March 30, 2010

TOMORROW: YLD Annual Meeting Featuring Sharon Pinkenson, Awards Ceremony, and Remarks from YLD Chair Abbie DuFrayne

Tomorrow, March 31, join Sharon Pinkenson, the executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, for the YLD Annual Meeting at Table 31 in the Comcast Center at 12 p.m. Lloyd Freeman with Archer & Greiner, P.C., Djung Tran with Smith & McMaster, P.C., and Ace Reporters, Inc. will be honored for their community service efforts and YLD Chair Abbie DuFrayne will discuss her goals for the remainder of the year. READ MORE

FJD E-FIling Training Session, April 22

Electronic filing of all civil matters became mandatory in January 2009. This program, presented by the First Judicial District, will provide in-depth instruction on the use of the electronic filing system. READ MORE

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

Entries are being accepted for the Bar Association's 8th Annual "Pursuit of Justice" Legal Writing Competition in honor of Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. This 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 six area law schools. READ MORE

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TOMORROW: YLD Annual Meeting Featuring Sharon Pinkenson, an Awards Ceremony, and Remarks from YLD Chair Abbie DuFrayne

Tomorrow, March 31, join colleagues and friends at Table 31 for the YLD Annual Meeting where three prestigious awards will be presented to Lloyd Freeman, an associate with Archer & Greiner, P.C., Djung Tran, an associate with Smith & McMaster, P.C., and Ace Reporters, Inc.

Sharon Pinkenson, the executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, will present the keynote speech, where she will share her inside knowledge of the film industry and discuss new projects slated for the city. The event also features remarks from the 2010 Chair of the YLD, Albertine DuFrayne from Petrelli Law, P.C.

Freeman will be awarded the Craig M. Perry Award, presented annually to a young lawyer who has devoted substantial time and energy to community-oriented activities. He concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and began volunteering his legal skills while a student at Rutgers University School of Law, where he participated in three pro bono clinics and spent a year teaching constitutional law to high school students in Camden, N.J. He currently volunteers as a guest lecturer for Camden County Technical High School on topics such as business life skills and career exploration and, through the Burlington Camden Kappa Foundation, chairs a program for high school males that trains them in etiquette, fiscal responsibility and college preparation. In 2008, Freeman received the Young Urban Leader Award given by the Urban League of Philadelphia and, in 2007, the Rutgers Law School Mary Philbrook Student Public Interest Award.

Tran will be awarded the F. Sean Peretta Service Award, presented annually to an individual who has devoted substantial time to an innovative or non-traditional program that serves the community. She graduated from Temple University's Beasley School of Law in 2005 and now concentrates her practice on municipal representation, including land use and development. She has worked in family law, including protection from abuse cases, and immigration representation with the legal assistance program of A Woman's Place, a Bucks County nonprofit organization that provides assistance to victims and survivors of domestic violence. Tran is also the editor of the Bucks County Law Reporter, a member of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, where she takes part in community outreach activities and young lawyer programs, and is a member of the Philadelphia School District's Task Force on Racial and Cultural Harmony.

Ace Reporters, Inc., a full service court reporting agency, will be awarded the Young Lawyers Division Vision Award, presented annually to an organization that has provided outstanding support to the YLD in the fulfillment of its mission.

Pinkenson has served as the Greater Philadelphia Film Office's Executive Director since 1992. Among her responsibilities is marketing the City of Philadelphia and its surroundings to the film, video, and television industry. The Greater Philadelphia Film Office also coordinates day-to-day production and location details, ensures the hiring of local cast and crew while directing local goods and services to productions, and develops financial incentives while enhancing the region’s reputation internationally. Pinkenson also publishes the "Greater Philadelphia Film & Video Guide" and the popular website as well as advocates for the growth of Philadelphia's indigenous film community through the Greater Philadelphia Filmmakers program.

In 2004, Pinkenson's tenacity resulted in the passage of the $75 million Pennsylvania Film Production Tax Credit program that caught the attention of the entire film industry. As a result, a surge of new production business took place throughout the state, resulting in 2000 new jobs and $500 million for the regional economy in 2009 alone according to the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

Highlights of Pinkenson's credits include the films "Philadelphia," "12 Monkeys," "Beloved," "The Sixth Sense," "Signs," "Invincible," "Rocky Balboa," and "The Lovely Bones," and the television series' "Cold Case," "Hack" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

The cost of the YLD Annual Meeting is $35 for Philadelphia Bar Association members and $50 for non-members. CLICK HERE to register.

YLD Seeks Volunteers for 2010 Law Week Events, April 26-May 3

Volunteer Philadelphia lawyers of all ages are needed to offer free legal advice, visit high school classes, guide children on tours of the city's courtrooms, and present mock criminal trials for grade school students in celebration of "Law Week 2010", an annual occasion marked by the Philadelphia Bar Association and YLD through a host of special events and services reaching thousands of citizens.

The weeklong fest 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.

The following is a schedule of Law Week activities and contact information for those interested in volunteering:

Lawyer in the Classroom, Monday, April 26, through Thursday, April 29
Monday kicks 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.

Legal Advice Live!, Monday, April 26
At lunchtime, dozens of Philadelphia attorneys will gather to provide free, in-person legal advice during the Legal Advice Live! program, from 12 to 2 p.m. at five different branches of the Philadelphia Library, including the Central branch. 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, wills and estate planning, real estate law and employment law.

If you are interested in volunteering at the Central branch, please contact Anthony Chwastyk. If you are interested in volunteering at a satellite branch, please contact Rachel Branson.

Also on Wednesday, April 28, free legal advice will be given to those who call the Legal Line hotline. From 5 to 8 p.m., 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.

If you are interested in volunteering for Legal Line, please contact Roxane Crowley.

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.

For additional information, CLICK HERE.

Pro Bono Corner: Volunteering with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia

As a volunteer at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), I handled cases where my help - and that from other volunteers - enabled others to continue living productive, satisfying lives. One housing discrimination case in particular stands out. It involved the denial of accommodations for a victim of domestic violence and her family.

After fleeing her abuser, "Ms. J." and her four disabled children sought shelter at a well-known hotel. The family stayed at the hotel a few days, but when Ms. J. tried to renew the room she was told there was no availability and the hotel was a "business not a shelter."

Ms. J. contacted the Fair Housing Rights Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania (FHRC) and an investigation found that there were indeed rooms available. Even though the hotel was informed that they could not discriminate against Ms. J., they still refused the family a room. In order to seek out shelter, the family was forced to separate. Even the family dog was sent to a foster home.

Under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the federal Fair Housing Act, a public accommodation cannot deny services based on gender. This constitutes gender discrimination. In some states, gender discrimination has extended to domestic violence victims through disparate impact theory. In Pennsylvania, it has not.

Aside from the novel legal issues present, this case also revealed the problems families face when fleeing from domestic violence. By listening to my client, I realized how domestic violence continued to negatively impact the family. Besides having to separate her children, Ms. J. could not get her youngest daughter, "Ann," registered for high school. Because the family had been transient for a month, she could not satisfy residency requirements. Like all teenagers, Ann was eager to start her freshman year of high school and it was clear that the stress of the situation was adding more unhappiness to an already depressing situation.

There was little I could do to speed up the process at the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, so I concentrated on getting Ann into school. With PILCOP behind me, I contacted the school principal and wrote letters citing the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. I contacted liaison school agencies and sent more letters. After a few days of "legal nudging," the school finally registered Ann. When I told Ms. J. and Ann, it was extremely fulfilling to know I had helped at least one member of the family achieve stability.

While Ms. J.'s case eventually settled for a monetary amount and the hotel agreed to provide additional discrimination training to their staff, I will forever remember the victory I achieved for Ann. Although I did not lay the path in Pennsylvania for domestic violence victims as a protected class, I did help one girl realize she had a right to education and that people are out there to help her access it.

Providing legal aid at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia has been an awarding and humbling experience. It has reminded me of the importance of the person or families behind the complaints. Through my time at PILCOP I have not only gained invaluable legal experience but also a better understanding of what the role of a lawyer should be. It is a life lesson fit for any attorney.

Sandra Wang can be reached at Visit PILCOP's Web site here.

FJD E-Filing Training Session, April 22

The First Judicial District will hold a training session on electronic filing on Thursday, April 22 at 9 a.m. in Conference Room 380 of City Hall.

Electronic filing of all civil matters became mandatory in January 2009. This program will provide in-depth instruction on the use of the electronic filing system. It was designed to allow for the filing of all civil cases and legal document via the Internet from anywhere at any time. The system currently provides attorneys and litigants with unlimited online access to all papers and legal documents filed in their cases.

The faculty for the program includes President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe, Administrative Judge D. Webster Keogh, Supervising Judge William J. Manfredi, Deputy Court Administrator Charles A. Mapp Sr., Deputy Court Administrator Dominic J. Rossi, Prothonotary Joseph H. Evers, and Deputy Prothonotary Deborah E. Dailey, along with Harold Palmer, director of application systems development and Steven Wulko from quality assurance.

The program begins at 9 a.m. in Conference Room 380 of City Hall. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. CLICK HERE for an electronic fillable registration form. Completed registration forms can be e-mailed to The cost of the program is $125 and includes and electronic version of the e-filing manual. The program has been approved for 3 substantive CLE credits.

Understanding Luzerne County: Ordinary Injustice-How America Holds Court, April 13

On April 13 at 4 p.m. join attorney and author Amy Bach for "Understanding Luzerne County: Ordinary Injustice-How America Holds Court," a plenary program co-hosted by the Young Lawyers Division, the Public Interest Section and the Criminal Justice Section.

Bach is the author of a groundbreaking new book, "Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court," which describes the day-to-day workings and various failures of the criminal justice system, discovered by the author during eight years of investigation and observations of criminal courtrooms across the county.

The program will be held from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., followed by a wine and cheese reception and book signing from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

This event is free for Association members, but pre-registration is required. CLICK HERE to register.

Register Now for YLD's 5th Annual Comedy Night and Silent Auction

On May 22, join the YLD for a night of laughs at its 5th Annual Comedy Night and Silent Auction, headlined by Dan Cummins, star of "Comedy Central Presents Dan Cummins" who has also appeared on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and NBC's "Last Comic Standing." The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Franklin Institute and benefits the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.

With a knack for writing crisp, absurd jokes and captivating audiences with his laid-back signature delivery, Dan Cummins is standing out amongst his stand-up peers. In 2005, Dan introduced himself to the national comedy scene by performing in the prestigious Montreal Comedy Festival's New Faces showcase. Soon after, in 2006, Dan made his national television debut on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," and then made his Comedy Central debut on "Live at Gotham."

Dan kept the ball rolling in 2007 by starting off the year with performances at Comedy Central's South Beach Comedy Festival that would lead to taping his first 1/2 hour special with the network, "Comedy Central Presents Dan Cummins," later in the year. In Nashville, Dan then performed at the National Association for Campus Activities National Showcase, and had a set memorable enough to become the most requested comedic performer of the event. All in all, Dan performed at 110 campuses from Maine to Washington during the 2007-08 school year alone.

2008 was even better, with Comedy Central being so impressed with his 1/2 hour special that they put it on their season premiere. Also, Dan was on prime time NBC, reaching the nationally televised semi-finals of the sixth season of "Last Comic Standing" where he received a standing ovation from many in the audience. Additionally, Dan will be releasing his first national comedy CD, with many of his favorite jokes from several TV appearances Revenge is Near.

Finally in 2009 Dan shot his Comedy Central 1 hour special "Crazy With a Capital F" set to debut in Spring 2010.

The YLD's 5th Annual Comedy Night and Silent Auction includes an open bar, hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction and a DJ. Register online here ($65 before May 7; $80 after; registration deadline May 17, no walk-ins). Download the official event flyer here. All proceeds benefit the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.

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.