Springing Into the 2024 Award Season

By Niki T. Ingram, President of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.

Even though the vernal equinox is in March, in my mind April is when spring truly begins. April brings with it the hint of things to come. There is a beautiful rhythm to the flowers as we first see the daffodils, then the tulips, the flowering trees, and the earth begins to flow into summer. For my fellow sports fans there is an abundance of riches- the NBA and the NHL start their playoffs, the Masters take place, and the baseball season starts. It is truly the best of times.

Here at the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, April is when we start to think about our Access to Justice Awards Celebration. We have two major awards that are given annually. Each year we honor the efforts of a Philadelphia law firm or corporate legal department with our Pro Bono Award. This award recognizes one of these organizations that has performed outstanding legal work on behalf of people, in our community, that are in need. Last year, we honored the Holland & Knight law firm for their work in support of those seeking asylum following the conclusion of the United States’ military engagement in Afghanistan. The work done by that firm was an example of how the dedication and passion of a strong legal team can impact and change the lives of many.

Our other major award is The Philadelphia Bar Foundation Award which was established by the family of Louis D. Apothaker, Esquire. This award honors a public interest lawyer who is dedicating his, her or their life to providing equal access to justice through work in the non-profit legal services field. The award acknowledges exceptional leadership and dedication to public service, and is accompanied by a grant of $2,500. In 2023, we honored Professor Seth Kreimer who is the Kenneth W. Genmill Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Hearing Professor Kreimer reflect on his career was as inspiring as listening to his students and coworkers about the breadth of his work.

The time has come to continue the legacy of these two awards. I am excited to announce that we are now accepting nominations for both the Pro Bono Award and the Philadelphia Bar Foundation Award. I invite you to nominate an individual or group who demonstrates what it means to an advocate for equal access to justice. We will commemorate our 2024 award winners at our Access to Justice Awards Celebration on November 9, 2024 at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.

As we move into this new season and all of its glory, I recognize that April doesn’t evoke the same feelings for everyone. It can be a harsh time for many as eviction notices may begin after the winter, shut-off notices may come from utility companies, and families begin to wonder about what they will do with their children, come the summer months without the structure of school. Those we serve continue to need our help even as we start to enjoy the bounty of spring.

PS: I reread T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in thinking about this column. It is a very different read from this point in life than it was as a young woman. I encourage you to reread it or to read it for the first time. It is time well spent.