April 27, 2010

Legal Advice Live! Kicks Off Law Week 2010 Celebration; Volunteers Still Needed

Pictured above, Riley H. Ross III from Tucker Law Group, LLC (foreground) and Joshua Gayl from Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (background) were two of several volunteer attorneys who offered free legal advice to area citizens at yesterday's Legal Advice Live! program, the kick-off event of this year's Law Week celebration. Ross and Gayl staffed the Central Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library, one of five participating free library branches. Volunteers are still needed for the remaining Law Week events. LEARN MORE

Chance to Save $15 on 5th Annual Comedy Night Ends May 7

On May 22, all audiences are invited to be part of a worthy cause at the YLD's Fifth Annual Comedy Night and Silent Auction, a fundraiser benefiting the Philadelphia Bar Foundation. A discounted price of $65 is available through May 7, after which the cost of admission rises to $85. READ MORE

Win Dinner for Two at The Palm

"Like" the Bar Association's Facebook page by May 20, 2010 and be entered into a drawing for dinner for two at the Palm Restaurant.


Law Week 2010 In Full Swing, Still Time to Volunteer

This year's Law Week celebration kicked off yesterday with Legal Advice Live!, a two-hour program held at five branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia where volunteer attorneys offered free legal advice to dozens of area citizens. (See more pictures here.) Several events are still in need of volunteers.

Lawyer in the Classroom, today through Thursday, April 29
Monday kicked off a weeklong series of visits to Philadelphia school classrooms by volunteer lawyers with the Lawyer in the Classroom program. As part of this program, lawyers will enthusiastically visit different schools throughout the week to address students' concerns about the law and the legal issues that affect them as they enter adulthood and answer questions about the legal profession.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Lawyer in the Classroom program, please contact Aly Oswald or Aneesah El-Amin-Jaamia.

Lawyer for a Day, Friday, April 30
Volunteer attorneys and judges pair with high school students and "show them the ropes" of their jobs by taking them into 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 and will participate in a concluding lunch, during which the students will recount their experiences and hear from a special guest speaker.

If you are interested in volunteering for Lawyer for a Day, please contact David Walker or Amanda Shoffel.

"Goldilocks" and "The Big Bad Wolf" Mock Trials, Friday, April 30
Volunteer attorneys will use the facts of the well-known fairytales "Goldilocks" and "The Three Little Pigs" as the basis for mock criminal trials during the "Trials of Goldilocks" and the "Big Bad Wolf" program, taking place at seven different City Hall courtrooms. Volunteers will 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 Big Bad Wolf or Goldilocks is guilty of a crime.

If you are interested in volunteering for the "Trials of Goldilocks" and the "Big Bad Wolf" program, please contact Heather Herrington or Justin Moriconi.

While no volunteers are needed, on Monday, May 3, a Naturalization Ceremony will welcome dozens of new United States citizens at the U.S. Courthouse, 6th and Market Streets in Philadelphia, at 10:30 a.m. Here the the winner of the Edward F. Chacker Essay Contest will read his or her essay.

Law Week is one of the most ambitious public outreach efforts of its type in the nation. All of the Law Week activities are under the direction of Bar Association Chancellor-Elect, Rudolph Garcia, and are coordinated by the Association's Young Lawyers Division with the help of scores of lawyer-volunteers. The Law Week 2010 co-chairs are Carey Chopko and Kelly Gastley.

For additional information, CLICK HERE.

Chance to Save $15 on 5th Annual Comedy Night Ends May 7

On May 22, be part of a worthy cause at the YLD's Fifth Annual Comedy Night and Silent Auction, a fundraiser benefiting the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, a non-profit group that provides funding to Philadelphia legal service organizations that represent individuals struggling with poverty, abuse and discrimination.

The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Franklin Institute and features a 4-hour open bar, hors d'oeuvres, and comedian Dan Cummins, a headliner on "Comedy Central Presents" and "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson."

Since 2005, the YLD has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Philadelphia Bar Foundation through this signature fundraiser, a contribution that has been instrumental in helping legal service organizations achieve justice for the indigent. This year's event seeks to continue this tradition while providing guests plenty of laughs and a range of valuable items to bid on through a silent auction.

These items include overnight stays and a gourmet meal at Philadelphia's Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel or Harrah's Resort Atlantic City; unique tours of Philadelphia landmarks; Phillies tickets and signed Eagles memorabilia; gift certificates to renowned Philadelphia restaurants; and lunch at the Vesper Club with Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, among many others.

Tickets to the YLD’s Fifth Annual Comedy Night & Silent Auction are $65 for both Bar Association members and non-members. This special pricing ends May 7, when the ticket cost will rise to $85 through May 17, when registration ends. No walk-ins will be accepted. CLICK HERE to register now. Download the official event flyer HERE.

The YLD is also seeking sponsors for the event and donors to the silent auction. Sponsorship contributions range from $750 to $1500 with corresponding benefits. Click here to learn more and for a sponsorship form. All donations for the silent auction are welcome. In the past, these have included tickets to Philadelphia sporting events and shows, gift certificates to restaurants, spas and hotels, items from local shops, and a variety of others. Click here for a donation form.

"Name Change Cases" Mean So Much More

by Amara S. Chaudhry

She was one of several clients all there for the same purpose. Transgender individuals, all having filed a petition for a legal name change. They were low-income, people of color, and most were young.

She came into the closed courtroom with me. We were asking not only for a legal name change, but also that the court waive the requirement that she publish both names - her former name and her new name - in a newspaper of general circulation. The judge asked her why she was asking for this waiver - an extraordinary remedy which can only be granted if the court found she has a reasonable fear for her own safety.

She testified eloquently about the need to keep her transgender status a secret and the violence she has experienced when this secret has been revealed. The court heard her testimony, found that she had a reasonable fear for her own safety, and granted her special request.

Those who shared her plight in the courtroom that day all had a similar story.

Twenty percent of the cases received by Mazzoni Center - Philadelphia's LGBT Health Center - come courtesy of individuals seeking a legal name change. For these people, their safety is jeopardized every time they are asked to show photo identification with a name that doesn't "match" the photograph. These cases may not be the most "glamorous" (those are reserved for employment cases that challenge the meaning of "sex" under Title VII, same-sex marriage cases, and cases involving public schools, religious organizations, prisons and police) but no other case impacts an individual's personal safety more than that involving a name change.

Most times, "name change cases" are handled by certified legal interns instead of an agency's legal director. They may not get as much attention as those cases outlined in parenthesis above, but are equally important, not only to the person seeking the name change, but also to all transgender individuals who often times fail to receive the respect and equality they deserve. They are referred to as "impact" litigation, and cases such as these will always have a place, and priority, at Mazzoni Center and all other legal service organizations.

If you would like to see how you could help make a difference in the lives of LGBT individuals, contact us at 215-563-0652.

Amara S. Chaudhry is the Director of Legal Service at Mazzoni Center and can be reached at 215-563-0652 X233 or by email at achaudhry@mazzonicenter.org.

New Bar Association Academy Program Offers Inside Look at KYW Newsradio 1060, May 4

Join us on Tuesday, May 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. as the Philadelphia Bar Association Academy presents "All News, All the Time: An Inside Look at KYW Newsradio 1060" at the top-rated news station's headquarters at 400 Market St.

During this free program, attendees will get a a behind-the-scenes look at the station's news operation and broadcast technologies presented by station executives and senior reporting staff, including a tour of the broadcast booth, as well as learn about business development opportunities from the station's vice president of sales. Complimentary wine and cheese will be served.

The program is open to all members of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Register online HERE.

Enter the 8th Annual Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Legal Writing Competition, Due May 10

Entries are being accepted for the Philadelphia Bar Association's Eighth Annual "Pursuit of Justice" Legal Writing Competition in honor of the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The competition is open to full- and part-time law students who are in their second or third year of study during the 2009-2010 academic year at one of the following schools: Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Rutgers University School of Law - Camden, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Villanova University School of Law and Widener University School of Law (Delaware Campus).

CLICK HERE for a link to the contest rules. Entries must be received by Monday, May 10 at 4 p.m.

The Bar Association recognizes the importance of excellence in legal analysis and writing skills, and seeks to award a student enrolled in an American Bar Association-approved area law school for authoring a top-quality competition submission.

Part-time law students in their third or later year of study are also eligible. Students must be in good standing at their institutions. The submission may not have been published previously, although it may have been prepared in connection with a law school course or for a law journal. The submission also may not have been submitted for any other competition during the time when it is under consideration for this competition, until after the time when awards are announced. The submission must be the work of one author alone (joint submissions will not be considered), and the author must certify that the submission has been prepared without substantial editing from others.

Candidates may submit a law review quality submission on any topic relating to rights, privileges and responsibilities under federal law. The author of the winning submission will receive a cash award of $2,500, the publication of the winning submission on the Bar Association's Web site and/or in an appropriate Bar Association publication. The winner will be presented with the award at the Association's Quarterly Meeting in October.

The co-chairs of the competition are Kathleen D. Wilkinson, partner at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman and Dicker LLP and Secretary of the Association, and Diane Penneys Edelman, assistant dean for international programs and professor of legal writing, Villanova University School of Law.

Help Needed to Ensure a Clean and Fair Election, May 18

Volunteers are needed on Election Day, May 18, to join Committee of Seventy’s nonpartisan Voter Protection Program and help resolve problems at polling places and answer voters’ questions. The goal of the program is to help solve issues that could prevent registered voters from voting and to collect data to improve future elections.

Volunteers will be trained on election laws and work throughout the Philadelphia region on Election Day helping voters in the field or staffing the 866-OUR-VOTE voter protection hotline. Volunteers are asked to work a 4 1/2 hour shift in the morning, afternoon or evening in a part of the city of their choosing.

Learn more and sign up today for this important and exciting opportunity HERE.