Public Interest

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  • The Public Interest Section's 25th Anniversary Celebration and Public Interest Law Day

    Public Inteterst 25 year anniversary image On Thursday, December 8th, the Delivery of Legal Services Committee of the Public Interest Section will host the 2016 Public Interest Law Day, a CLE Program from 9:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., at Montgomery McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP, 123 South Broad Street. The CLE program will feature panel discussions on hot topics and cutting edge issues affecting the public interest and pro bono legal community. A total of 6 CLE credits, including substantive and ethics credits depending on the sessions attended, can be earned through this program. Both public interest and non-public interest attorneys can benefit from these substantive discussions. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. Lunch will be provided. Register here. Below is a detailed schedule of the day's training programs:

    • 9:45 - 11:15 a.m. Opening Plenary: Community Lawyering in Philadelphia: Exploring the Role of Lawyers in Building Stronger Movements for Social Change, 1.5 SUB
    • 11:15 - 11:30 a.m. Break
    • 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Concurrent Sessions (choose one):
    • (A) Trauma-Informed Representation - 1.5 SUB,
    • (B) School Funding?Paths to Equity - 1.5 SUB,
    • (C) Whoops! How Do I Fix That - Lessons Learned in the Trenches - 1.0 ETH/0.5 SUB
    • 1:00 - 1:45 p.m. Lunch (Included for ALL)
    • 1:45 - 3:15 p.m. Concurrent Sessions (choose one):
    • (D) Protecting Low-Income Tenants: The Role of the Public Interest Legal Community - 1.5 SUB
    • (E) Working with Transgender Clients: Understanding Your Ethical Responsibility to Cultural Competence - 1.5 ETH
    • (F) Maximizing Professional Relationships: Effective Mentoring Relationships, Supervising Relationships, and Diversity Development - 1.0 ETH/0.5 SUB
    • 3:15 - 3:30 p.m. Break
    • 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. Closing Plenary: A Dialogue about the Role of Race and Racial Justice in our Work, 1.5 SUB

    Immediately following the CLE Program, join us in celebrating the Public Interest Section's 25th Anniversary at its Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City, 237 S. Broad Street. Register here. The Awards Ceremony will feature the presentation of the Honorable Louis H. Pollak Award and the Andrew Hamilton Award, followed by a cocktail party and reception.

    Join us for a day and evening that celebrates a quarter century of bringing together Philadelphia's vibrant public interest community and those who support it!


Click here to listen to a podcast of Georgetown University Law Center Professor and author Peter Edelman discuss poverty in America at a program co-sponsored by the Public Interest Section on Feb. 28. 2013.

Community Legal Services presents "Recent Changes to Programs Administered by the Department of Public Welfare" on July 26, 2012. Click here to listen.

The Law School Outreach Committee's Summer Brown Bag lunch program on fellowships on June 7, 2012. Click here to listen.

Listen to author Amy Bach addresses a Public Interest Section plenary session on April 13, 2010: click here.

Listen to the April 29, 2009, plenary meeting on Systemic Advocacy: click here

Listen to the April 10, 2008, plenary meeting of the Public Interest Section and the Pennsylvania Bar Association: "Civil Gideon: A Right to Counsel in Civil Cases"


Each year, the Public Interest Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association honors a legal services advocate or public defender with the Andrew Hamilton Award. The award-winner must work for, or be associated with, an organization whose purpose is to serve persons who cannot afford to pay for legal representation, or be a public-interest lawyer working with a nonprofit organization serving a charitable or public interest purpose.

See a list of past Andrew Hamilton Award Recipients here.


The Public Interest Section, founded in 1991, provides a forum for public interest and private lawyers to come together on behalf of Philadelphia's neediest community. In 1994, the Philadelphia Bar Association By-laws charged the newly created Public Interest Section with "promot[ing] the interests of the members who address the legal needs and rights of the poor, minorities, victims of abuse, persons with disabilities, the homeless and other disadvantaged populations." The section was to provide a "forum for the Bar to work together on issues of mutual concern that affect the public interest . . . and to educate and involve the entire Bar in issues affecting the public interest."

Today, over four hundred members, consisting of public interest and private lawyers, law school faculty members, foundation directors and law students collaborate on projects to improve the delivery of legal services to Philadelphia's poorest community. Such collaboration not only vastly improves the delivery of legal services, but also has created a culture of inclusion within the Philadelphia Bar Association regarding issues that affect and concern the poor. The Public Interest Section, as the largest Bar Association team of public interest and private lawyers working to improve justice in Philadelphia, epitomizes the fulfillment of the Philadelphia Bar Association's mission to serve both the profession and the public by promoting equal access to justice, professional excellence and respect for the rule of law.

The Benefits of Section Membership

Section members can stay abreast of new developments in the law and exciting opportunities to shape the future of our society. The Public Interest Section's activities include:

  • Agency/attorney collaborations to develop pro bono projects where current need is great but free legal services are scarce;
  • Improving the current system of delivering pro bono services;
  • Collaborating on amicus briefs for issues of importance to the community such as ensuring the greater availability of adoptive homes for children who need them, improving the quality of family court for all who use it and creating educational programs specially designed for public interest and pro bono practitioners.
The section currently includes eight committees, which can be viewed in the drop-down box at the top of the page.

To join the Section and receive news and information on the list serve, click here.