2006 Pro Bono Conference Included Learning and Celebration

A day of CLE and celebration drew civil legal aid professionals and pro bono attorneys to the 5th Annual PBA Pro Bono Conference, held at the Hershey Lodge on June 7.

The morning CLE, "Pro Bono, Ethics and Technology: PALawhelp.org and PAprobono.net," used hypothetical scenarios to explore ethical issues. A panel, including Pepper Hamilton Pro Bono Counsel Joe Sullivan, MidPenn Legal Services Director Rhodia Thomas, and Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network head Sam Milkes and PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis, interacted with the audience to analyze the issues raised.

The morning session concluded with Pro Bono Awards presentations by then PBA President-Elect Ken Horoho and Liz Fritsch, co-chair, Legal Services to the Public Committee. "You do the profession proud and render important services to the ones who need it most," Horoho said, while stressing the importance of the awardees' efforts.

Following the awards ceremony, the group joined the Women in the Profession's luncheon with speaker Christine Todd Whitman.

The afternoon session was moderated by Derek Green, co-vice chair, Legal Services to the Public Committee. Green began the session highlighting a civil Gideon lesson developed by Milkes for the PBA Law Day 2006 booklet. The lesson explains Miranda warnings and presents a series of compelling civil cases in which the right to an attorney do not exist.

Green also shared a videotaped portion of the 2005 Constitution Day program involving Pennsylvania First Lady and Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Midge Rendell, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ralph Cappy, 2005-06 PBA President Bill Carlucci and high school students. One of the students asked if there should be a civil Gideon. Though both Cappy and Carlucci found no Constitutional right to civil representation, both were eloquent in expressing the need of representation for the poor.

University of Pennsylvania Law School's Assistant Dean and Director of the Public Service Program Susan Feathers then shared materials and ideas on civil Gideon that had been the focus of Penn's Sparer Conference earlier in the year.

At the conclusion of the program, Lorrie Albert, pro bono coordinator, Allegheny County Bar Foundation, shared her experiences dealing with the legal needs of Hurricane Katrina refugees relocating to Pittsburgh. Albert's enthusiastic presentation led to a broader discussion of pro bono and disaster planning. Albert was joined by attorney Renee Colbert for a rousing multi-media presentation of the ACBA disaster manual.