PBA Pro Bono

Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Home Page

"Service is the rent we pay for living. It is not something to do in your spare time; it is the very purpose of life."
-Marion Wright Edelman, founder, Children's Defense Fund

County Pro Bono Map
Extraordinary Pro Bono Service: Lawyers Making a Difference
IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts)
Lawyers Saluting Veterans Program
PBA Pro Bono-Related Committees
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN)
Pro Bono Annual Conferences and Seminars
Pro Bono Awards
Pro Bono News & Calendar
Pro Bono Resources
Pro Bono Week
SeniorLAW Pro Bono Effort
Volunteer or Donate
Access to Justice Committee

Pugh Pledges to ‘Shine a Brighter Light’ on Pro Bono, May 2015
William H. Pugh V of Erdenheim, managing partner of the law firm of Kane, Pugh, Knoell, Troy & Kramer LLP of Norristown and Philadelphia, became the 121st president of the PBA in May 2015. He promised in his opening speech to the House of Delegates as president to "shine a brighter light on the pro bono activities that many thousands of our members do every day." Pugh’s focus on pro bono is reflected in many ways, not the least of which is the work he does volunteering for the Montgomery Child Advocates Program (MCAP) run by his wife, Mary. For Pugh, promoting pro bono service will be joined by an emphasis on diversity and membership during his year of leadership.

Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor Supports Pro Bono, April 2016
In a letter to Pennsylvania attorneys, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Thomas G. Saylor thanked the lawyers in practice in the commonwealth for their support of civil legal aid. “I would like to offer my personal appreciation and that of my colleagues on the Supreme Court for the contributions of financial support which you provide to legal aid programs as a component of your annual attorney registration fee,” wrote Saylor. “Together with Bill Pugh, president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, I ask each of the nearly 70,000 attorneys registered in the commonwealth to make a personal commitment to provide whatever pro bono service you can through direct representation of the poor and financial support of our legal aid programs. It is these volunteer efforts, beyond the mandatory payment, that most greatly impact those in need.”

PBA Pro Bono Assistance
The Pennsylvania Bar Association's Pro Bono Office assists local bar associations, legal services programs and other groups who offer pro bono legal services across the commonwealth to expand the access to justice for the neediest among us. The Pro Bono Office also provides direct legal help to those in need, from the poor to veterans. The links above will connect you to specific information available here among the PBA pro bono Web pages. Go to PALawHELP.org if you are a client seeking pro bono services; lawyers and judges interested in pro bono should check out PAProbono.net. Click here for our partners at the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service. Click here for Pennsylvania county pro bono programs. For all pro bono questions, email PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Keller Trevaskis at david.trevaskis@pabar.org or call him on his cell at 717-571-7414.

Trevaskis has served as the PBA's first full-time pro bono attorney since 2001. In the 12 years since then some impressive numbers have been posted through the PBA's in-house pro bono efforts, including outreach that has touched almost 60,000 people with legal aid issues; more than 400 individuals and organizations being honored with pro bono awards; nearly 250 CLE programs having been conducted locally, regionally and across the state; and the securing of more than $500,000 in direct and in-kind support. Add in nearly three-quarters-of-a-million miles of travel and there has been a lot of activity out of an office that is staffed by a single full-time attorney and a half-time administrative assistant.

Although there was pro bono activity sponsored by the PBA prior to the October 2001[1], with the hiring of attorney Trevaskis as the PBA's first full-time pro bono coordinator pro bono received an increased emphasis at the PBA, with the formal creation, staffing and budgeting of a Pro Bono Office. The office was created to meet the crisis of unmet civil legal needs among the poor in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. The defining principle of our legal system is the promise of equal justice under law for all, yet, despite all of the efforts of the PBA and the thousands of lawyers and judges statewide who take pro bono cases and support legal aid, far too many of the poor and near poor never have the opportunity even to talk to an attorney while handling legal concerns.[2]

There is some type of pro bono activity in every county in the state; each county's approach to pro bono is unique. Please check out the County Pro Bono Activities and Other Pro Bono Resources area to find out what is happening in a particular county.

The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania summarized a lawyer's pro bono duty in its February 2011 "Attorney E-Newsletter."

[1] Pro Bono Awards were started in 1988. The PBA’s Task Force on the Delivery of Legal Services to the Needy under Joseph H. Jones issued its seminal report in 1989 after extensive study, conferences and continuing legal education classes were conducted during the 1990s, and the PBA’s Delivery of Legal Services to the Needy Task Force II started its work in 1998. PBA Committees did outreach and created educational materials, including pamphlets on various legal matters and videos promoting access to justice, and PBA staffers had pro bono duty assignments.

[2] The Pennsylvania Legal Assistance Network (PLAN) estimates that only one in five poverty-level persons with legal issues ever sees an attorney, and PLAN surveys show that half of the eligible clients who go to a legal aid office in Pennsylvania are turned away because the local offices, even with pro bono support, do not have the resources to help them. Testimony during the statewide Access to Civil Justice hearings in 2013 suggested that the number of people who qualify but still get no help might be far higher, ranging from one in 10 to one in 20 in need actually getting any direct legal service.