smaller impact
July 2010
Philadelphia VIP |42 S. 15th Street, 4th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102 | 215-523-9550 |

June 2010:
amy tarr
Amy Tarr

May 2010:
robert sachs
Shrager Spivey & Sachs

April 2010:
 alfonso madrid
Alfonso Madrid
Solo practioner

Volunteer today!

Please click here for a list of available cases that offer you an opportunity to help low income Philadelphians with critical legal issues.


spbp 10 crop

VIP hosted its annual Summer Pro Bono Program on June 11, 2010 to further its commitment to preventing homelessness by providing pro bono legal services to low-income clients. For more information about Summer Pro Bono Program including a photo slideshow, click here.

pro bono bfast

The Legal Intelligencer, in association with VIP, is hosting a special Pro Bono Breakfast on September 21 to honor its "Unsung Heroes." For more information and to register, click here.



VIP is proud to celebrate 30 years of providing pro bono legal services to low-income Philadelphians. If you are interested in participating in the 30th Anniversary celebration by helping to plan events, assisting with a speaker series, or joining the host committee
, click here to let the staff know you want to take part in the celebration!


Take advantage of this opportunity to invest in Philadelphia VIP.  VIP can in turn say YES to clients to help them break the cycle of poverty or exploitation, overcome obstacles, and navigate complex issues.

Give to VIP!

VIP strives to ensure that volunteers have all the support they need to provide quality legal services. We want to here from you!  If you would like to give VIP feedback on you experience as a volunteer, click here!

   April - June 2010

New Clients Receiving Assistance:

Volunteers Providing Service:

Requests for Assistance: 

Volunteers Needed for Open Cases: 

Letter from Executive Director

Almost thirty years ago, a small group of committed volunteers, public interest lawyers and Philadelphia Bar Association leaders said YES to access to justice for all and created Philadelphia VIP.  Since 1981, VIP's mission has remained the same---to recruit, train and support volunteer attorneys to assist low-income Philadelphians with critical legal issues that affect their basic human needs.     

VIP will celebrate is 30th Anniversary in 2011 and we hope that you will again say YES to VIP and our clients.  VIP seeks engaged, committed volunteers interested in planning a series of events and other activities designed to celebrate our anniversary and raise awareness about the lives of our clients.  I hope you'll join us!  Look for the 30th Anniversary note in this newsletter for more information about how to get involved.

Sara Woods
Executive Director
He did everything he could for us:
The Torres' Success Story

Andrew Albergo
albergo 1
Andrew Albergo, a solo practioner in Philadelphia, has accepted a dozen cases for VIP clients, but none more satisfying than the case of the Torres family. Elana* was ill and her husband Carlos worked two jobs to support their family . They were misled into refinancing their home, believing it was a way to save money. When their payments increased substantially, Carlos and Elana tried to renegotiate their mortgage payments on their own but the lender was unresponsive. In May 2009, they went to City Hall Courtroom 676 and met Drew.

When Drew began to work on the Torres' case, the lender did not respond to him either. For over a year, he tried to connect with the torresbank, first by reaching out to the processor, next to lender's counsel, then to their supervisors, and even the Judge. Drew understands that "everyone is so overwhelmed with the housing crisis and banks can't respond to the demand of people." But Drew relentlessly pursued the lender, even amidst set backs such as the bank confusing his clients with another Torres family, a bank buyout, and the replacement of the servicer. Nonetheless, 13 months after Drew first accepted the case, he negotiated a drastically reduced loan rate of 2%- 4.875%. Carlos and Elana's payments dropped from $777 a month to $324 a month, a savings of approximately $100,000 in interest as compared to the original loan.

Elana told VIP, "Andrew was excellent.  He really
stuck by us, and stuck in there through the case. He did everything he could for us."  
Andrea Saah with Andrew Albergo
albergo and saah
When Drew was asked who should receive the credit, he said, "Andrea Saah [VIP staff attorney], Rachel Gallegos [clerk to Judge Annette Rizzo], and Bob Lukens [Philadelphia Legal Assistance]. These people behind the scenes made it possible for me to do this. I find volunteering with VIP fulfilling. Quality support people make it easy. "  Furthermore, Drew hails the real hero as the Torres family. "These clients were responsible. Elana was right on top of her case." Drew also stayed on top of the lender, making sure that the Torres' were able to remain in their home, maintain their income, and have a better quality of life.

Since the inception of City of Philadelphia's Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program in June 2008, VIP has trained 430 attorneys to work on mortgage foreclosure cases. Data from the 170 continuing VIP cases reveals that volunteers have achieved a 73% success rate of keeping those homeowners in their homes. To learn more about the VIP's work with the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, click here. To volunteer to help VIP save homes and families, click here.

Volunteer work is her life's work:
Spotlight on Claire Van Til

In the midst of the economic downturn and the increased unemployment
Claire Van Til
claire head shot
rate, Claire Van Til searched for a way to practice law while still helping people in Philadelphia achieve access to justice. She says, "It has been a long, difficult road for me since my Temple Law graduation in 2007, but it is really the volunteer work that I did with VIP that kept my soul afloat, and helped me to feel professionally relevant and remain competitive for public interest positions. I actually feel quite indebted to the kind people and clients that I worked with through VIP."

After graduating from law school three years ago, Claire accepted public housing cases with VIP without any previous experience in that practice area. She was matched with mentor, donor and former board member Charles Marion, an experienced volunteer from Pepper Hamilton who consistently supports young lawyers new
Chuck Marion and Claire Van Til
claire and chuck
to the practice of law and seasoned attorneys new to pro bono. Chuck says, "For someone who found himself too busy to handle a case myself, but who still wanted very much to help VIP and its clients, serving as a mentor to other volunteers has been a great solution. I have been able to offer my insight and advice based on my experience handling public housing evictions and other landlord-tenant matters for VIP over the last several years, and strategize with other volunteers about particular matters they are handling and issues they confront. I have found mentoring to be a very rewarding way to help, and look forward to continuing my mentoring work for VIP in the years to come."

With Chuck's mentorship, Claire was able to secure favorable outcomes for her VIP clients. Not only did she help them stay in their
Claire working with client
claire 2
homes and stabilize their families, she also gained opportunities to network with other lawyers, professionals, legal administrators and city employees. "It was great to volunteer with VIP, work with an actual client and create networking relationships." Volunteering also made Claire more competitive in her job search and allowed her to uncover her true passion. She says, "I would have never known what public housing in Philadelphia was like until I started to take VIP cases. Now I know. A tenant in public housing could get evicted with her grandchildren in tow and nowhere to go. I got that exposure. I've seen it." As a result, Claire decided to go back to school to earn a Masters of Public Policy with hopes to build upon her law degree and her experience as a public interest attorney to reform the systems that serve urban youth, including the justice system.

To experience the many ways you can volunteer with VIP, click here.
*Clients' first names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Stock photography was also used.