HARRISBURG (April 26, 2017) — The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation will present the 2017 Louis J. Goffman Award to Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) on May 10 during the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon in Pittsburgh.
The Goffman Award is named for a late PBA president and recognizes individuals and organizations committed to outstanding pro bono service.
A nonprofit legal aid organization founded in 2010, PLSE works toward just outcomes for low-income individuals who have had contact with the Pennsylvania criminal justice system. Through individual representation, strategic litigation, community education, research and legislative advocacy, PLSE advocates for a more equitable social environment for those with criminal records.
Through its Criminal Records Expungement Project (C-REP), PLSE provides free expungement services to low-income individuals with criminal history record information. By leveraging the pro bono work of law students and young lawyers, and community partnerships, the project has greatly expanded its reach into low-income neighborhoods, helping thousands of individuals remove barriers to jobs, professional licensing, housing and social stigma in Philadelphia and beyond. Its more than 60 community-based expungement clinics have resulted in more than 7,000 petitions for expungement in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, with more than 95 percent of those being granted. In total, the PLSE has provided $2.4 million of free legal services to the poor.
In addition to C-REP, PLSE is planning a new initiative this year called the Pardons Project to help clear the criminal records of clients who have already successfully obtained expungements and have had an extended period of no new convictions.