A Record of Achievement

The Bar Foundation is Philadelphia’s philanthropic hub for access to justice. We are the only foundation in Philadelphia solely dedicated to supporting our city's legal services community. But our work and achievements involve far more than grantmaking. 

Click on the links below to read more about how the many programs of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation remove barriers to justice, engage the legal community, and build system-wide capacity.

Awards – The Bar Foundation issues awards each year acknowledging and promoting excellence and accomplishment in the legal profession for public interest service, pro bono service, nonprofit legal aid achievement, and historical role models for justice.

PHILADELPHIA BAR FOUNDATION AWARD. This Award, originally established by the Apothaker family in honor of Louis D. Apothaker, recognizes a public interest attorney who is dedicating his or her life to promoting equal access to justice for all by working in the nonprofit legal services community. 2015: Michael Churchill, Esq., Public Interest Law Center. 2016: Marsha I. Cohen, Esq., Homeless Advocacy Project.

PRO BONO AWARD OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR FOUNDATION. The Award is presented annually to a Philadelphia law firm or corporate legal department that demonstrates outstanding volunteer efforts in providing legal services to those in need. 2015: North America Office of General Counsel of ACE Group. 2016: Peter “Tad” H. Levan, Jr., Esq., Levan Law Group LLC

HONORABLE LOUIS H. POLLAK CHAMPION OF THE PUBLIC INTEREST AWARD. This Award is presented on special occasions to honor a lawyer, in private practice, who throughout his or her career has provided extraordinary service, including through support of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, to the mission of accomplishing access to justice for all. 2016: Lawrence J. Beaser, Esq., Blank Rome LLP.

SAMUEL T. GOMEZ AWARD. In memory of Samuel T. Gomez, Esq. and in conjunction with the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Pennsylvania, this Award has been established for law students who demonstrate a commitment and compassion for the underserved through community service. 2015: Mary B. Jones. 2016: Linh H. Nguyen.

TRAILBLAZERS FOR JUSTICE. Trailblazers for Justice led the way in Philadelphia for creating equal access to justice for all. The lives of these individuals serve as historical role models and demonstrate the rich diversity of contributions that have made our community what it is today. 2016: Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, Esq. (1898-1989). (Dr. Rae Alexander-Minter pictured.)

Equal Justice Center – The Bar Foundation is working closely with our nonprofit partners and others to build an Equal Justice Center (EJC) facility that will co-locate dozens of legal aid organizations and strengthen client services. During 2015 and 2016, the Bar Foundation sustained this important project through a series of challenges, including potential construction sites that did not come to fruition. Toward the end of 2016, the City of Philadelphia invited our coalition to compete in an open, public process for awarding site control of a desirable location at 8th and Vine Streets in Chinatown. The partnership with legal aid organizations, development agencies, architects, and others grew stronger as we met with many public officials and community leaders. In April 2017, this work came to fruition as the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority awarded the Chinatown site to the EJC Project.


The Association of Corporate Counsel Greater Philadelphia sponsors an annual full-time, eight-week Diversity Corporate Summer Internship Program, aimed at increasing diversity within corporate legal departments. Law students who are members of minority groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession are invited to apply to participate in the program. At a minimum, each intern will be compensated a total of $7,500.00 for participation in the program, though a company may elect to compensate an individual intern at a higher rate. A total of 14 individuals participated in the program in 2015 and eight people participated in 2016.

2015 Participants          2016 Participants

The Board Observer Program gives young lawyers the opportunity to serve on the boards of local legal services and other public interest organizations, learning about this work and developing leadership skills. Five years after we first developed this Program, it serves as a model for replication in other states. 30 nonprofit organizations and over 35 attorneys participated in this program in each of the last two years (2015 and 2016).

2015 Participants          2016 Participants

Through the R. Nicholas Gimbel Fund for Legal Excellence, the Bar Foundation utilizes proven examples of effective training programs and makes them available for local legal aid attorneys. We offer NITA-style trial skills training to our nonprofit partners at no cost, through an acclaimed three-day intensive program in conjunction with Rutgers Law School. In March 2016, we held a three-day Trial Advocacy Training Program for 35 legal aid attorneys, in partnership with Rutgers Law School-Camden and hosted by Pepper Hamilton LLP.

The LexisNexis Research Grant Program provides online research time, tools, and training to selected grantees of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation. 14 nonprofit legal aid organizations benefited from this program in 2015 and 2016.

2015 Participants          2016 Participants

The Morris M. Shuster Fellowship provides awards each year to deserving public interest attorneys to help them retire their law school debt. 9 legal aid attorneys from 8 organizations received either $5,000 or $2,500 awards in 2015 and 2016.


2015 Honorees

2016 Honorees

Emilia Golenske-Kovac, Philadelphia Legal Assistance

Katherine J. Gomez, Community Legal Services

Eileen S. Horgan, Women Against Abuse


Robert W. Ballenger, Community Legal Services 

Sarah Coburn, Community Legal Services

Jennifer Collins, AIDS Law Project

Jeni Hergenreder, Disability Rights Pennsylvania


The memory of Judge Albert W. Sheppard, Jr. has been honored through the Honorable Albert W. Sheppard Scholarship Fund and its annual support for a law student clerkship position with the Commerce Case Management Program. The Fund was established by the Philadelphia Bar Foundation and the Business Law Section’s Business Litigation Committee (Philadelphia Bar Association). 2015: Daniel Abrams, Temple University Beasley School of Law. 2016: Rachel Sellers, Temple University Beasley School of Law.


2015 Honoree

2016 Honoree

Daniel J. Abrams, Temple University

Rachel C. Sellers, Temple University

In memory of Judge Marutani and in conjunction with the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, the Judge William M. Marutani Fellowship provides a stipend to subsidize a summer internship position with a nonprofit public interest organization or with a federal, state or municipal government entity (including the judiciary) in Pennsylvania or in the Greater Philadelphia area. 6 students from 3 different law schools won the Fellowship in 2015 and 2016.


2015 Honorees

2016 Honorees

Qiwei Chen, University of Pittsburgh

Anannya Tripathy, Temple University

Courtney Chlebina, Temple University

Angela Ruan, Drexel University

Renu Uravashi Sagrieya, Drexel University

Yeyun Carrie Xu, University of Pittsburgh

The Judge Alfred L. Luongo Fund supports the “Supervision to Aid Reentry” or STAR Program of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, helping ex-offenders succeed in transitioning back to the community. The Fund was established by Federal Judge Gerald Austin (Jerry) McHugh, Jr. and named in honor of one of his mentors, the late Alfred L. Luongo. 23 individuals received a total of nearly $4,000 in assistance in 2015 and 2016.