The current COVID-19 crisis has caused substantial negative social and economic consequences. Individuals who never thought they would need pro bono legal services suddenly find themselves in desperate need of assistance. Areas of need include unemployment, housing, health care, senior issues, domestic violence, prisoner issues, and non-profits and small businesses.
This resource is intended to help individuals find pro bono legal resources in Pennsylvania to help them deal with COVID-19-related legal issues.
A good place to start when looking at what pro bono aid programs are out there is to search the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) programs.
Self-help resources and information about civil legal aid can be found at www.PALawHelp.org.
Employment and unemployment
Obtaining unemployment benefits
There have been challenges with the Dept. of Labor and Industry’s implementation of COVID-19 unemployment programs due to volume, but their COVID-19 informational page is a good starting place.
Philadelphia Legal Assistance’s unemployment compensation page for COVID-19 is updated regularly and includes # for free hotline to answer UC application questions: 215-999-6910.
Other employment issues
High levels of unemployment create additional pressure in the employment market and particular concerns to many workers.
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia provides detailed Clean Slate Act information and a self-service portal. They also provide free services for individuals who live in Philadelphia or have a criminal record in Philadelphia.
Justice At Work provides employment law services to immigrant and low-wage workers, particularly farmworkers, mushroom workers, food processing workers and landscapers.
The Pa. Utility Law Project has both a hotline and an email. For individual matters, contact the local regional legal aid provided in the PLAN network.
General landlord-tenant matters are usually handled by regional legal aids.
Mortgage foreclosure diversion programs are in many PA counties, but they are only accessible by going directly to county court sites.
HUD supports housing counseling programs that can be searched to find a local program, where social workers, paralegals, etc. can help renters, homebuyers and homeowners with several different types of counseling, such as budget and action plans related to – pre-purchase, foreclosure mitigation, renter issues, homelessness prevention, and debt.
As COVID-19 spreads, the Pennsylvania Health Law Project (PHLP) is committed to making sure those with Medical Assistance (MA) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage have services, and to securing insurance coverage for the uninsured.
SeniorLAW Center is on the front lines serving basic needs of
low-income, isolated and vulnerable individuals over age 60 during this
crisis in our nation and communities. Senior LAW Center offers information and resources, including information to avoid COVID-19 fraud, scams and exploitation. The center can be reached at 1.877.PA SR LAW.
Protection from Abuse matters are usually handled by regional legal aid.
PCADV provides phone in legal information, resources, and referrals, and an online listing of local domestic violence programs.
For prisoners’ issues, the Pa. Institutional Law Project is the PLAN resource.
Non-profits and small businesses
McNees, Wallace, & Nurick LLC
McNees offers pro bono consultation and services on the Federal government’s stimulus package and other pandemic-related legal matters, with a focus on the impacts on small businesses and non-profits. For information on securing assistance from McNees, please contact:
Ade Bakare, [email protected]
Kendra McGuire, [email protected]
Vicki Karandrikas, [email protected]
Law School Clinics
Penn State Law Entrepreneurship Assistance Clinic has expanded its services to help small businesses and non-profits during the pandemic.
University of Pennsylvania School of Law’s Entrepreneurship Clinic offers information specific to COVID-19.