• On Monday, September 29, the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Public Interest Section and Civil Rights Committee will present a program entitled, “The 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:Taking a Look Back and Forward,” at 12:00 noon, in the 11th Floor Conference Center, Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market Street. The program will feature speakers Alice Ballard, Principal, Law Office of Alice W. Ballard, and Reggie Shuford, Executive Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and an introduction by Su Ming Yeh, Managing Attorney, Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a broad sweeping statute which aimed to end discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, particularly in the areas of voting, education, public accommodations, and employment. The speakers will provide a historical perspective on the Civil Rights Act and its impact on other civil rights statutes and discuss present-day challenges to fulfilling its promise. Lunch is available for $8 for Philadelphia Bar Association members and $12 for nonmembers. Register online at The program is co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Section, Women's Rights Committee, Immigration Law Committee and the LGBT Rights Committee.

    Philadelphia Events Celebrating National Pro Bono Week

    Members of the Philadelphia legal community are invited to participate in a range of pro bono recruitment, recognition and training events that will held during the month of October 2014 in honor of the American Bar Association’s National Pro Bono Celebration, a coordinated national effort held during the week of October 19-25 to encourage and support local efforts to expand the delivery of pro bono legal services. Click here for the calendar of pro bono events scheduled in Philadelphia during October 2014.

  • On Sunday, October 12, CLS's 5th Annual Justice For All 5K will be held at 8:30 a.m., at Memorial Hall, Fairmont Park, Philadelphia. The race features an Individual Competition, a Team Competition, and a Law School challenge. Walkers and people with strollers and pets are welcome to participate. For more information or to register online visit or contact Caitlin Brown at

  • On December 10,, the Annual Public Interest Law Day CLE Program will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Pennsylvania Bar Institute, CLE Conference Center Wanamaker Building, 10th Floor, Philadelphia. This full day CLE program will offer 6 Substantive and 2 Ethics CLE credits and will present a wide 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. Online registration will be available at Immediately following the Public Interest Law Day Program, the Public Interest Section will hold its Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception, which will feature the presentation of the Andrew Hamilton Award for distinguished service in public interest law and the Honorable Louis H. Pollak Award to honor a distinguished jurist. The Reception will follow the Awards Ceremony, featuring an open bar and heavy hors d'oeuvres. 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.