Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Selects Two Lawyers for Outstanding Pro Bono Service

HARRISBURG, Pa. (April 26, 2023) — The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation has selected Alison T. Smith, senior counsel, PNC Bank NA, Pittsburgh; and David Keller Trevaskis, pro bono coordinator, Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA), Harrisburg, for 2023 Louis J. Goffman Awards.

The Goffman Award is named for a late Pennsylvania Bar Association president and recognizes individuals and organizations committed to outstanding pro bono service.

Alison T. Smith

Smith, while serving as chair of the PBA Real Property, Probate and Trust (RPPT) Law Section from 2020-2021, began forming partnerships with local agencies and law schools in Pennsylvania to establish estate planning clinics to aid low-income individuals with drafting wills, powers of attorney and advance health care directives. Her work helped the section launch the Pro Bono Life Planning Clinic. 

Partnering with the Senior LAW Center in Philadelphia, the RPPT Section held its initial clinic virtually in August 2021 due to the pandemic. Smith organized 15 volunteer attorneys throughout the commonwealth to aid 10 low-income clients in Philadelphia. In November 2021, the section held its second clinic though a partnership with the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University. With the help of eight law students who participated in client interviews, 11 volunteer attorneys aided six low-income clients.

During 2022 and so far in 2023, the RPPT Section has held six Pro Bono Life Planning Clinics, serving 40 low-income clients. The 59 volunteer attorneys and 37 law students contributed more than 220 pro bono hours.

Since the program’s launch, the RPPT has held eight clinics and served 56 low-income clients with the assistance of 85 volunteer attorneys and 45 law students, who were mentored during the process. All volunteers contributed 325 pro bono hours.

Before every clinic, Smith leads an orientation to train attorneys unfamiliar with estate planning, and she provides the necessary paperwork and forms. She serves as a liaison between the PBA and the partnering entity to ensure a smooth process for the clients, the volunteer attorneys and PBA partners.

One of Smith’s nominators said the RPPT attributes the success of the Pro Bono Life Planning Clinic to Smith for her creativity in formulating the clinic concept, dedication to developing the innovative model that has delivered legal service to low-income individuals, perseverance in starting the clinic in the middle of the pandemic and leadership in organizing eight clinics since August 2021.

In addition to volunteering for the RPPT since 2012, Smith has been a pro bono lawyer for KidsVoice, which provides legal aid and advocacy for abused and neglected children in foster care; and a board member of ACH Clear Pathways, which provides enriching and new experiences to youth and families through visual and performing arts since 2015. Smith recently received the 2023 Duquesne Kline Public Interest Alumni Award for her pro bono work.

Smith earned her J.D. from Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University and her B.A. in political science from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee. 

David Keller Trevaskis

The PBA pro bono coordinator since 2001, Trevaskis serves the community by helping local bar associations, legal aid programs and other groups that offer legal services to underserved populations. He also presents continuing legal education programs about pro bono representation and legal clinics throughout the commonwealth. In his role, he helps to provide assistance to nearly 6,000 people each year. One of his nominators noted that on several occasions when sufficient funds were not available for a pro bono program, Trevaskis personally funded projects.

As a PBA staff liaison, Trevaskis serves the Immigration Law Committee, Legal Services to the Public Committee, Military Veterans Affairs Committee and Task Force on Statewide Electronic Filing and Retrieval. In addition, he is a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, Law-Related Education Committee and Minority Bar Committee. Trevaskis also serves on the PBA Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition Board, supports the PBA Pro Bono Mediation Project and coordinates programming for the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement.

Each year, Trevaskis helps coordinate and participates in the Wills for Heroes program, sponsored by the PBA Young Lawyers Division. The program enlists volunteer attorneys to provide free basic estate planning documents to military members and first responders in locations throughout the commonwealth. To date, the program has provided wills and other estate planning documents to more than 10,000 individuals.

For the PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee, Trevaskis helped expedite a resolution that implemented an innovative approach to providing due process for tenants in landlord-tenant disputes. He saw the project through its drafting, submission to the PBA Board of Governors for review and distribution to the public.

Trevaskis’ work played an instrumental role in the establishment of the American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers Program in Pennsylvania. One of his nominators said Trevaskis’ efforts to recruit pro bono attorneys to participate in the virtual legal advice clinic to answer civil legal questions was a main component to the program’s success.

In addition to his work for the PBA, Trevaskis is an adjust professor at Arcadia University and several other universities, teaching conflict resolution, constitutional interpretation of history, school law and other topics. He also is the director for LEAP-Kids (Law, Education and Peace for Kids) in Glenside, a program that features conflict resolution education, peer mediation training and teen court program development. Prior to joining the PBA, Trevaskis was the executive director and staff attorney for TEMPLE-LEAP in Philadelphia.

Trevaskis earned his J.D. from Temple University School of Law and his M.A. and B.A. from Duke University.

The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, improves the public’s understanding of the law and its appreciation of democracy and strives to ensure that citizens, particularly Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable, have full access to our legal system. The foundation accomplishes its mission by making grants, seeking financial support from individuals and organizations both within and outside of the legal community, and encouraging bar members to donate their time, talent and expertise in service to the public.