Philadelphia VIP, the hub of pro bono legal services in Philadelphia, hosted its annual Awards Ceremony to honor outstanding volunteers in 2011 at The Wilma Theater on Mar. 19, 2012. Over 150 guests, including members of the judiciary, attorneys, law students and legal administrators came to pay tribute to the great pro bono work accomplished by VIP volunteers in 2011.
Law firms of all sizes, businesses, and individual attorneys received awards as a result of their extraordinary commitment to VIP, its clients and the community. In 2011, Philadelphia VIPís pro bono attorneys and professional staff assisted in civil cases for more than 3,310 individuals and families who could not afford attorneys and whose cases would not have been handled by other public interest organizations. The estimated value of the legal services provided in 2011 is more than $3,600, 000. Over 1,000 volunteers responded to these requests to handle issues in a wide range of practice areas such as assisting individuals, nonprofits and small businesses maintain income during the economic downturn, supporting the stability of families, preventing homelessness amidst the housing crisis, promoting community economic development by investing in local communities, adoption processes, and zoning issues.
The 2012 award recipients worked tirelessly to ensure access to justice for all citizens of Philadelphia.
The Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Award was given to Blank Rome LLP; Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney; The Law Offices of Maria Testa, LLC; Cheryl Jacobs, Esq.; and TE Connectivity.
The Silver Gavel Award recipients were Dechert LLP; Willig, Williams & Davidson; Law Offices of Michael E. Fingerman; John Parsons, Esq.; and Lincoln Financial Group.
Those honored with the Bronze Gavel Award were Pepper Hamilton LLP; Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel, LLP; Berner Klaw & Watson LLP; Ryan Gerbino, Esq.; and Exelon Corporation.
The Juris Award was given to First American Title Insurance Company and the Amicus Award was given to David Unkovic, Esq.
Philadelphia VIP (phillyvip.org) was founded in 1981 by the Philadelphia Bar Association and Community Legal Services to meet the legal needs of low-income Philadelphians by recruiting and training attorneys to provide pro bono legal services. Since that time, the organization has recruited and trained thousands of private attorneys to create a pool of attorneys to provide consistent, high-quality representation to low-income clients with critical legal needs. VIP continues to implement creative and effective ways to bridge the gap between marginalized individuals, families and communities with legal needs and lawyers possessing the skills and ability to meet those needs. Today, VIPís diverse volunteers serve more than 3,000 clients annually with legal issues that affect basic human needs. Philadelphia LawWorks, a project of Philadelphia VIP, is a pro bono referral program that serves nonprofits, small businesses and homeowners.