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Progress continues in ABA’s efforts to serve legal needs of veterans

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 9:21am

Last year, the ABA Veterans Legal Services Initiative, begun in 2016 under then-ABA President Linda Klein, received funding to continue its works for another year. At the recently held Midyear Meeting in Vancouver the group reported on the progress it is making in a number of areas, including:

Legal clinics for veterans: Antonia Fasanelli, executive director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project in Baltimore, reported that the working group is preparing to start VA Medical Center legal clinics in the following states that do not yet have one: Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Wyoming.

In addition, the group continues to work on expanding law school clinical programs serving veterans so that there is at least one in every state.

Veterans Treatment Courts: Barry Hawkins, partner at Shipman & Goodwin in Stamford, Conn., reported that his group made a presentation to the program committee of the National Conference of Bar Presidents to have a workshop on Veterans Treatment Courts at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, Aug. 2-7, to encourage state and metro bar leaders to include such courts as part of their presidential initiatives. Although receptive to the idea, Hawkins thinks the presentation will most likely be merged with other ideas for serving veterans.

Technology: Nan Heald, executive director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Portland, Maine, reported on the progress of VetLex, a system that links veterans, veteran service organizations and qualified pro bono or low-bono attorneys nationwide. The pilot project is underway in Illinois, with future expansion into Houston and Pittsburgh and potentially in Detroit and/or North Carolina.
The Legal Check-Up for Veterans is up and running, but the group continues to refine the program.

Jason Vail, staff counsel at the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel, said interested lawyers can sign up for both VetLex and the Veterans Claims Assistance Project (VCAN).
He also discussed the Military and Veterans Legal Center, a mobile-enabled, comprehensive page on the ABA website with links to all the ABA military and veterans programs, which is expected to be available in the coming months. 

Government affairs: Ken Goldsmith of the ABA Government Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., reported that the ABA signed a Memorandum of Agreement in November with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program and the National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium that seeks to improve veterans’ access to pro bono legal assistance, including expansion of VA-hosted free legal clinics and medical-legal partnerships.

He also reported that the Senate will be holding a hearing on the Veterans Homeless Prevention Act, which is supported by all the major veterans’ groups.

Goldsmith also discussed the passage of “sweeping reforms” at the VA, which include movement to clear up the backlog of an estimated 400,000 claims.

Fundraising: Linda Klein continues to fundraise, with the goal of raising enough money to make the commission a permanent entity. She welcomes ideas for donor prospects and is happy to travel anywhere to meet with potential donors.

She tweets about the commission’s work using the hashtag #lawyershelpingveterans.

Nominations Sought for the 2018 Louis J Goffman Award

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:18am

The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation is currently accepting nominations for the 2018 Louis J. Goffman Award.

The Louis J. Goffman Awards program seeks to recognize and honor an individual and an organization whose commitments to pro bono have enhanced the delivery of legal services to Pennsylvania’s poor or disadvantaged, making a critical difference in the lives of those in need of legal representation. The recipients’ donations of time, talent and expertise serve as a model to be emulated by other legal professionals and organizations and since 1989, the Louis J. Goffman Awards have recognized and rewarded these exceptional people and organizations.

The 2018 Louis J. Goffman Awards will be presented in May during the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Annual Meeting scheduled for May 9-11, 2018 at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA. Each recipient is presented with a commemorative plaque and a monetary contribution.

Award Criteria

Any Pennsylvania-based individual or organization involved in the provision of volunteer legal services is eligible. This includes large and small firms, corporate law departments, government attorney offices, county bar associations, law schools and other legal services entities whose members, either collectively or individually, have demonstrated excellence in one or more of the following categories over the past year:

  • Dedication to the development and delivery of legal services to the poor through a pro bono program;
  • Significant work towards the development of innovative approaches to the delivery of volunteer legal services
  • Active participation in a program/project that satisfied a previously unmet or under served legal need of a particular group of Pennsylvanians.
  • Successful litigation of a pro bono case(s) that enhanced the delivery of other services to the poor.
  • Successful pursuit of legislation that significantly enhanced the provision of legal services to the poor.
  • Consideration will also be given to the length or intensity of service and the effort in context to the size of the organization/group.
Selection Process

The nomination deadline is April 2, 2018. No extension will be granted. The Louis J. Goffman Awards Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation will review the nominations and select the award recipient(s). The award recipients will be notified no later than May 1, 2018. All committee decisions are final and binding.

For more information on the Nomination Process for the Louis J. Goffman Award please visit the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation website at

Nominations Open for 2018 ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 9:01am

The American Bar Association  Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is seeking nominations for the 2018 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.

Each year the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service presents five awards to individual lawyers and institutions in the legal profession that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. The 2018 Awards will be presented during a luncheon at the 2018 ABA Annual Meeting on Saturday, August 4, 2018 in Chicago, IL.

Nominees for the Pro Bono Publico Awards 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.)
  • 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.

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 now through March 2, 2018.

Although many groups (e.g. bar associations, legal aid programs and volunteer lawyer projects) and individuals do not meet the criteria for the Pro Bono Publico Award they may be eligible for a number of other ABA awards.

For more information on the awards and nomination process please visit

Nominations Sought for the ABA John H. Pickering Achievement Award

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 1:34pm

The American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division is accepting nominations for the 2018 John H. Pickering Achievement Award. The award honors the life and accomplishments of John H. Pickering, an outstanding lawyer who was involved in a wide variety of pro bono activities and law-related societal issues affecting the elderly.

The award nominees shall have attained the age of 55 years; must be a lawyer or judge (not necessarily a member of the American Bar Association); shall have demonstrated throughout his or her career outstanding legal ability; shall have compiled a distinguished record of dedicated service to the profession and the community at large and made significant contributions to the furtherance of access to justice for all.

Nominations can be completed online, emailed, or  be submitted by regular mail. Online nominations can be completed by answering the questions on the nomination form and bu uploading the following documents:

  • Biography. This should be the nominee’s resume or biography, on a single typed page. (Required) 
  • Activities and Accomplishments: No more than three (3) typed pages, a description of the nominee’s activities and accomplishments that demonstrate how they relate to the high standards of achievement set by John H. Pickering. (Required)
  • Supporting materials. Additional materials relevant to the criteria for selection may be submitted, such as letters of support (limit 5), articles (limit 3), publications, awards, and recognitions received. (Optional)

?To submit a nomination by email or regular mail, please Download the Nomination Documents to be completes and submit them prior to the nomination deadline of February 28, 2018 to Kyle Harris, by email at or by mail at ABA Senior Lawyers Division, 321 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60654..

The deadline to submit nominations is February 28, 2018 at 11:59 PM ET.  The deadline will not be extended.

Nominees will receive an email notification of their nomination that includes the name(s) of the individual(s) who nominated them for the award.

More Information

Applications Sought for Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Awards

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 11:15am

Equal Justice Works Students logoApplications are being accepted for the 2018 Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Awards. The Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Awards seek to identify and honor law students who have provided extraordinary service through clinics, volunteer work, internships, extracurricular projects, and more.

The Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee presents the Regional Public Interest Awards annually to law students at member law schools in eight regions who have a demonstrated commitment to public interest law and pro bono work. Recipients will be honored with a commemorative plaque and a monetary award of $250. Student organizations are welcome to submit one application if desired.

Selection is based on:

  • commitment to public interest law;
  • impact of work performed;
  • new or expanded improvements on the traditional delivery of legal services;
  • long-term interest in becoming a nonprofit, government, or public interest attorney.

Applicants are asked to write a personal statement describing their commitment to public interest law and provide the name, job title, email address, and phone number of two references who are familiar with their public service work.

Personal statements should not exceed two pages and should focus on your contributions as a law student to helping disadvantaged communities, the impact your wok has had on your community, innovative ways you have improved upon the delivery of legal services, any law school projects you started, and your long-term interest in pursuing a public interest law career. 

The deadline to apply is March 12, 2018. Send questions to

Applications can be submitted at


Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity Announces New Leadership

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 11:54am

Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equality logoPhiladelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) announced today that Zane Johnson has been named Managing Attorney and that Carl (Tobey) Oxholm has been named interim Executive Director. These changes follow the appointment of PLSE’s founding Executive Director, Mike Lee, to the position of Legislative Director by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

“This change in leadership could not have come at a better time for PLSE,” said Ryan Hancock, Chair of the organization’s Board of Directors. “While we are sad for PLSE that Mike Lee is leaving, we are truly excited by knowing there will be meaningful criminal justice reform under the leadership of the city’s new District Attorney. PLSE will do all that it can to support those efforts, and we are indeed fortunate to have such talented individuals already with PLSE to carry forward Mike’s many accomplishments without missing a beat.”

A graduate of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, Zane began his service with PLSE as one of thirty-three Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows nationwide. Working primarily on the Criminal Records Expungement Project, Zane has taught and supervised scores of volunteers as they performed intakes and prepared petitions for hundreds of PLSE clients. Last year alone, he personally represented more than 350 clients, filing over 1625 expungement petitions on their behalf, with a success rate of over 98%. He also helped launch a new partnership with the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals whose members will provide pro bono assistance, potentially allowing PLSE to double the reach of its expungement services. In addition to his work with PLSE, Zane works as a facilitator for Good Shepherd Mediation’s Juvenile Offender Diversion Program and sits on the board of the nonprofit organization, Art for Justice. As managing attorney, he will be responsible for supervising PLSE’s Criminal Record Expungement Project and Fair Employment Opportunities Project, and managing relationships with community partners.

Tobey Oxholm has been a fixture of Philadelphia’s public interest community for decades, having served as Chief Deputy City Solicitor and a Trustee of Community Legal Services for twenty years, and having co-founded three volunteer legal service organizations: Philadelphia VIP, the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project, and the Homeless Advocacy Project. He has received many awards for exemplary public service to underserved communities, including the American Bar Association’ Pro Bono Publico Award, the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Bar Medal. He began his service with PLSE as a volunteer staff attorney in September 2016. As the interim Executive Director, he will serve as the chief admini-strative officer, lead the organization’s development efforts, and help launch the new Pardons Project.

ABOUT PLSE: Founded in 2010, PLSE provides free legal representation to lower income residents of Philadelphia whose criminal records are holding them back from achieving their potential as productive, contributing citizens. The services include seeking expungements in criminal court and pardons from the Governor, educating elected and community leaders, and empowering under-resourced communities to seek a greater voice and needed legislative reforms. PLSE was twice recognized in 2017 as an exemplary non-profit, with both a 2018-19 Barra Award, and the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation’s Goffman Award. For more information about PLSE, visit or contact

Rural Summer Legal Corps Accepting Applications for 2018

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 8:41am

The Rural Summer Legal Corps program connects public interest law students with civil legal aid organizations to address pressing legal issues facing rural communities.

To prepare for the 2018 program, Equal Justice Works and Legal Services Corporation are actively recruiting students to fill 30 exciting positions nationwide. Selected participants will begin the summer with intensive training from poverty law experts on housing, domestic violence, public benefits, migrant farmworkers, Native American, and family law.  After the training, the law students will return directly to their host site to continue their 8-10 week placement.

Selected candidates will work with a host organization in a rural location over the summer providing legal services to underserved and low-income individuals. Participants will develop valuable skills and gain hands-on training through direct involvement with results-driven community projects. Students will receive a $5,000 stipend for their service.


All applicants must:

  • Attend an accredited law school.
  • Complete their first or second year of law school by the start of their summer placement.
  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or lawful permanent resident (e.g., green card).
  • Pass a criminal background check. Applicants are not disqualified for most criminal records.
  • Possess a valid driver’s license and access to adequate transportation during summer placement.

Participants will receive a $5,000 stipend for their service. Students have the option to apply for unlimited additional outside funding through their university or other sources.

Program Participant Expectations
  • Attend a three-day training seminar in Washington, D.C.
  • Complete 300 hours of service within an 8-10 week period
  • Comply with criminal background check process.
  • Complete all required program reporting and documentation.
Housing and Transportation

It is the participant’s responsibility to obtain housing and ensure adequate transportation throughout the summer placement. Legal Aid Providers will provide general information, however, it is not the responsibility of the legal aid provider (host organization) to provide direct housing or transportation assistance.

Application Deadline: February 11, 2018 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST Questions

If you have questions about Rural Summer Legal Corps, please review this website and our Frequently Asked Questions or send an email to

More Information 
Application Information

Applications Being Accepted for 2018 ATJ Tech Fellows Summer Cohort

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 3:18pm

ATJ Tech Fellows Program logoThe Access to Justice (ATJ) Tech Fellows program is a 10-week fully funded experiential learning program that places law students at legal services organization to develop innovative solutions that leverage technology, data, and design to expand access to legal services and improve our civil justice.

The ATJ Tech Fellows program provides law students a dynamic learning experience that merges cutting edge legal education with practical experience. Applications are now being accepted for approximately 21 summer internship opportunities for law students interested in public interest law and technology through the program.

At the intersection of access to justice and innovation, ATJ Tech Fellows will spend their summer working on innovative programs and initiatives aimed to improve our civil justice system. Fellows will gain practical experience on the varied use of technology in delivering legal services and other translational legal skills.

With a goal of increasing law students' understanding of the systemic barriers that prevent so many from receiving adequate legal services, and empowering these students with the knowledge and tools to transform our justice system, the experiential learning fellowship integrates virtual classroom learning with practical application.

The program is split into two parts:

  • Legal Access Innovation Curriculum:  A series of eight webinars training sessions over a two-day period designed to educate fellows on the changing landscape of the delivery of legal services. Covering topics ranging from Plain Language for Greater Legal Services Delivery, Online Document Assembly and Automation Tools, Mobile Technologies in Legal Services and much more.
  • 10-week Host Placement:  Fellows work with some of our nation's most dynamic legal services organizations on innovative projects and initiatives that leverage technology to improve the delivery of legal services for low-income Americans.

All fellows will receive:

  • A 10-week placement at one of our partner legal services organizations.
  • A full-time workload. (35-40hrs per week).
  • Designated on-site work space.
  • $4,000 stipend to cover expenses over the summer.
  • Training from our nation's leading legal experts in technology and access to justice issues.
  • A dedicated supervisor who can meet with and provide feedback to the Fellow
  • Opportunities to gain exposure to and skills legal services - or advocacy-related work
  • Opportunities to gain exposure to the organization’s priorities and build networks within the organization.
  • Access to mentors and support from our team
  • A hosted blog, where fellows journal their summer experience and complete a series of teaming exercises.

Great candidates are law students with a demonstrated passion for social justice who bring an entrepreneurial approach to recognizing needs, solving problems, anticipating issues, and developing solutions.

Deadline: February 9, 2018 at 8:00pm EST

Applications can be made using the Online Application Portal or you can Download the Application and submit the competed application package by email. More information on the Fellowship program is available at

Online Application

Download Application

Human Trafficking Discussion to Be Held on Feb. 28 in Carlisle

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 1:22pm

The Pennsylvania Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession Public Service Committee and the Women's Law Caucus at Dickinson Law will be holding a panel discussion on human trafficking on February 28, 2018 starting at 6:30 p.m., at Penn State Dickinson Law in Carlisle. 

The event will include panelists David Freed, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; Steve Turner, Victim Advocate and Trainer; and Lt. Linette G. Quinn, Pennsylvania State Police, Troop H, Carlisle Station Commander.

You can register to attend the panel discussion at


PLI Releases Free On-Demand CLE Course: Ethical Issues in Pro Bono Representation 2017

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 11:16am

The Practising Law Institute has released a new on-demand training program entitled Ethical Issues in Pro Bono Representation 2017. As part of PLI’s commitment to public service and the pro bono activities of the legal community, there is no fee to attend this program.

Using a lively, interactive format, this program will examine everyday issues of ethics and professional responsibility in pro bono and public interest practice.

Within the context of pro bono representation, using “all-new” hypotheticals as the basis of discussion, this program will review issues concerning:

  • Who is the client?
  • Lawyers serving on nonprofit boards
  • Limited scope representation
  • Representing clients with diminished capacity
  • Lawyers working with non-lawyer professionals
  • Client fraud and attorney-client privilege
Lecture Topics [Total time 00:02:10]
  • Introduction* [00:05:09]
    Professor Bruce A. Green,
    Louis S. Sartori
  • Ethical Issues in Pro Bono Representation [01:57:27]
    Professor Bruce A. Green
    Louis S. Sartori
    Sidney Cherubin
    Jennifer L. Kroman,
    Randye Retkin
    Maurice Segall

The course has been approved for 2.0 Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Ethics credits. Approval of the credits for this course expires on December 15, 2018.

Attendance at this event is categorized as "distance learning" by the PA CLE Board. Under current rules, lawyers have the option of completing six (6) hours per compliance year of distance learning by participating in pre-approved, interactive, Internet or computer based CLE programs. More information on distance learning CLE credit.

More Information on the course is available at:

VA Prioritizes Improving Veterans’ Access to Pro Bono Legal Services

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 11:29am

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), together with the American Bar Association, The Veterans Consortium and National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium, have signed a Memorandum of Agreement aimed at improving Veterans’ access to free legal services. 

Veterans often face stressful legal problems — such as eviction, foreclosure, child support, or drivers’ license revocations — that can affect their ability to gain or maintain employment and housing or focus on medical treatment. In VA’s annual Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups survey, legal assistance repeatedly tops the list of homeless Veterans’ unmet needs.

“We are encouraging VA Medical Centers and other VA facilities to engage with their local communities to establish legal clinics and Medical Legal Partnerships to address Veterans’ legal needs that threaten their health and well-being,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “By signing this agreement, we are documenting a shared commitment to better facilitate Veterans’ access to legal services.”

Currently, VA hosts at least 165 free legal clinics in its VA Medical Centers, Community Based Outpatient Clinics and Vet Centers across the country by partnering with external, legal-service providers, such as local bar associations, legal-aid organizations and law school clinics.

More information on VA’s coordination of legal services for Veterans at VA facilities may be found at


Nominations Open for 2018 Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Awards

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 3:03pm

PA Bar Association logoNominations are now open for the 2018 Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Awards. Nominations for the awards will be accepted until Friday, December 22, 2017.

This year marks the 31st year that the committee has sought individual award nominees. This year also marks the fourteenth year for both the Judges Award and the Civil Legal Aid Attorney of the Year Award, given respectively, to a judge and a legal services attorney selected by the committee in recognition of exceptional contributions to improving civil legal aid in the commonwealth. The Judges Award is now named the Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille Award in honor of the retired former Chief Justice. This also marks the eighth year for the Pro Bono Partner Award to a non-attorney who supports legal services to the needy.

The award winners will be acknowledged at various pro bono events throughout the 2018 year, whenever possible by PBA President Sharon Lopez and by PBA President-Elect Charles Eppolito III. This continues the practice President Lopez and former PBA presidents who promoted pro bono service and civil legal aid across the commonwealth by honoring champions of pro bono during their bar travels.

Submitting a nomination for a colleague is your chance to recognize and thank those who have used their talents to expand access to justice and help the needy in your county.  As you select your nominees for the awards, please keep in mind the following criteria:

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

Nominations can be online on the Pennsylvania Bar Association website at The form can be completed electronically, and you will receive instant confirmation that your nomination was received.

If there are any questions regarding the Pro Bono Awards, please contact Pro Bono Coordinator David Keller Trevaskis at 800-932-0311, Ext. 2236; cell: (717) 571-7414;  and email:


Philadelphia Bar Foundation Presents Awards at 2017 Access to Justice Benefit

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 9:48am

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation held its 2017 Access to Justice Benefit on Saturday November 4, 2017 at the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney headlined with opening remarks at the event that was dedicated to strengthening the acquisition of free legal services in our justice system.

“The Philadelphia Bar Foundation provides annual grants and other support to 38 legal aid nonprofit partners as a fundamental part of our mission,” says Thomas A. Brophy, Philadelphia Bar Foundation Board President and CEO of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. “This year, it is our pleasure to host representatives of these nonprofits at the Access to Justice Benefit as well as Mayor Kenney. We appreciate his support in demonstrating the need for quality legal aid services in Philadelphia.”

During the Benefit the following Awards were presented:

Award presentations were made by Stephen A. Cozen of Cozen O’Connor, Kenneth C. Frazier, of Merck & Co., City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante, and JoAnne A. Epps, Temple University Provost.

Phladelphia Bar Foundation Presents Awards at 2017 Access to Justice Benefit

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 9:48am

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation held its 2017 Access to Justice Benefit on Saturday November 4, 2017 at the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney headlined with opening remarks at the event that was dedicated to strengthening the acquisition of free legal services in our justice system.

“The Philadelphia Bar Foundation provides annual grants and other support to 38 legal aid nonprofit partners as a fundamental part of our mission,” says Thomas A. Brophy, Philadelphia Bar Foundation Board President and CEO of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. “This year, it is our pleasure to host representatives of these nonprofits at the Access to Justice Benefit as well as Mayor Kenney. We appreciate his support in demonstrating the need for quality legal aid services in Philadelphia.”

During the Benefit the following Awards were presented:

Award presentations were made by Stephen A. Cozen of Cozen O’Connor, Kenneth C. Frazier, of Merck & Co., City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante, and JoAnne A. Epps, Temple University Provost.

Allegheny County Bar Foundation Honors Five Individuals, Two Organizations with 2017 Pro Bono Achievement Awards

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 10:50am

The Allegheny County Bar Foundation is dedicated to providing free legal services to individuals facing critical legal issues who cannot afford to hire attorneys to represent them. Each year, through its Pro Bono Achievement Awards, the ACBF recognizes individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to this worthy cause.

The 2017 Pro Bono Achievement Awards were handed out at the ACBF Fall Foundation Reception on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh.

The following five individuals and two organizations were honored:

  • Lifetime Pro Bono Service Award: GARY M. LANG 
    A medical malpractice attorney with Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, Lang has had a distinguished legal career that began with a dedication to helping others, a dedication that has remained for decades. When Lang left his position as an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services Association in 1981, he did not leave behind his commitment to providing free legal services to the poor. He continued to do pro bono work through his career, then, in 1999, Lang agreed to act as coordinator for his law firm’s representation of domestic violence victims at final protection from abuse hearings. He not only took these cases himself — more than 200 hearing dates over the past 18 years — he also encouraged and facilitated pro bono service by other lawyers at his firm. A Whitehall resident, Lang has served on the NLSA Board of Directors, is an active member of the Allegheny County Bar Association and is an ACBF Charter Fellow and Sustaining Fellow. He is a prior recipient of an ACBA Pro Bono Achievement Award (1999). Lang is highly regarded for this professionalism, competence, civility and compassion.
  • Jane F. Hepting Individual Attorney Award: DOROTHY ALKE 
    Alke has been a dedicated volunteer of the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership’s Custody Conciliation Project for more than 10 years, during which time she has represented approximately 60 clients. A corporate attorney at CBS Corporation, Alke has continually been willing to step out of her regular area of practice to help families resolve custody disputes so as to avoid subjecting children to difficult court proceedings. A Lower Burrell native and longtime Robinson Twp. resident, Alke has been an administrative board member of the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership since 2006. 
  • Lorraine M. Bittner Public Interest Attorney Award: KATHERINE L.W. NORTON 
    As the Acting Director of Clinical Education at Duquesne University School of Law, Norton works at Family Court, overseeing students who assist approximately 400 individuals each year in navigating the custody process. Prior to joining Duquesne, Norton – a Hamburg, N.Y. native and current Mt. Lebanon resident – was an active pro bono volunteer while in private practice, representing domestic violence victims at final PFA hearings, staffing the court’s Self Help Center and helping families conciliate custody disputes. She has chaired both the ACBA Public Service Committee and the Family Law Section’s Public Service Committee. Norton’s dedication to legal services for the poor began even before she became licensed to practice law. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, she took on an extra semester at the Family Law Clinic, where she was on-site at the courthouse helping families through the custody process.
  • Kathryn M. Kenyon Leadership Award: JENNIFER FOX RABOLD 
    A corporate real estate attorney with FedEx Ground, Fox Rabold was the principal architect of her company’s pro bono program, which launched under her leadership in 2011 with a Wills Clinic at the Bridgeville Public Library. Her work with the Allegheny County Library Association led her to identify that site as a place adjacent to a senior-citizen high rise, where potential clients could easily access the services of volunteer attorneys. Soon, she helped expand the project to locations in Crafton and McKees Rocks, both economically-distressed communities greatly in need of free legal help. Since the inception of these clinics, more than 700 clients have met with volunteer attorneys and notaries public to obtain wills and other advanced planning documents.

    Under Fox Rabold’s leadership, FedEx Ground’s pro bono participation has expanded to community legal clinics, protection from abuse cases and assistance to veterans and small nonprofit organizations, among other efforts. As a result, FedEx Ground was the recipient of a 2011 ACBA Pro Bono Achievement Award and a 2016 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award. Apart from her pro bono work, the Collier Twp. resident has served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations including the Carnegie Library, the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, Pressley Ridge, and others.
  • Young Lawyer Award: JOSEPH R. WILLIAMS 
    While still early in his legal career, Williams is already an experienced and compassionate attorney who uses his professional skills to advance equal access to justice in one of the highest areas of demand for pro bono legal services: family law. A Lore City, Ohio native and current downtown Pittsburgh resident, Williams started his career with a commitment to giving back. He is a former chair of the ACBA Young Lawyers Division and is an active volunteer in PFA and custody matters. Williams serves as a mentor to newer attorneys and encourages them to participate in pro bono programs.
  • New Pro Bono Initiative Award: GUARDIAN PROJECT at Pietragallo, Gordon, Alfano, Bosick & Raspanti, LLP
    This year, the law firm Pietragallo, Gordon, Alfano, Bosick & Raspanti stepped up to fill a gap in legal services for families who seek to establish guardianships for family members with severe disabilities. Without such services, these families struggle to manage important financial and everyday living matters for relatives who are unable to do these tasks on their own. This process is neither brief nor simple and requires the taking of depositions of medical professionals and several court appearances. Undeterred, the firm agreed to help get this new project up and running, take cases and manage it as a “Signature Project” of the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership.
  • Law Firm Award: K&L GATES 
    Over the past year, K&L Gates attorneys in the firm’s Pittsburgh office have spent more than 7,000 hours providing pro bono legal services in a wide variety of programs and practice areas. Particularly impactful has been the firm’s representation of domestic violence victims. K&L Gates has been involved in this effort since 1992, when, as Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, the firm formed NLSA’s first Protection from Abuse Referral team. NLSA currently has several teams to which it refers cases, but none has been more consistent in its response to this need than K&L Gates.

    In addition to the representation of clients, K&L Gates has hosted trainings for PFA volunteers on a regular basis, encouraging its own staff to attend and welcome outside attorneys willing to do this pro bono work. This emphasis on training and mentoring has created a well-trained and supervised PFA team. K&L Gates also has been involved with new and cutting-edge pro bono programs, including representing former juvenile criminal defendants in re-sentencing cases following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana. The firm’s attorneys volunteer for a variety of other programs including Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, immigration law cases and prisoners’ civil rights cases, among many others.
Additional Award Information:

The Jane F. Hepting Individual Attorney Award is given to an attorney who has shown exemplary commitment to or made substantial achievements in pro bono legal services. The ACBF Board of Trustees adopted a resolution in 2002 to name this award in recognition of Jane Hepting’s dedication to the delivery of pro bono legal services through her 26 years as a Neighborhood Legal Services Association attorney, the many and varied pro bono programs that she helped create and implement, her recruitment initiatives and exceptional training programs to attract and prepare volunteer attorneys, her exceptional expenditures of time and energy on behalf of pro bono legal services, and her outstanding commitment and dedication to public service, the legal profession and the community.

The Lorraine M. Bittner Public Interest Attorney Award is given to an outstanding and dedicated attorney who is employed by an entity or program whose primary function is the delivery of civil legal services to low-income individuals or organizations that serve the poor or disadvantaged. The award is named in honor of the first attorney to receive it when it was established in 2005, in honor of her exceptional and career-long commitment to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged through her work at Neighborhood Legal Services Association and the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

The Kathryn M. Kenyon Leadership Award is given to an attorney who demonstrates exceptional leadership and commitment to pro bono efforts benefitting the most vulnerable in our communities.

About the ACBF

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