The 13,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association will celebrate Law Week 2015 (Monday, April 27 – Friday, May 1), with a range of free community service events presented by volunteer lawyers and coordinated by the Association’s Young Lawyers Division.
Attorneys will offer free legal advice for residents of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, visit school classrooms, guide children on tours of the city’s courtrooms, and present mock criminal trials for grade school students during the weeklong fest, which is one of the most ambitious public outreach efforts of its type in the nation. This year’s Law Week commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which bans racial discrimination in voting practices.
All of the Law Week activities are under the direction of Bar Association Chancellor-Elect Gaetan J. Alfano, and are coordinated by the Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division with the help of scores of lawyer-volunteers. The Law Week 2015 co-chairs are Maria E. Bermudez of the law firm of Martin Law, and Erin Lamb of Rawle & Henderson LLP.
The following is a schedule of Law Week 2015 activities:
Legal Advice Live!: Monday, April 27
Legal Advice Live! kicks off Law Week 2015 with dozens of Philadelphia lawyers gathering to provide free, in-person confidential legal advice to the public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia (1901 Vine St.) and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at South Philadelphia High School (2101 S. Broad St.), West Philadelphia High School (4901 Chestnut St.) and Dobbins High School (2150 W. Lehigh Ave.). Attorneys will provide answers to legal questions on a broad range of topics including personal injury, medical malpractice, landlord/tenant law, divorce and child custody matters, immigration/undocumented citizen’s law, and employment law.
Lawyer in the Classroom: Tuesday, April 28 and Wednesday, April 29
The Lawyer in the Classroom program features lawyers visiting different Philadelphia schools throughout the week to address students’ concerns about the law and the legal issues that affect them as they enter adulthood, as well as to answer questions about the legal profession at Albert M. Greenfield Elementary School (2200 Chestnut St.), Chester A. Arthur School (2000 Catherine St.), Independence Charter School (1600 Lombard St.), Parkway West High School (4725 Fairmount Ave.), Roman Catholic High School (301 N. Broad St.) and South Philadelphia High School (2101 S. Broad St.).
LegalLine Free Legal Advice Hotline: Wednesday, April 29
Volunteer attorneys will provide free legal advice to residents of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties who call the LegalLine hotline from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29. Area residents can call lawyers at 215-238-6333 and have their legal questions answered confidentially without a fee. The lawyers will staff a phone bank at the headquarters of the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market Street, 11th Floor.
Lawyer for a Day: Thursday, April 30
Volunteer attorneys from the Philadelphia Bar Association will accompany Philadelphia high school students into the city’s courtrooms to witness live court proceedings at City Hall and the Criminal Justice Center as part of “Lawyer for a Day.”
The event begins at 8:30 a.m. at Philadelphia Bar Association headquarters, 1101 Market St., 11th Floor, where students will gather to embark on their courtroom tours at 9 a.m. The event concludes with a 12 p.m. luncheon back at Bar Association headquarters, where Philadelphia Court of Common Please President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper will be the guest speaker during the luncheon. Winning posters from the Association’s Law Week Poster Contest, open to area elementary schools, will be on display. Winning students receive gift certificates.
Naturalization Ceremony: Friday, May 1
A dramatic Naturalization Ceremony welcoming dozens of new U.S. citizens will be held on Friday, May 1 at the U.S. Courthouse, 6th and Market Streets, at 10:30 a.m. Remarks will be provided by Philadelphia Bar Association Vice Chancellor Deborah R. Gross. At this event, the winner of the Edward F. Chacker Essay Contest – named after former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Edward F. Chacker of the law firm of Gay Chacker & Mittin, PC – will read aloud his or her essay on rights and responsibilities under the law. The winning Philadelphia high school junior or senior will be awarded a $1,000 college scholarship.
“Goldilocks,” “The Big Bad Wolf” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” Mock Trials: Friday, May 1
Volunteer judges from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and attorneys dressed as fairytale characters from “Goldilocks,” “The Big Bad Wolf” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” gather on Friday, May 1 at City Hall Room 653 at 9:15 a.m. to use facts from the fairytales to act out mock criminal trials for approximately 350 elementary school children. Volunteers will fan out in City Hall courtrooms to act as prosecutors, defense attorneys and witnesses in the criminal trials, which include opening statements, examinations and cross-examinations of witnesses, closing arguments, and instructions of the juries. At the conclusion of each trial, the students act as the jury and determine whether the characters are guilty of a crime.
Law Day Twitter Chat: Friday, May 1
On Friday, May 1, the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, will host a “Law Day Twitter Chat” to spotlight free and low-cost legal aid services in Philadelphia and beyond. The virtual conversation will take place from 2:00 - 4:30 p.m. (EST).
During this time, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation Twitter account (@PhBarFoundation) will tweet various questions about the benefits and results of legal aid. All are welcome to join in the conversation using the hashtag #LegalAidHelps to answer questions and share experiences and content.