Pro Bono News
The Public Interest Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association will be holding its annual Public Interest Day on December 11, 2013.
The day will begin with the annual Public Interest Day CLE program which features this year's theme: Brave New World: Changing Rules and Changing Landscapes in Public Interest Law.
The event, which is also sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, will be held at The CLE Conference Center located in the Wanamaker Bldg (now Macy's), 100 Penn Square East, 10th Floor, Ste. 1010, Philadelphia, PA from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
The program offers attendees six total CLE credits, one of which may be applied toward Ethics. Workshops will be held on an array of topics relevant to the practice of public interest law for Public Interest, Pro Bono and Private Practitioners.
Topics to be discussed include:
- How changes in school discipline, public benefits, unemployment compensation and family law may affect advocating for the disadvantaged
- How the Affordable Care Act and health care reform has affected legal aid programs and client eligibility
- How to advocate for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors dealing with housing, immigration, employment and family law
- An update on the most recent U.S. Supreme Court Cases affecting the Public Interest Community
- A ‘Nuts-and-Bolts’ overview of Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law and how to use it to best advocate for your clients
To register for the CLE program visit the Pennsylvania Bar Institute Website.
Following the CLE program the Public Interest Section's Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at the Wanamaker Building.
The event will feature the Presentation of the Andrew Hamilton Award and the "newly-created" Louis H. Pollak Award. The Awards Ceremony will begin promptly at 5:00 p.m. on the 10th Floor of the PBI CLE Conference Center in the Wanamaker Bldg. and will also include the Morris M. Shuster Fellowship Awards, the selection of the Higginbotham Fellowship, and the presentation of the 2013 Law Student Awards.
The reception will immediately follow the Award Ceremony in the Atrium of the Crystal Tea Room, 9th Floor Wanamaker Bldg. The Reception includes a Two-Hour Open Bar and Heavy Hors D'Oeuvres.
Click here to register in advance for the Awards Ceremony and Reception. Please register by December 9, 2013. There will be a $10 increase for walk-ins at the door.
Sandra A. Romaszewski of Fox Rothschild's Warrington office was presented with the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Verdina Y. Showell Award by the organizers of the "Wills for Heroes"program, which provides free wills and other estate planning documents for Pennsylvania's emergency responders. The award was presented on Saturday, November 16, 2013 at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, 11630 Caroline Road, Philadelphia.
The Verdina Y. Showell Award recognizes outstanding community service and commitment to the Wills for Heroes program and is named in memory of a lawyer with Exelon Business Services Company LLC who was an early proponent of the Wills for Heroes program in Pennsylvania.
Romaszewski serves as voluntary coordinator of Wills for Heroes programs in Bucks County and assists at events in additional counties. She developed a manual that helps lawyer volunteers use the software program that formats the wills and additional legal documents for the Wills for Heroes participants. Romaszewski also recruits volunteers such as students of Peirce College's paralegal program to help with Wills for Heroes events.
"Thanks to Sandra's commendable efforts, the Wills for Heroes program in Pennsylvania has provided peace of mind to many first responders and their families," said Robert Datorre, chair, PBA Young Lawyers Division. "With a will and other estate planning documents in place, these first responders and their families know their wishes are known and will be followed."
The PBA Young Lawyers Division adopted Wills for Heroes in 2008 as one of its major community service projects. The program was initially brought to Pennsylvania by Daniel McKenna, a Ballard Spahr attorney currently serving on the board of the national Wills for Heroes Foundation, the nonprofit organization responsible for encouraging national expansion of the program.
"Like Verdina Showell, Sandra places a high priority on providing free legal services where they were needed most," said McKenna. "We applaud Sandra for being a model volunteer and for helping to expand the program in Bucks County and additional Pennsylvania counties."
McKenna said that despite the inherently dangerous nature of their jobs, an overwhelmingly large number of emergency responders - approximately 80 - 90% - do not have wills. This figure is based on experiential data from state and national first responder organizations.
Wills for Heroes events are being held in Pennsylvania communities upon request of leaders from local police, fire and emergency medical personnel organizations and upon request of county bar associations. On a scheduled day, a team of lawyers bring computer laptops to a firehouse or meeting hall and spend at least an hour with each participant who pre-registers to attend the event.
A participant sits with a lawyer to review a questionnaire that the participant has filled out in advance. Answers are entered into a computer-based program. The lawyer reviews the resulting document with the participant to ensure its accuracy. After any necessary corrections are made, the will is printed, signed and notarized.
Upon request, lawyer volunteers also work with each participant to prepare an advance medical directive, often called a "living will," which specifies what actions should be taken for the participant's health in the event that he or she can no longer make decisions due to illness or incapacity.
In addition, lawyers prepare a durable power of attorney, a document that gives another person legal authority to act on behalf of the participant if the participant becomes incapacitated. These documents also are offered at no cost to participants.