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Phone: 215-238-6300 •

April 02, 2002

City-Wide "Law Week 2002" Features Free Legal Help, Special Programs

Volunteer Philadelphia lawyers will offer free legal advice, welcome new American citizens, visit with children in classrooms and invite inner-city students into their offices Monday, April 29 through Saturday, May 4. That's when the Philadelphia Bar Association marks "Law Week 2002" with a host of special events and services reaching out to thousands of citizens.

The eight-day law fest, sponsored by the 13,000-member Bar Association, is one of the most ambitious public outreach efforts of its type in the nation. Law Week 2002's theme, "Assuring Equal Justice For All," provides an opportunity for lawyers, judges, legislators and educators to collaborate on community-based activities that will increase access to our courts, thereby ensuring the vibrancy of our democracy. This year's Law Week is also part of the year-long observance of the Association's bicentennial.

"This year, Law Week allows us to celebrate our nation's judicial system, which is second-to-none," said Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Allan H. Gordon, "while at the same time examining its accessibility to all Americans and exploring ways to increase and ensure accessibility."

All of the Law Week activities are under the direction of Association Chancellor-Elect Audrey C. Talley and are coordinated by the Association's Young Lawyers Division with the help of scores of lawyer-volunteers. The YLD Law Week co-chairs are YLD Chair-Elect Melissa A. Schwartz and Executive Committee member Kim R. Jessum.

The following is a schedule of Law Week activities:

Monday, April 29 -- Monday kicks off a weeklong series of visits to Philadelphia school classrooms by volunteer Philadelphia lawyers for the Lawyer in the Classroom Program. As part of the program, the lawyers will visit different schools throughout the week to address students' concerns about the law and answer questions about the legal profession. Monday, volunteer lawyers will spend the morning talking with the students of Simon Gratz High School, 18th Street and Hunting Park Avenue in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, April 30 -- Lawyer in the Classroom continues with a program at Ben Franklin High School, Broad & Green Streets in Philadelphia, from
9 a.m. to noon.

Also on Tuesday, lawyers participating in the Stepping Out for Seniors program will meet with students to discuss areas of law the students are likely to encounter after graduation as they begin their adult lives. The program will cover a variety of issues, including renting a place to live, keeping a job, understanding consumer credit, paying taxes and getting married. This program will be held at South Philadelphia High School, 2101 South Broad St. in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, May 1 (LAW DAY) -- At lunchtime, dozens of Philadelphia attorneys will gather to provide free, in-person legal advice at a Law Fair, from noon to 2 p.m., in the Center Court of the Gallery Mall in Center City Philadelphia. Attorneys will provide answers to legal questions on a broad range of topics, including landlord/tenant law, divorce and child custody matters, wills and estate planning, real estate law and employment law. At the same time, lawyers will prepare free kids' identification cards for parents who bring their young children to the Law Fair, as part of the Kid ID Program.

Also on Wednesday, free legal advice will be given to those who call the LegalLine hotline. From 6 to 8 p.m., area residents can call lawyers at (215) 238-6333 and have their legal questions answered free and confidentially. The lawyers will staff a phone bank at the headquarters of the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market St., 11th floor, in Philadelphia.

From 9 a.m. to noon, lawyer-volunteers will conduct another session of Lawyer in the Classroom at the West Oak Lane Christian Academy, 7401 Limekiln Pike in Philadelphia.

Additionally, a dramatic Naturalization Ceremony welcoming dozens of new United States citizens will be held at the U.S. Courthouse, 6th and Market Streets in Philadelphia, at 10:30 a.m. Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Allan H. Gordon will offer remarks at the ceremony and Judge Franklin S. Van Antwerpen will preside. Also at the ceremony, a Philadelphia high school senior will read his or her winning essay as part of the Edward F. Chacker Essay Contest. The contest, named in honor of the 1999 Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, includes a $1,000 scholarship toward the student's college education.

Thursday, May 2 -- Lawyer-volunteers will speak to students at the Youth Study Center School & Bryant Elementary School, in Philadelphia, from
9 a.m. to noon, as part of another Lawyer in the Classroom session.

Also on Thursday, the YLD and the Federal Courts Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association will co-sponsor, "My First Jury Trial." The course for new attorneys on jury trials will be held at the U.S. Courthouse from 4 - 6 p.m.

Friday, May 3 -- Volunteer attorneys and judges pair with high school students and "show them the ropes" of their jobs by taking them to their offices and the courts during the Lawyer for a Day program. Several city courtrooms will be open to allow the participants to observe the proceedings. The students will meet the lawyers and judges at the Bar Association at 8:30 a.m., and all participants are invited back to the Association's 11th floor Conference Center at noon for a concluding lunch, during which students will recount their experiences and hear from various speakers, including World B. Free of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Saturday, May 4 -- The YLD and the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia will co-sponsor a forum on legal issues facing same-sex couples and singles: "Legal Logic." A panel of experienced local attorneys will discuss the essential legal documents that all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals should have to protect themselves. The forum will be held at Temple University Center City Campus, 1515 Market St., Room 320, 3rd Floor, from 10 to 11:15 a.m.

The week draws to a close as volunteer-lawyers trade their briefcases for hammers and paintbrushes to refurbish a South Philadelphia home from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of the Habitat for Humanity Program.

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