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Volunteers Needed for Elder Law Clinics in Lackawanna County

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 2:46pm

LBP - Lackawanna Pro Bono logoLackawanna Pro Bono and the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging are seeking volunteer attorneys to serve low income Lackawanna county residents aged 60 and above at periodic Elder Law Clinics.

The clinics will be held several times per week at the Area Agency on Aging Offices. Volunteers will prepare simple wills, powers of attorney and living wills and may be asked to provide brief advice on other civil legal matters.

Training and ongoing support will be provided by Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.

To volunteer or for further information, please contact Pam at Pam.probono@gmail.com or call Lackawanna Pro Bono at 570-961-2714.

ABA President-Elect Hilarie Bass kicks off initiative to meet legal needs of homeless youth at ABA Annual Meeting

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 3:40pm

One of ABA President-elect Hilarie Bass’ major initiatives, focusing on the Legal Rights of Homeless Youth, was launched at The Door, a youth drop-in center in New York City on Aug. 10 during the ABA Annual Meeting. The event was hosted by the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, the Commission on Youth at Risk and the Section of Litigation’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee.

Speaking at the event, Bass referred to the initiative as an outgrowth of when she represented foster children pro bono, a case that led to the end of Florida’s ban on gay adoption.  She said she expects to look back on her career one day and see that case as “the most significant thing that I did as a lawyer.”

The Legal Rights of Homeless Youth Initiative aims to meet the legal needs of homeless youth throughout the United States by matching lawyers with shelters, drop-in centers and other homeless youth providers. Bass says she wants law firms, bar associations, law schools and in-house counsel to agree for the next year to pair with a homeless shelter and to commit one day a month to come to a shelter and provide ongoing direct legal representation.

Her goal is to match lawyers with more than 350 homeless shelters across the country, and said tool kits are available to help lawyers, as well as “a motivated staff and volunteers.”

Eve Stotland, director of legal services at The Door, said the center serves about 10,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 24 a year. She is frequently asked, “Why do young people need a lawyer?”

Homeless youth, Stotland said, are usually destitute, disproportionately black or brown, disproportionately face mental illness and are often undocumented.

She cited examples of Door clients with legal issues: one young man with nowhere to sleep spent the night on a subway and was given a ticket by the transit police. Another, who found a supportive program and place to stay while he worked on his mental health issues, was shot and killed by police for stealing a purse. Yet another fled West Africa and forced marriage. With help from her pro bono attorneys, she’s now in college and working in a restaurant.

“And that is why homeless youth need attorneys,” Stotland said. “We have been training for this role our entire careers.”

Executive Director Julie Shapiro listed the integrated, free services The Door provides:

  • health, dental and vision services
  • mental health services
  • art therapy
  • career and education programs
  • job training, including a partnership with The Gap and Old Navy
  • an arts program that includes dance, music, visual art and fashion
  • a culinary training program in which young people make about 140 dinners for clients each night.

“We think it is critical to see all young people holistically,” Shapiro said, and to meet their needs comprehensively. She added that partnerships, such as the one now beginning with the ABA, are key to their success.

Bass’ initiative offers several ways lawyers can get involved:

  • Direct representation of individual youth with urgent legal needs, such as questions about criminal cases, denial of public benefits, school expulsion, etc.
     
  • Live legal clinics to represent groups of youth who all have similar legal needs, including obtaining identification documents, applications for college funding, expungement of records, immigration status, consumer issues, etc.
     
  • Live legal education or “Know Your Rights” presentations to teach youth about important issues such as rights in foster care, rights as employees/job applicants, options for federal funding for college, etc.

American Bar Association and Jones Day launch website to support legal services for veterans

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 3:29pm

VetLex.org ScreenshotThe American Bar Association and the law firm Jones Day have announced their partnership in VetLex, a web-based platform that matches attorneys who can provide pro bono legal services with veterans in need of such services. The platform is now available at VetLex.org.

VetLex is open for interested attorneys, law firms and legal organizations to register. By Veterans Day, the platform will be available to accept veterans’ cases and rolled out in key cities and states for pilot operation and testing. The national platform will be fully operational in 2018.

The goal of VetLex (“Vet” for veteran, and “Lex” for law) is to make the process of attorneys finding veteran clients and vice-versa more efficient. VetLex will aid groups in multiple ways:

  • For veterans, the VetLex platform provides an online tool for obtaining pro bono counsel for their specific legal needs, including civil, criminal or administrative (benefit claims, for example) matters. It also provides educational information on basic legal concepts, as well as a convenient repository for paperwork (like DD 214s) that are required by various service providers.
     
  • For veteran-serving organizations, VetLex will provide a means by which an expanded number of lawyers can be called upon to assist the veterans these organizations serve.
     
  • For lawyers wishing to represent veterans, Lawyers can sign onto VetLex and create a profile that limits the kinds of cases they are willing to take on. For example, many in-house corporate attorneys have difficulty finding pro bono opportunities because they live and work in a place where they are not members of the local bar. Those attorneys can be trained through VetLex to become accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs and take on veterans benefit cases. Or an associate at a large firm looking for pro bono opportunities can register with VetLex and take on a family law case, for example.
     
  • For all, VetLex offers information about social service providers who can address issues (e.g., employment, housing, medical, etc.) that often occur in tandem with legal issues. While VetLex may not conduct direct referrals to these “wrap-around” services, it provides a convenient and accessible way for veterans and their counsel to see what other services may exist in their community that would benefit the veteran.

UniteUS, whose software focuses on improving access, collaboration and coordination among entities and who has created other platforms for veterans, is building the platform. To learn more, visit VetLex.org.

ABA Military Pro Bono Project – Summer 2017 Newsletter for Volunteer Attorneys

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 6:33pm

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PRO BONO ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER Summer 2017 News

Case Spotlight: Sailor Divorces Abusive Husband with Pro Bono Legal Help

Read here about a pro bono attorney who assisted a domestic violence victim in obtaining a judgment for dissolution of marriage against her abusive spouse. 

Find additional case stories on our blog to see how you, our volunteers, are successfully helping military families.
 

Florida Pro Bono Matters

This spring the Military Pro Bono Project partnered with The Florida Bar Foundation’s new pilot program, Florida Pro Bono Matters. The goal of this program is to provide a statewide one-stop-shop for attorneys to find available pro bono cases throughout Florida. Through Florida Pro Bono Matters’ website, attorneys can search for open pro bono cases that match their interests in their areas that are offered from a variety of pro bono legal organizations. The Military Pro Bono Project’s open cases in Florida are now included and kept updated on this website.


Veterans Legal Checkup

Veterans can now access a new online tool to help identify legal needs and take action to resolve them thanks to a partnership between the American Bar Association, CuroLegal and ARAG Legal Insurance. Read more about this new legal resource for veterans here


Website Redesign

This fall the Military Pro Bono Project’s public website will be revamped and modernized. Look forward to the facelift!

Stay updated about other news and events.


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 on our website, 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. 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 ensure that your profile information is up-to-date.

 

Upcoming CLE

8/17 CLE Webinar: New Developments in Military Pension Division: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. ABA LAMP is hosting this CLE webinar which will focus on how the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act pertains to the division of pensions in family law cases.
 

Education

Useful Books in the ABA Web Store:

The American Bar Association Legal Guide for Military Families: Legal resource for servicemembers, veterans, and their families. 

The Military Divorce Handbook: Resource for representing servicemembers and spouses.

Ripped Off!: Guide for military personnel about certain types of sales, scams and abusive commercial practices.

Veterans Appeals Guidebook:
Guide to representing veterans in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. 
 

ABA Military Pro Bono Project’s Online Library:

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.


Support

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project is made possible with donations from:

BAE Systems
Holland & Knight LLP
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Magellan Health, Inc.

ABA Sections of Antitrust Law, Business Law, Public Contract Law and Litigation

View our Star Ranking Supporters.



 

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation Announces 2017 Award Honorees

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 8:51am

Every year at the Access to Justice Benefit, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation presents Awards to recognize the volunteerism of leaders and innovators in the Philadelphia legal community. The award recipients have been announced and are listed below.

The awards will be presented at  the Access to Justice Benefit on Saturday, November 4 at the Mütter Museum from 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm. Registration for sponsorships or tickets to the event is available at https://www.philabarfoundation.org/events/37/register

Honorable Louis H. Pollak of the Champion of the Public Interest

Richard C. Glazer, Esq. was a member of the working group that transformed the idea of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project into reality. He is a founder of Cozen O’Connor, one of the 100 largest law firms in the U.S. where he served as Regional Managing Partner and Department Chair from 1972 through 2003. His history of supporting the public interest and carving a niche for the Innocence community makes his recognition with the Pollak Award beyond fitting. Learn more about Mr. Glazer and the Award

Philadelphia Bar Foundation Award

Ayodele “Ayo” Gansallo, Esq., is a senior staff attorney at HIAS Pennsylvania, an organization that aims to open doors for new Americans. She has devoted her career to representing victims of persecution, abuse, and discrimination seeking asylum in the United States. Ms. Gansallo was selected to receive this year’s award in recognition of her years of tireless service on behalf of some of the most vulnerable members of our population – immigrants and refugees. Learn more about Ms. Gansallo and the Award.

Pro Bono Award of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP was selected to receive the Pro Bono Award of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation for its thousands of hours of pro bono service and investment of time and dedication from its attorneys in providing direct service through legal aid agencies. Pro bono service is part of who they are and what they do, every day. Recognizing their efforts is a testament to their example of excellence in the legal community. Learn more about Drinker Biddle and the Award.

Debra Parrish Selected for ABA Pro Bono Publico Award

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:46am

Debra ParrishDebra Parrish of Parrish Law Offices of Pittsburgh has been selected as one of the five recipients of the prestigious American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award for 2017.

Attorney Parrish received the award for her work with helping to secure access to medical treatments and technologies for Medicare beneficiaries. She regularly takes on pro bono cases to help Medicare beneficiaries gain access to medical treatments that are reasonable and necessary for their treatment and care, including access to treatments, tests and devices for various diseases and illnesses including cancer, depression, hypertension and diabetes.

Others recognized by the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service with 2017 Pro Bono Publico Award are:

The 2017 Pro Bono Publico Award Recipients 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 Awards will be presented at the 2017 ABA Annual Meeting in New York on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at the New York Hilton Midtown. 

Amendments Proposed to the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement Creating an Emeritus Status for Pro Bono Legal Representation

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 1:53pm

The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is considering recommending to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that it adopt new Rule 403 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement creating an emeritus status for attorneys who retire from the practice of law and seek to provide pro bono services to legal aid organizations.

The proposed new Rule 403 has been published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and interested persons are invited to submit written comments by mail or facsimile regarding the proposed amendments to the Office of the Secretary, The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on or before August 24, 2017.

Currently, thirty-eight jurisdictions have emeritus programs in place. A review of these programs reveals that there is a great degree of variability in how states design their rules. The Disciplinary Boards' primary goal in establishing an emeritus program in Pennsylvania is to balance encouraging pro bono work with protecting citizens of the Commonwealth.

Emeritus programs create a pool of qualified volunteer attorneys to provide services to those in need. Emeritus attorneys perform valuable roles in the community by bolstering legal aid and other nonprofit programs to help close the gap between the need for and the availability of free legal services.

The proposed rule addresses qualifications, application procedure, transfer to emeritus status, limitation on practice, eligible legal aid organizations, renewal of emeritus status and continuing legal education requirements.

Some key requirements include:

  • In order to transfer to emeritus status an attorney must be on retired status;
  • The emeritus applicant must complete twelve hours of continuing legal education within one year prior to the application date as a prerequisite to transferring to emeritus status;
  • The emeritus applicant must verify that he or she is authorized solely to provide pro bono services, is not permitted to handle client funds, and is not permitted to ask for or receive compensation;
  • The emeritus applicant, at the time of application, must pay a registration fee of $35, an amount less than the current $225 for active attorneys and $100 for inactive attorneys;
  • Once approved for emeritus status, the attorney will be eligible to provide pro bono services only through an eligible legal aid organization;
  • The emeritus attorney is required to submit an eligible legal aid organization form to the Secretary of the Disciplinary Board for approval of each organization for which the attorney expects to perform pro bono services;
  • An emeritus attorney may renew the status on an annual basis between January 1 and January 31 of each year with the payment of the annual fee.

Comments may be submitted to the Office of the Secretary, The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 601 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 5600, PO Box 62625, Harrisburg, PA 17106-2625, Facsimile number (717-231-3382), Email address Dboard.comments@pacourts.us on or before August 24, 2017.

Notice, Pennsylvania Bulletin, 47 Pa.B. 3488, Saturday, June 24, 2017.

American Bar Association launches national Homeless Youth Legal Network and HYLN Pro Bono Project

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 9:08am

Homeless youth in the United States remain a largely invisible segment of the homeless population, though researchers estimate that nearly eight percent of youths experience living on the streets. 

The American Bar Association is a nationally recognized leader in addressing the legal needs of vulnerable populations, including homeless youth. Lawyers play a critical role in improving outcomes for homeless youth by enforcing existing laws as well as advancing new policy and removing legal barriers to benefits, education, employment, health care, housing, identification, treatment and services.

In an effort to increase legal services for this vulnerable population, the ABA Commission on Homelessness & PovertyCommission on Youth at Risk, and Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committee has announced the official launch of the ABA Homeless Youth Legal Network. HYLN is designed to serve:

  • Homeless youth seeking legal assistance
  • Service providers working with homeless youth
  • Lawyers seeking training or technical assistance

“The Homeless Youth Legal Network is a fine example of how the American Bar Association can link youth experiencing homelessness with experts in the legal community who can help,” ABA President Linda A. Klein said. “This project, made possible with a grant from the ABA Enterprise Fund, shows how we can harness the power and reach of the ABA to improve access to justice by providing much-needed legal assistance to vulnerable populations.”

In the past few months, the HYLN has:

  • Launched a website, which contains additional information about the network, and will be a repository for resources related to meeting homeless youth’s legal needs
  • Surveyed more than 300 individuals and groups about the legal needs of youth in their community
  • Launched a listserv for attorneys and other advocates for homeless youth with more than 250 members
  • Began providing training and technical assistance to legal services providers and homelessness programs
HYLN Pro Bono 

HYLN Pro Bono is an exciting new American Bar Association initiative dedicated to improving the lives of homeless youth. Attorneys and law firms are invited to collaborate in Homeless Youth Legal Network Pro Bono: a project aimed at meeting the legal needs of youth and young adults served by drop-in centers or staying in homeless shelters throughout the United States.

HYLN Pro Bono will encourage and equip the more than 400,000 members of the ABA plus lawyers across the United States to volunteer at local homeless youth shelters and drop-in centers to provide free legal services to youth and young adults. The ABA's HYLN Hotline will provide additional connectivity and support to legal services lawyers, pro bono lawyers, youth and providers.

The project's goal is to match lawyers and law firms with shelters, drop-in centers and other homeless youth providers.

HYLN Pro Bono lawyers will collaborate with shelter staff to determine the best approach to legal assistance. Options include:

  • Direct representation of individual youth with urgent legal needs such as questions about criminal cases, denial of public benefits, school expulsion, etc.
  • Live legal clinics to represent groups of youth who all have similar legal needs, including obtaining identification documents, applications for college funding, expungement of records, immigration status, consumer issues, etc.
  • Live legal education or "Know Your Rights" presentations to teach youth about important issues such as rights in foster care, rights as employees/ job applicants, options for federal funding for college, etc.

HYLN Pro Bono is buoyed by the work of the emerging Homeless Youth Legal Network which supports local legal aid organizations, nonprofit agencies, state and local bar associations, law schools and pro bono legal programs by increasing their capacity to effectively meet the legal needs of homeless youth and young adults living in their communities, and developing new programs where legal services currently do not exist. 

For HYLN Pro Bono, this national network will support new pro bono efforts by connecting volunteer lawyers with seasoned homeless youth lawyers to provide training, guidance and mentorship.  The ABA's HYLN Hotline will provide additional connectivity and support to legal services lawyers, pro bono lawyers, youth and providers.

If you are interested in participating in HYLN Pro Bono or to learn more about the initiative, please email HYLNprobono@americanbar.org or call Kelly Russo at (202) 662-1699.

Max Laun and Lisa Freeland Honored as NLADA’S Dinner Highlights Pillars of the Justice Community

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 8:50am
Event Honors Max Laun, Lisa Freeland, Michael Dale, U.S. Representatives Susan Brooks and Joseph Kennedy

National Legal Aid & Defender logoThe National Legal Aid & Defenders Association (NLADA) Held its 2017 Exemplar Award Dinner on June 20, 2017 honoring several leaders from the justice, legal and policy community.  The annual dinner is a premier event drawing a diverse crowd from the legal, corporate, policy and public interest communities to support NLADA’s longstanding commitment to providing equal justice to every American.

Max Laun, the Vice President and General Counsel at Arconic, is the 2017 Exemplar Honoree, which honors a member of the corporate counsel or private law firm community who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, vision, dedication, and achievement in promoting and supporting equal justice.

The 2017 Kutak-Dodds Awards were given to Lisa B. Freeland, a Federal Public Defender in the Western District of Pennsylvania, and D. Michael Dale, the Executive Director at the Northwest Worker’s Justice Project, to honor their outstanding accomplishments in enhancing human dignity and quality of life to those individuals who are unable to afford legal representation.

U.S. Representatives Susan Brooks and Joseph Kennedy III received the 2017 Justice through Government Service Award for establishing the Congressional Access to Civil Legal Services Caucus. This prestigious award recognizes public servants who have significantly pushed for the accessibility of justice in the United States.

“I am honored to lead an organization charged with advancing one principle: that the quality of justice you receive should not depend on the amount of money you have,” said Jo-Ann Wallace, NLADA’s president. “Tonight’s awardees join a distinguished list of previous honorees, and we look forward to their continued leadership to ensure all Americans have access to equal justice.”

Funds raised will directly support NLADA’s ability to serve, train and advocate on behalf of thousands of civil legal aid, and indigent defense attorneys, as well as client communities, who work to protect some of the most vulnerable populations in America.

ABA Military Pro Bono Project – Spring 2017 Newsletter for Volunteer Attorneys

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 10:40am

 

 

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PRO BONO ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER Spring 2017 Case Spotlight! Volunteer Attorney Helps with Estate Planning for Sailor and his Disabled Brother

A Navy servicemember, whose parents were deceased, was the guardian of his incapacitated adult brother. The sailor wished to name his brother as beneficiary in his will and create a special needs trust for his brother’s benefit. The sailor’s military legal assistance attorney was not permitted to prepare the trust and therefore referred the case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which placed the servicemember with an experienced pro bono attorney. Read more

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 on our website, 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. 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 ensure that your profile information is up-to-date.

 


Along with our Star Ranking Supporters, special thanks to:
Holland & Knight LLP, Lockheed Martin,
ABA Section of Litigation, and ABA Section of Antitrust Law

Press Highlights

ABA Military Pro Bono Project joins Florida Pro Bono Matters, which helps Florida attorneys locate pro bono cases.

Register as a Legal Aid Defender and tell Congress how the Legal Services Corporation is important for our veterans.

#ABAstands4: See how the ABA stands for legal assistance for military personnel and veterans.

Stay updated about other news and events.
 

Education

Useful Books in the ABA Web Store:

The American Bar Association Legal Guide for Military Families: Legal resource for servicemembers, veterans, and their families. 

The Military Divorce Handbook: Resource for representing servicemembers and spouses.

Ripped Off!: Guide for military personnel about certain types of sales, scams and abusive commercial practices.

Veterans Appeals Guidebook:
Guide to representing veterans in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. 
 

ABA Military Pro Bono Project’s Online Library:

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.

 

     

 

   

 

 

Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center to Receive PBA Immigration Law Pro Bono Award

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 8:23am

The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Immigration Law Pro Bono Award will be presented to York-based Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center  (PIRC) on May 24 at the York Bar Association President’s Breakfast.

The award, which is sponsored by the business immigration law firm of Green and Spiegel LLC, was created to annually recognize the pro bono accomplishments of an individual or organization working with the PBA in the area of immigration law.  The award is given to individuals or organizations that have provided a unique service resulting in a significant provision of legal services to the neediest of foreign nationals on a pro bono basis or as part of legal aid outreach. The winners are selected in consultation with PBA leadership.

Founded in 1996, PIRC works to provide free access to justice for vulnerable immigrants in detention and in the community through legal services assistance, education and advocacy, protecting their rights to freedom and opportunity in the United States. PIRC does this through educating immigrants in detention and in the community about their legal options; direct representation and coordination of pro bono legal assistance and pro se assistance; and advocating for greater capacity and systems change through language access assistance, partnerships with law schools and universities, and legal training and education.

“In this time of great upheaval for the immigration community, PIRC provides hope to immigrants and their families facing grave challenges within our system,” said Jonathan Grode, a partner at Green and Spiegel LLC, who will be presenting the award to PIRC.

“PIRC is honored to be the 2016 recipient of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Immigration Law Pro Bono Award,” said Mary Studzinski, executive director of PIRC. “We are fortunate to work alongside many talented pro bono attorneys, volunteers and staff from other nonprofits, who bring their talent and passion to serving the most vulnerable immigrants among us. We are grateful that, in this time of increased need for our services, PIRC’s work to ensure access to justice and due process for all persons is recognized.”

Green and Spiegel has made a donation of $1,500 in honor of PIRC 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.

Philadelphia VIP Announces Sophie Bryan as New Executive Director

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 2:18pm

Sophie BryanA passionate advocate for public interest work, inspirational leader Sophie Bryan has been named the new Executive Director for Philadelphia VIP, the hub of pro bono legal services in Philadelphia. The dynamic nonprofit recruits, trains and supports volunteer lawyers who provide critical legal assistance to low-income Philadelphians.

Bryan brings a wealth of experience to her new role. For the last eight years, she has led programs and strategic external relations initiatives throughout Philadelphia. Most recently at the Reinvestment Fund, Bryan directed a national initiative to improve the health and well-being in low-income neighborhoods in 50 U.S. cities.

Prior to joining the Reinvestment Fund, Bryan served as the Chief External Relations Officer for the School District of Philadelphia. In her tenure at the School District, she helped secure millions of dollars in state and local funding for the District and led legislative strategy on issues including charter schools. In a prior role as Chief of Staff for City Councilman at-Large Bill Green, Bryan collaborated with legal services stakeholders, including Philadelphia VIP, on legislation to create income-based payment plans to help protect low-income homeowners. Also while in City Council, Bryan helped drive significant reform efforts related to ethics and campaign finance, business taxes, and the city’s budget process.

A Philadelphia native, Bryan has practiced law at Pepper Hamilton, Community Legal Services, the U.S. Department of Justice and The Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School; she has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law. She has been recognized for her leadership as one of the “Next Generation Leaders in Philadelphia” by Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia City Council’s “Woman of Moxie” in 2015. She was also awarded the Friends of the Free Library’s “Champion of Greater Good” for her commitment to keeping neighborhood libraries open. Bryan is the Board Co-Chair of the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project.

The Board of Directors conducted a comprehensive search which yielded a number of highly qualified candidates. “We set out to find an Executive Director with the right vision, passion and experience to lead VIP,” explains Board President Mike Balent. “We are confident that we have found that leader in Sophie.”

Bryan will assume her role on June 1, 2017 and looks forward to building on VIP’s success. She intends to focus on achieving excellent outcomes and services for both volunteer attorneys and low-income clients. “VIP has set big goals: saying “Yes!” to every eligible client and being a model of excellence as a legal volunteer organization. I am thrilled to join an extraordinary staff team, an engaged and committed Board, collaborative partners, and our invaluable volunteers in driving toward those goals and expanding access to justice for our fellow Philadelphians.”

Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity Recognized with Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Louis J. Goffman Award

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 2:52pm

The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation presented the 2017 Louis J. Goffman Award to Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) on May 10 during the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon in Pittsburgh.

The Goffman Award is named for a late PBA president and recognizes individuals and organizations committed to outstanding pro bono service.

A nonprofit legal aid organization founded in 2010, PLSE works toward just outcomes for low-income individuals who have had contact with the Pennsylvania criminal justice system.  Through individual representation, strategic litigation, community education, research and legislative advocacy, PLSE advocates for a more equitable social environment for those with criminal records.

Through its Criminal Records Expungement Project (C-REP), PLSE provides free expungement services to low-income individuals with criminal history record information. By leveraging the pro bono work of law students and young lawyers, and community partnerships, the project has greatly expanded its reach into low-income neighborhoods, helping thousands of individuals remove barriers to jobs, professional licensing, housing and social stigma in Philadelphia and beyond. Its more than 60 community-based expungement clinics have resulted in more than 7,000 petitions for expungement in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, with more than 95 percent of those being granted. In total, the PLSE has provided $2.4 million of free legal services to the poor.

In addition to C-REP, PLSE is planning a new initiative this year called the Pardons Project to help clear the criminal records of clients who have already successfully obtained expungements and have had an extended period of no new convictions.

NLADA Announces Michael Dale and Lisa Freeland as Winners of the 2017 Kutak-Dodds Prizes

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 9:22am

Michael Dale and Lisa FreelandThe National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) has announced that Michael Dale, Executive Director at the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project, and Lisa Freeland, Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania, will receive the 2017 Kutak-Dodds Prizes. Both winners will be honored at the NLADA Exemplar Award Dinner on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Kutak-Dodds Prizes recognize extraordinary contributions to advancing access to justice in both civil legal aid and public defense. Dale is this year’s recipient from the civil community, and Freeland is the recipient in the public defense arena. At the Exemplar Award Dinner, Max Laun, Vice President and General Counsel at Arconic, will also be honored with the 2017 Exemplar Award.

“Every year, NLADA has the privilege of announcing the Kutak-Dodds Prizes to our membership and the legal community at large. We are so pleased that Michael Dale and Lisa Freeland have been selected as the 2017 Kutak-Dodds Prize winners,” said Jo-Ann Wallace, President and CEO of NLADA. “Both individuals have worked tirelessly on behalf of economically disadvantaged and underserved populations and their influence is felt widely. It gives us so much pleasure to have this opportunity to shine the light on impactful issues and extraordinary people in the legal field.”

Dale from Portland, Oregon is being recognized for more than 40 years of impactful litigation and advocacy that has significantly improved the lives of farmworkers and other low-wage workers across the nation.

Freeland in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is being honored for her innovative advocacy on issues of pretrial reform, racial diversity within federal defender organizations, and death row representation.

“With issues of race, immigration, and poverty at the forefront of our national conversation, this year’s nominees illustrate the dedication of our legal field in safeguarding justice for all. We are grateful for their passion and their successful, creative approaches to improving access to justice,” said Patricia Schuett Peterson with the Robert J. Kutak Foundation.

Since 1989, the Kutak-Dodds Prizes have been awarded to attorneys who have significantly contributed to the human dignity and quality of life of individuals unable to afford legal representation. The prizes are jointly sponsored by the Robert J. Kutak Foundation and NLADA in memory of Robert J. Kutak and Kenneth R. Dodds. Each Prize carries a cash award of $10,000.

The Kutak-Dodds Prizes, established in 1989, are jointly sponsored by the Robert J. Kutak Foundation and NLADA and bestowed in memory of Robert J. Kutak and Kenneth R. Dodds. Both men were former partners in Michael Dale Lisa Freeland the Omaha, Nebraska Office of Kutak Rock LLP, and practitioners and advocates of public service, legal education and high ethical standards throughout their lives. In addition to legal services for the poor, the Kutak Foundation supports education in professional ethics, minority scholarships and a variety of other public interest projects. The Foundation is maintained by Mr. Kutak’s former friends and associates.

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association, founded in 1911, is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local levels through the creation of our public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for legal aid and indigent defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.