URGING AWARD OF EXCESS CLASS ACTION FUNDS TO THE PHILADELPHIA BAR FOUNDATION

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Philadelphia Bar Association, was formed over thirty years ago and now provides funding for non-profit organizations providing free legal advice and representation to the poor, the disadvantaged, the elderly, the disabled, and children in our community;

WHEREAS, there are over 440,000 citizens in Philadelphia who live at or below the federal poverty line, whose severe and growing need for essential legal services is being served by fewer than 90 full-time attorneys;

WHEREAS, more than 3,000 Philadelphia lawyers in private practice provide volunteer legal services to the poor and disadvantaged each year through Bar Association-sponsored pro bono programs;

WHEREAS, funding for legal services and pro bono programs has been dramatically cut over the past five years, causing the closing of legal aid offices and the lay-offs of essential staff, and state and federal governments have imposed severe restrictions on the kinds of representation that can be provided with their funds; and,

WHEREAS, there are from time to time class actions in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County which terminate with unclaimed funds remaining;

WHEREAS, it might appear to be a conflict of interest for a court to approve a designation of those unclaimed funds to a legal services or pro bono program whose attorneys appear before it, but it would not appear improper in any way for the court to approve such a designation to the Philadelphia Bar Foundation; and

WHEREAS, there is precedent and legal authority recognizing the authority of courts to make such awards to bar foundations;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to award any remaining unclaimed class action funds to the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED:  February 29, 1996