Family Feud in Dauphin County


On Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003, fifty-five pro bono participants and legal services staff members gathered for a free lunch at the Dauphin County Bar Association (DCBA). This was a celebration of pro bono attorneys in Dauphin County using the “Family Feud” game show format (remember, “And, the survey says…”) to review attorney survey results. 


In March 2003, the DCBA mailed the survey to all of its 1,400 members. Volunteer law students and program interns compiled and analyzed the results. The survey explored the reasons the Dauphin County program is so successful and requested feedback on ways to improve in the future.  (See results below.)


The team captains were:

·        Blue Team: Rhodia Thomas, a Widener Law School graduate and newly appointed executive director of the 18-county MidPenn Legal Services; and

·        Red Team: Jim DeAngelo, a Dickinson Law School graduate, partner at McNees Wallace & Nurrrick, and chair of the PBA Equal Justice for the Poor Committee and the DCBA public services committee.


The Red Team included:

·        Robert J. Bein, a Dickinson Law School graduate, partner at Duane Morris LLP, chair of the DCBA Bankruptcy Law Section and founder of the new pro bono bankruptcy project;

·        Sally Heffelfinger, MidPenn Legal Services client intake specialist;

·        Patricia Carey Zucker, a Dickinson Law School graduate, partner at Daley Law Offices and DCBA president-elect; and

·        Stephen R. Krone, a Dickinson Law School graduate, MidPenn Legal Services staff attorney.

The Blue Team included:

·         Mark T. Silliker, a University of Baltimore Law School graduate, partner at Silliker & Reinhold, founder of the Pro Se Custody Clinics and Dauphin County court custody conciliator;

·        Peggy Bayliff, MidPenn Legal Services client intake specialist;

·        Margaret Simok, MidPenn Legal Services staff attorney; and

·        Joseph A. Curcillo III, a Temple Law School graduate, partner at Beinhaur & Curcillo and DCBA vice-president.


DCBA Public Services Coordinator Sandy Ballard hosted the show. David Keller Trevaskis, PBA pro bono coordinator, served as scorekeeper. Dayna Mancuso, DCBA Public Services volunteer staff attorney, ran the answer board. The audience was treated to a free lunch underwritten by the Dauphin County Bar Foundation.  The DCBA offers these free lunches — or rap sessions — for pro bono participants twice a year. The DCBA also offers pro bono participants a free breakfast CLE twice a year. Audience members were given the chance to win boxes of chocolate, which were donated by Hershey Foods, by offering suggestions to improve the pro bono program. Copies of the DCBA Pro Bono Program Handbook also were available for audience members.


Family Feud

Pro Bono Style


Below are the top answers to the survey questions.


1.        What Is The BEST Part About Doing Your Pro Bono Work?

1.      Helping those in need

2.      Personal satisfaction

3.      Professional/Social Responsibility

4.      Successful Result

5.      Opportunity to Do Work in Another Legal Area

6.      Appreciative Clients


2.      What Is The WORST Part?

1.      Client Lack of Follow-Through/No-Shows

2.      Clients who are Unreasonable or Uncooperative

3.      Ungrateful Clients

4.      Attorney’s Competency to Handle Area of Law

5.      Billable Hours Pressure/Time Required

6.      Unnecessary Representations/ Can’t Help

7.      Poor Records


3.      Why Don’t You Participate In the DCBA Pro Bono Program?

1.      Does Pro Bono Work Through Other Avenues

2.      Type Of Employment Limits

3.      Not Actively Practicing Law

4.      No One Asked Me

5.      Bad Prior Experience


4.      How Can We Make It Easier For You To Take Pro Bono Cases?

1.      Limit Assignments To Attorneys’ Areas Of Law (& Geographic Area)

2.      Fine As Is

3.      More Flexibility in Scheduling

4.      More Screening for Merit & Income

5.      Handle only One Custody Case Per Year

6.      Educate Clients As to Their Responsibilities


5.   How can we improve our pro-bono program?

1.   Use attorney’s areas of Expertise

2.   Clarify Expectations of Attorneys and Clients

3.   Offer More Training (especially in Family Law)

4.      Encourage more Follow-up (By Attorney, Client and Staff)

5.   Screen matters more closely and obtain more legal papers.