Chief Justice Debra Todd Expresses Support for Legal Aid and Urges Pro Bono Service in Letter to Pennsylvania Attorneys

  • 5/30/2024
  • Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc.

Chief Justice Debra ToddPennsylvania Chief Justice Debra Todd has directed a letter to all Pennsylvania attorneys, joining with Pennsylvania Bar Association President Nancy Conrad, in thanking Pennsylvania lawyers and judges for their support of  legal aid and pro bono service.

The Chief Justice noted the contribution all attorneys make toward civil legal aid programs through their annual registration fees, as the Supreme Court directs a portion of those fees, along with class action residual funds, to legal services organizations through the PA IOLTA Board. Also noted was the Loan Repayment Assistance Program, funded by pro hac vice admission fees paid by  out-of-state attorneys, which provides student loan forgiveness to attorneys working for legal service agencies.

However, Chief Justice Todd stated that it is lawyers who volunteer who have the most direct impact on those in need. She also noted that any lawyer may now receive CLE credits for pro bono work performed through an accredited Pro Bono CLE Provider and that the Supreme Court  created an "Emeritus" status which allows retired attorneys to perform pro bono service with a minimal annual registration fee and reduced CLE requirements under the auspices of non-profit legal aid organizations.

The Chief Justice recognized the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN), in partnership with regional legal aid providers and a network of specialty legal aid programs, provides a framework for legal assistance. She also noted that each year, PLAN's Excellence Awards recognize individuals from throughout the Commonwealth, whose contributions have had a profound impact on countless individuals and families, embodying the true spirit of justice and service, recognizing the 2024 honorees and their stories

  • Donna Allen-Rosemond (Neighborhood Legal Services); 
  • Erica Briant (Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania);
  • Jane A. Downing (retiree of The Pittsburgh Foundation); 
  • Janice Meinert (Pennsylvania Health Law Project);
  • Soheila "Gigi" Nikpour (Community Legal Services); and 
  • The Law Firm of Winebrake & Santillo.

The letter concluded by thanking those who have already donated time to pro bono service, and by urging attorneys who have not yet found time to volunteer, as well as young lawyers joining the profession, to commit to performing pro bono service.

View the letter of the Chief Justice

  • Pro Bono