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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 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 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.


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.

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Recognizes Work in Support of Pro Bono with 2017 Excellence Awards

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 10:51am

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) honored the recipients of the 2017 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards on March 28, 2017 at the annual awards dinner held at the Hilton Harrisburg.The Keynote Speaker at the event was The Honorable Josh Shapiro, Attorney General of Pennsylvania.

Fulton Financial Corporation logoFulton Financial Corporation was presented with the Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services Award in recognition of the bank’s long-standing support and investment in Pennsylvania IOLTA and civil legal aid as an IOLTA Platinum Leader Bank. Platinum Leader Banks exceed the PA IOLTA program requirements by paying a 1%, premium yield, on IOLTA accounts. Since 2009, Fulton Financial Corporation has contributed more than $2.4 million to the IOLTA program.

Excellence Award recipients recognized for outstanding pro bono service included Barbara Griffin of Pittsburgh, Michael D. LiPuma of Philadelphia, Jill Kelly McComsey of Bethlehem and Thomas B. Schmidt III of Harrisburg.

Barbara Griffin, Esq.Barbara Griffin, Esq. is the Director of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation Pro Bono Center where she creates, manages, and supports programs that provide legal services to low-income persons facing critical legal issues. Ms. Griffin supports 36 Pro Bono Center programs and member organizations in various pro bono initiatives that tackle inequality and poverty. She works closely with Neighborhood Legal Services Association and the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership to expand access to legal services which benefitted over 6,600 people last year. In addition to the amazing and tireless support she offers to the community and the legal profession, Ms. Griffin will not turn away a compelling case, often representing the client herself, when she sees an unrepresented person who has nowhere else to turn. Ms. Griffin is also currently co-chairing the Host Committee of the 2017 Equal Justice Conference which will be held in Pittsburgh this spring.

Michael D. LiPuma, Esq.Michael D. LiPuma, Esq.served as the chair of the Boards of Community Legal Services (CLS) and Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA) from 2013 until February 2017 when his terms as Board Chair ended. He had served on CLS’ Board since 2008 and PLA’s Board since 2004. In addition to chairing both Boards and Executive Committees, Mr. LiPuma pioneered and chaired the Boards’ Overlapping Board Committee, an innovation which ensures that CLS and PLA are working collaboratively together to benefit clients. He challenged the two organizations to become better than before and offered the necessary support and resources to make it happen. Throughout his board service, Mr. LiPuma has been a visionary and tireless champion of equal justice by working to improve access to legal services and ensuring a well-coordinated service delivery system to meet the legal needs of Philadelphia’s client community.

Jill Kelly McComsey, Esq.Jill Kelly McComsey, Esq. is an associate attorney at Seidel Cohen Hof & Reid, LLC in Bethlehem, PA. She is a very active volunteer fundraiser for North Penn Legal Services, where she created the Raise a Glass to Justice fundraising event in 2012 and it has become an annual event. Since its inception it has generated, as a result of Ms. McComsey’s direct involvement, over $56,000 for North Penn Legal Services. As a result of Ms. McComsey’s efforts, NPLS is able to leverage event proceeds with an annual bar donation from Northampton County Bar Association to fund a full time attorney position, enabling assistance to 150 clients that would be otherwise turned away. Ms. McComsey is very active in the Northampton County Bar Association, the Bar Association of Lehigh County and is an alumna of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Bar Leadership Institute. 

Thomas B. Schmidt III, Esq.Thomas B. Schmidt III, Esq. is is currently of counsel with Pepper Hamilton LLP and the attorney-in-charge of the firm’s Harrisburg office. He is a pro bono attorney extraordinaire, always answering the call to assist Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network programs when the need for expert legal representation arises. On several occasions he has served as counsel for PLAN programs providing excellent representation, and has consulted with both Friends of Farmworkers and the Community Justice Project lawyers on proposed litigation, as well as having advised PLAN. Inc. on legal and ethical questions.

Early in his career, Mr. Schmidt was the attorney representing several organizations advocating on behalf of farmworker rights and was key to the passage of the Pennsylvania Seasonal Farmworker Act in 1978. Even earlier, he played an active role in the civil rights movement activities in Selma, Alabama. Mr. Schmidt continues to maintain a substantial pro bono practice. In addition to his volunteerism with PLAN programs, he continues to serve as Pepper Hamilton’s coordinating attorney on ACLU cases.

Others receiving Excellence Awards included legal aid staff members Pamela Lynn Dalton-Arlotti, Esq.of Neighborhood Legal Services Association; the Legal Aid of Southeastern PA Centralized Telephone Hotline Staff; Linda D. Renick of North Penn Legal Services; Patricia Shilling of MidPenn Legal Services; and Judith E. Wilson, Esq. of Northwestern Legal Services.

Video tributes were shown highlighting the accomplishments of each of the 2016 recipients of the award at the award dinner. Those video tributes and more information on the Award Winners is available on Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. website.