Statement from the Board of Directors & Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. in Recognition of March 5, 1973

PLAN 50th Anniversary logo

Members of the Public Community,

The Pennsylvania Legal Services Center, now known as the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc., was incorporated on March 5, 1973. The signatures of Amanda Coleman, Fred Speaker, J. Richard Gray, Laurence M. Lavin, and William R. Klaus, our first Board of Directors, serve as evidence of this historic moment.

As we near the 50th anniversary of this milestone, we reflect with gratitude on the beginning of a journey that has brought us to where we are today:

In 1972, the Pennsylvania Legal Services and Community Legal Services Act was signed into law by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Governor Milton J. Shapp. This legislation was one of the earliest of its kind in the United States, and it served as a model for other states seeking to enhance access to legal aid for low-income individuals.

It was also crucial, because it paved the way for the establishment of our organization, which was founded on the belief that access to legal aid is an essential feature of our justice system, and that we have a duty as a society to provide those facing critical civil legal challenges with help, information, and representation, irrespective of their financial means.

Today, we continue to be a beacon of hope and justice for underserved residents throughout the state and have one of the most robust legal aid networks in the country, thanks in part to the collective power of those who support our mission.

As we commence our organization's 50th anniversary, we are grateful for the staff members, partners, supporters, volunteers, and funders who have helped us serve our clients throughout the years. We reflect on the memories we have shared and the countless lives we have touched through our work. We celebrate the resilience and strength of the communities we support and the triumphs we have achieved together.  

We know that the work ahead of us is as important as ever, as is the need for us to adopt new models and approaches that respond to the environment in which we now live. At stake is nothing less than the fundamental principle of equal justice under the law upon which this nation and state were founded.


Board of Directors and Executive Director
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc.

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