• On Friday, December 5, Philadelphia VIP will present a free pro bono CLE training on Guardianship, from 12:00 to 2:15 p.m., at Blank Rome LLP, One Logan Square, 130 North 18th Street, Philadelphia. Training materials and a light lunch will be provided. Participants will receive two substantive CLE credits in exchange for handling a VIP case within six months. To register, visit

  • Friday, December 5, the Women's Law Project will hold its Annual Party & Fundraiser, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., at the Marketplace Design Center, 2400 Market St., Philadelphia. This event will feature a silent auction and raffle, food and entertainment. Children are welcome. For more information and to purchase tickets visit

  • Wednesday, December 10, the Public Interest Section will present its Annual Public Interest Law Day CLE program on Wednesday, Dec. 10 with an array of hot topics in public interest law for public interest attorneys, pro bono practitioners, judges and private practice attorneys who are interested in learning more about public interest law and cutting-edge issues affecting the pro bono legal community.

    This full-day CLE program will offer 6 substantive and 2 ethics CLE credits and will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The CLE Conference Center on the 10th Floor of the Wanamaker Building, Market and Juniper streets. Click here to register for the CLE program.

    The opening panel presentation will address how a hypothetical family navigates changes in the law and policy in areas such as public benefits, same-sex marriage, prisoner rights and consumer housing. The closing plenary will feature a discussion on "The New Jim Crow In the City of Brotherly Love," and how the disproportionate number of people of color in the criminal justice system has affected people's civil access to justice.

    Following the opening session, attendees will be able to attend two of the following six breakout sessions: Your Client and Their Debt: Understanding How Bankruptcy and Debt Collection Protections Affect Low-Income Clients; Individual Representation for System Change; Communication Challenges with Clients; Employment Law for the Non-Employment Practitioner; Voter ID: A Model for Integrating Advocacy and Litigation; and Vicarious Trauma and Attorney Burnout: Maintaining Effective Representation In the Midst of Client Crisis.

    Immediately following the CLE program, the Public Interest Section will hold its Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception at the Philadelphia Marriott, 1201 Market St. The Awards Ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will feature the presentation of the Andrew Hamilton Award for distinguished service in public interest law. This year the Public Interest Section is delighted to present The Hon. Louis H. Pollak Award to Judge Edmund Spaeth (retired) of the Pennsylvania Superior Court, for his decades of service and work toward the public interest and access to justice.

    The Awards Ceremony will also feature the selection of the Higginbotham Summer Fellowship, created 10 years ago to provide a stipend to support the work of a summer law intern at a Philadelphia Bar Foundation grantee organization. Third-year law students from local law schools will also be honored for their pro bono work with the presentation of the Annual Law Student Awards. The ceremony will also feature the announcement of 2013 recipients of the Morris Shuster Public Interest Loan Repayment Program by the Philadelphia Bar Foundation. The reception will follow the Awards Ceremony, featuring an open bar and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Click here to register for the reception.


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.