Pro Bono News

Syndicate content
Updated: 1 hour 1 min ago

Nominations Sought for 2017 PA Bar Association Pro Bono Awards

Mon, 11/21/2016 - 2:41pm

Pennsylvania Bar Association - Your Other PartnerPennsylvania Bar Association President Sara A. Austin has announced the opening of the nomination period for the Annual Pro Bono Awards of the PBA’s Legal Service to the Public Committee. This year marks the 30th year that the committee has sought individual award nominees.

This year also marks the thirteenth year for both the Judges Award and the Civil Legal Aid Attorney of the Year Award, given, respectively, to a judge and a legal services attorney selected by the committee in recognition of exceptional contributions to improving civil legal aid in the commonwealth. The Judges Award is now named the Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille Award in honor of the retired former Chief Justice.

2017 also marks the seventh year for the Pro Bono Partner Award to a non-attorney who supports legal services to the needy.

The award winners will be acknowledged at various pro bono events throughout the 2017 year, whenever possible by President Austin and by PBA President-Elect Sharon Lopez, who plans to promote pro bono service and civil legal aid across the commonwealth by honoring these champions of pro bono during her bar travels.

The awards provide a chance to recognize and thank those who have used their talents to help the needy in each county in Pennsylvania. While the obstacles to equal access to justice continue to mount, the willingness of attorneys to help meet the legal needs of the indigent in their communities is important to those in need of service and bestows honor upon the legal profession. Those nominated provide services that allow the doors of justice to remain open to all citizens.

In considering a nomination, please keep in mind the following criteria:

  • The nominee works in Pennsylvania
  • The nominee, other than the Civil Legal Aid Attorney of the Year nominees, is not employed by an organization that has as its primary purpose the provision of free legal services to the poor. The Pro Bono Partner nominee may work for such an organization.
  • The nominee has provided direct delivery of legal services or assisted in facilitating the delivery of such service in civil matters, with no expectation of receiving a fee, to a client or client group that does not have the resources to employ compensated counsel or has worked to facilitate such effort by other attorneys.
  • The nominee has made an outstanding contribution to the provision of legal services to the indigent without charge.
  • The nominee has made such contributions primarily through organized pro bono programs, lawyer referral service no-fee panels and legal services programs or has worked with such organizations to improve the delivery of legal services to the poor.
  • The nominee’s efforts have resulted in the increased access to legal services for low-income people.

This year’s nomination form is located on the Pro Bono page of the PBA website at Just click on 2017 Pro Bono Awards Nomination Form link.

The form can be completed electronically, and you will receive instant confirmation that your nomination was submitted. If there are any questions regarding the Pro Bono Awards, please contact Pro Bono Coordinator David Keller Trevaskis (800-932-0311, Ext. 2236; cell: 717-571-7414; email:

The 2017 Pro Bono Awards nominations are due on Friday, December 23, 2016.

Award winners will be honored as a group during the PBA Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, May 10-12, 2017. Individual awards will be presented throughout the coming year.

Award Nomination Form

Volunteers Needed for Lawyers Make a Difference Day in Allegheny County

Thu, 11/17/2016 - 9:37am

The Public Service Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association is looking for volunteers for its inaugural "Lawyers Make A Difference Day" on November 19, 2016,

Volunteers will participate from approximately 9:00 am to noon (times may vary slightly from site to site). Volunteers will be sent to three different sites for a few hours of community service. Space is limited for each site. Non-attorneys are welcome, but unfortunately adults only. If interested in volunteering, email Julie Brennan.

ACBF Accepting Applications for 2017 Law Student Summer Fellowship Program and the 2017 Gismondi Certified Law Student Summer Fellowship Program

Wed, 11/16/2016 - 12:13pm

The Allegheny County Bar Foundation is currently accepting applications for the 2017 Law Student Summer Fellowship Program at legal services organizations and for the 2017 Gismondi Certified Law Student Fellowship Program at Neighborhood Legal Services Association.

The application deadline for both programs is January. 13, 2017.

2017 Law Student Summer Fellowship Program

The Certified Summer Fellowship positions will be awarded through the Lawyers Fund at the Allegheny County Bar Foundation and The John P. Gismondi Fund. Applicants must meet all eligibility criteria and have completed his or her second year of law school and must be eligible to be certified to appear in court pursuant to Pa. Bar Admission Rule 321. The Law Student Summer Fellowship Program will run from May 30, 2017 through August 8, 2017.

All applications must be submitted via Symplicity portal for Pitt Law students and via DuqLawConnect for Duquesne Law students.

To view the program overview, click here.

To view the application, click here.

More Information

Gismondi Certified Law Student Summer Fellowship Program

The John P. Gismondi Fund was established in January 2014 to provide summer employment opportunities to University of Pittsburgh law students at Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA) or other similar public interest non-profit organizations providing legal services to those in need.

The program, entitled the Gismondi Certified Law Student Summer Fellowship Program, is financed by a $225,000 donation to the Foundation by Pittsburgh attorney John P. Gismondi. Gismondi, a well-known, local trial attorney and Past President of the Allegheny County Bar Association, has been an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law for more than 25 years and is a graduate of the university and its law school.

According to Gismondi, the fund fulfills two purposes. “Law students crave real-world experience, and NLSA has a critical need for more manpower. This program should address both areas. It will allow second-year students to handle actual cases in front of magistrates or government agencies, and it will give more low-income families access to legal representation.”

The Gismondi Fund will sponsor two (2) Summer Fellowship positions at NLSA to students who have completed their second year of law school at the University of Pittsburgh and are certified to represent clients in accordance with the court rules of Allegheny County. The Gismondi Certified Law Student Summer Fellowship Program will run from May 30, 2017 through Aug. 8, 2017.

To view the program overview, click here.

To view the application, click here.

More Information


Justice Department Announces Pilot Program to Provide Military Communities Across the Country with Dedicated Legal Support

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 1:55pm

The Department of Justice has announced a new program, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Enforcement Support Pilot Program, to support enforcement efforts related to protecting the rights of current and former military personnel as part of the department’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative.  The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that provides wide-ranging financial and housing protections and benefits for military members as they enter active duty.

With the support of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys and the Civil Rights Division, the new pilot program funds Assistant U.S. Attorney and trial attorney positions to assist the department’s litigating components with SCRA enforcement, and also designates military judge advocates currently serving as legal assistance attorneys to serve as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys to support the department’s enforcement efforts related to the SCRA.  U.S. Attorneys throughout the country will also be appointing Initiative Liaisons to work with local military and veteran communities.

“The men and women who bravely defend our country deserve more than just our respect – they deserve our unyielding support,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “The pilot program we are announcing today will enhance our ability to safeguard the economic and legal rights of our servicemembers, our veterans and their families.  In the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue working tirelessly to ensure that our laws protect those who protect us.”

“Servicemembers sacrifice a lot to protect our freedom and our security, and in turn our laws protect them and their families from unscrupulous financial predators,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer.  “The SCRA Enforcement Support Pilot adds significant legal resources designed to stop these predators.  Whether a servicemember has a financial or housing related issue, the Department of Justice will investigate complaints promptly and vigorously take enforcement action against wrongdoers.”

The pilot provides full-time support for SCRA enforcement efforts through the end of Fiscal Year 2018 and funds Assistant U.S. Attorneys in districts with major military installations and additional trial attorneys in the Civil Rights Division, for a terminal period.  The Assistant U.S. Attorneys will principally be responsible for coordinating with Staff Judge Advocate’s Offices on military installations and bringing claims in coordination with the Civil Rights Division against those who target servicemembers.

The pilot also allows military judge advocates (JAG) who are serving as legal assistance attorneys to be designated as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the purpose of assisting with SCRA litigation.  The Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative will coordinate the assignment of these JAG officers with U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country.  U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Western District of Washington and the Eastern District of North Carolina are the first districts adding these valuable military legal resources.

In addition to the funding, it was announced that the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative has become a permanent component within the Office of the Associate Attorney General and will be led by Director Silas V. Darden.  The department created the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative in December 2014 with a mission to support the department in its efforts to protect those who protect us all.  Please visit for more information about the initiative.

PA Supreme Court Clarifies Rule Related to Lawyers Advising Clients Engaged in Medical Marijuana Industry

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 9:50am

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has adopted a change to its Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys to address questions of whether it is ethically permissible to provide legal advice and assistance to clients engaged in the medical marijuana industry.

The change adds a new paragraph (e) to Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 specifically permitting a lawyer to counsel or assist a client regarding conduct expressly permitted by Pennsylvania law. At the same time, however, the rule also states that the lawyer has an obligation to counsel the client about the legal consequences of the client’s proposed course of conduct under other applicable laws.

The rule change arose out of numerous inquiries received by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee and the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Professional Guidance Committee. With the changing marijuana laws in the United States precipitating a growing need for legal assistance in this area, Pennsylvania lawyers were asking whether it was ethically permissible to provide legal advice and assistance to clients engaged in the marijuana industry. To date, more than 20 states, including Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws relating to medical marijuana. Pennsylvania enacted the Medical Marijuana Act on April 17, 2016.

Notwithstanding the trend of many states toward some form of legalization of marijuana, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The Controlled Substances Act provides that marijuana is a “Schedule 1” drug, thereby making it unlawful to “manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess a controlled substance.”

The conflict between federal and state laws created an ethical dilemma for Pennsylvania lawyers because Pennsylvania RPC 1.2(d) states that “A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent...”

Under the former rule, arguably, a Pennsylvania lawyer was prohibited from assisting a client in various activities such as drafting or negotiating contracts that may have related, directly or indirectly, to the purchase, distribution or sale of medical marijuana, even though such activities are now legal under state law.

The new rule will permit counsel to provide legal services to clients without being subject to discipline under court rules.

Original Release

PLAN, Inc. Seeks Applicants for 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Internship Program

Thu, 10/27/2016 - 7:29am

2016 MLK Jr. Program Summer InternsPennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. is currently seeking first and second year law students to participate in our 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Internship Program. This is a paid internship program that is designed is to promote cultural and ethnic diversity in legal services and to honor Dr. King. All interested law students are encouraged to apply.

Participants in the program are placed within the nine regional and six specialty legal aid programs that comprise the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. Over a ten week period, law students will experience the real world of legal advocacy through direct client contact, participation in court and administrative hearings (for those certified), and  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.

A current first or second year law student may indicate their interest in participating in the MLK summer internship program by sending a letter (expressing interest and location/program preferences); a resume; a transcript (official or unofficial); and three (3) references to:

MLK Summer Internship
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network
118 Locust Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101

For more information on the MLK Summer Intership Program and the MLK Fellowship Program, please visit:


Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Seeks Applicants for Law Student Scholarships

Wed, 10/26/2016 - 9:26am

Pennsylvania Bar FoundationThe Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, is currently seeking applicants for two law student scholarship programs. The deadline for applications for the James W. Stoudt Scholarship Fund and for the Joseph T. McDonald Memorial Scholarship are both December 1, 2016.

The James W. Stoudt Memorial Law School Scholarship Fund currently provides three, $3,000 scholarships, two of which are specifically designated to support minority law students, to candidates attending any one of the nine accredited law schools presently serving Pennsylvania. The scholarships are provided on an annual basis and the recipients are selected by a committee comprised of Foundation Directors and Foundation members using eligibility criteria developed and approved by the Board. In addition, the minority scholarships are specifically earmarked for students from historically under-represented racial/ethnic backgrounds.

The Joseph T. McDonald Memorial Scholarship Program, established in 2013, provides a $3,000 scholarship to a fulltime, 3L Pennsylvania resident involved in the Penn State Dickinson Law trial advocacy program. The scholarship is awarded annually, on a competitive basis.

The deadline for applying for both programs is December 1, 2016 and scholarships from both programs will be awarded by December 30, 2016. More information on each of the programs is at the links below.


National Pro Bono Week Officially Recognized in Pennsylvania

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 12:29pm

Governor Tom Wolf and both Houses of the Pennsylvania General Assembly have officially recognized National Pro Bono Week in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf has issued a Proclamation recognizing October 23-29, 2016 as Pro Bono Week and encouraged all Pennsylvanians to reflect on the immense contributions of Pennsylvania's attorneys.

Left to right, Sam Milkes, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Jennifer Brown-Sweeney, PBA Legislative Staffer, Representative Bryan Cutler (R, Lancaster), Sandy Ballard, Dauphin County Bar Public Interest Coordinator and David Trevaskis, PBA Pro Boo CoordinatorSimilarly, the Pennsylvania Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have both issued resolutions designating the week of October 23-29, 2016 as Pro Bono Week in Pennsylvania.

The Governor's Proclamation, as well as both legislative resolutions recognized that the Pennsylvania Bar Association joined with the American Bar Association in sponsoring the National Pro Bono Celebration, which highlights the impact attorneys make in their communities and which promotes pro bono work by recruiting and training additional volunteers to assist the low-income population needing legal assistance. 

The House of Representatives' Resolution was presented on October 18, 2016 by PA State Representative Bryan Cutler who is a member of the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc.

Pictured left to right are Sam Milkes, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network; Jennifer Brown-Sweeney, PBA Legislative Staffer; Representative Bryan Cutler (R, Lancaster); Sandy Ballard, Dauphin County Bar Public Interest Coordinator; and David Trevaskis, PBA Pro Boo Coordinator, in Representative Cutler's office just before he moved the Resolution on Pro Bono Week before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

 Representative Cutler's comments on presenting the resolution can be heard at on this video.


Governor Wolf's Proclamation

PA House of Representatives' Resolution

PA Senate Resolution


Volunteers Needed for Election Protection Field Program - Election Day, Nov. 8

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 2:00pm

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and its coalition partners seek legal volunteers for the Election Protection Legal Field Program in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Election Day, Nov. 8.

Legal field volunteers respond to and monitor problems as they arise at the polls in targeted locations. Field volunteers serve on teams that rotate through specific polling locations. Volunteers are particularly needed for the first shift as most problems occur in the early morning.

Election Protection is the nation's largest non-partisan voter protection coalition and helps all voters across the country. It is not affiliated in any way with any candidate or political party.

Election Protection is a large, nationwide coalition-led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law-and includes LatinoJustice and AALDEF in Pennsylvania. If you indicate that you have language skills when you sign up to volunteer, your contact information will be shared with the Election Protection program that can best utilize those language skills in the communities needing in-language assistance.

For more information about Election Protection, please visit

Who can volunteer:

Lawyers, paralegals, legal assistants and law students

Volunteer training:

In-person and on-demand (2 hours; for on-demand, volunteers receive link via email 2-3 weeks before Election Day)

Election Day volunteer support:

FAQs for Pennsylvania, plus on-call experts

Field shifts:

Nov. 8 (4+ hour shifts; 6:30 -11:00 a.m.; 10:45 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.; and 3:15-8:00 p.m.)

Field locations:

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh

How to volunteer:

Volunteers sign up directly here for shift(s):

Volunteers Needed to Defend Asian American Voting Rights and Monitor Voting

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 7:02am

Inforgraphic- 2016 ElectionThe Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) is seeking volunteers to defend Asian American voting rights by monitoring the elections and surveying voters on Election Day, November 8, 2016.

In past elections, Asian Americans have faced a series of barriers in exercising their right to vote, including segregated "Asian" voting lines. When the news media reported on election results, Asian Americans were often overlooked.

In response, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) has conducted a non-partisan exit poll of Asian American voters to document Asian American voting patterns and document instances of anti-Asian voter disenfranchisement.

AALDEF has monitored the elections for compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act, which mandates bilingual ballots and forbids anti-Asian voter discrimination. In the 2012 elections, 850 volunteers polled 9,096 Asian American voters in 14 states and Washington, DC.

Volunteers are being recruited in the following states to work in 3-hour shifts on Election Day:
California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Volunteers need to attend a mandatory one-hour training session for all volunteers - 90 minutes for CLE credits. Attorneys can receive 1.5 CLE credits including 0.5 ethics credit.

Training will be held in Philadelphia on Tuesday October 25, 2016 at the following locations:

  • Ballard Spahr LLP (CLE Training)
    1735 Market St, 51st Fl, Lunch, 12:00 PM
  • Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition
    1711 S. Broad St, Dinner, 6:00 PM

All AALDEF volunteers must be non-partisan during the time they are at polling places on Election Day. Volunteers will work a three-hour shift at designated polling places on Election Day.

Click here to register online.

For more information, contact:

Jerry Vattamala, Democracy Program Director
Iris Zalun, Voting Rights Organizer



Allegheny County Bar Foundation to Honor Six Individuals, One Law Firm with 2016 Pro Bono Achievement Awards

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 12:38pm

Allegheny County Bar FoundationThrough its 2016 Pro Bono Achievement Awards, the Allegheny County Bar Foundation will recognize six individuals and one law firm dedicated to the cause of providing free legal service to those in need. The awards will be presented at the ACBF’s Fellows Reception, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Pittsburgh.

Each year, the ACBF recognizes individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to providing free legal services to individuals facing critical legal issues who are not able to afford an attorney.

Following are this year’s winners:

Lifetime Pro Bono Service Award:  Paul H. Titus – Titus, a resident of Pittsburgh’s East End, is counsel at the law firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP. In addition to his distinguished career as a trial and appellate attorney handling complex business matters, he has worked tirelessly to assist individuals with low incomes and underserved communities. Additionally, Titus works to vindicate the rights of people wrongly convicted, excluded or condemned to death.

Jane F. Hepting Individual Attorney Award:  Beth A. Dodson – In addition to her work as an attorney at BNY Mellon, Dodson works tirelessly to create pro bono and community education projects. A native of Summit Hill, Pa. and current resident of Pittsburgh’s Spring Hill neighborhood, Dodson frequently recruits and trains her colleagues to provide free legal services, while also handling many cases herself.

Lorraine M. Bittner Public Interest Attorney Award:  Barbara L. Clements – As Pro Se Coordinator for the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Family Division, Clements guides thousands of self-represented litigants through the family court system every year. Clements, an O’Hara Township resident, works with the court’s Self-Help Center and with the family law clinics operated by the Pitt and Duquesne law schools to obtain the appropriate help for people who cannot afford attorneys.

Law Firm Award:  Stoll Keenon Ogden – The downtown Pittsburgh law firm of Stoll Keenon Ogden pioneered a pro bono project that handles “tangled title” real estate cases. The program is designed for low income home owners who need to get property into their names in order to preserve the equity in their homes.

Young Lawyer Award:  Katherine Leech Vollen – Although she is a relatively new attorney, Vollen – an attorney with Humphrey, Vollen & Anderson, LLC – has devoted a substantial part of her career to representing individuals for free. Specifically, the Monroeville native takes on family law cases when the clients cannot afford legal services.

Legal Assistant Award:  Miranda J. Settlemeyer – Miranda Settlemeyer is a Legal Assistant at the law firm of Meyer Unkovic & Scott. By providing substantial administrative support to a pro bono program that represents families in custody cases when they cannot afford legal help, Settlemeyer, an Altoona, Pa. native and current Baldwin resident, exemplifies the important role that non-attorneys have in providing free legal services.

Law Student Award:  Jason E. Piatt – While a student at the Duquesne University School of Law, Piatt, a Bradford, Pa. native and current East End resident, volunteered his time both in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and for Judge R. Stanton Wettick in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, demonstrating a commitment to public service and the rights of all Pennsylvanians.

The award winners will also be recognized during national Pro Bono Week, Oct. 23-29. Pro Bono Week is a national celebration of the life-changing work that volunteer attorneys perform on behalf of low-income clients across the country. The ACBF Pro Bono Center will celebrate the week with a variety of events as we thank volunteers, recruit and train additional volunteers, and bring attention to the needs of individuals facing critical legal issues.

Additional Award Information:

The Jane F. Hepting Individual Attorney 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 Neighborhood Legal Services Association 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.

The Lorraine M. Bittner Public Interest Attorney 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 disadvantaged through her work at Neighborhood Legal Services Association and the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

About the ACBF

The ACBF provides educational programming, promotes public awareness of the legal and judicial systems, renders legal services to low-income clients and provides financial assistance and grants to legal-related organizations. The foundation’s Pro Bono Center helps attorneys fulfill their professional responsibility to provide public interest legal services by creating, managing, and supporting programs that match volunteer attorneys with low-income individuals facing legal issues that threaten their basic human needs. For more information, visit

Pennsylvania Bar Association and County Bar Associations Providing Information about Expungement and New Law Limiting Access to Criminal Records

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 12:52pm

Pennsylvania Bar Association - Your Other PartnerThe Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) and 34 county bar associations are launching a statewide informational campaign, “Understanding Expungement and Limited Access to Criminal Records,” which provides an overview of Pennsylvania’s existing expungement laws and a new law that will limit access to information about certain second- and third-degree misdemeanors, including ungraded offenses.

“In addition to its existing expungement laws, Pennsylvania is joining a growing number of other states that are implementing new laws that limit access to information about criminal histories with the primary goal of removing barriers to employment, housing and education,” said PBA President Sara A. Austin during a news conference at the state Capitol Rotunda.

“Pennsylvania’s new law, which goes into effect on Nov. 14, will allow individuals to petition the court for an order of limited access to information about some nonviolent second- and third-degree misdemeanors, including ungraded offenses, provided the individuals have completed all punishment from previous convictions and have had no arrests or prosecutions for at least 10 years.

“Although the general public will no longer have access to some information, criminal histories will still be available to law enforcement and state licensing agencies,” said Austin.

The law’s intent is to provide relief for those who have been guilty of a nonviolent offense in the past and are striving to move forward with their lives, said Michael B. Lee of Philadelphia, co-chair of the PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee and executive director and supervising attorney of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity.

“I am hopeful that this new law limiting access to some criminal records will open doors for many individuals who are denied employment, housing and education because of bad decisions and actions from many years ago. Too many first-time and low-level offenders completed all the punishment associated with their offenses but have been unable to improve their lives because of their records. This law offers them hope for a better future,” said Lee.

Under the new law, a person who qualifies for relief may file a petition with the court of common pleas in the county where the case was filed. The District Attorney’s Office will be notified of the petition and will have an opportunity to file an objection. Ultimately, the judge assigned to the matter will decide whether to grant or deny the petition.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Criminal Procedural Rules Committee proposed rules that would provide additional details about how to file a petition for limited access. When finalized by the court, the filing procedures will be posted on the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts website:

“Before an individual considers filing a petition, it is important to clarify that the law specifically excludes some individuals from the limited access process,” said Charles T. DeTulleo of West Chester, former chair of the PBA Criminal Justice Section.

“Individuals with otherwise eligible offenses are excluded if they have offenses punishable by more than two years in prison or four or more offenses punishable by one or more years in jail. Also excluded are some subsets of misdemeanor simple assault offenses, some subsets of sex crime offenses, some subsets of witness intimidation offenses, and offenses that require Megan’s Law registration. It is suggested that interested persons should consult an attorney who practices in this area to evaluate whether they qualify for expungement or limited access,” DeTulleo said.

As part of the informational campaign, Austin said that the state bar and participating county bar associations are distributing copies of an informational brochure. The brochure also is available on the association’s website at and a copy of the brochure can be mailed upon request by contacting the PBA toll-free at 888-799-4557.

Under an agreement with the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, newspaper ads promoting the information campaign are running in more than 70 newspapers across the state.  In addition, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, a 30-second television spot and a 30-second radio spot will be airing statewide during the next two weeks.

It is the 13th in a series of statewide public education efforts conducted under the direction of the PBA Community and Public Relations Committee. Previous campaigns have addressed such issues as reporting child abuse, education rights of exceptional children, child support, wills and estates, identity theft and credit issues.

The informational campaign is funded by the PBA and a grant from the Pennsylvania Bar Insurance and Trust Fund. The campaign received informational support from the PBA Corrections System Committee, PBA Criminal Justice Section and PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee.

Joining Austin, DeTulleo and Lee at the news conference were PBA Community and Public Relations Committee Chair Lars H. Anderson of Kingston and Vice Chair Michelle Christian of Newtown.

Local bar associations participating in the campaign include Adams County Bar Association, Beaver County Bar Association, Berks County Bar Association, Blair County Bar Association, Butler County Bar Association, Carbon County Bar Association, Centre County Bar Association, Chester County Bar Association, Clearfield County Bar Association, Columbia/Montour Bar Association, Cumberland County Bar Association, Dauphin County Bar Association, Delaware County Bar Association, Erie County Bar Association, Fayette County Bar Association, Franklin County Bar Association, Huntingdon County Bar Association, Lackawanna Bar Association, Lancaster Bar Association, Lawrence County Bar Association, Lebanon County Bar Association, Bar Association of Lehigh County, Lycoming Law Association, Mercer County Bar Association, Monroe County Bar Association, Montgomery Bar Association, Northampton County Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Association, Venango County Bar Association, Washington County Bar Association, Wayne County Bar Association, Westmoreland Bar Association, Wilkes-Barre Law and Library Association and York County Bar Association. 

Press Conference (Video from Penn Live)

Informational Brochure

Philadelphia Bar Association Seeks Volunteers for Expungement Clinic - November 12

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 9:45am

The Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association is seeking attorneys and law students to volunteer to work at an Expungement and Sealing Clinic at six different locations in Philadelphia on Saturday, November 12, 2016.

On February 16, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 166, which expanded criminal record sealing in Pennsylvania. The law allows individuals who have served their sentence and remained free of arrest or prosecution for seven to ten years, for misdemeanors of the 2nd and 3rd degree, to petition the court for their record to be sealed from public view. Examples of convictions that can be sealed include drug possession, DUI, minor theft, disorderly conduct and prostitution.

Having their record sealed can allow a person to pursue permanent employment or housing that would otherwise not be available to them. It can dramatically improve the client’s quality of life and lower their chances of recidivism.

In an effort to process as many petitions as quickly and efficiently as possible, the Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association has partnered with Community Legal Services, the office of Mayor Jim Kenney, the Office of the District Attorney of the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Section to conduct a pro bono criminal record expungement and sealing clinic.

The clinic will take place at six locations throughout Philadelphia on November 12, 2016. While advertised as running from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., we will actually open the doors at 9:30 a.m. and run through 1:30 p.m. to allow for sufficient time to handle all walk-in clients who arrive before 12:30 p.m.

At least 100 attorneys and law students are sought to work at the clinic to process petitions on November 12, 2016. This will which will require a commitment of a one-hour training and four hours the day of the clinic. 

Additionally, at least 25 attorneys are sought to handle subsequent hearings to be scheduled on a later day reserved by the court solely for expungement and sealing petitions, which will require an additional estimated six-hour commitment. 

CLE Training Sessions on Expunging & Sealing Criminal Records for volunteers are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
    Duane Morris LLP
    30 S 17th St
    12th Fl.
    Philadelphia, PA 19103-4196
    1 SUB
  • Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
    Duane Morris LLP 
    30 S 17th St
    12th Fl.
    Philadelphia, PA 19103-4196
    1 SUB
  • Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 6 - 7 p.m.
    Philadelphia Bar Association
    1101 Market St., Aramark Bldg.
    11th Floor Conference Center
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
    1 SUB
  • Friday, November 4, 2016 - 12 - 1 p.m.
    Philadelphia Bar Association
    1101 Market St., Aramark Bldg.
    11th Floor Conference Center
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
    1 SUB

For more information on volunteering for the clinic visit

Public Flyer

Volunteer Flyer

Equal Justice America Puts Law Students to Work in Pennsylvania on Behalf of the Poor.

Mon, 10/03/2016 - 12:33pm

For more than two decades, Equal Justice America Fellowships have provided an invaluable experience for law students to work at legal aid organizations that protect battered women, abused and neglected children, veterans, the elderly, immigrants, individuals with disabilities and other low-income Americans. These are the people EJA goes to bat for every day by putting law students and lawyers to work for legal aid programs throughout the country.

Since 2009 when EJA launched its Pennsylvanians for Equal Justice campaign, Equal Justice America has sponsored over 120 Law Student Fellowships in Pennsylvania.

EJA awarded 13 Summer 2016 Fellowships to law students who worked in Pennsylvania.

For more information, please visit the EJA website at

Lackawanna Pro Bono to Honor Susan S. Belin, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Attorneys Melinda C. Ghilardi and Sidney J. Prejean with the Attorney Robert W. Munley Distinguished Service Award

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 9:25am

The ballroom of the Scranton Cultural Center will be the setting for Lackawanna Pro Bono’s eighth annual Fundraising Gala, to be held on Thursday, October 27, 2016 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served and a brief program will be held.

Proceeds from the Gala will support Lackawanna Pro Bono’s mission, which is to provide free legal representation to the poor by recruiting local attorneys to volunteer their professional services to financially eligible individuals, primarily Lackawanna County residents, who are faced with serious civil legal problems. Funds will be raised through ticket and program book ad sales.

At the event, Susan S. Belin, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Attorney Melinda C. Ghilardi, and Attorney Sidney J. Prejean will be honored for their service to the community with the Attorney Robert W. Munley Distinguished Service Award.

Susan S.. Belin is a longtime member and former chair of the Keystone College Board of Trustees. She is a founder and co-chair of the Scranton Area Foundation's Women in Philanthropy and was a founder of the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, where she was executive vice president and president. She has served on many other boards, including the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, the Scranton Cultural Center, and the local chapters of the American Red Cross and the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She is a graduate of Wheaton College in Massachusetts and received a master’s degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania is a private, non-profit, charitable organization whose mission is to provide excellence in the assessment and treatment of child abuse and neglect. CAC/NEPA provides medical assessments and child forensic interviews for victims of abuse and neglect and coordinates a multidisciplinary team response to child abuse and neglect in Lackawanna and surrounding counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Center provides child abuse prevention education to professionals and communities served.

Attorney Melinda C. Ghilardi has served as a Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Pennsylvania since 1986. Prior to joining the Federal Public Defender’s staff, she was an Assistant District Attorney in Lackawanna County. A past president of the Lackawanna Bar Association, she has been on the boards of numerous organizations, including the University of Scranton, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, the American Heart Association, Family Service of Lackawanna County, Friendship House, United Way of Lackawanna County, and Community Medical Center. She is a graduate of the University of Scranton and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Attorney Sidney J. Prejean is on the faculty of Lackawanna College and is the coach/advisor to the University of Scranton mock trial team. Formerly the Lackawanna County Chief Public Defender, he served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, sits on the boards of ARC of Northeastern PA, Friends of the Weinberg Memorial Library, and the Kiwanis Club of Scranton and the advisory board of the Salvation Army, Scranton Citadel, and is a past president of the Pocono Mountains Chapter of the Retired Officers Association. He is a graduate of the University of Scranton, has a master’s degree in International Relations from Troy University in Alabama, and earned his law degree from Rutgers University School of Law – Camden. He is married to Attorney Melinda C. Ghilardi.

Tickets for the Fundraising Gala are $150 each. Program book ad opportunities range from $100 to $5,000.

Lackawanna Pro Bono was established in 1997 for the purpose of addressing the unmet need for pro bono legal services in Lackawanna County. Approximately 200 Lackawanna County attorneys volunteer their professional services through the organization. Since 1997, Lackawanna Pro Bono has matched pro bono attorneys to its clients in more than 3,000 legal matters, serving over 7,000 people, and close to 400 local attorneys have assisted one or more pro bono clients in cases that Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. referred to them. Lackawanna Pro Bono is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

To qualify for Lackawanna Pro Bono’s services, a person’s household income must be less than 125 per cent of the federal poverty guidelines. Types of cases handled include landlord/tenant, unemployment compensation, mortgage foreclosures, debtor/creditor matters, child custody and visitation, protection from abuse, and others.

Further information can be obtained by calling Lackawanna Pro Bono at (570) 961-2714.

Disability Advocates Honored with Annual Awards

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 1:14pm
The Legal Clinic for the Disabled will recognize their service at annual Fall Celebration

Philadelphia, Pa. - According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five Americans - or roughly 53 million - lives with a disability. The need for advocates is large. Each year at their Fall Celebration, the Legal Clinic for the Disabled (LCD) recognizes individuals and organizations that work and advocate on behalf of the disabled community in Philadelphia.

Two awards are given each year. The Special Recognition award is given to a person nominated by LCD's Board of Directors who has shown outstanding commitment to the disability community and to LCD. This year's recipient is Frank M. McClellan, JD, LLM. The White Hat Award recognizes individuals and organizations that have done outstanding work for LCD and its clients. This year the law firm of Duane Morris LLP and Jeffrey S. Lichtman, Esq. are being recognized for their service with the White Hat Awards.

"I am thrilled to recognize Frank, Jeff and Duane Morris LLP for their service to the disability community and LCD," said Linda Peyton, Executive Director of LCD. "Their strength, knowledge, and dedication, has an immeasurable impact on the disability community and the work that we do to help over 3200 people every year in Philadelphia."

The awards will be given at LCD's 13th Annual Fall Celebration on October 27, 2016 at 6 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. For more information on LCD, please visit

About the recipients:

Frank M. McClellan, JD, LLM is a Professor of Law Emeritus and the former Beck Chair in Law of Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law and currently serves as Special Counsel to Freiwald Law. He was the Co-Director of the Center for Health Law, Policy and Practice and teaches courses on bioethics, medical malpractice, a law and medicine writing seminar, and torts. From Temple, he has received the professional honors of the Shusterman Alumni Award for Outstanding Faculty Service, the I. Herman Stern Chair for Excellence in Teaching, the Friel-Scanlon Award for Outstanding Scholarship, and the Lindback Award for Outstanding Teaching. Professor McClellan has lectured regularly and taught in interdisciplinary courses at Temple Medical from 1981 to the present. He joined the Temple faculty as a full professor of law in 1982, after teaching for nine years at Duquesne University. He earned his J.D. degree from Duquesne in 1970 where he was a member of the law review, his A.B. Degree from Rutgers University 1967, and his L.L.M. degree from Yale University in 1974. McClellan has spent years of his legal career recognizing and educating others to recognize the health disparities that exist for low income people in all communities and on addressing the social determinants to health that prey on these people due to poverty. For more than 25 years he was a partner in the law firm of Eaton and McClellan, representing plaintiffs in medical malpractice and product liability litigation. Currently, McClellan is a member of the board of directors of the Aids Law Project of Pennsylvania, To Our Children's Future With Health, Inc., and Philadelphia Fight. He is also on the steering committee of Movement Is Life: A Catalyst for Change, a national summit focusing on musculoskeletal health disparities.

Duane Morris LLP, a law firm with more than 750 attorneys in offices across the United States and internationally, is asked by a broad array of clients to provide innovative solutions to today's legal and business challenges. The firm has been recognized as an Am Law 100 firm since 2001 and has nearly tripled in size in the past 18 years. Throughout its global expansion, Duane Morris has remained committed to preserving the collegial, collaborative culture that has attracted many talented attorneys worldwide. Duane Morris has been the recipient of major awards in recognition of the firm's diversity and inclusion practices, commitment to environmental sustainability, advancement of women and pro bono work. In 2015, Duane Morris lawyers collectively dedicated more than 22,000 hours of pro bono legal assistant to those in need. The firm has been honored for its pro bono work by the Supreme Court of Florida; Lawyers Alliance for New York; Washington, D.C. Mayor's Office of Veteran's Affairs; Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation; Girls Educational & Mentoring Services; Tahirih Justice Center; Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation; and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jeffrey S. Lichtman, Esq. has been representing claimants for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits since 1990. His firm, The Disability Law Office of Jeffrey S. Lichtman, LLC, is devoted entirely to Social Security Disability law. Jeff's experience and thorough knowledge of the law, physical and mental illnesses, injuries and medicine work to benefit the firm's clients who are out of work or expect to remain out of work for at least one full year. He is a frequent lecturer on SSDI and SSI issues at seminars for various organizations. From 2004-2013, Jeff served as co-chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association's Social Security Disability Committee. He is currently a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association, serving on the Philadelphia Bar Association's Lawyer Referral & Information Service Oversight Committee, a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and is on the Board of Directors of the Washington Square West Trust. Jeff was a member of the Board of Directors for the Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Inc. for many years and is always available to consult with LCD staff and volunteer attorneys about SSDI and SSI matters. He graduated from Temple University School of Law and also obtained his undergraduate degree from Temple University.

About The Legal Clinic for the Disabled: The Legal Clinic for the Disabled (LCD) provides free legal services to low income people with physical disabilities and to the deaf and hard of hearing in Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Chester and Montgomery Counties. It is the only non-profit legal services organization focused solely on providing legal services to those with physical disabilities in the Philadelphia area. Incorporated in 1987, LCD began serving the community in 1990 and is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which has helped thousands of Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

First Judicial District Seeks Submissions for 2016 Roll of Honor For Pro Bono Service

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 1:54pm

The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) is currently seeking submissions for its 2016 Roll of Honor For Pro Bono Service. The Roll of Honor will be recognized and honored by the Court at a Ceremony on October 27, 2016.

The following qualifications must be met in order to be considered pro bono public work:

  1. 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, 2015 to September 23, 2016.
  2. The attorney must not be employed by an organization that has, as its primary purpose, the provision of free legal services to the underprivileged. (Does not apply to Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award).
  3. 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.
  4. The attorney does not receive a fee or have any expectation of receiving a fee for the services. 

Completed the application forms must be submitted by September 23, 2016 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
Fax: 215-686-3748


Recommendation forms in support of an applicant may be submitted from legal services organizations. All completed recommendations must be received by September 16, 2016 to be eligible for consideration. .

Complete information, including required forms, is available at:

ABA Announces Creation of Center for Innovation to Increase Access to Justice, Improve Legal Services Delivery

Wed, 08/31/2016 - 8:30am

The American Bar Association has announced the creation of the Center for Innovation, a venture designed to advance the ABA’s efforts to improve the delivery of legal services to the public through innovative programs and initiatives.

The center will drive innovation in the justice system and the legal profession by serving as a resource for ABA members, maintaining an inventory of the ABA’s innovation efforts and the efforts of the domestic and international legal services community, and operating a program of innovative fellowships to work with other professionals, such as technologists, entrepreneurs and design professionals, to create models that improve the justice system.

“Closing the access-to-justice gap and making the legal system accessible to all people is of critical importance. The Center for Innovation will help bring together the best and most forward-thinking ideas for making our system more efficient and available,” ABA President Linda A. Klein said.

Located in the ABA’s Chicago office, the Center for Innovation will identify and advance ideas that improve legal services and legal education and will include staff with substantive expertise and skills. Janet Jackson, formerly the director of the ABA’s Office of the President, will be managing director of the Center, which was created based on a recommendation from the ABA’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services.

Andrew Perlman, dean of Suffolk University Law School in Boston, will chair the governing council. The Governing Council Members will include leaders from the legal profession and business community, the judiciary, and legal education, as well as young lawyers, technology experts and other innovators.

Original News Release



Judith A. Algeo, Esq. Receives Jean Crowe Award from American Bar Association

Fri, 08/26/2016 - 10:39am

Judith A. Algeo, EsquireJudith A. Algeo, Esq. recently received the Jean Crowe Pro Bono Award from the American Bar Association Family Law Section at their Annual Meeting on August 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

Jean Crowe was an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee for nearly 30 years where she changed the lives of low income abused spouses and their children by giving them the protection of the law and the courage to begin a new life. 

This prestigious, annual award is given to one attorney who has made significant contributions to family law clients on a pro bono basis in their community. A $1,500 cash prize is given to the pro bono or public service organization of the recipient’s choice.

The 2016 Jean Crowe Award is being presented to Ms. Algeo because of her dedication to representing and standing up for the underprivileged in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Ms. Algeo is a Shareholder and co-chair of the firm’s family law practice. She represents individuals in all matters related to family law including divorce, custody, child and spousal support, alimony and matters of equitable distribution. Ms. Algeo is an experienced adoption attorney and handles both termination of parental rights matters and second parent adoptions.

Ms. Algeo is well-respected by her peers and has been an active member of the Bucks County Bar Association where she has served in various leadership positions for nearly 20 years. She was recently selected to become a member of the 2015-2017 Program Awards Committee of the American Inns of Court. This prominent committee shapes the programming of the American Inns of Court, a national organization dedicated to promoting the highest levels of professionalism in the practice of law. 
She is a member of the Board of Supervisors in Warwick Township, Bucks County where she and her colleagues are charged with overseeing the operation of the township.

For 5 years, Ms. Algeo has served on the Board of Directors for Legal Aid of Southeast Pennsylvania (LASP) and currently serves as Vice-President of the Board. She routinely represents clients in Protection from Abuse proceedings.

“Judith is a talented and successful lawyer at Eastburn and Gray,” said D. Rodman Eastburn, President and Chief Operating Officer at Eastburn and Gray. “We are honored she is being recognized in such a positive way.”

Ms. Algeo has identified the Legal Aid Society of Southeastern Pennsylvania to be the beneficiary of the cash prize this notable award comes with. “I would like to think that Jean and her family are pleased knowing these award funds will be funneled to our local chapter of Legal Aid,” said Ms. Algeo. “I have enjoyed the work I do on a local level and am humbled that colleagues from across the nation appreciate these efforts.”

The mission of Legal Aid of Southeast Pennsylvania is to provide quality legal representation to low-income and vulnerable people in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery County, to empower them to solve problems without legal representation through legal education and increased access to the courts, and to change community practices and systems that cause or aggravate poverty. To learn more about the organization, please visit its website,

Lawrence J. Beaser to be Awarded the 2016 Honorable Louis H. Pollak Champion of the Public Interest Award

Wed, 08/24/2016 - 10:15am

Larry Beaser - Blank Rome LLPThe Philadelphia Bar Foundation is thrilled to announce its decision to present Lawrence J. Beaser, Esq., Partner, Blank Rome LLP with The Honorable Louis H. Pollak Champion of the Public Interest Award

In announcing this award, Steven Bizar, Esq., Foundation President and Partner at Dechert LLP stated, “It is such a special occasion for the Bar Foundation to recognize Larry as a true champion of accomplishing access to justice for all. Larry is an extraordinary friend and supporter of the public interest community and his career long efforts have greatly advanced the legal aid mission of the Foundation for those struggling with poverty, abuse, and discrimination.” 

This important and prestigious honor will be officially presented at the Access to Justice Benefit of the Bar Foundation on Saturday evening, November 5, 2016 at the Independence Seaport Museum. 

“We truly look forward to giving this award to Larry at our annual benefit,” said Benefit Co-Chair, Deborah Gross, Esq., Bar Association Chancellor-Elect, Kaufman, Coren & Ress, P.C. “His commitment to philanthropy on behalf of legal aid and other nonprofits is a model for all attorneys,” added Tricia Horter, Esq., Citizens Bank, N.A. 

Larry has long served as the Philadelphia Bar Association’s board representative at The Philadelphia Foundation, counsel to the Bar Association, and a board member of numerous nonprofits. 

The Honorable Louis H. Pollak Champion of the Public Interest Award is presented by the Philadelphia Bar Foundation on special occasions to a lawyer who has been a true champion of the public interest legal community. The Pollak Award honors a lawyer, in private practice, who throughout his or her career has provided extraordinary service, including through support of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, to the mission of accomplishing access to justice for all. 

Robert C. (Bob) Heim, a partner at Dechert LLP, received the inaugural Pollak Award in 2014. 

The Pollak Award is a special award in memory of a remarkable man. As a lawyer, jurist and citizen, Judge Pollak championed the rights of the underprivileged in our community. With the greatest sensitivity and commensurate wisdom and intellect, Judge Pollak advanced the public interest, by his commitment to civil rights and the rights of all. It is a great honor that his wife has allowed the Bar Foundation to present this award in his name. More information is found online at

Larry Beaser was selected to receive the Pollak Award both to honor his lifetime of service and to recognize his exceptional service to and leadership on the Board of Managers of The Philadelphia Foundation (TPF). He has been a member of the TPF board for 20 years, serving as chair for seven and a half years, and now serves as Chair Emeritus. 

The Bar Foundation and TPF are partners in promoting greater philanthropy and stronger nonprofits to meet the most pressing community needs. TPF is one of America’s oldest community foundations (founded in 1918) and is committed to improving the quality of life in Greater Philadelphia. 

“Larry’s steady leadership, intellect, passion, and devotion to TPF and the community have brought great benefit to the people of our region and have made nonprofit organizations stronger,” said Pedro A. Ramos, TPF’s President and CEO. 

Larry is a longstanding member of the Bar Foundation’s Hamilton Circle, signifying at least $10,000 in donations over time. He held the position of Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 1994, and he currently serves as Counsel to the Association’s Board of Governors. Larry has been a board member for several nonprofits and, in addition to serving as Chair Emeritus and a member of TPF’s board, is currently an Advisory Board Member for Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a grantee of the Bar Foundation. Each year Larry provides over 130 hours of pro bono service, including pro bono representation of Bar Foundation grantees. In government service, Larry previously was chief legal counsel to Pennsylvania Gov. Milton J. Shapp and a Deputy Attorney General. As a partner of Blank Rome LLP, he counsels individuals and entities in the fields of nonprofit and for-profit business law, health and health insurance law, and government law. 

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation embodies the legal community’s commitment to the fundamental principal of equal access to justice for all people, particularly those struggling with poverty, abuse and discrimination. The mission of the Bar Foundation and its grants, training, and other forms of support for legal aid nonprofits reflect the core professional values that are binding on all attorneys. 

As stated in the Preamble to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, a “lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance. Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.” (emphasis added).