One of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s core activities is to serve as a constructive partner to the civil legal aid organizations in Philadelphia. During this unprecedented time of physical distancing, communication and support are even more vital. With this in mind, we have compiled these resources in response to COVID-19.
We are Engaging in Collaborative Efforts
We are making every attempt to stay closely connected to the emerging efforts being taken by the public interest sector in Philadelphia. We are exploring ways that collaboration can more efficiently and quickly help to direct resources to our most vulnerable neighbors. As we learn more and solidify our role in such partnerships, we will continue to communicate those plans on this page.
We are Committed to Taking Care of Each Other
Our vision is a Philadelphia community in which everyone has equal access to justice, and we are still actively working on advancing our mission. Now is a time for all of us to turn our attention to the health and well-being of our children, parents, siblings, and neighbors. Until there is a stable response to the crisis that has been created by the coronavirus pandemic, this must be our focus. We hope these resources will help.
Resources and Information
Many legal aid agencies have assembled helpful resources. Suggestions and additions are welcome (email Laura Powers), and we will continue to update this page as needed.
Pennsylvania-specific resources for helping students experiencing homelessness and students in the foster care system to adjust during the COVID-19 outbreak via Education Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, The Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research, The Hope Center, and Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.
The staff at AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, which provides free legal resources for those living with HIV/AIDs and educates the public about HIV/AIDs legal issues, is working remotely and can be contacted by phone or email. They have compiled a Coronavirus Bulletin with updates on benefits and services.
The American Civil Liberties Union of PA, which defends and expands the rights of Pennsylvanians through advocacy, education, and litigation, is operating its legal intake department at a limited capacity and is available to review complaints filed online. It created a website devoted to COVID-19, containing its efforts to hold government accountable during the pandemic, which it plans to update regularly.
The staff at Community Legal Services, which provides low income Philadelphians with advice, representation, and advocacy in an array of civil legal aid issues, are working remotely and CLS has temporarily closed their intake process, but you can still contact specific units for assistance. CLS is also sharing updates and resources from other agencies on their Twitter.
The staff of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Philadelphia, which trains volunteers to serve as advocates for children in the foster care system, are working remotely and sharing updates and resources on their Facebook page and on their Twitter.
Disability Rights Pennsylvania, which protects and advocates for the rights of disabled individuals, is continuing their intake process and is sharing updates and resources about COVID-19 on their Twitter.
Education Law Center, which fights to ensure all children in Pennsylvania have access to quality public education through advocacy and impact litigation, has closed their physical offices and staff remain fully accessible and operational. ELC’s Helpline numbers are 215-238-6970 or 412-258-2120 (Western PA). Find current updates and resources on their Twitter and on Facebook.
The offices of Esperanza Immigration Legal Services, which provides legal services, advocacy, and education to underserved immigrants, are closed and you can find information about specific Esperanza programs and entities on their website.
The staff of Good Shepherd Mediation Program, which empowers residents to solve conflicts peacefully and creatively, are working remotely and can be reached via the online form on their website. They continue to conduct intake for mediations, and will respond to emails as soon as possible. Good Shepherd will be offering virtual mediation sessions soon.
HIAS Pennsylvania, which provides legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds, is open for business and working remotely. They continue to do intake and provide immigration legal support, but have cancelled all in-person events and moved some events to virtual platforms. Sign up for e-blasts from HIAS-PA and review their Facebook page for the latest updates.
Homeless Advocacy Project, which provides free, high quality civil legal services to individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness in Philadelphia, has postponed legal clinics in March. Staff are working remotely. For urgent matters, call 215-523-9595 or 1-800-837-2672 or email Michele at [email protected].
Juvenile Law Center, which protects and advances children's rights in courts, legislatures, and executive agencies, continues to be available by email and phone.
The staff of the Legal Clinic for the Disabled, which provides legal services to low-income individuals with physical disabilities, are working remotely but can be reached during regular business hours at 215-587-3158.
Mazzoni Center, which provides quality legal, health, and wellness services to LGBTQ+ individuals, has closed Mazzoni Center (Bainbridge Street facility) and their Washington West Project (HIV testing & STI screenings), and will continue to post updates for patients and clients on their website.
Nationalities Service Center, which provides services for immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia area, has transitioned to phone-based client services and continues to share important updates on their Facebook page.
The Pennsylvania Health Law Project, which protects and advances the health rights of low income individuals through legal services and advocacy, is actively posting updates and news on their Twitter. Their helpline is open every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. at 1-800-274-3258.
Offices are closed at the Pennsylvania Immigrant Resource Center, which provides access to justice for vulnerable immigrants and their families, but clients can reach advocates by phone at 717-600-8099.
Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is the go-to source for information about the courts in Pennsylvania. Check their website and social media feeds (Facebook) for up-to-date information on court scheduling and restrictions on operations. During the COVID-19 crisis, PMC will be publishing a daily newsletter which includes the most recent information about COVID-19's impact on the courts. In addition, please reach out to the PMC Listens(TM) helpline at 267-834-5256 with questions about the courts. While in-person programming is being postponed, they will be conducting interactive online webinars for those who want to learn more about our judicial system and how to navigate it, as well as CLE/CJE programming.
The Philadelphia Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service, which provides referrals to attorneys in private practice, is fully operational. Calls to their intake line are handled Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm, at 215-238-6333. Referrals can be obtained at any time through their website.
Philadelphia Legal Assistance, which provides free civil legal services, advice, and referrals for low income Philadelphians, has moved to telephone and online intake only and their staff is working remotely. Find hours and phone numbers for each of their unit intake lines on their website. Helpful information about unemployment compensation can be found on their Facebook page.
The team at Philadelphia VIP, which works to provide quality volunteer legal services and ensure access to justice for low income Philadelphians, is working from home and their trainings and events are moving to phone or video conference call when feasible. As ever, small businesses and nonprofit organizations can apply directly for legal assistance.
Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is continuing to provide legal services for the arts and culture community, but has amended intake procedures and eligibility criteria in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Public Interest Law Center, which advances the civil, social, and economic rights of communities facing discrimination, inequality, and poverty, is posting relevant news and information for the Philadelphia region on their Facebook page and on their Twitter. Their staff is accessible and working remotely - you can reach them by email at [email protected]
The staff at Regional Housing Legal Services, which creates housing and economic opportunities in under-served communities across the state, is working remotely and actively sharing relevant news and updates on their Twitter.
SeniorLAW Center, which improves and protects the rights of older individuals through legal representation, education, and advocacy, has a list of resources and relevant information for older adults. Their physical offices are closed and team members are working remotely. Read their latest e-newsletter and subscribe here.
Hotline, text, and chat are running as usual for WOAR: Philadelphia Center for Sexual Violence, which fights to eliminate sexual violence through services, education, and advocacy. The WOAR office is closed. More information on the status of their services can be found on their website.
Women Against Abuse, which provides services for victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse, is working remotely and offering modified versions of many of their services.
Women's Law Project is a state-based public interest legal center devoted to protecting and expanding the rights of women, girls, and LGTBQ+ people in Pennsylvania and beyond. While their offices are physically closed, they are working remotely and will respond to calls for emergency legal assistance that are submitted to their telephone counseling service, including requests related to reproductive health, paid leave, domestic and sexual violence, sexual harassment, and sex and gender discrimination in schools, the workplace, and other institutions.
The Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP), which works to keep children out of adult jails and prisons, and to bring home people who were sentenced as children to life in prison without the possibility of parole ("Juvenile Lifers"), continues to be available by email ([email protected]) and phone (267-703-8046).