Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Presents Excellence Awards for Pro Bono Service

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. logoPennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. (PLAN) honored Antoinette C. Oliver, Esq. of Pittsburgh, Mary Coyne Pugh, Esq. of Norristown and Judge John Thomas and the Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association Pro Bono Program with its Excellence Award during rescheduled ceremonies held on June 6, 2018.

The PLAN Excellence Awards recognize outstanding service to low-income clients based on a variety of criteria that demonstrate excellence and diligence in helping improve the availability and quality of civil legal services for low income people and victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania.

Antoinette C. Oliver, Esq.Antoinette C. Oliver, Esq. is a Partner with the Pittsburgh law firm of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott who skillfully balances a demanding law practice with astonishing pro bono involvement. She devoted hundreds of volunteer hours as Chair of the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership, a collaborative of law firms, corporate legal departments, Neighborhood Legal Services and the Pro Bono Center of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation. She plans and teaches continuing legal education classes and training classes for volunteer attorneys and serves as a mentor to new pro bono lawyers. She also is the project manager for the Custody Conciliation Pro Bono Project in cooperation with the Allegheny County Courts’ Family Division and coordinates the Landlord Tenant Project in partnership with project coordinators from Arconic and Alcoa, serving clients experiencing rental housing instability.

Mary Coyne Pugh, Esq. Mary Coyne Pugh, Esq. enthusiastically represents children who need a voice to protect them and help them cope with abuse and neglect, currently serving as the Executive Director for Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP). The organization is dedicated to end and prevent child abuse and neglect in Montgomery County through legal services, advocacy, and education. As Executive Director of the organization, she also runs its day-to-day operations including public relations, financing, marketing, and outreach. Under Mary’s leadership, MCAP has grown into a vital resource for many abused children in Montgomery County, helping over 5,300 children since its inception.

Judge John ThomasJudge John Thomas serves as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Since joining the Court, Judge Thomas has led an initiative to provide pro bono representation for bankruptcy litigants. The Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association (MDBBA) was formed in 1994 and from its inception Judge Thomas encouraged its members to provide pro bono representation to low-income debtors. Working with advocates from MidPenn Legal Services, North Penn Legal Services, and the bankruptcy bar association, the Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association Pro Bono Program was created thanks to Judge Thomas’ vision and guiding hand. Over 345 bankruptcy cases have been referred to the Pro Bono Program by MidPenn Legal Services and North Penn Legal Services to date, with volunteer attorneys having contributed over 2,000 hours of time to the project; discharging over $8.5 million dollars in debt.

PLAN also honored The Honorable Dick Thornburgh, The Honorable Stewart J. Greenleaf, and The Honorable Ronald S. Marsico with its Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services Award.

Additional Excellence Awards were presented to PLAN legal aid advocates including Rachel Blake, Esq. of Regional Housing Legal Services; Patrick M. Cicero, Esq. of the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project; Suzanne Z. Moschini of North Penn Legal Services; Randi Riefner of Legal Aid of Southeastern PA; and Beth Shapiro, Esq. of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia.

Tribute Videos for all of the awardees were presented during the awards celebration. More Information and all of the tribute videos is available on the PLAN website.

  • Pro Bono