SAVE THE DATE
On Wednesday, January 30, the Philadelphia Bar Association's Public Interest Section will present a panel presentation, The Court Collections Effort in Philadelphia: Fair Game or Foul Play?, from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m., at the Philadelphia Bar Association, 11th Floor Conference Center, 1101 Market St., Philadelphia. This panel takes a look at the recent efforts to collect old debt alleged to be owed to the courts by criminal defendants and will address two questions: Does the current debt collection system function effectively and fairly? What improvements would panelists recommend? The program will be moderated by David Udell from the National Center for Access to Justice and panelists will include Sharon Dietrich from Community Legal Services, Mike Lovell from the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and Mary Achilles, a victim services advocate. Lunch is available for $8.00 for members of the Philadelphia Bar Association and $12.00 for non-members, if purchased in advance online at www.philabar.org. This program is co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section.
On Thursday, January 31, the Greater Philadelphia Area Law School Consortium will host the Public Interest/Public Service (PIPS) Career Fair Reception from 5:30 to 7:00 pm., at Morgan Lewis, 1701 Market Street, Philadelphia. The PIPS Fair reception is an opportunity for public interest and government employers to meet law students from all of the area law schools. Please RSVP at here or email Liz Dunn at email@example.com by January 24, 2013.
Poverty in America Discussion February 28
The Public Interest Section, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia will host a special conversation with Georgetown University Law Center Professor Peter Edelman, author of the recently published book, "So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America," which offers an uncompromising look at the increasing poverty in America today on Thursday, February 28. Edelman will share his insights and engage attendees in a conversation about what is happening to the people behind the statistics, including the crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood.
Registration and lunch begin at 12:00 p.m. at United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Lobby 2 & 3. There is no charge to attend. To RSVP, call or email Tara Breitsprecher at (215) 563-5848 x34, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 12 CLE Program on How to Litigate a School Bullying Case
On April 12 a CLE program on How to Litigate a School Bullying Case will be held from 9:00 a.m. (registration at 8:30 a.m.) to 12:15 p.m., at PBI CLE Conference Center, Wanamaker Building, 10th Floor, Ste. 1010, Philadelphia. This new course, designed by Amara S. Chaudhry, Esq., chair of the Philadelphia Bar's Public Interest Section, will enable attendees to hone their lawyering skills to advocate for children who have been bullied:
- Identify whether a child is in a specially protected class and what this means.
- Get up to speed on the pro's and con's of litigation at every level, as well as the alternatives.
- Be able to choose the best forum and guide a case through it.
Featured speakers include:
- Amara S. Chaudhry, Esq., Course Planner/Moderator, Chair of Philadelphia Bar Association Public Interest Section, Council on American-Islamic Relations
- Shane F. Crosby, Esq., Pennsylvania Department of Education
- Ryan A. Hancock, Esq., PA Human Relations Commission
- Beth Littrell, Esq., Lambda Legal (Atlanta)
- Ted S. Martin, Executive Director, Equality Pennsylvania
- Caryl Andrea Oberman, Esq., Law Offices of Caryl Andrea Oberman, LLC
- Judith A. O'Boyle, Esq., Office for Civil Rights, US Department of Education
- Riya S. Shah, Esq., Juvenile Law Center
- Kay Kyungsun Yu, Esq., Former Chairperson, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations
This program will offer three (3) substantive CLE credits. Register at www.pbi.org.
Law School Outreach Committee Summer Brown Bag Series 2013
On Thursdays, May 30, June 6, 13, 20, 27, July 11, 18, 25, and August 1, the Law School Outreach Committee of the Public Interest Section, Philadelphia Bar Association, will host the "Summer Brown Bag Lunch Series," from 12:00-1:30 p.m., in the 11th Floor Conference Center, at the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market St. These 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. Click here to download a schedule of the programs.
On December 11, the Annual Public Interest Law Day CLE Program and the Public Interest Section's Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held Further details will be provided.
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"
THE ANDREW HAMILTON AWARD
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.
Public Interest Profiles
Each month the Bar Association will highlight the work of a local public interest agency. To participate, interested organizations should send a short agency description (100-150 words), contact information, Web site link and logo or other graphic, to Web Manager Wesley Terry.
About Philadelphia VIP
Mission Statement: VIP promotes equal justice for the poor by providing civil legal services not otherwise available, collaborating with other legal services organizations and promoting a culture of volunteerism by educating and exposing attorneys and law students to issues of poverty.
Philadelphia VIP is the hub of pro bono legal services in Philadelphia. For the past 27 years, we have provided volunteer legal services for low-income residents and families facing civil legal problems that threaten their basic human needs. We rely on the private bar in Philadelphia to bridge the gap between the needs of the community and scarce legal services.
VIP, through its volunteers and staff, serves more than 1,100 individuals and families yearly who could not afford attorneys and whose cases could or would not be handled by other public interest organizations. We are the agency of last resort for the majority of our clients.
Our clients are among the poorest in the City. To be eligible for our services a client's income must be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Thus, our most financially secure clients earn $20,000, while a family of 4 lives on $40,000.
VIP handles any civil matter that is non-fee generating and for which there is no right to counsel. Our caseload has four priority areas:
- Maintaining family income (child support, employment/wage claims, tax issues, disability)
- Preventing homelessness (landlord/tenant appeals, public housing evictions, probate, tangled title, consumer debt, litigation defense)
- Supporting family stability (child custody, adoption/guardianship, special education and school discipline, name change and immigration issues); and
- Promoting community economic development.
The majority of VIP's cases are referred to us from Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance; an additional number come from specialized legal services organizations throughout Philadelphia.
In stark terms, VIP is the agency of last resort for many low-income individuals and families who face critical legal problems that affect their basic needs.
1. Philadelphia continues to lose population but because the poverty rate in the City increased from 22.9 percent to 24.9 percent in the period since the 2000 Census, the population of people in poverty has grown from approximately 347,500 to 364, 500.
2. The sole exception to this rule applies to clients seeking legal assistance from LawWorks to form a small business whose income may be at 300 percent of the poverty guidelines.