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Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Presents Excellence Awards for Pro Bono Service

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 10:58am

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. logoPennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. (PLAN) honored Antoinette C. Oliver, Esq. of Pittsburgh, Mary Coyne Pugh, Esq. of Norristown and Judge John Thomas and the Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association Pro Bono Program with its Excellence Award during rescheduled ceremonies held on June 6, 2018.

The PLAN Excellence Awards recognize outstanding service to low-income clients based on a variety of criteria that demonstrate excellence and diligence in helping improve the availability and quality of civil legal services for low income people and victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania.

Antoinette C. Oliver, Esq.Antoinette C. Oliver, Esq. is a Partner with the Pittsburgh law firm of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott who skillfully balances a demanding law practice with astonishing pro bono involvement. She devoted hundreds of volunteer hours as Chair of the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership, a collaborative of law firms, corporate legal departments, Neighborhood Legal Services and the Pro Bono Center of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation. She plans and teaches continuing legal education classes and training classes for volunteer attorneys and serves as a mentor to new pro bono lawyers. She also is the project manager for the Custody Conciliation Pro Bono Project in cooperation with the Allegheny County Courts’ Family Division and coordinates the Landlord Tenant Project in partnership with project coordinators from Arconic and Alcoa, serving clients experiencing rental housing instability.

Mary Coyne Pugh, Esq. Mary Coyne Pugh, Esq. enthusiastically represents children who need a voice to protect them and help them cope with abuse and neglect, currently serving as the Executive Director for Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP). The organization is dedicated to end and prevent child abuse and neglect in Montgomery County through legal services, advocacy, and education. As Executive Director of the organization, she also runs its day-to-day operations including public relations, financing, marketing, and outreach. Under Mary’s leadership, MCAP has grown into a vital resource for many abused children in Montgomery County, helping over 5,300 children since its inception.

Judge John ThomasJudge John Thomas serves as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Since joining the Court, Judge Thomas has led an initiative to provide pro bono representation for bankruptcy litigants. The Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association (MDBBA) was formed in 1994 and from its inception Judge Thomas encouraged its members to provide pro bono representation to low-income debtors. Working with advocates from MidPenn Legal Services, North Penn Legal Services, and the bankruptcy bar association, the Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association Pro Bono Program was created thanks to Judge Thomas’ vision and guiding hand. Over 345 bankruptcy cases have been referred to the Pro Bono Program by MidPenn Legal Services and North Penn Legal Services to date, with volunteer attorneys having contributed over 2,000 hours of time to the project; discharging over $8.5 million dollars in debt.

PLAN also honored The Honorable Dick Thornburgh, The Honorable Stewart J. Greenleaf, and The Honorable Ronald S. Marsico with its Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services Award.

Additional Excellence Awards were presented to PLAN legal aid advocates including Rachel Blake, Esq. of Regional Housing Legal Services; Patrick M. Cicero, Esq. of the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project; Suzanne Z. Moschini of North Penn Legal Services; Randi Riefner of Legal Aid of Southeastern PA; and Beth Shapiro, Esq. of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia.

Tribute Videos for all of the awardees were presented during the awards celebration. More Information and all of the tribute videos is available on the PLAN website.

Volunteers Needed for Law Clinics in Indiana, Kittanning, & Punxsutawney

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 8:23am

The Pennsylvania Bar Association and Laurel Legal Services will be holding one-day law clinics on June 11-13, 2018  to provide legal advice on a variety of legal topics. Volunteer attorneys are needed to staff these clinics.

The clinics will provide information on legal/domestic relations issues including:

  • Expungement
  • Pardon
  • Social Security
  • Unemployment Compensatioin
  • Public Benefits
  • Housing Bankruptcy
  • Custody/Visitation
  • Child Support Orders
  • Divorce
  • Elder Law
  • Appeals

Training for attorneys on and will be provided prior to the start of the clinic from 9:00 am-10:00 am. Reference materials will be available. Light refreshments will be provided.

The clinics will be held:

Monday June 11, 2018 - Indiana
10:00 am-7:00 pm
PBO Elks - Lodge No. 931
475 South 13th Street
Indiana, PA 15701

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - Kittanning
10:00 am-7:00 pm
PA Career Link
11931 State Route 85, Ste. E
Indian Hills Complex
Kittanning, PA  16201

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - Punxsutawney
10:00 am-7:00 pm
Jefferson County Housing Authority Social Hall
209 N. Jefferson Street
Punxsutawney, PA  15767

Interested attorneys should contact David Trevaskis at or 717-571-7414 for more information or to register as a volunteer. 

J. Denny Shupe and Harry J. Cooper to Receive PBA Jeffrey A. Ernico Award

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 9:09am

J. Denny Shupe, a litigation partner at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP in Philadelphia and Harry J. Cooper, a Bucks County criminal defense lawyer, will each receive a Pennsylvania Bar Association Jeffrey A. Ernico Award  on June 21 at a reception at Schnader’s Philadelphia office. They are being honored for their work in support of veterans.

The Ernico Award is presented occasionally by the PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee and is given to individuals and groups providing a unique service that has resulted in significant improvement in the provision of legal services to the neediest among us.

“I applaud the important work that Denny Shupe and Harry Cooper have done and continue to do for our active military service members and veterans,” said PBA President Charles Eppolito III. “Their dedication to pro bono service, and the law, sets a high precedent for members of the legal community to follow.”

“Their sense of need for legal assistance and willingness to give up their valuable time and talent has no doubt made an enormous difference in the lives of many of the people they have served,” Jeffrey A. Ernico, senior counsel at Mette, Evans & Woodside in Harrisburg and a dedicated advocate of pro bono work for whom the award is named. “Bravo and thank you, Denny and Harry.”

Shupe is being recognized for his service as an excellent model for leadership in pro bono and public interest legal service. Shupe, an Air Force Academy graduate and retired Air Force officer and command pilot, currently chairs the Special Problems in the Administration of Justice Committee (U.S.) for the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL). Shupe is one of the leaders in the ACTL’s nationwide effort to develop and implement a groundbreaking project to address the more than four-year backlog in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ processing and selection of disability award appeals for U.S. military veterans, delays that deny constitutional due process and can deny veterans the financial resources they need for daily living.

Shupe has also been instrumental in connecting his national pro bono and community service work to more local efforts for currently serving military personnel, their families and veterans. He has helped the Military Assistance Project (MAP), a local military support organization based in Philadelphia, find volunteer attorneys to meet the legal needs of service members and veterans. Shupe serves as an advisor and mentor for Penn Law Veterans, a group which assists law students who are military veterans. In recent years, while he was co-chair and chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Military Affairs Committee, Shupe also supported the Veterans Multi-Service Center, which has Pennsylvania locations in Philadelphia, Coatesville and State College, as well as Millville, N.J.

For many years Shupe served on the Board of Directors of the USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey as a member and former chairman, and also was elected as the national chairman of the USO Affiliate Council, where he assisted with national fundraising and service delivery programs for actively serving armed services members and their families. Since leaving the USO board, he has continued to support the efforts of the local Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey USO organization.

Shupe has also provided direct pro bono representation in cases ranging from prisoner rights to family law matters.

Cooper is being honored for his support of the veteran’s outreach efforts of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Office, beginning with his service starting in 2003 as a Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP) volunteer and continuing today with his pro bono efforts under the  Lawyers Saluting Veterans program. A former chief of police in New Britain Township, Bucks County, Cooper’s pro bono efforts for poor veterans in southeastern Pennsylvania are diverse, ranging from advice to direct representation for both criminal and civil matters. Cooper is a volunteer for the PBA Young Lawyers Division Wills for Heroes program that helps both first responders and veterans with basic estate planning.

Cooper is a past recipient of a PBA Pro Bono Award for “routinely providing more than 100 hours of such service each year, taking some of the toughest cases that come into the PBA Pro Bono Office, particularly for veterans facing a myriad of problems, both civil and criminal.” Cooper is also a gifted educator, having a long history of helping teach young people—as well as educators, law and justice professionals and others—about the law.

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 26,000 lawyers who are members of the association.

NLADA to Honor Ford General Counsel Bradley Gayton With 2018 Exemplar Award

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 11:10am

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) will present Bradley Gayton, Group Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel at Ford Motor Company, with its prestigious 2018 Exemplar Award. This award recognizes a corporate leader for outstanding commitment to advancing equal justice for low-income citizens. Gayton will be honored at the organization’s annual Exemplar Dinner on Wednesday, June 13, at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.

“Bradley’s work is helping to ensure that everyone, regardless of economic resources receive legal representation,” said Jo-Ann Wallace, NLADA president & CEO. “Bradley is a passionate voice for civil legal aid. His work has provided legal aid access to many low-income people in the U.S. and across the globe who would not be able to access such assistance otherwise.”

Reflecting on Ford Motor Company’s legacy as founder of NLADA’s Corporate Advisory Committee twenty-five years ago, Gayton said he was honored to receive this award on behalf of the men and women on Ford’s global legal team.

“We believe it is a tremendous privilege to practice law and that lawyers have an obligation to use our talents to help improve access to justice,” said Gayton. “I’m proud that NLADA and Ford’s storied pro bono program has not only endured, but also become a deep seated part of our culture.  We have expanded the program internationally and every lawyer at Ford has committed to provide 30 hours of pro bono work annually.”

Gayton’s service has not only impacted the national efforts, but has greatly enhanced the work of equal justice work in Michigan.

"What is remarkable about Bradley is that his support for legal services operates on both a system and an individual level,” said Bob Gillett, co-executive director of the Michigan Advocacy Program. “For more than a decade, I have watched Bradley personally handle immigration rights pro bono cases with great compassion and skill. In one case, Bradley helped a 12 year-old crime victim obtain a visa to legally stay in the United States. She has now become a U.S. citizen, completed her undergraduate degree and will begin medical school this year."

“Bradley Gayton is a proud and vocal advocate for legal services,” said Janet Welch, executive director at the State Bar of Michigan. “He regularly participates in the State Bar of Michigan's ABA Day trip. I am delighted that NLADA is recognizing Bradley and Ford Motor Company’s impact on equal justice with the 2018 Exemplar Award.”

“One of the most valuable qualities Bradley Gayton has demonstrated over the years is his leadership on access to justice issues on behalf of the legal aid community,” said William R. Knight, Jr., executive director of Lakeshore Legal Aid. “Through both his encouragement and example, he has instilled a culture of pro bono enthusiasm throughout Ford Motor Company’s legal department. Bradley and the Ford legal team are constantly lending a hand to help our clients and our cause.”

Gayton joins a distinguished list of former honorees, including Rick Cotton, NBC Universal (formerly); Michael Holston, Hewlett-Packard (formerly); Bruce Kuhlik, Merck & Co., Inc. (formerly); Louise Pentland, PayPal Holdings, Inc.; Teri Plummer McClure, UPS; John F. Schultz, Hewlett-Packard Company (formerly); Brad Smith, Microsoft; and Laura Stein, The Clorox Company.

More than 500 advocates for equal justice, including public interest lawyers, private attorneys and general counsel come together at this annual spring event to pay tribute to individuals and law firms making a critical impact on the lives of innumerable disadvantaged Americans.

“NLADA is grateful to have leaders like Bradley working alongside us to expand access to counsel for every person regardless of circumstances,” said Wallace.

For more information on Bradley Gayton, NLADA or the 2018 Exemplar Dinner, please visit

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approves Emeritus Status Allowing Retired Attorneys to Perform Pro Bono Services

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 7:54am

On May 9, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court entered an order adopting Rule 403 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement which provides that an attorney admitted in Pennsylvania who is registered as retired and who seeks to provide pro bono services can transfer to emeritus status and be authorized to provide pro bono legal services under the auspices of an eligible legal aid organization.

To obtain emeritus status, eligible attorneys must submit an Application for Emeritus Status to the Attorney Registration Office for review and approval, along with a registration fee of $35.00. After approval, an emeritus attorney is authorized solely to provide pro bono legal services under the auspices of an eligible legal aid organization and without charge or an expectation of fee by the attorney.

Under the rule, an “eligible legal aid organization” is a not-for-profit organization that provides legal services. Prior to the commencement of services, the emeritus attorney shall submit an Eligible Legal Aid Organization Form to the Secretary of the Board for approval. A separate form must be submitted by the emeritus attorney for each eligible legal aid organization for which the attorney expects to perform pro bono services.

An emeritus attorney who is registered to provide services under this rule may renew the status on an annual basis.

Rule 403 further provides that an emeritus attorney shall be subject to the annual CLE requirement. To address this issue the Supreme Court also issued an Order amending Rule 105 of the Pennsylvania Rule for Continuing Legal Education. The new Rule 105 states that lawyers with an Emeritus license shall complete an annual CLE requirement of eight (8) hours pursuant to the rules and regulations established by the CLE Board.

Both Orders relating to the new Emeritus Status provide that they shall be effective 30 days after they were entered on May 9, 2018.

Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement - Rule 403:        Order     Rule
Pennsylvania Rule for Continuing Legal Education - Rule 105:     Order     Rule


West Chester Attorney John McKenna to Be Recognized with 2018 Louis J. Goffman Award

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 8:29am

John McKenna, Esq.The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation will present the 2018 Louis J. Goffman Award to John F. McKenna of MacElree Harvey Ltd. in West Chester on May 10 during the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon in Hershey.

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

McKenna is being honored for his individual service to the poor and disadvantaged residents of West Chester, as well as his ability to bring others together to help make a difference in the lives of those in need of legal representation.

His dedication to pro bono work began while working as a psychiatric social worker for the Defender Association of Philadelphia from 1973 –1985. After graduating law school and moving to Chester County, McKenna became involved in the Chester County Bar Association and Legal Aid, joining the board of directors of Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (LASP) three years into its existence.

At a time when LASP needed to strengthen its relationships and increase bar member participation, McKenna stepped forward to champion the organization and advocate for Chester County’s vulnerable and low-income residents. His impact on the local system of justice there is still evident today.

As a Chester County Bar Association leader and LASP board member, McKenna used his position, influence and own example to expand local legal access. Among his many accomplishments, he promoted pro bono volunteerism within the bar on behalf of LASP clients and is credited with increasing financial contributions to LASP.

In 2004, he created the Access to Justice Program, a then groundbreaking initiative to provide free legal assistance to those in need in the areas of family law, landlord tenant and estate planning, among others. With the help of the LASP Intake Unit, Chester County Bar Association and pro bono attorneys, the program has assisted hundreds of Chester County residents who didn’t qualify for LASP assistance. 

In 2006, McKenna spearheaded a collaborative effort that brought together the county bench, court administration, private bar and LASP to pass an administrative regulation allowing for “limited scope entry of appearance and withdrawal.” The regulation permits those agreeing to provide pro bono representation to low income parties in family court to limit their services to those low-income clients for a limited purpose and over a limited timeframe. As a result, the number of attorneys willing to volunteer in custody cases has grown.

McKenna heads the Trust and Estate Litigation Group at MacElree Harvey, representing clients in estate and trust matters, complex guardianships, will contests, trust termination and modifications, corporate and real estate disputes, consumer protection and broker liability litigation. His practice also includes private mediation.

McKenna chairs the Chester County Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, a post he has held for more than 10 years. In addition, he is a member of Chester County Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution, Civil Litigation, Business Law, Probate and Estates, and Elder Law sections.

He is past president of the Chester County Bar Association and Chester County Bar Foundation. McKenna is a former member of the PBA House of Delegates and a current member of its Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section. He also serves as a treasurer of Chester County Estate Planning Council, a member of the Philadelphia Estate Planning Council and a charter and master level member of John E. Stively American Inn of Court.

Active in the community, McKenna belongs to the DNB First Wealth Management Advisory Board, Chester County Art Association Advisory Board where he served as board president and the American Cancer Society. He is a former president of the West Goshen Lions Club.

McKenna is a graduate of Farleigh Dickinson University and Temple University School of Law.

The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, improves the public’s understanding of the law and its appreciation of democracy and strives to ensure that citizens, particularly Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable, have full access to our legal system. The foundation accomplishes its mission by making grants, seeking financial support from individuals and organizations both within and outside of the legal community, and encouraging bar members to donate their time, talent and expertise in service to the public.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approves Pilot Program Allowing CLE Credit for Pro Bono Service

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 1:26pm

Recognizing the importance of pro bono service, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has approved the creation of a new continuing legal education (CLE) pilot program aimed at increasing support for civil legal aid for low-income Pennsylvanians.

The pilot program will allow licensed Pennsylvania lawyers to earn CLE credit for approved pro bono service in the community through certified legal service providers.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is committed to providing access to justice for all and has a long-standing history of support for providing civil legal aid for those with limited resources,” Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy said. “This pilot program furthers our commitment to legal aid while providing opportunities for licensed attorneys to fulfill their annual CLE requirements.

“I am grateful for the efforts of former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Alan Feldman and former chair of the CLE Board Robert Heim for their tireless advocacy on behalf of the pilot program.”

Developed in conjunction with the Continuing Legal Education Board, the three-year pilot program will allow registered Pennsylvania lawyers to receive one CLE credit for every five hours of pro bono legal work completed.

On an annual basis, registered Pennsylvania lawyers are required to earn 12 CLE credits, including two hours of ethics credit. Lawyers participating in the new pilot program can earn up to a maximum of three credits per year toward their annual requirement.

“This pilot will serve as a continuation of the CLE Board’s ongoing efforts to blend legal education initiatives with assistance for Pennsylvania’s legal service programs,” CLE Board Chair Anthony Aliano said. “The Board considers this a win-win situation for volunteer lawyers and legal service providers.”

The Supreme Court will work closely with the CLE Board and participating legal service providers on the mechanics of recording, reporting and tracking of CLE credits earned through this pilot.

Participation in the program by legal services providers is voluntary. Those seeking to participate in the program need to apply for Approved CLE Provider status from the CLE Board.

The Court anticipates the program to be available by early 2019.

The CLE Board is responsible for administering the rules pertaining to continuing education for attorneys. This responsibility includes monitoring each attorney’s compliance with the requirements, notifying attorneys of CLE status, and accrediting CLE providers and activities.

More information about the pilot program will soon be available on the CLE Board’s website:

ABA Military Pro Bono Project – Spring 2018 Newsletter for Pro Bono Attorneys

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 5:06pm


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ABA Military Pro Bono Project Pro Bono Attorney Newsletter

Spring 2018

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Volunteer Attorney Helps Mother of Sailor in Tragic Accident

A Navy servicemember was in a serious vehicle accident, which caused major brain and spinal injuries. It was expected that he would be in a long-term incapacitated state. His mother needed to be appointed as his guardian so she could handle his affairs, including his property and medical decisions. She visited a military legal assistance office for guidance, which referred her to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The program connected the servicemember’s mother with an attorney who offered pro bono help.

The volunteer attorney prepared all necessary documents to petition the court for the mother’s appointment as her son’s guardian. However, miraculously, the servicemember regained consciousness and recovered to the extent that he could give informed consent to provide his mother with a power of attorney and execute related forms, including a living will and healthcare surrogate documents. With this, the mother obtained legal authority to make personal, financial, and medical decisions on behalf of her son, so she can ensure that he receives proper care.

With this authority, the mother could also help with her son’s procedures for a medical discharge from the Navy and obtaining VA benefits. The volunteer attorney went above and beyond to provide continued pro bono assistance for these procedures. The servicemember was ultimately medically discharged and received the expected benefits from the Navy and VA.


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



Military Pro Bono Project: Pro Bono Representation 

The 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.

View pro bono case opportunities, which is updated daily. 
Operation Stand-By: Guidance to Military Attorneys

Through the Military Pro Bono Project’s Operation Stand-By, you may offer to be on "standby" to provide attorney-to-attorney guidance to military attorneys so they can further assist their servicemember clients. Join by logging onto our 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? Login to ensure that your profile information is up-to-date.



May 15 - Webinar and Live in D.C.

VA Benefits 101 Training

This FREE program helps prepare attorneys to assist with the development of VA benefits claims for veterans. During the three-hour training, speakers will address topics including (1) how to navigate the VA structure, (2) the elements to establish a claim, (3) supporting claims through medical evidence, and (4) strategies to best advocate for the veteran client.

Click here for more information and to register.




Register by May 8, 2018.

Sponsored by the ABA and Holland & Knight LLP.


News & Events

View the latest news and events about military and veterans issues and CLEs.




Special thanks to our current Star Ranking Supporters



The Military Pro Bono Project is managed by the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP). 

Learn more about LAMP. 


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American Bar Association


ABA President Hilarie Bass testifies to need for greater legal aid funding

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 8:35am

American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass filed written testimony with the House of Representatives supporting increased funding for the Legal Services Corporation to close America’s “justice gap.”

LSC supports more than 800 legal aid offices across the country, serving every congressional district. Its current federal funding is $410 million. The ABA is asking Congress to restore funding to 2010 levels, which would be $482 million, after adjusting for inflation.

In her testimony, Bass cited the great unmet need for legal aid services nationwide. A 2017 analysis by the University of Chicago found that 86 percent of all civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans receive no legal help or inadequate legal help.

“The ABA has long been committed to the realization of Equal Justice Under Law in our country,” Bass wrote. LSC-funded legal aid offices try to fulfill the promise of equal justice by helping Americans who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers, including many older Americans, rural Americans, domestic violence survivors and natural-disaster victims, Bass wrote.

The Legal Services Corporation was created in 1974 under President Richard Nixon. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia praised the Legal Services Corporation at its 40th anniversary in 2014, saying legal aid is crucial to maintaining the concept of equal justice. “This organization pursues the most fundamental of American ideals, and it pursues equal justice in those areas of life most important to the lives of our citizens,” Scalia said.

Full Text of Bass’ written testimony, submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

New comprehensive ABA report details lawyer involvement in providing pro bono services

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:23pm

April 26, 2018

Results from a comprehensive survey released by the American Bar Association show that 4 out of 5 attorneys believe that pro bono services are important although finding the time to provide free or low-cost legal services to the needy and charitable groups remains the biggest challenge for many.

The new study, Supporting Justice: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America’s Lawyers, represents the fourth of a series — and first since 2013. The survey reached out to more than 50,000 attorneys in 24 states, seeking data in such areas as their interest, time spent and key influencing factors related to pro bono work to determine how the culture of volunteering manifests itself in the legal profession.

The survey asked lawyers about their pro bono activity during 2016 as well as their most recent pro bono experience, using a definition that tracked pro bono in Rule 6.1 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The survey then asked about motivations and attitudes as well as public service activity. Rule 6.1 defines pro bono as free legal service to the poor and organizations serving the poor and substantially reduced-fee work for such groups, as well as civil rights, civil liberties, public rights, charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations.

The results showed that 81 percent of attorneys believe that pro bono services are important and that most lawyers perform some type of pro bono work during their career. Just over half of the attorneys surveyed had provided some pro bono legal services in 2016, with a lack of time cited most often as the single most important challenge to pro bono participation. Just over half of the attorneys providing pro bono services did so on a limited scope basis, meaning their efforts were directed at specific tasks or services. Approximately 20 percent of surveyed attorneys reported that they had never provided pro bono legal services.

“The 2017 Justice Gap Report of the Legal Services Corporation found that 86 percent of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help,” ABA President Hilarie Bass said. “Legal services programs, with their limited resources, are able to provide assistance in only half of the matters brought to them. So the justice gap is real. Private attorneys play a critical role in addressing these legal needs through pro bono legal services. This new ABA report helps to better understand pro bono in a comprehensive way and will allow us to develop more effective strategies to better meet the legal needs of the poor.”

The report will be discussed at the upcoming Equal Justice Conference in San Diego May 10-12. The conference is co-sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service, which issued the report along with an affiliate, the ABA Center for Pro Bono. The other co-sponsor of the San Diego conference is the National Legal Aid & Defender Association.

“This is the most recent in a series of surveys to poll lawyers in every practice area, in every practice setting and of every age and experience level about their pro bono activity,” said George (Buck) T. Lewis, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service and a lawyer at Baker Donelson in Memphis, Tenn. “It is influential in informing strategies to encourage pro bono work and to develop new pro bono opportunities with the goal of increasing access to the legal system.”

Full Report

ABA Members Come to Capitol Hill to Convince Lawmakers to Fund Legal Services, Loan Forgiveness

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 10:02am

The American Bar Association will hold its annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession this week during its ABA Day 2018, April 11 and 12.

Lawyers from 48 states will come to Washington to speak to members of Congress and their staffs and inform them of the importance of funding Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which provides civil legal aid to nearly 1.7 million low-income people annually. These people desperately need help to navigate the legal process so they can get equal access to justice and yet far too many are turned away due to lack of resources. LSC serves the most vulnerable individuals and families in every congressional district. That includes children, seniors, veterans, victims of domestic violence and victims of disasters.

Efforts at ABA Day last year helped achieve a $385 million appropriation for LSC. This year, the goal is to convince Congress to restore funding to the inflation-adjusted Fiscal Year 2010 level of $482 million.

Lawyers also will be advocating for the preservation of the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). This program provides student loan forgiveness after 10 years of public service when applicants meet certain conditions. The ABA opposes efforts to repeal or end the program, such as in H.R. 4508, the PROSPER Act, and believes there should be some government incentive to help people who choose careers in public service.

The ABA will also present four members of Congress with its annual Congressional Justice Award on April 11 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center to acknowledge their leadership on issues critically important to the legal profession and the ABA. 

This year’s awardees are: 

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): The ABA honors Cornyn for his efforts to improve the American justice system, particularly for his leadership in securing funding for the Legal Services Corporation. He also is being honored for his commitment to ensuring access to justice for domestic violence and trafficking survivors and for his co-sponsorship of the Veterans Treatment Courts Improvement Act of 2017.
  • Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.): Feinstein is being honored for her support of LSC, her decades-long effort to enact sensible gun safety legislation and her commitment to ensuring that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have an opportunity to consider the ABA’s peer assessments of the professional qualifications of federal judicial nominees prior to their confirmation hearings.
  • Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa. 8th); The ABA honors Fitzpatrick for his efforts to increase LSC funding  and his leadership in efforts to increase access to the civil justice system. Since joining Congress in 2016, he has been a staunch supporter of increased funding for LSC and has led the efforts to increase Republican support for it. In 2017, he joined with Rep. Steve Cohen (D, Tenn.) to sponsor the first-ever bipartisan amendment to increase LSC appropriations.
  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif. 12th): Pelosi has spent more than 30 years in the House of Representatives serving as a powerful voice for equal justice for all and championing issues of importance to the ABA including transgender rights, marriage equality, pay equity, and immigration reform. This past year, she has strongly advocated for a path to citizenship for the so-called “Dreamers,” undocumented persons who were brought to this country as children and have grown up here. She has also been a leader in opposing legislation that would restrict access to our civil justice system.

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Chief Justice Saylor Supports and Encourages Pro Bono Efforts to Serve the Civil Legal Needs of the Poor

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 8:22am

Chief Justice Saylor's Letter to the BarChief Justice of Pennsylvania Thomas G. Saylor has prepared a letter to all licensed attorneys in Pennsylvania expressing support for efforts to serve the civil legal needs of our poorest citizens.

He expressed a steadfast commitment by the Court to the mission of serving the legal needs of the poor and outlined some of the ways the the Pennsylvania Supreme Court supports civil legal. He also recognized the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network for providing the framework and structure for legal assistance for the poor. 

Chief Justice Saylor cited the contribution to this effort attorneys in Pennsylvania make through the IOLTA portion of their annual licensing fee, but cited the volunteer efforts of the bar for most greatly impacting those in need.

The Chief Justice closed the letter by stating:

"In my role as Chief Justice, I see the remarkable benefit provided by pro bono lawyers working to meet the civil legal aid needs of the community. These efforts reflect the model partnership promoted by the Pennsylvania Bar Association of local legal aid programs working with local Bars to facilitate private practice attorneys providing pro bono public service to those in need."

"Once again this year, I encourage you to make a personal commitment to provide pro bono service in whatever way you are able, whether through direct representation to the poor or financial support of our legal aid programs. "

"My sincere thanks to those who already contribute your time, your talents and your financial support to this most worthy endeavor."

Read Chief Justice Saylor's Letter


Chief Justice Saylor Expresses Supports and Encourages Pro Bono Efforts to Serve the Civil Legal Needs of the Poor

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 8:22am

Chief Justice Saylor's Letter to the BarChief Justice of Pennsylvania Thomas G. Saylor has prepared a letter to all licensed attorneys in Pennsylvania expressing support for efforts to serve the civil legal needs of our poorest citizens.

He expressed a steadfast commitment by the Court to the mission of serving the legal needs of the poor and outlined some of the ways the the Pennsylvania Supreme Court supports civil legal. He also recognized the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network for providing the framework and structure for legal assistance for the poor. 

Chief Justice Saylor cited the contribution to this effort attorneys in Pennsylvania make through the IOLTA portion of their annual licensing fee, but cited the volunteer efforts of the bar for most greatly impacting those in need.

The Chief Justice closed the letter by stating:

"In my role as Chief Justice, I see the remarkable benefit provided by pro bono lawyers working to meet the civil legal aid needs of the community. These efforts reflect the model partnership promoted by the Pennsylvania Bar Association of local legal aid programs working with local Bars to facilitate private practice attorneys providing pro bono public service to those in need.

Once again this year, I encourage you to make a personal commitment to provide pro bono service in whatever way you are able, whether through direct representation to the poor or financial support of our legal aid programs. 

My sincere thanks to those who already contribute your time, your talents and your financial support to this most worthy endeavor."

Read Chief Justice Saylor's Letter


$10,000 Stipend Available for Summer 2018 Internship in Environmental, Energy Law

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 9:41am

The Environmental and Energy Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association is awarding one or more law students a $10,000 stipend to allow for a pro bono summer internship in the field of environmental and/or energy law ("EEL"). The selected law student recipient(s) will be awarded $10,000.00 (paid in three installments) starting with commencement of the internship in support of an unpaid, pro bono project of the student's choosing in the field of EEL performed during an 8-week period in the summer of 2018. First- or second-year law students or third-year night law students, who are residents of Pennsylvania or who indicate their intention to practice law in Pennsylvania, and who demonstrate an interest in pursuing a career in the field of EEL, are eligible for consideration. 

The pro bono project proposed by an applicant for the internship must be supported by a not-for-profit public interest or charitable organization, educational institution, and/or a local, state or federal government agency that agrees to provide oversight and supervision of the student and an attorney mentor to assist the student in completion of a project in the field of EEL. Students applying must demonstrate that the organization or agency for which they are applying meets these criteria, that the organization or agency has an internship opportunity available, that the organization or agency will appropriately supervise the intern's work, and that the organization or agency would not otherwise provide a salary for the internship position.

In making its selection, the Section's Internship Committee may consider the following factors: academic achievement; the student's demonstration of interest in the field of EEL, as evidenced by his or her academic studies, work or volunteer experience and interests; commitment to working as an EEL lawyer in Pennsylvania; benefits of the proposed pro bono project to the candidate, organization, general public and field of EEL; and financial need.

The Internship Committee may also consider the following factors related to the proposed project: relationship of the organization's mission to the field of EEL; relationship of the proposed work to the mission of the organization; potential impact and longevity of the proposed work on the organization and/or its constituency.

The Internship Committee may also consider any other factors it determines are appropriate in making its selection. An interview may be required of finalists. 

Following completion of the internship, the student must prepare a 4-6 page report and evaluation of his or her internship experience. The report may be circulated to EELS section members and others. In addition, the student will be awarded a scholarships to attend the 2019 Environmental Law Forums presented by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and, at the discretion of the Section Chair, will give a brief (less than 5 minute)
presentation of his or her internship experience to the Section at the Annual Meeting and Dinner during the evening program of the 2019 Forum.

Applications are due on or before 5:00 pm on April 2, 2018.

More Information and Application Process

Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Offers Birdsall Impact Grants Program to County Bar Associations

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 9:30am

The Birdsall Impact Grant program offered by the Pennsylvania Bar Founcation seeks to assist county bar associations in the furtherance of a charitable, educational or pro bono program or project or the enhancement of an existing charitable, educational or pro bono program or project that succeeds in making an immediate impact on the way a county bar operates in service to its members, its court and its community.

If your county bar association is interested in applying for grants funds, please complete the Birdsall County Bar Impact Grant Application. The deadline for submission is April 2, 2018.

A five-person grant evaluation committee comprised of Foundation members appointed by the Foundation president and the Conference of County Bar Leaders Executive Committee will evaluate submissions and select a recipient(s) to share in a grant(s) totaling not more than $1,000. The successful applicant(s) will be notified in writing on or before May 1, 2018 and the grants will be awarded during the Annual Meeting of the Foundation Board of Directors and Members on May 10, 2018 in Hershey, PA in conjunction with the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

The program is open to all bar associations, with consideration given to those with limited means.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Executive Director E. Marie Queen at 888-238-3036 or

2018 Birdsall Grant Application