"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
September 2020 Report Shows Justice Gap
View the video that powerfully showcases the issue.
Welcome to the Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Program
Through this program, PBA members screen matters and handle cases in their areas of practice or expertise for Pennsylvania’s poor, free of charge. The PBA Pro Bono Office and Legal Services to the Public Committee coordinate the program.
For the client:
Clients in need of free legal services assistance can find help in several ways:
- You can contact directly those lawyer volunteers who publicize their participation in the pro bono program in their local communities.
- Call the PBA Lawyers Pro Bono Hotline at 800-932-0311, ext. 2572, with your request for assistance. The PBA Pro Bono Office will assess the request and refer it to a volunteer lawyer.Complete the PBA Pro Bono Program Legal Assistance Request Form . The office will assess the request and refer it to a volunteer lawyer.
- Please check out the resources at palawhelp.org.
For the volunteer lawyer:
- Register here to volunteer for participation in the program.
- Registration requires certification of malpractice insurance. After you register, you will receive electronic documents such as an agreement of representation, a pro bono checklist and a termination letter for use with your pro bono clients.
- You will receive an official certificate of participation to publicize your involvement in the program.
County Pro Bono Map
Extraordinary Pro Bono Service: Lawyers Making a Difference
IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts)
PBA Pro Bono-Related Committees
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN)
Pro Bono Awards
Pro Bono Month
Volunteer or Donate
My Clean Slate Project Update, September 2020
Thank you to the PBA members who assisted Community Legal Services’ highly successful pro bono project. Lawyers, law students and paralegals helped people with criminal records determine if they were eligible for the sealing of records under Clean Slate. More than 30 million past records that kept Pennsylvanians from being hired for jobs have been sealed and are no longer available to be viewed by potential employers. Under the law, persons seeking employment do not have to disclose sealed records.
Visit MyCleanSlate for more information.
Chief Justice Saylor and PBA President John ask lawyers to support pro bono service
Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Thomas G. Saylor joined with PBA President Anne John to ask that all lawyers make a commitment to provide pro bono service through direct representation and financial support. Read the letter directed to nearly 70,000 Pennsylvania registered lawyers.
Clean Slate Pro Bono Initiative
Then-PBA President-elect Anne N. John joined with Gov. Tom Wolf to announce the PBA and Community Legal Services program. Read more. View the news conference.
Then-PBA President-elect Anne N. John and Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis discuss Clean Slate on Pennsylvania Newsmakers with host Dr. G. Terry Madonna. Watch here.
123rd PBA President Began as Legal Services Attorney
Sharon R. López, a partner in Lancaster’s Triquetra Law, was the 123rd PBA president. She was the first Latina president in the history of the association and also the first legal services attorney known to head the PBA. After her first year of law school, she started working at the local legal services office, now known as MidPenn Legal Services. Her colleagues and mentors at MidPenn encouraged her to apply her skills to the domestic violence movement. In the late 1990s, Sharon started a seven year stint at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) as their first Pennsylvania senior attorney. Although Sharon has been in private practice since 2006, her legal aid roots run deep and she promises to continue to be a champion of access to justice.
“Lawyers Serving the Public Good,” by Sharon R. López, Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine
PBA Pro Bono Assistance
The Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Office assists local bar associations, legal services programs and other groups that 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. If you need legal aid help for any reason, please call the Pro Bono Hotline at 800-932-0311, extension 2572, or go to PALawHELP.org. Lawyers and judges interested in pro bono should go to PAProbono.net. Visit our partners at the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service. Get information on Pennsylvania county pro bono programs. For pro bono questions, contact PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Keller Trevaskis by email or phone at 717-571-7414.
David Trevaskis has served as the PBA’s first full-time pro bono coordinator since 2001. Since then, there has been outreach to more than 100,000 people with legal aid issues; more than 600 individuals and organizations have been honored with pro bono awards; nearly 300 CLE programs have been conducted across the state; and more than $700,000 in direct and in-kind support has been secured. Add in more than a million miles of travel, and there has been considerable activity out of an office that is staffed by a single full-time attorney and a part-time administrative assistant.
Although there was pro bono activity sponsored by the PBA prior to the October 2001, 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.
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.
 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.
 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.