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Chief Justice Saylor Thanks Bar for Support of Legal Aid and Encourages Additional Commitment Through Pro Bono

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 12:07pm

Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor at 2014 PA Legal Aid Network Excellence AwardsChief Justice of Pennsylvania Thomas G. Saylor has directed a letter to all members of the bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania thanking them for their financial support of legal aid, and joined with Pennsylvania Bar Association President Sara Austin in requesting that attorneys consider making an additional personal commitment through the provision of pro bono representation of the poor and through financial support of Pennsylvania's legal aid programs.

The Chief Justice cited Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1, which calls for lawyers to "render public interest legal service." stating that it is the voluntary efforts of attorneys that most greatly impact those in need.

The letter outlines that "[t]he Pennsylvania Supreme Court is dedicated to ensuring that the civil legal needs of those who cannot afford the services of a lawyer are met," citing the Court's support of civil legal aid in a variety of ways, from securing funding for a loan forgiveness program for legal services practitioners to honoring the work of pro bono volunteers.

Chief Justice Saylor stated that "[w]e can take pride in what we have done, but must realize there is more to do," and encouraged the bar to see the many pro bono opportunities that exist by visting PALawHelp.org and by registering at PAProbono.net.

The letter concluded by quoting the words of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner regarding an attorney's responsibility to perform community service:

"Certainly, life as a lawyer is a bit more complex today than it was a century ago. The ever-increasing pressures of the legal marketplace, the need to bill hours, to market to clients, and to attend to the bottom line, have made fulfilling the responsibilities of community service quite difficult. But public service marks the difference between a business and a profession. While a business can afford to focus solely on profits, a profession cannot. It must devote itself first to the community it is responsible to serve. I can imagine no greater duty than fulfilling this obligation. And I can imagine no greater pleasure." - Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, speech at the University of Oregon (1999)

Letter of Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Thomas G. Saylor

Nominations Sought for ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 11:48am

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2017 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Awards.

The Pro Bono Publico Awards program seeks to identify and honor individual lawyers and small and large law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments and other institutions in the legal profession that 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.

Nominees must meet criteria set forth by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. The Committee is currently accepting nominations from the following two categories:

  • Individuals: Individual attorneys who do not obtain their income delivering legal services to persons of limited means are eligible. (Compensated pro bono coordinators are not eligible.) Individual Nomination Form.  
               
  • Organizations: Small and large law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments, law schools and other institutions in the legal profession whose members have collectively made an outstanding contribution toward one or more of the criteria are eligible. Organization Nomination Form

International pro bono work is eligible for nomination, but domestic pro bono work is given priority by the Committee. No more than five awardees will be selected from those who have excelled consistent with the criteria set forth in the nomination application requirements.

Nominations will be accepted through March 3, 2017.

The Committee will select award recipients in April 2017. All nominators will be notified about the status of the nomination as soon as possible after selections are made.

The 2017 award will be presented at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York on Saturday, August 12, 2017.

For more information on the awards, visit http://www.americanbar.org/groups/probono_public_service/projects_awards/pro_bono_publico_award.html

American Bar Association launches ImmigrationJustice.US website

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 2:53pm

The American Bar Association has launched  the ImmigrationJustice.US portal, a rapid emergency response website to coordinate the efforts of volunteer lawyers helping immigrants in response to President Trump’s Executive Orders altering the U.S. immigration system.

“The Law Practice Division Futures Committee and the ABA Center for Innovation accelerated a project to coordinate the volunteer efforts of lawyers responding to the president’s travel ban,” ABA President Linda A. Klein told the ABA’s House of Delegates at its Midyear Meeting this week. “Working with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, they helped set up a website in one afternoon, with links to relevant law, habeas resources, how-to-help guides and volunteer forms.”

The site also provides information on:

  • Relevant case law and statutes
  • Volunteer coordination forms
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association resources
  • Habeas corpus guides
  • Immigration news
  • Deportation waivers and relief forms and information
  • Detention fact sheets and reports, practice advisories, litigation and advocacy
  • Link to Help the Lawyers GoFundMe to raise funds to feed clients and volunteer attorneys, and purchase necessary supplies for attorneys helping detained individuals at airports.

The website is organized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Immigration Council, and the ABA Center for Innovation. It was built through the efforts of the ABA Law Practice Division Futures Initiative with technical assistance from Aaron Street and Sam Glover of Lawyerist.com; Catherine Sanders Reach of the Chicago Bar Association, Dan Lear of Avvo, and Ed Walters of Fastcase.

Nominations for 2017 Kutak-Dodds Prizes Now Open

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 2:43pm

National Legal Aid & Defender Association logoThe National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA), in partnership with the Robert J. Kutak Foundation, has opened the nominations for the 2017 Kutak-Dodds Prizes. The deadline to submit a nomination is Thursday, April 6, 2017.

Since 1989, the 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. This annual award honors two longstanding advocates for equal justice, one from the civil legal aid community and another from the public defense community. Each prize carries a cash award of $10,000.

To qualify, the nominee must be an attorney employed by or affiliated with an organization serving persons who cannot afford to pay for legal representation. The nominee also may be an attorney working for a public interest, nonprofit organization. Nominees must have at least ten (10) years of practice in legal services or public interest work and must be currently involved in legal advocacy and /or active representation of clients on a daily basis.

The Kutak-Dodds Prizes 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 the Omaha, Nebraska, office of Kutak Rock LLP 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.

For more information on the Kutak-Dodds Prizes, please contact Helen Katz, Chief Development Officer, at 202-452-0620, ext. 223 or via email at h.katz@nlada.org.

More Information on the Award Criteria and Nominations Process

Elder Justice Resource Center Volunteer Attorney Training Program Offered by First Judicial District

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 4:03pm

The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) will be holding an Elder Justice Resource Center Volunteer Attorney Training Program on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

The program will be held at the Philadelphia Municipal Court Conference Center, 1339 Chestnut Street, 10th Floor, Widener Building, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 9:00 a.m.

The Elder Justice Resource Center (EJRC) first opened in October 2016 and is Pennsylvania’s first senior justice resource center. The EJRC offers free legal information, advice, and limited representation to unrepresented seniors.

The EJRC is overseen by the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania and court employees provide administrative and coordination services. The EJRC is also supported by numerous key service organizations including the Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), the SeniorLAW Center, Community Legal Services (CLS), Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), and Temple University Beasley School of Law School.

The training program for volunteers will provide training on the following topics:

  • Ethics for Serving Seniors / Aging
  • Elder Justice Resource Center / Elder Justice Initiatives
  • Housing: Landlord-Tenant / Homeowners Mortgage & Tax / Ejectment
  • Orphans Court Issues: Guardianship, Probate, & Protective Services
  • Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Overview
  • Aging and Legal Services Network / Resources

The training is free of charge to volunteer attorneys and offers two (2) hours of substantive PA CLE credit and one (1) hour of ethics PA CLE credit. The fees for non-volunteers are $90.00 for lawyers and $40.00 for non-lawyers,

Pre-Registration for the program is available online at www.courts.phila.gov/cleregistrations or by email to elderresource@courts.phila.gov.

 

FJD's Elder Justice Resource Center to Work with Temple University Beasley School of Law to Provide Free Legal Assistance to Seniors

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 2:01pm

The First Judicial District’s Elder Justice Resource Center will begin working with Temple University Beasley School of Law on February 1, 2017 to offer free legal assistance to unrepresented seniors, age 60 and above, via the school's Elderly Law In-House Clinical Program.

Located in Room 278, City Hall, the Elder Justice Resource Center will be open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. In-house clinical services will be offered every Wednesday.

“As our elderly population continues to grow, it's more important than ever that we continue our efforts to provide necessary legal resources to help them navigate challenging questions and situations that may arise. As judges we hear horror stories about seniors who've been taken advantage of due to limited access to legal help,” said President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, who led the Philadelphia Courts’ efforts to develop the resource center. “The Elderly Law In-House Clinical Program at the FJD’s Elder Justice Resource Center is another step toward ensuring that seniors receive much-needed quality legal assistance.”

The clinic will be staffed by Temple law students, under the supervision of Professor Debra H. Kroll, who will assist seniors with intake services, interviews, and the limited preparation of legal documents by appointment. No in-court representation will be available.

This coordination between the Philadelphia Courts and Temple Beasley School of Law’s Elderly Law In-House Clinical project provides valuable legal services to seniors who cannot afford, or otherwise obtain, access to legal assistance, while simultaneously offering students practical hands-on legal experience.

“We have such great hope and excitement for how our Elderly Law In-House clinical program can positively affect the lives of so many seniors in Philadelphia,” said Kroll, an associate clinical professor at Temple Law School, who specializes in Elder Law. “This is a valuable resource which we believe can help those who otherwise would not have assistance in accessing and dealing with our judicial system.”

The Elder Justice Resource Center (EJRC) first opened in October 2016 and is Pennsylvania’s first senior justice resource center. The EJRC offers free legal information, advice, and limited representation to unrepresented seniors.

The EJRC is overseen by the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania and court employees provide administrative and coordination services. The EJRC is also supported by numerous key service organizations including the Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), the SeniorLAW Center, Community Legal Services (CLS), Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), and Temple University Beasley School of Law School.

Elder Justice Resource Center visitors can walk-in or, if in need of limited document preparation, schedule an appointment in advance. For more information, visit www.courts.phila.gov/ejc, or call 215-686-7027.

Low-Income Women in Abusive Marriages in Beaver, Butler Counties Can Now Get Free Legal Help through ‘New Beginnings’ Program

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 4:26pm
Allegheny County Bar Foundation Expands Program into Neighboring Counties
 

Many women are trapped in abusive marriages because they can’t afford the legal representation needed in to navigate the divorce process. The Allegheny County Bar Foundation aims to help women in these situations through its New Beginnings program.

Through the program, ACBF staff and volunteer attorneys provide free legal representation to women with very low incomes who have experienced abuse in their marriages and wish to be divorced in order to move on with their lives. The program has been in place in Allegheny County for decades and is now expanding into Beaver and Butler Counties.

“It is tragic that so many women in our community feel trapped in abusive marriages simply because they don’t have the financial resources to hire an attorney,” said Barbara Griffin, director of the ACBF Pro Bono Center. “We have successfully helped hundreds of women in Allegheny County escape these situations, but until now, there have been few resources to help low-income women in the surrounding counties.”

The program’s expansion into Beaver and Butler counties is possible thanks to a $20,000 grant from the FISA Foundation.

“We are extremely grateful to the FISA Foundation for the providing the funds necessary to allow us to help people in need,” said Griffin. “This generosity is making such a big difference in the lives of women in our community.”

Eligibility

The project will serve vulnerable individuals who currently have little or no access to free legal services for divorce. The basic eligibility requirements are as follows. To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be a female resident of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, or Lawrence County for at least 6 months.
  • Have experienced physical or emotional abuse in her marriage as evidenced by the applicant having sought or been granted a Protection from Abuse order; by criminal charges for domestic violence filed against the applicant’s spouse; or by the client’s self-identification.
  • Have a household income at 125% of the federal poverty level or below.
  • Be willing to proceed as a simple divorce with no claims for equitable distribution or custody. Other legal aid, pro bono, or reduced-fee services may be available for child support and child custody matters.

Attorneys’ services will be provided at no charge. The ACBF will seek permission from the courts for our clients to proceed in forma pauperis so that court filing fees will be waived.

Those interested in applying for help through the project should call 412-402-6714. For more information, visit www.PittsburghProBono.org/NewBeginnings.asp.


About the ACBF

Known as “The Heart of Pittsburgh’s Legal Community,” 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 www.PittsburghProBono.org.


About the FISA Foundation

The mission of FISA Foundation is to build a culture of respect and improve the quality of life for three populations in southwestern Pennsylvania: women, girls and people with disabilities. For over 100 years, FISA has been led by women and focused on responding to unmet community needs. Originally founded in 1911 by an organization that became known as the Federation of Independent School Alumnae to improve the lives of poor and working class women, the organization underwent a metamorphosis over the years. In 1956, to meet the needs of people with disabilities, the Federation converted its convalescent home into Harmarville Rehabilitation Center, which became recognized internationally for excellence and innovation. In 1996, Harmarville was sold and the FISA Foundation was established to continue the charitable work of the Federation in southwestern Pennsylvania region. Learn more about FISA at www.fisafoundation.org


Original News Release

2017 Summer Internship in Environmental and/or Energy Law

Tue, 01/03/2017 - 9:42am

Pennsylvania Bar Association - Your Other PartnerThe 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 2017.

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 scholarships to attend the Annual Environmental Law Forums presented by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute in April 2017 and 2018 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 2018 Forum.

Applications are due on or before 5:00 pm on February 24, 2017,

More Information on the Summer Internship opportunity is available at http://www.pabar.org/public/sections/env10/lsinternship.asp

ABA Military Pro Bono Project - Fall 2016 Newsletter for Volunteer Attorneys

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 4:37pm

 

 

 

 

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PRO BONO ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER Fall 2016 Support The ABA Military Pro Bono Project

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project’s impact is clear: Each year, the Project secures pro bono assistance for about 200 military members facing civil legal issues throughout the United States. Based on case-closing data provided by the Project’s volunteer attorneys, the yearly estimated value of these cases represents over $1 million in donated billable hours, which is a return of many times the actual modest cost of the Project’s operations.

To help ensure that military families receive high-quality, high-value legal services and resources, the Project depends on financial support each year from Project partners, law firms, corporations, and individuals. We invite you to partner with us in providing essential legal aid to our servicemembers, recognizing the sacrifices that military families make on behalf of us all.

Along with our Star Ranking Supporters, special thanks to the following:

ABA Section of Antitrust Law

ABA Section of Litigation

Holland & Knight LLP

Lockheed Martin


Case Spotlight: Marine Adopts Step-Daughter with Volunteer Legal Help

Read here about a pro bono attorney who assisted a Marine in the adoption of his step-daughter after she was abandoned by her biological father.

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.

Upcoming Webinars

12/14 FREE Webinar: Establishing and Enhancing Legal Clinics to Serve Veterans

12/16 CLE Webinar: Assisting Veterans with Legal Matters, V.A. Certification, Part 2

View the latest news on military and veterans issues and pro bono legal aid, events and CLEs, and the LAMP CLE webpage.
 

Education

Useful Books in the ABA Web Store:

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

A Judge’s Benchbook for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act: Information for judges of the provisions that protect servicemembers while on active duty.

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 Legal Aid Network, Inc. Announces 2017 Excellence Award Winners

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 10:52am

PLAN Excellence Award - photoThe Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. (PLAN) has announced the recipients of its 2017 Excellence Award, as well as the recipient of the Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services. The exceptional individuals, groups and corporation listed below have demonstrated excellence in their efforts to expand access to justice for those who have nowhere else to turn for help when facing a critical legal problem.

Each winner has been carefully selected by criteria assessing increased access to civil legal aid, excellence in advocacy, leadership, and/or innovation in service delivery.  The 2017 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award Honorees are: 

  • Pamela Lynn Dalton-Arlotti, Esq.
    Director of Program Performance and Compliance
    Neighborhood Legal Services Association
    Pittsburgh, PA
     
  • Barbara Griffin, Esq.
    Director of the Pro Bono Center
    Allegheny County Bar Foundation
    Pittsburgh, PA
     
  • Legal Aid of Southeastern PA Centralized Telephone Hotline Staff
    Nanci Hoover, Managing Attorney; Robin Babillis, Paralegal; Dee Bailey, Paralegal; Kristen Burgess, Esq, Helpline Attorney; Eleanor Glasco, Paralegal; Carolyn Hettell, Paralegal; Randal Hove, Esq. Helpline Attorney:  Pamela Manning, Support Staff; Venzela Moses, Paralegal & Pandora Murphy, Paralegal
    Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania
    Norristown, PA
     
  • Michael D. LiPuma, Esq.
    Law Office of Michael LiPuma
    Chair, Board of Directors
    Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance 
    Philadelphia, PA
     
  • Jill Kelly McComsey, Esq.
    Associate Attorney
    Seidel Cohen Hof & Reid, LLC
    Bethlehem, PA
     
  • Linda Renick
    Paralegal         
    North Penn Legal Services
    Bethlehem, PA
     
  • Thomas B. Schmidt, Esq.
    Of Counsel
    Pepper Hamilton LLP
    Harrisburg, PA
     
  • Patricia Shilling
    Paralegal         
    MidPenn Legal Services
    Lancaster, PA
     
  • Judith E. Wilson, Esq.
    Managing Attorney
    Northwestern, Legal Service
    Erie, PA

In addition, Fulton Financial Corporation has been selected to receive the Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services in recognition of the bank’s long-standing support and investment in Pennsylvania IOLTA and civil legal aid as an IOLTA Platinum Leader Bank since March 2009.  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.

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award winners will be formally honored at the PLAN Excellence Award Banquet on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at the Hilton Harrisburg in Harrisburg, PA.  The ceremony will feature a video tribute of each honoree highlighting their accomplishments. For ticket and sponsorship information, please visit, www.palegalaid.net and click on the Excellence Award link.

"The mission of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network is to ensure  equal access to justice so that Pennsylvanians can have representation, when facing important civil legal concerns, affecting their safety, health, shelter and survival," said Samuel W. Milkes Esq., Executive Director of PLAN.  “Our Excellence Award recipients epitomize the tireless efforts of legal aid advocates and friends in the private bar who work to deliver on the promise of justice for all.”