News

News articles and other items about Neighborhood Legal Services and of relevance to our clients, donors, community partners, and volunteers. NLS also publishes Equal Justice Matters, a quarterly newsletter updating our donors, clients and funders on the exciting new ways NLS is making civil legal aid more accessible, which can be read here.

Neighborhood Legal Services is pleased to introduce Equal Justice Update, a periodic e-newsletter to share important news and updates about how – with your support – we help vulnerable people throughout Allegheny, Lawrence, Beaver and Butler counties access free, civil legal aid.  To see the latest issue of Equal Justice Update please click here.

 

October 19, 2021

Stay Alert for Medicare Scams!

It’s “OPEN ENROLLMENT” season for Medicare and Medicare supplement plans. From October 15 through December 7, 2021, we are all encouraged to take a look at our current Medicare plan and decide if it is working for us and if we want to change to another plan. Criminals are opportunistic and use this time to try to contact us to offer ‘deals.’ Their intent is to steal our Medicare number, personal information, and money. Click here to learn how to avoid becoming a victim.

October 13, 2021

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 5.6% in 2022, the Social Security Administration announced. The 5.9% cost of living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries will begin December 30, 2021. The Social Security Administration ties the annual COLA to the increase in Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information click here.

October 6, 2021

Robert V. Racunas, Long-Time Executive Director of NLS to serve as Executive Director Emeritus

As some of you may be aware, several months ago NLS announced the retirement of its long-time Executive Director Bob Racunas at the end of this year and a national search for a new Executive Director. Bob’s depth of experience and dedication to the organization have been invaluable assets to NLS.

As NLS finalizes its Executive Director search, the organization has engaged Bob to serve for a limited term as a consultant in an Executive Director Emeritus position once the new Executive Director is in place, so that Bob is available as a resource to assist in the transition process.  As President of the organization’s Board of Directors, I value Bob’s knowledge and loyalty to NLS and know that he intends to help us in whatever way possible.

In the search for a new Executive Director, the Search Committee will be meeting with a number of exceptional candidates and we are excited about their expertise, dedication to pro bono legal aid, energy, and vision. As an organization that has been providing free, civil legal aid for over 65 years, we recognize the challenges ahead to reach more people in need, engage additional staff and volunteer attorneys, and continue to find new and innovative ways to deliver our services. Whichever candidate we select, we are confident that we will have the strong leadership in place to help us fulfill and grow our mission.

Please feel free to reach out to me, Past President Alex Hershey, or President Elect Julie Colton with any questions you might have.

Regards,

Stephanie R. Reiss, Esquire
President
Board of Directors
Neighborhood Legal Services

September 2, 2021

New Remodeled Commerce Plaza Subsidized Apartments for Seniors Now Apccepting Applications

Conveniently located minutes from the Monroeville Mall and local restaurants, Commerce Plaza Apartments is an excellent choice for seniors wanting affordable housing with many amenities. If you or someone you know are a senior (62 years of age or older) and are looking for an affordable living option please click here for more information.

To apply online visit www.ACHSNG.com an click on the WEBAPP tab on the right side of the of the home page to enter your application.

August 25, 2021

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently changed their rules about how the pandemic-related financial assistance can affect an individual's eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, SSA has decided they will not count most types of pandemic-related financial assistance against SSI eligibility or benefit amount. For more information check out this helpful flyer produced by the National Center on Law and Elder Rights.

August 19, 2021

Neighborhood Legal Services is looking for volunteers from the community to serve on its Clients' Council and participate on its Board of Directors. We are interested in adding the voice of legal aid clients to form a diverse, client-focused board that is responsive to the legal needs of the community.

To learn more click here or contact modellj@nlsa.us or by phone at 412 - 586 - 6110.

August 3, 2021

Robert V. Racunas, Esquire, announced he is retiring from Neighborhood Legal Services in January, 2022 after 50 years with the organization, 42 of them as executive director. Racunas began his career as a summer intern from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and was named executive director of Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS) in 1980.

“Bob’s decades of service and dedication to NLS is unprecedented,” said Stephanie R. Reiss, Esquire, President of the NLS Board of Directors. “I’m privileged to have had the opportunity to work with him and know that replacing him will be no easy feat.”

In his five decades at NLS, Racunas cited the current global health crisis as the most challenging period of his career. “The need for our services didn’t come to a stop during the pandemic.  I’m proud to say that not only did NLS continue to provide essential legal services during the statewide shutdown, but we in fact expanded our staff to reach 14,730 people, including veterans, the elderly, women, children, those with disabilities and people in danger of losing their home.”

Highlights of Racunas’s professional career include his role in providing access to justice for over one million individuals and their families needing legal aid, establishing the Equal Justice Campaign, a private bar campaign aimed at increasing financial support for free legal aid, and increasing pro bono involvement. Racunas and a former NLS colleague and elder law specialist Joseph M. Olimpi created the Older & Wiser program to help better educate seniors, their families, and caregivers about rights and resources. The program received several awards, including the Emil Gumpert Award and $50,000 from the American College of Trial Lawyers.

As a major Pittsburgh sports fan, Racunas oversaw the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration in June of 2015 with the Gridiron Gold reception and dinner. The six NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks born in western Pennsylvania were honored during the evening by the more than 1,100 attendees.  The program, featuring a roundtable discussion with the quarterbacks, was filmed, and shown nationwide by the NFL Network.  The event raised substantial funds for NLS and the quarterbacks’ chosen charities and brought attention to the importance of the organization’s work beyond the legal community.

During his accomplished career, Racunas became an active member of the Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA) and chaired its Federal Court Section.  He was elected to the ACBA Board of Governors and in 2005, then became the bar association president.  He has served as a member of the House of Delegates of both the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Racunas has been honored by his legal aid peers with a Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) Excellence Award and by the Josh Gibson Foundation with the Community Service Award.  He received the 2006 Pitt Law Alumni Award, becoming the 30th lawyer or judge to be so recognized, and was named a University of Pittsburgh Varsity, Letterman of Distinction, and a recipient of the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Medal. Racunas also served as an adjunct professor at the Duquesne University School of Law for 20 years.

“I’m indebted to the incredible roster of professionals I’ve worked with over the years.  I’ve learned as much from them as I hope they have from me.  Just as importantly, I must acknowledge the generous, proud, and brave clients I have met over the years.  They will continue to be an inspiration,” said Racunas.

The NLS Board of Directors has embarked on a national search for a new executive director. For more information on the position and Neighborhood Legal Services, please visit https://www.nlsa.us/job-opportunities/.

Contact
Barbara Vilanova
for Neighborhood Legal Services
(412) 260-8729
barbaravilanova@gmail.com
OR
Christine Kirby
Neighborhood Legal Services
kirbyc@nlsa.us
(412) 526-5793

###

Since 1966, Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS) has provided free civil legal assistance to poor and vulnerable residents.  NLS handles approximately 7,500 cases annually helping serves over 15,000 residents of Allegheny Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties.

May 25, 2021

The Department of Labor and Industry will be upgrading the unemployment compensation system, taking it offline from June 3-7. During that time, claimants will not be able to access their accounts. The department says the new system will be up and running on June 8.

While the system is down, phone lines will remain open, and claimants can call 888-313-7284 for assistance.

Please visit this page for important information on claims filing.

May 24, 2021

The Senior Food Box Program works to improve the health of low-income seniors by supplementing their diets with nutritious food. In Pennsylvania, eligible participants include low-income individuals who are at least 60 years old and whose household income is at or below 130 percent of the U.S. poverty level.

The senior food boxes do not provide a complete diet, but rather are good sources of the nutrients typically lacking in the diets of older Americans. Among the types of foods included in the food boxes are: non-fat dry and shelf-stable fluid milk, juice, oats, ready-to-eat cereal, rice, pasta, dry beans, peanut butter, canned meat, poultry, or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables.

If you are a senior interested in participating click here to check eligibility and apply online today.

May 17, 2021

Following a difficult year, pro bono attorneys are needed now more than ever. This CLE is for anyone who is interested in volunteering their services but isn't quite sure where to begin.

Registration: 

Online registration

Download a hard copy 

Pre-register Deadline: June 15 — 11:59 p.m.

CLE Credits: 1 Ethics Credits

May 15, 2021

Important Information About SNAP Benefits and COVID-19 Emergency

Extra SNAP benefits will be received by April 29, 2021. This payment is in addition to regularly received April SNAP benefits. If you got SNAP benefits between September 2020 and March 2021, you will get an extra payment in early May or June. For example, if you got SNAP benefits in September and October, then you will get extra SNAP for both months. If you did not get SNAP benefits in November, you will not get extra SNAP benefits for November. For more information you can view the flyers here or visit https://www.dhs.pa,gov/Services/Assistance/SNAP-CARES-ACT.aspx

May 14, 2021

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Now Accepting Applications

  • Temporary program to help households afford internet service during pandemic
  • Up to $50/month discount for internet service
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co- payment of more than $10 but less than $50) • Households eligible if qualify for Medicaid, SNAP, free-and-reduced priced school lunches, LifeLink or Pell Grants, OR if household lost significant income during pandemic
  • Three ways eligible households can enroll:
  1. Directly with a local participating provider (find "companies near me")
  2. Enroll online with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) at www.getemergencybroadband.org
  3. Download paper application at the www.getemergencybroadband.org site, fill out the application, and mail it – along with supporting documentation – to USAC

Additional information: www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or call 833-511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week. 

May 13, 2021

Legal Assistance for Tenants and Homeowners

NLS is pleased to collaborate with Community Justice Project, Just Mediation Pittsburgh, RentHelp, the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporations, and others to launch the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh's new Legal Assistance Program for renters and homeowners. For more information, or a referral please contact RentHelpPGH at 412-534-6600. For Spanish, and other languages call 412-530-5244.

May 4, 2021

Help Understanding the New Child Tax Credit

A hotline was set up by our friends at CJP to advise clients on the benefits of the new tax credit and help them submit their information into GetYourRefund.org to get help filing their taxes before May 17. If you need help understanding the new child tax credit or submitting your information into GetYourRefund.org please call (610) 273-5488.

April 23, 2021

Chief Justice Baer Expresses Support for Legal Aid and Pro Bono

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Max Baer joined Pennsylvania Bar Association President David Schwager in calling upon attorneys to support free legal services programs through financial donations or pro bono work.  "This year, the need is especially acute.  The global pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-income groups, and the resulting financial and familial stressors are exacerbating the need for civil legal aid among those who cannot afford private counsel."  He also thanked attorneys for their ongoing contributions in fulfilling the call of Rule 6.1 to provide public interest legal services.  Click here to read Chief Justice Baer's letter.

April 21, 2021

Allegheny County Housing Authority Opens the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) Waiting List

The Allegheny County Housing Authority is pleased to announce the opening of the Housing Choice Voucher Program Waiting List (Section 8) on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 through Friday, May 7, 2021. No applications will be accepted before or after these dates.

There will be two ways to apply. Online at http://www.achsng.com 24/7 beginning May 5th at 8:00 am and ending May 7th at 12:00 midnight. This would be the best way to apply but you can also call 412-402-2407 or 412-402-2478 between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Your call will be answered by a live operator and your information will be taken over the phone. Please have all of your information ready, so this process can run smoothly. The information needed includes your name, address, phone number, social security number, date of birth and email address. You must have an email address in order to apply either way so a confirmation number can be emailed to you.

All applications will be entered into a lottery, regardless of the date and time the application as entered. Results of the waiting list will be posted online by Tuesday, May 11.

You MUST keep your confirmation number in order to access your status. Please do not call for your status as no information will be given over the phone.

April 20, 2021

This week the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is raising awareness of victims’ rights and services, highlighting programs, celebrating progress achieved, and honoring victims and the professionals who serve them. OVC developed a helpful referral sheet with organizations that offer a variety of services for victims of crimes. Check out our social media, where all week we will be highlighting how NLS supports victims of crimes, or click here to view our Victims of Crime brochure about the type of services we offer.

April 9, 2021

NLS Attorney Julia Zebley Was Featured in Public Source for Her Work Fighting Unlawful Eviction

NLS Attorney Julia Zebley, was recently highlighted in Public Source for her work representing a client in an eviction case who’s story is all to familiar.  Zebley is quoted,

“I have seen several of these situations where older adults have been living in a place for a while, and there's a desire to renovate, and suddenly a new owner is trying to evict them under a lease that’s several years old.”

In the article Rich Lord references a study by the Allegheny Department of Human Services and The Pittsburgh Foundation which showed that, “From 2012 through 2019, tenants won just 1.5% of eviction cases, with landlords prevailing in 85%, and the rest withdrawn, settled, or otherwise dismissed.” Despite the odds being against them, Zebley won her case preventing her client from being evicted. Click here to read the full article.

March 25, 2021

Joan Tutak is Honored at the PLAN 2021 Excellence Awards for Her Years of Service

Congratulations to NLS attorney Joan Tutak for being honored at this years Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network's Excellence Awards. Nominations are solicited from across Pennsylvania for the awards which are made based on a variety of criteria that demonstrated excellence and diligence in helping improve the availability and quality of civil legal services for low income people and victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. Click here to watch a video tribute in Joan's honor.

March 22, 2021

PA Launches Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Governor Tom Wolf announced the launch of a program that will deliver rapid relief to millions of Pennsylvanians at risk of eviction or loss of utility service. Effective today, Pennsylvanians can submit applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Forty-seven counties have opted to collect applications from county residents through the COMPASS website provided by the Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS will route applications submitted through COMPASS directly to counties for processing. The online application is available in English and Spanish.

To qualify for assistance, a household must be responsible to pay rent on a residential property and meet each of the following criteria:

  • One or more people within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits, had a decrease in income, had increased household costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the COVID-19 pandemic; AND
  • One or more individuals in the household can show a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; AND
  • The household has an income at or below 80 percent of area median income, which varies by county. Income limits by county are available on the DHS website. Resources (like bank accounts and cars) are not relevant to ERAP eligibility.

Applicants will need to provide the following information: head of household’s personal information; income information for all household members 18 and older; rental lease and amount owed; landlord’s name and contact information. If applying for utility assistance, applicants must provide utility expenses and utility provider information.

Applicants should be prepared to provide documents that substantiate information provided, such as pay stubs, tax filings, unemployment letters, and rental/utility arrears. However, if applicants do not have documents, county ERAP offices will work with applicants to obtain documents or written attestations.

The program will end when all funds have been expended, which DHS expects to happen by September 2021. Per Act 1 of 2021, all funds must be spent by December 31, 2021.

More information about ERAP can be found at www.dhs.pa.gov.

January 20, 2021

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network launches PAVictimsHelp.org

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network has launched a separate section of PALawHelp.org at PAVictimsHelp.org that is specially curated for victims of crime.

The site features LiveChat with trained navigators, working Monday-Saturday from 12:00 PM-8:00 PM, who can help users locate the help and information they need through a real-time online chat.

PAVictimsHelp.org provides access to legal information on a variety of topics related to victims of crime including but not limited to:

  • Victims Rights
  • Victims Compensation Assistance Program
  • Domestic Violence Issues
  • Identity Theft
  • Money and Finance
  • Employment Issues and Human Trafficking
  • Immigrant Issues and Rights

The site also has an extensive referral network available providing information on how to contact PA Victims Service Agencies; social service agencies; community action agencies; legal assistance agencies and other resources for victims of crime.

January 6, 2021

Social Security Benefits Increase in 2021

Starting in 2021, there will be a 1.3 percent increase for Social Security Benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Per the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W), when cost of living rises, the federal benefits will rise as well.

These cost-of-living adjustments are known as COLA. SSA will mail out COLA notices in December of 2020 to retirement, survivors, and disability beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and representative payees. This will not be the only change in 2021. The minimum amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax will be higher due to the increase in the national average wage index.

For additional COLA information in 2021, please visit the SSA website here.

Bogle, Darlynda, et al. “Social Security Benefits Increase in 2021.” Social Security Matters, 5 Nov. 2020, blog.ssa.gov/social-security-benefits-increase-in-2021/.

December 7, 2020

Being Unable to Afford a Lawyer Shouldn't Mean Accepting an Unfair Eviction, Especially During Covid-19

NLS clients often face dire civil justice problems. Combined with the challenges of COVID-19, these problems can become grim ... and even life-threatening.

Take two elderly sisters, Margaret, 83, and Barbara, 78.* When Margaret was too ill to live in her apartment alone, Barbara did what she always did: She took care of things. Instead of putting Margaret in assisted living, Barbara simply moved in to share expenses.

Their quiet life went on ... until they received an eviction notice. Almost nothing is more frightening to people their age during a health crisis than the thought of losing their home.

They were scared ... and dumbfounded. They had paid their rent and utility bills every month.Their lease wasn’t up yet. How could this be happening? And how would they safely find another place to live during the pandemic?

They needed to fight the eviction but couldn’t afford an attorney on their small incomes. Barbara thought she could represent them in court ... after all, they hadn’t done anything wrong. But they soon discovered what so many low-income Americans learn:

The civil justice system isn’t made for people like them. Barbara lost the case.

Months earlier, a new landlord had changed the requirements for paying utilities ... and the sisters hadn’t realized it. As far as the judge was concerned, they were many months behind. He let the eviction order stand and made them responsible for months of outstanding bills, accrued late penalties and the landlord’s legal fees.

Very soon, they’d have nowhere to live. Margaret’s health issues made the prospect intolerable. A civil legal aid attorney with NLS stepped up for Margaret and Barbara, recovering some of their money, getting late fees dismissed and court fees reduced, and extending their move-out date. The sisters are now safe and secure in a new apartment.

December 7, 2020

For people needing health insurance coverage starting on January 1, 2021, the new deadline to enroll is December 22, 2020 through Pennie.com. It is important to note that people can still enroll through Pennie.com up until January 15th, but their coverage will not start on January 1st.

If you need help getting covered, please feel free to refer them to PHAN's statewide helpline:

Call 877-570-3642 or email helpline@pahealthaccess.org

If you need more information, please take a look at PHAN's blog post on our new state-operated health insurance marketplace, Pennie, or our Get Help! Page, which features frequently asked questions about how to enroll in health insurance.

November 23, 2020

Continuing Disability Benefit Payment Announcement

Have you received a notice from Social Security indicating that you are no longer eligible for social security disability benefits because your medical condition has improved or no longer exists? (Cessation Notice) Or, have you received notice that you are no longer eligible for children’s SSI benefits because you have turned 18?  In both situations, you have 60 days to file a Request for Reconsideration to appeal that decision.  If you want your benefits to continue while Social Security is reconsidering whether you are eligible, you have to file a Request for Reconsideration within 10 days of the date on your notice.

However, because of delays in processing reconsideration requests, Social Security is allowing individuals who have filed Requests for Reconsideration who DID NOT request continuing benefits within the 10-day timeframe, to submit late requests for continuing benefits.   There are two requirements:

  • The notice terminating benefits for the two reasons listed above, must be dated on or before August 30, 2020

AND

  • Your request for reconsideration of the termination notice is still pending with Social Security.

November 5, 2020

Neighborhood Legal Services is is pleased to announce a collaborative pilot project with the Allegheny County Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Center to help people overcome past mistakes, expand opportunities and create a better live for themselves and their families.

Does someone you know or a client you serve have a criminal record that's holding them back? Neighborhood Legal Services and the Pro Bono Center are helping people in Allegheny County apply for pardons from the Pennsylvania Pardons Board. To be eligible clients must be low income, have a case that was in Allegheny county, have completed their sentence and have no arrests or convictions within the past 5 years and have no serious violent offenses.

Individuals interested in obtaining a pardon should call 412-402-6606 for eligibility details and more information about the Pittsburgh Pardons Project. Call today as program participation is limited and closes on November 30, 2020.

November 4, 2020

Continuing Disability Reviews and SSI benefits

Even if you have been awarded SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will review your case every three years or so, to make sure that you are still disabled.  When the time comes for that review,

you will receive a notice from SSA indicating that you are under a continuing disability review.  The envelope will contain a paper form for you to complete and mail back to Social Security.  However if you prefer to do it online, Social Security is now making it possible for you to complete the form through their website. The form will ask you to provide information about your medical conditions and your treating doctors.  Make sure you have your doctors’ contact information in addition to your Social Security number, current address, phone number, and a valid email address.  You can also upload any medical records that you would like Social Security to review to determine whether you remain disabled and unable to work.  You can find the form at https://secure.ssa.gov/ssa455/front-end/

November 2, 2020

Journalist Charlotte Keith Interviews NLS Attorney in, "Locked Out" an Investigation About Evictions In PA

Spotlight PA shows that despite a federal eviction ban, whether or not families get kicked out often comes down to where they live, and which judge happens to hear the case.  In the article, NLS director of litigation Eileen Yacknin explains that, "In practice, some landlords are filing “end-of-lease” evictions to try to get around the CDC order." Yacknin was in a local court in Allegheny County with a client in early October, when the judge told the landlord that while an eviction for non-payment of rent wouldn’t be able to proceed, an eviction filed for a different reason would.To read the full article click here

October 27, 2020

Helping Domestic Violence Victims Obtain Protection Orders Virtual CLE Seminar

On November 6, from 9:00am-1:30pm, along with K&L Gates we are hosting a Virtual CLE session for attorneys about the PFA process and helping victims of domestic violence obtain protection orders. The session is free for attorneys who agree to take pro bono PFA cases in the next year. Three substantive credits and one ethics credit will be offered. Click here if you are interested in registering for this CLE.

October 20, 2020

Following the cessation of the Statewide Eviction Moratorium on September 1 by Governor Tom Wolf, NLS attorneys have helped tenants across Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties maintain housing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is made possible in part by NLS's receipt of CARES Act funding, given through the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, aimed at preventing evictions. NLS attorneys have also sought to mitigate confusion and inconsistencies in courtrooms brought about by (1) the end of the Moratorium and (2) the subsequent introduction by the Trump administration of public health laws putting a federal halt on eviction proceedings. NLS Housing Attorney, Eileen Yacknin, was quoted in an article by 90.5 WESA, on this issue: "Different magistrates have different interpretations and therefore carry out these hearings in totally random - for them, maybe not random - but we as litigators see as random ways, in ways that aren't necessarily, what we believe, is in compliance with the law."

September 29, 2020

The Pittsburgh Pro Bono Pardons Project

Neighborhood Legal Services and the Pro Bono Center are launching the Pittsburgh Pardons Project to help clear criminal records in Allegheny county. Do you have a criminal record that's holding you back?  Click here to find out if you're eligible for our services.

On October 13th, from 12:00pm-1:00pm, we are hosting a Free Virtual CLE session for attorneys about the Pardons Process. The session is free for attorneys who agree to take one pro bono pardon case through the Pittsburgh Pardon Project and a one hour substantive CLE credit will be offered. Click here to register and learn how you can help someone with a criminal record maximize their chance of success in the pardon application process.

June 28, 2020

Amy Carpenter, a managing attorney at NLS, appointed to Co-Chair of the Pennslyvannia Bar Association's Legal Services to the Public Committee!

Congratulations to Amy Carpenter on her appointment to Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Legal Services to the Public Committee. The PBA's Legal Services to the Public Committee provides assistance in the creation of programs designed to provide for the delivery of legal services to indigent Pennsylvanians. It also monitors and makes recommendations concerning all legislation regarding unmet legal needs and pro bono service. Congratulations to Amy!

April 17, 2020

NLS Attorneys Discuss the Pressing Legal Issues During Covid-19

The Pittsburgh Foundation hosted a community education session for their grantees last month. NLS worked with our civil legal aid partner, Southwestern PA Legal Services to present a webinar entitled, Pressing Legal Issues in the COVID Enviroment Speakers included or very own: Cathy Martin and Liz Eisenhauer. Cathy and Liz were joined by Chris Hega, an attorney with SPLS. NLS Board Member Kim Brown moderated the webinar. Issues like family law, housing and bankruptcy need to be addressed in a setting where access to the court system is impacted in unprecedented ways.

 

May 8, 2020

Attention: Volunteers Needed to Assist Attorneys With PFA Cases When the Courts Reopen

The court has continued all “final” PFA hearings due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. NLS attorneys and our PFA law students are helping each PFA petitioner prepare their petition over the telephone for presentation to the Court. Anyone granted a Temporary Order of Protection is either assigned to NLS, the Women’s Center and Shelter, or private counsel. Because the final hearings are not being scheduled on a date certain, we have chosen to keep the cases as opposed to trying to assign them to pro bono attorneys who may or may not be able to handle the case on the date they ultimately get scheduled by the court. We cannot be certain that any case assigned to a pro bono attorney will ultimately be handled by the same attorney given the uncertainty. This can put victims in the position of telling their story to multiple attorneys. We certainly do not want to create this kind of confusion and additional stress for these victims. However, we are still going to need help once all the existing PFA’s get scheduled for the final hearings. We expect that the court will want to move these cases quickly and that there will be numerous cases scheduled on any given day.

The help we are requesting of you in the month or so after the Court reopens comes in the form of helping us negotiate and/or continue the cases should service still be an issue. If you can sign up to take a morning to come up and help our attorneys, we would email you one or two client Petitions and Temporary Orders before the date of the final hearing. You do not need to talk to nor interview the client prior to the day of the hearing.  If you can negotiate a settlement or continue the matter that morning, your work is done. If a hearing is required, NLS staff will take the case back. Your triage, analysis, and negotiation skills will help to process cases in an efficient manner benefiting both the court, the litigants, and the NLS attorneys! If you are willing to help us in this manner, please contact Mary Ann Troper Malley at troperma@nlsa.us or call her at (412) 586-6134 so she can get you on the calendar for a date or dates in the month of June – at least we “think” this will be when hearings start getting set up. If the court’s order gets extended, we would simply ask you to choose another date.

May 5, 2020

Neighborhood Legal Services on The Confluence Discussing Custody Issues During Covid-19

NLS Managing Attorney for Family Law Susan Abramowich addressed how pandemic protocols can be complicated for ex-partners navigating child custody and the impact of the judicial emergency on family law cases during The Confluence, WESA-FM's morning news broadcast. You can listen to her segment here.

November 1, 2019

Giving Matters because Justice Matters - Equal Justice Campaign Benefitting Civil Legal Aid Programs Underway!

Neighborhood Legal Services’ Equal Justice Campaign is an annual fundraising campaign where the entire legal profession comes together around a common cause — helping to ensure that the neediest members of our community have access to civil legal help. Contributions made to NLS’s Equal Justice Campaign enable to people to obtain justice they deserve not just what they can afford.

Over the 32 past years, our legal community collectively has contributed more than $6.2 million through the Equal Justice Campaign. Those receiving services made possible by the Equal Justice Campaign Campaign include the elderly, disabled individuals, veterans, children, domestic violence victims, people at risk of losing their homes, and many other people in need. Thanks to the legal community’s generosity and the ongoing success of the Equal Justice Campaign, tens of thousands of low-income and disadvantaged people have been able to get necessary legal assistance, and the justice system continues to work better for everyone.

Please consider making an annual gift to NLS’ Equal Justice Campaign today.

December 12, 2019

Neighborhood Legal Services Attorney Donna Allen Rosemond Honored as a 2019 New Pittsburgh Courier Woman of Excellence

NLS Attorney Donna Allen-Rosemond was recently named one of the 2019 New Pittsburgh Courier’s “Women of Excellence” in recognition of her excellent legal work on behalf of victims of domestic violence. Donna is one of the region’s experts in this important area of the law, dedicating her career to helping people navigate a serious crisis in their lives, while maintaining a remarkably sunny outlook herself.

flowers and awards

November 21, 2019

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards

NLS Attorney Joan Tutak and NLS Pro Bono Volunteer Samuel R. Grego with Dickie McCamey & Chilcote, P.C, were selected to receive the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards at banquet honoring them and 7 others on March 31, 2020 in Harrisburg. The PLAN Excellence Awards are presented each year to individuals, groups, and/or organizations that have established excellence and diligence improving the availability and quality of civil legal services for low income people and victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. The award recipients include a variety of civil legal aid professionals and friends of civil legal aid across Pennsylvania who were recognized for their efforts in support of the clients served by the civil legal programs of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network.

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