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June 18, 2001

Primavera Backs Supreme Court Indigent Funding Plan

Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Carl S. Primavera today thanked Chief Justice John P. Flaherty of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for appealing to the Commonwealth's nearly 55,000 attorneys to help Pennsylvanians who are unable to afford legal representation. Speaking for the state's largest local bar association, Primavera said that Chief Justice Flaherty has "taken an important step" in asking attorneys across the Commonwealth to make a minimum $50 tax exempt contribution to the funding of legal services for the indigent. The Chief Justice made his request in a two-page letter to Pennsylvania attorneys in which he asked for the contribution in the form of a separate check to accompany each attorney's annual registration renewal form.

The Chancellor urged every Philadelphia lawyer "to help us lead the state in making contributions to this important effort." Primavera said: "Of course, Philadelphia lawyers already contribute significantly to such funding through our own Philadelphia Bar Foundation and by direct contributions to a whole range of law-related public interest agencies which help those in need." But he added that "the funding gap is wide and the need is great. In Philadelphia alone it has been estimated that nearly one out of every three people lives below the poverty line. These people often need legal help just to survive and to acquire the necessities of life."

The Chancellor noted that if every lawyer in the Commonwealth gave at least as much as the Chief Justice suggests, "we would raise $2.75 million. That would go a long way toward helping to provide equal justice for all." Primavera said he would continue to urge Philadelphia lawyers to do their part and he called upon bar leaders throughout the state to do the same. "The whole idea of justice is that it should be accessible to everyone, and that's what this is all about," Primavera concluded.

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