PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION
SUPPORTING THE FILING OF A BRIEF AMICUS CURIAE
IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS IN VELAZQUEZ V. LSC

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association, the oldest chartered municipal bar association in the United States, has a long-established history of support for, and commitment to, equal access to justice and to the courts;
 
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has played an integral role in helping to ensure that the legal needs of low-income people are met through a variety of means including, but not limited to, helping to fund legal services programs; encouraging governments at all levels to fund legal services programs; initiating, developing and supporting pro bono intake and referral centers and pro bono programs among members of the private bar; and promoting a wide variety of collaborations among the legal services, public interest and private bars to ensure coverage in the Philadelphia region and statewide;
 
WHEREAS, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has imposed a series of restrictions not only on the publicly-funded but also on the privately-funded activities of legal services organizations that accept federal funds from LSC;
 
WHEREAS, these restrictions include:
· a ban on seeking or receiving court-ordered attorneys' fee awards;
· a ban on participating in class actions;
· a ban on representing prisoners in family law or other civil matters;
· a ban on notifying prospective clients of their legal rights and then offering to represent them;
· a ban on communication with policy makers or legislators on a client's behalf, except under narrow circumstances; and
· a ban on representing certain categories of aliens, including many lawfully-admitted aliens;
 
WHEREAS, current LSC regulations and policy require strict separation of privately and state and local government funded legal services operations from LSC recipient operations, with physically-separate legal programs housed in physically-separate facilities with separate staff and management;
 
WHEREAS, these requirements result in the creation of multiple legal services providers and cause inefficiencies, redundancies, and the lack of coordination between unaffiliated LSC and non-LSC providers;
 
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia legal community itself and the low income clients it serves have directly suffered from these regulations by being required to establish a second legal services organization, Philadelphia Legal Assistance, to receive the LSC funds and live within the LSC regulations, physically and administratively separated from Community Legal Services, which does not receive LSC funds;
 
WHEREAS, in Velazquez v. LSC, 349 F. Supp. 2d 566 (E.D.N.Y. 2004), modified, 356 F.Supp. 2d 267 (E.D.N.Y. 2005), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction in favor of plaintiffs Legal Services for New York City, South Brooklyn Legal Services and Farmworker Legal Services of New York, holding that LSC had violated the First Amendment by imposing an unduly-burdensome degree of physical separation between LSC-funded approved activities, on the one hand, and privately-financed restricted activities, on the other;
 
WHEREAS, the District Court's ruling in Velazquez allows the plaintiffs to use non-LSC funding for otherwise restricted legal activities as long as they follow a model proposed by the plaintiffs and modified by the Court;
 
WHEREAS, the model permits legal services programs to share employees, equipment and back office space with the non-LSC funded part of their respective programs, as long as the two programs adhere to strict timekeeping and accounting procedures, use extensive signage and disclaimers to avoid any confusion and maintain separate public areas;
 
WHEREAS, the arrangement approved by the District Court reduces costs, simplifies client access, encourages the provision of coordinated services, and reduces administration while providing a full range of legal services to indigent clients;
 
WHEREAS, if the decision of the District Court were affirmed and the LSC regulations changed to comply with that decision, Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance would be permitted to reunite into one legal services organization;
 
WHEREAS, LSC and the United States have appealed this portion of the District Court's order to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit;
 
WHEREAS, although the District Court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the plaintiffs on these grounds, the Court ruled against the plaintiffs' claims that some ot the restrictions themselves, regardless of whether limited only to federal funds, violate the First Amendment, citing the United States Supreme Court decision in LSC v. Velazquez, 531 U.S. 553 (2001), and plaintiffs have cross-appealed a portion of the District Court's decision;
 
WHEREAS, a number of bar associations and bar foundations committed to ensuring equal access to justice have determined to file an amicus brief, to be principally drafted by the law firm of Holland & Knight,  on behalf of plaintiffs focusing on why the Second Circuit should uphold the District Court's preliminary injunction because LSC's physical separation requirements impose an unconstitutional burden on legal services to the poor;
 
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has been invited to join other prominent bar associations and bar foundations as amicus;

WHEREAS, it is the policy of the Philadelphia Bar Association, as established by Resolution adopted by the Board of Governors on June 22, 1989, that amicus briefs shall be approved for filing ordinarily in the highest court where the issue is considered and where the issue is (a) of compelling interest to the Philadelphia legal community or (b) where a fundamental principle of law is at issue and where it is deemed that there is a consensus of support on the issue by the Association's membership;
 
WHEREAS, the issue of helping to ensure equal access to justice through legal services provided by legal services organizations using privately-donated funds is of fundamental importance and is an issue of compelling interest to the Philadelphia legal community;
 
WHEREAS, it is anticipated that a draft of the proposed amicus brief will be circulated to participating amici in the first week of June 2005, and comments and suggestions from the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association and others designated by the Chancellor will be welcomed by the principal drafters of the amicus brief;
 
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association hereby approves and authorizes the participation of the Association as an amicus in the proposed amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs in Velazquez.
 
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor or his designee be authorized to communicate the Philadelphia Bar Association's position as set forth herein and to review the draft of the proposed amicus brief in Velazquez, and to offer any and all comments and suggestions to the principal drafters on behalf of the Association.
 
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: MAY 26, 2005