• On Thursday, January 22, the Public Interest Section's Delivery of Legal Services Committee presented a workshop on “How Legal Services Nonprofits Can Use State-Level Advocacy to Influence Policy While Also Strengthening Their Organizations,” featuring Tony Crisci, Principal, Crisci Associates; Baruch Kintisch, M.B.A., J.D., Principal, Pathway Strategies; and Lawrence Beaser, Esq., Partner, Blank Rome LLP. This program addressed the following:

    • Update on happenings/advocacy opportunities in PA legislative and executive branches
    • Common frustrations experienced by legal aid nonprofits with policy advocacy activities
    • Strategies to strengthen advocacy
    • Options to connect advocacy activities to organizational development priorities (board, volunteers, networks, impact measurements, communications, fundraising); and
    • Refresher on lobbying requirements for registration, reporting, and compliance.

    Click here to listen to a podcast of the program. Click here to download a copy of the program materials on policy advocacy and here to download a copy of the materials on lobbying.

  • Monday, March 16, a CLE program entitled "Opening the Courthouse Doors to Limited English Proficient (LEP) Individuals: Language Access in PA Courts and Administrative Agencies" is scheduled from noon to 4:15 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, CLE Conference Center, Wanamaker Building, 10th floor, Philadelphia. This program will highlight language access requirements that affect judges, court and agency staff, attorneys, and LEP clients, will offer advice and tools for effectively and ethically representing LEP clients, and will discuss strategies for working with interpreters before and during judicial proceedings. The CLE program will provide three substantive credits and one ethics credit. More information and online registration are available at

  • On Thursdays, May 28; June 4 and 25; July 9, 16,23, and 30; and August 6 the Philadelphia Bar Association's Public Interest Section, Law School Outreach Committee, will host the "Summer Brown Bag Lunch Series," from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m., at the Philadelphia Bar Association, 11th Floor Conference Center, 1101 Market St. These free programs provide an opportunity for summer law student interns to meet public interest attorneys who are leaders in their field and learn about different types of public interest practice and fellowship opportunities in the greater Philadelphia area. To download a schedule of the programs, please click here.

  • December 10 Public Interest Law Day CLE Program at PBI, followed by the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Public Interest Section Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception, at the Doubletree (located at Broad and Locust), Philadelphia. Further details will be provided.


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 Heather Jarvis, senior program manager for Law School Advocacy and Outreach Resources at Equal Justice Works, on Managing Student Loan Debt: New Loan Repayment Assistance Programs at a Sept. 16, 2009 program o-sponsored by the Public Interest Section's Delivery of Legal Services Committee and the Young Lawyers Division: 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.