The Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services to the Public
Committee includes legislators, a representative of the governor, judges, legal services
staff, members of large and small law firms, and IOLTA representatives. The Committee
has four subcommittees: Local Support, dedicated to increasing the number of lawyers
involved in pro bono efforts; Development, charged with seeking additional funding
streams for civil legal aid; Pro Bono Conference, responsible for organizing an annual
event to highlight the need for pro bono involvement; and Law School, which handles a
variety of issues relating to legal education, such as loan forgiveness and student
internships. The Committee’s efforts build on the work of the Pennsylvania Bar
Association’s Delivery Of Legal Services to the Needy II Task Force, which issued its
final report in May 2003.
Implementation of the comprehensive state plan to create a statewide, integrated service
delivery system is overseen by the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania Legal Services,
which includes appointments by the Bar Association (six appointments), the
Pennsylvania Project Directors (one appointment), and client groups (two appointments
by the Pennsylvania Clients Council and two by the State Welfare Rights Organization),
as well as two appointments by the Board itself.
July 2004 will mark the first full year of collections under the Access to Justice Act,
which established a court filing fee surcharge to benefit civil legal aid. It is expected that
over $7 million of funding will be available from this source in the upcoming fiscal year.
This will help offset IOLTA losses resulting from declining interest rates, as well as
providing additional funding to programs, some of which will be used to support a new
statewide public benefits initiative.
The final state budget for fiscal year 2003-2004 provides legal services programs with a
special one-time grant of $1 million for general client representation, in addition to core
state funding of $2.47 million and $5 million in Title XX funding (federal money over
which the state has discretion). The latter two amounts are essentially unchanged from
The Delivery of Legal Services to the Public Committee has launched an initiative to
secure cy pres funding for civil legal aid. Educational materials, including a
comprehensive manual on the doctrine, will be provided to judges and attorneys involved
in cases with potential cy pres settlements.
The Pennsylvania Bar Association has created a Task Force on Loan Forgiveness and
Repayment Assistance, with membership of the bar, the courts, the legislature, legal
services, and student loan administrators.
Following up on recommendations in the report of the Delivery of Legal Services II Task
Force, the Pennsylvania Bar Association created a new Pro Bono Coordinator position in
2001 to help counties develop local pro bono plans and programs and to enhance existing
programs. Recruitment initiatives have included local pro bono conferences and a
traveling road show of continuing legal education presentations on the ethics of pro bono
work. The Bar Association hosts its third annual Pro Bono Conference in conjunction
with its annual meeting in May 2004. In collaboration with Pennsylvania Legal Services,
the Bar Association will launch a Web site with resources for lawyers providing pro bono
services, using the Pro Bono Net template.
The redesign of Pennsylvania’s delivery system as called for by the updated state plan
has largely been completed. The LSC-funded programs in the state have been
consolidated from fifteen to eight, in six regions. Each region has developed its own plan
for a full-service regional delivery system, working in cooperation with the Pennsylvania
Bar Association, local bar associations, and other programs. A statewide support team
housed at Pennsylvania Legal Services provides support and leadership in training,
resource development, and technology. A new Web site, www.PALawHelp.org, based on
the Pro Bono Net template, provides extensive legal information for clients.