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Erie County Program to be Honored for Pro Bono Service to the Community

- Program to receive a Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Goffman Award -

HARRISBURG (April 15, 2002) - The Legal Aid Volunteer Attorney Program (LAVA), sponsored by the Erie County Bar Association and Northwestern Legal Services, will be presented with one of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation’s Louis J. Goffman awards for its delivery of pro bono civil legal services to the poor and disadvantaged during the Pennsylvania Bar Association Annual Meeting on May 2 at 7:45 a.m. in Hershey.

Named for a late Pennsylvania Bar Association president, the Louis J. Goffman Award is presented annually to an individual and group or organization for outstanding pro bono work during the past year. All lawyers and law-related groups/organizations are eligible for the award. The award is presented by the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the PBA.

“The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation is pleased to recognize those programs in the legal profession that work to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate,” Arthur L. Piccone, president of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation said. “The LAVA program is to be commended for its commitment to providing free legal assistance to the needy.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the LAVA program is the result of a cooperative partnership between the Erie County Bar Association (ECBA) and Northwestern Legal Services (NWLS). It is designed to organize the pro bono efforts of Erie County lawyers and to ensure that civil legal services are provided to those in need. NWLS coordinates the day-to-day operations of LAVA, and the ECBA provides the attorney volunteers. Over the past 20 years, 6,500 low-income individuals and families have received free legal assistance in civil cases, and it is estimated that between 10,000-15,000 hours of pro bono legal representation have been provided.

In 2001, LAVA lawyers handled 383 cases and provided over 1,000 hours of free legal representation. Seventy-percent of ECBA lawyers participated in the program, which included monthly self-help divorce clinics to help individuals file and secure no-fault consensual divorces. In addition, six court reporters volunteered their services to the program.

For more information on the LAVA program, visit the ECBA Web site at www.eriebar.com.