• On Tuesday, June 3, the Philadelphia Bar Association's Immigration law Committee will present a lunchtime CLE program entitled, Enforcement of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detainers in Philadelphia, in the 11th Floor Conference Center, at the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market St. , Philadelphia. The program will address the history and impact of the new executive order on the enforcement of ICE detainers in Philadelphia. The lunch and registration begin at 12:00 p.m. and the CLE program begins at 12:30 p.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. Panelists include Erika Almiron, executive director, Juntos; Caitlin Barry, Villanova University School of Law; K. Naroen Chhin, 1Love Movement; and Molly Tack-Hooper, ACLU of Pennsylvania. The moderator is Immigration Law Committee Chair Wendy Castor Hess. The program has been approved for a total of 1.5 Substantive CLE credits. Participants wishing to receive the CLE credit will be required to pay a fee of $40 for members of the Philadelphia Bar Association admitted for more than five years and $35 for members of the Philadelphia Bar Association admitted for less than five years. Click here to registration for CLE credit with PBI. Click here to purchase lunch at $8 per person for members of the Philadelphia Bar Association and $12 for non-members (cancellations require 24 hours notice). This program is co-sponsored by the Civil Rights Committee, Public Interest Section and Delivery of Legal Services Committee.

  • On Tuesday, July 22 from 5 - 6:30 p.m, the Law School Outreach Committee for the Public Interest Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association cordially invites you to the Annual Philadelphia Summer Public Interest Reception at PEPPER HAMILTON LLP, 3000 Two Logan Square, Eighteenth and Arch Streets, Philadelphia. Generously hosted and sponsored this year by Pepper Hamilton LLP, this event celebrates of the work of law students spending their summer in public interest and public service organizations in and around Philadelphia and provides an opportunity for students to network with each other and with attorneys from public interest organizations and government agencies. Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres will be served. Free and open to all interested law students and public interest/public sector attorneys, but registration is required by Tuesday, July 15th at 3 pm. Register by email at or send any questions to

  • On Thursdays, May 29, June 5, 12, 19, 26, and July 10, 17, 24 and 31, the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Law School Outreach Committee of the Public Interest Section will host the "Summer Brown Bag Lunch Series," from 12:00-1:30 p.m., at the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market St. These free programs provide an opportunity for summer law student interns to meet public interest attorneys who are leaders in their field and learn about different types of public interest practice and fellowship opportunities in the greater Philadelphia area. To download a schedule of the programs, please click here.

  • On Sunday, October 12, CLS's 5th Annual Justice For All 5K will be held at 8:30 a.m., at Memorial Hall, Fairmont Park, Philadelphia. The race features an Individual Competition, a Team Competition, and a Law School challenge. Walkers and people with strollers and pets are welcome to participate. For more information or to register online visit or contact Caitlin Brown at

  • On December 10,, the Annual Public Interest Law Day CLE Program will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Pennsylvania Bar Institute, CLE Conference Center Wanamaker Building, 10th Floor, Philadelphia. This full day CLE program will offer 6 Substantive and 2 Ethics CLE credits and will present a wide array of hot topics in public interest law for public interest attorneys, pro bono practitioners, judges and private practice attorneys who are interested in learning more about public interest law and cutting edge issues affecting the pro bono legal community. Online registration will be available at Immediately following the Public Interest Law Day Program, the Public Interest Section will hold its Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception, which will feature the presentation of the Andrew Hamilton Award for distinguished service in public interest law and the Honorable Louis H. Pollak Award to honor a distinguished jurist. The Reception will follow the Awards Ceremony, featuring an open bar and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Further details will be provided.


Click here to listen to a podcast of Georgetown University Law Center Professor and author Peter Edelman discuss poverty in America at a program co-sponsored by the Public Interest Section on Feb. 28. 2013.

Community Legal Services presents "Recent Changes to Programs Administered by the Department of Public Welfare" on July 26, 2012. Click here to listen.

The Law School Outreach Committee's Summer Brown Bag lunch program on fellowships on June 7, 2012. Click here to listen.

Listen to author Amy Bach addresses a Public Interest Section plenary session on April 13, 2010: click here.

Listen to Heather Jarvis, senior program manager for Law School Advocacy and Outreach Resources at Equal Justice Works, on Managing Student Loan Debt: New Loan Repayment Assistance Programs at a Sept. 16, 2009 program o-sponsored by the Public Interest Section's Delivery of Legal Services Committee and the Young Lawyers Division: click here

Listen to the April 29, 2009, plenary meeting on Systemic Advocacy: click here

Listen to the April 10, 2008, plenary meeting of the Public Interest Section and the Pennsylvania Bar Association: "Civil Gideon: A Right to Counsel in Civil Cases"


Each year, the Public Interest Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association honors a legal services advocate or public defender with the Andrew Hamilton Award. The award-winner must work for, or be associated with, an organization whose purpose is to serve persons who cannot afford to pay for legal representation, or be a public-interest lawyer working with a nonprofit organization serving a charitable or public interest purpose.

See a list of past Andrew Hamilton Award Recipients here.


The Public Interest Section, founded in 1991, provides a forum for public interest and private lawyers to come together on behalf of Philadelphia's neediest community. In 1994, the Philadelphia Bar Association By-laws charged the newly created Public Interest Section with "promot[ing] the interests of the members who address the legal needs and rights of the poor, minorities, victims of abuse, persons with disabilities, the homeless and other disadvantaged populations." The section was to provide a "forum for the Bar to work together on issues of mutual concern that affect the public interest . . . and to educate and involve the entire Bar in issues affecting the public interest."

Today, over four hundred members, consisting of public interest and private lawyers, law school faculty members, foundation directors and law students collaborate on projects to improve the delivery of legal services to Philadelphia's poorest community. Such collaboration not only vastly improves the delivery of legal services, but also has created a culture of inclusion within the Philadelphia Bar Association regarding issues that affect and concern the poor. The Public Interest Section, as the largest Bar Association team of public interest and private lawyers working to improve justice in Philadelphia, epitomizes the fulfillment of the Philadelphia Bar Association's mission to serve both the profession and the public by promoting equal access to justice, professional excellence and respect for the rule of law.

The Benefits of Section Membership

Section members can stay abreast of new developments in the law and exciting opportunities to shape the future of our society. The Public Interest Section's activities include:

  • Agency/attorney collaborations to develop pro bono projects where current need is great but free legal services are scarce;
  • Improving the current system of delivering pro bono services;
  • Collaborating on amicus briefs for issues of importance to the community such as ensuring the greater availability of adoptive homes for children who need them, improving the quality of family court for all who use it and creating educational programs specially designed for public interest and pro bono practitioners.
The section currently includes eight committees, which can be viewed in the drop-down box at the top of the page.

To join the Section and receive news and information on the list serve, click here.