Phila. VIP Marks 30 Years With Challenge

May 19, 2011Articles The Legal Intelligencer

In 1981, in response to cuts in federal funding for legal services, the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for Action Program was born. Now known as Philadelphia VIP, the program is celebrating its 30th year of providing free legal services to those who would otherwise be unable to afford them.

Over the course of Philadelphia VIP's existence, more than 10,000 Philadelphia-area attorneys have volunteered their time and legal services to the organization. Their collaborative pro bono efforts have supported family stability, prevented homelessness, maintained family income and promoted community economic development on behalf of more than 30,000 clients in the region.

As co-chairs of Philadelphia VIP's 30th Anniversary Engagement Committee, we call upon the generous members of Philadelphia's legal community to participate in the "30 for 30 Challenge." We are asking all Philadelphia-area attorneys to commit to 30 hours of pro bono service this year with an organization of their choosing in honor of Philadelphia VIP's 30th anniversary.

Pro bono service is more than just an ethical obligation and "the right thing to do." A commitment to pro bono work is a commitment to access to justice for all. This access provides the framework for our legal system, which aims to provide and preserve justice. There can be no justice, however, for someone who isn't even able to get to the courthouse door and have the opportunity to protect their legal interests.

During the course of our legal careers, we have both enjoyed a number of opportunities to help pro bono clients through Philadelphia VIP. Each experience has been uniquely rewarding, as those of you who have also made pro bono an important part of your practice can attest. For those of you who have not yet experienced the benefits of pro bono work, it is never to late to begin.

The "30 for 30" pledge form is available on Philadelphia VIP's website at All pledge signers will be recognized at a special 30th anniversary ceremony during National Pro Bono Week this October. Philadelphia VIP will also track all participation and provide special recognition to practices of varying sizes with the highest rates of participation.

Although our "challenge," in the strictest sense, is to generate the greatest level of pro bono participation from Philadelphia-area lawyers, the true challenge for us all as lawyers is to provide access to the legal system to those who desire it, regardless of their means or economic status.

Reprinted with permission from the May 19 issue of The Legal Intelligencer. (c) 2011 ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.