd annual Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon. “The recipients of the 2015 Pro Bono Publico Awards demonstrate exceptional commitment to volunteer legal services for our most vulnerable citizens,” Hubbard said. “They have invested in their communities in a powerful way and have made access to justice a reality for those who are most in need.”
The 2015 honorees are:
Daniel L. Brown is a partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP in the Business Trial Practice Group in New York. He does extensive pro bono work. Brown represented a class of more than 900,000 persons with disabilities in New York City in the case, Brooklyn Center for the Disabled, et al. v. Bloomberg, et al. The case was considered a landmark victory for thousands with disabilities and resulted in the most comprehensive disaster plan aimed at improving the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities.
Leslie S. Silverstein is a solo practitioner in Portland, Maine, where she focuses on Social Security disability cases. Since opening her firm in 2001, Silverstein has donated thousands of hours representing low income people without access to civil legal representation. She has represented more than 200 clients over the past seven years through the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project on the Domestic Violence Panel. She has also volunteered as a trainer for the MVLP program. In this role, she encourages new lawyers to join the Domestic Violence Panel, where she serves as a mentor.
Baylor University School of Law was established in 1857 and was the first law school in Texas. The school has developed several pro bono clinical opportunities for students. Recently, they established a Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals Immigration Clinic to assist undocumented young people with deportation relief. The school’s People’s Law School offers a half-day program with volunteer lawyers designed to assist the community about their legal rights. The school has a broad pro bono/public service program, which has received recognition for its commitment to providing legal services to the underserved community.
Jones Day is a global legal institution with more than 2,400 lawyers spanning five continents. The firm took up the cause to help in the immigration crisis of unaccompanied children and women fleeing violence in Central America to U.S. borders. Jones Day sent teams of lawyers to military bases where immigrants were held and conducted “Know your Rights” presentations to help screen cases. They also sent teams to detention facilities in New Mexico and Texas. The firm has dedicated nearly 10,000 hours, which is valued at $5 million in fees, and has incurred significant costs for travel, experts and incidentals.
United Airlines Legal Department is headquartered in Chicago and its lawyers have worked diligently to help advance justice for immigrants, especially youth and children. Its pro bono program provides a range of legal services for indigent individuals as well as financial support for legal services. Last year, United lawyers took on an asylum case in response to the Central American crisis of unaccompanied children and women fleeing Central America to the U.S. borders. They helped one teenage girl obtain asylum after she fled Honduras to escape brutal abuse by an older man, and they are seeking asylum for another teenage girl who escaped from domestic violence and a forced marriage in Mali. That case is pending the court’s decision.
The Association of Pro Bono Counsel, which supports the professional development of law firm pro bono managers, and the National Association of Pro Bono Professionals, which provides training and support to the directors of bar association, legal services and independent pro bono programs nationwide, will receive special recognition from the ABA.
The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service provides national leadership in policy, outreach, implementation and technical assistance activities designed to encourage, expand and improve pro bono activities and programs.
- Non-profit organizations that provide free legal assistance to low-income individuals or the provision of free services to veterans; or
- Private attorneys or law firms that seek to establish such a non-profit for these purposes.
More information about grant eligibility and the application process is available in LSC’s Federal Register notice.
Applicants must submit a Notice of Intent to Compete and respond to a Request for Proposals to participate. The NIC must be submitted by email by Friday, August 28, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
The RFP containing the grant application, guidelines, proposal content requirements, and specific selection criteria will be available the week of September 14, 2015, at www.lsc.gov under “Meetings & Events.”
Funds for the Veterans Pro Bono Program are authorized by and subject to Public Law 102-229 as an appropriation to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court). That law requires the Court to provide funds to LSC to award grants or contracts for the provision of pro bono representation for veterans before the Court. The Court hears veterans’ appeals of adverse decisions of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Board of Veterans Appeals.
For questions about the application process, please contact Meredith Horton, Office of Program Performance, by email at email@example.com.
For more information about the current grantee, The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, please visit www.vetsprobono.org.
The National Legal Aid & Defender Association has extended the deadline for submission of proposals for workshop sessions at the NLADA Annual Conference to July 31, 2015.
NLADA's 2015 Annual Conference "Advancing Justice Together" is the leading national training event of the year for the civil legal aid, public defense, and public interest law communities. The conference will take place November 4-7, 2015 at the Sheraton New Orleans and will offer advocates substantive information and professional skills training, recognition of excellence among peers, and a unique networking opportunity for all in attendance.
All session proposals should be submitted online through the presenter portal at www.mynlada.net. On the presenter portal homepage, you will find a link at the top of the page for "Guidelines." Clicking on it will give you access to detailed information about selection criteria, deadlines, and this year's programming areas:
- Board Workshops & Training Topics
- Civil Legal Aid Workshops & Training Topics
- Client Workshops & Training Topics
- Defender Legal Services Workshops & Training Topics
- Fundraising Workshops & Training Topics
Your session proposal should describe its topic, its format, and the names of proposed presenters. Proposals are due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on July 31, 2015. If your proposal is chosen, as session leader you will be responsible for submitting additional workshop information, including a final title, description, and presenter bios by August 28, 2015.
If you have any questions about using the presenter portal, please contact Brian Peterkin-Vertanesian at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Allegheny County Bar Association Pro Bono Achievement Awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to pro bono service in Allegheny county communities. The Allegheny County Bar Foundation and the Public Service Committee are currently accepting nominations for the 2015 Pro Bono Achievement awards.
The awards will be presented at the Fellows Reception on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at Hotel Monaco. The award winners will also be honored at the Public Service Committee’s annual volunteer recognition event which will be held during Pro Bono Week, October 25-31, 2015.
The deadline for nominations is Friday, July 31, 2015, 5:00 p.m.
Nominations may be made in the following categories:
Jane F. Hepting Individual Attorney Award: This award is given to an attorney who has shown exemplary commitment to or made substantial achievements in pro bono legal services. The ACBF Board of Trustees adopted a resolution in 2002 to name this award in recognition of Jane Hepting’s dedication to the delivery of pro bono legal services through her 26 years as an NLSA attorney, the many and varied pro bono programs that she helped create and implement, her recruitment initiatives and exceptional training programs to attract and prepare volunteer attorneys, her exceptional expenditures of time and energy on behalf of pro bono legal services, and her outstanding commitment and dedication to public service, the legal profession, and the community.
Lorraine M. Bittner Public Interest Attorney Award: This award is given to an outstanding and dedicated attorney who is employed by an entity or program whose primary function is the delivery of civil legal services to low-income individuals or organizations that serve the poor or disadvantaged. The award is named in honor of the first attorney to receive it when it was established in 2005, in honor of her exceptional and career-long commitment to the needs of the poor and disadvantage through her work at Neighborhood Legal Services Association and the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.
Organization Award (law firm, corporate legal department, government legal department, or other entity or group): This award recognizes groups of individuals who collectively or as an institution have shown exemplary commitment to or made substantial achievements in the delivery of pro bono legal services.
Special Service Awards: Individuals or organizations who do not fall into another category and who have made substantial contributions to the delivery of free legal services may be nominated and recognized in this category. Such nominees might include attorneys, judges, paralegals, law students, and others.
CLICK HERE to access the online nomination form. The deadline for nominations is Friday, July 31, 2015, 5:00 p.m.
CLICK HERE to see a list of past award winners.
In an effort to increase the pool of attorneys available to provide civil legal services to those who cannot afford them, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has increased support for a student debt loan program for attorneys who work for legal aid organizations.
The Loan Repayment Assistance Program is not funded by tax dollars, but instead by pro hac vice admission fees which are paid by out-of-state attorneys who are not licensed to practice in Pennsylvania, but appear in Pennsylvania’s courts for a particular legal proceeding. Pro hac vice fee revenue has been on a steady decline, jeopardizing the sustainability of the loan program.
The pro hac vice fee will be increased from $200 to $375, still less than many other states which often charge the fee annually or at each court level. In Pennsylvania the fee is assessed once per matter, regardless of how long the case takes to resolve. Last year, the admission fee revenue totaled $270,000, a decline of nearly 35 percent from the year before. The increased fee is expected to generate an additional $260,000 annually and will be effective as soon as program rules are officially changed.
Attorneys who serve the civil legal needs of the poor in Pennsylvania through established legal aid organizations can receive up to $3,500 annually in student loan debt assistance. The average salary of the 105 legal aid attorneys receiving assistance in the current year is $50,457, and the average outstanding student loan debt is $125,582. Since the loan assistance program began in 2010, more than $1.6 million has been awarded.