We believe that God wants us to. He has a special concern for the poor and those who are denied justice and we’ve found joy in doing our part to fight injustice and poverty. And it brings us joy to love and serve others!
Our clinics are like triage at an Emergency Room. We see everyone for every type of legal issue. We tend to see similar poverty law matters including family law, real estate, landlord/tenant, and small claims court matters. We do try to match clinic attorneys with clients in their area of expertise but often we need to become general practitioners, able to give people good legal advice and a referral if one is needed.
No, but we will provide you with the resources you need to give good advice and a mentor if you choose to handle a case. You may even want to get experience in an area of law that is new to you. If you have learned patent law you will be able to handle a case in landlord-tenant court.
No. Only if you want to. It happens because our clinic attorneys see the need and often want to help the client they have met with. But serving on the front lines at clinic is enough. Don’t feel that you need to take cases too.
In many ways. You can be a referral attorney, you can mentor a young attorney, you can speak at one of our Community Legal Education workshops, you can let your friends and law firm and church know about our work.
They agree to screen cases that come from our clinics in areas of practice they specify of clients who have been pre-screened and pre-qualified. We only seek referrals of cases that we would want to handle ourselves.
We ask them to come once a month, for 4 hours per evening. That is actually less than the 50 hours a year that is recommended by the ABA.
Yes, that is our mission. But we tend not to turn anyone away. If someone comes to a clinic who can afford to pay for counsel we ask them to consider making a contribution to the ministry and we seek to make a referral to an attorney they can expect to pay.
Look like an attorney. Dress as you would if you were meeting an important client at your office.
A laptop, legal pad, and a pen. We will provide everything else.
Get yourself prepared spiritually. Think about something God is doing in your life that you can share with others.
Hopefully, but not as often as we would like. We always ask permission and speak in humility and with respect. It is a Christian ministry, we are at a church, clients understand that most of our attorneys are motivated to serve by their Christian faith.
Again, in humility and with respect. We first want to get to know the client and where they are coming from. We don’t have any particular method. It comes out of our lives, our personal walk, explaining what Jesus has done for us.
No, we serve everyone who walks in our doors.
No, some of our best clinic attorneys are very open about the fact that they do not believe in Jesus or the bible. They like what we are doing and enjoy being part of it. We may match them with a law student or volunteer who is willing to address spiritual issues that may come up during the consultation.
In several ways. We are faith-based, we are a ministry. We partner with existing host ministries in the inner city neighborhoods where low-income people live. And clients see an attorney one-on-one.
Yes, they are. We seek to learn from them and to meet areas of law that are unique to our neighborhoods which other legal non-profits are not meeting. The need is so great that there is not much danger of their being too much help. We refer matters to them and they refer matters to us.
We are kind and caring and respectful. We follow the lead of our host ministry coordinators who are present clinic night. We seek to have attorneys present who share our client’s cultural background. We try to deal sensitively with the issues that will inevitably surface.
Yes, we have good relationships with students and faculty at all area law schools and seek to mentor law students and get them involved in our work. We also supply speakers to student groups.
Yes, we place younger attorneys with more experienced attorneys so they can learn an area of practice. With the state of the legal economy over the past few years, many young attorneys have had the time to volunteer and be mentored enabling them to learn and make contacts which help them get legal jobs.
2015 marks the fourth year of an ambitious five year strategic plan our board adopted in 2012. At that time we were an all-volunteer ministry with no office or staff. We had 12 attorneys who volunteered at two clinics. Now we have an office, a five person staff, 7 clinics which circle the city and 50 volunteer attorneys. Our vision is for our main office to be the hub of wheel that can support any number of clinics in areas of the city that are under-served legally. We also have plans to open regional poverty law offices to handle cases coming from clinics in each part of the city.
We do not charge clients or receive government funds. We are totally reliant on gifts from individuals and family foundations.
We look for churches or community centers who are already changing lives in their neighborhoods, and who are partnering with networks of other ministries that can provide social and spiritual support for our clients. We look for places where our clients will be loved and well cared for.
Yes. All volunteers are covered for the work they do with us.
Yes, we have online training, hands-on training, and regular live training sessions. Volunteers need to learn the basics of our case management system, Justice Center Online, and our on-line desk manual, which are password accessible. Our website and youtube channel is loaded with useful links.
They call 215-399-0064 and select which clinic they want to go to. The call is forwarded to the coordinator of that clinic who will speak to the client and put them on the schedule for the next clinic night.
Yes, with gentrification and expansion of center city, the poor are being displaced to suburban pockets of poverty. We have opened a clinic in Chester to try to address this need.
We take cases where we feel an injustice would occur but for our representation, cases where we feel we can make a real difference in a client’s life. We take cases that we aren’t able to place with other counsel.