Dilworth Paxson Celebrates Pro-Bono Week

In honor of Pro Bono week, we asked Dilworth attorneys what Pro Bono projects have meant the most to them:

Stephen Fogdall

"All of the pro bono cases that I have been involved in over the years have been important to me on a personal level, but the one that has perhaps meant the most is a case I have been litigating for the last few years under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The case involves a restrictive marriage policy at a federal prison operated by a private contractor. The case has generated two precedential opinions from the Third Circuit so far that have provided much needed clarification of the law in this area. The Third Circuit has determined in these decisions that a private prison operator is subject to RFRA and other civil rights laws, and that RFRA protects even non-mandatory religious exercises such as marriage."

Patrick Harrington

"Being able to give back to the community to help those in need is not only an honor but a pleasure. From helping families to adopt children they love to helping clients stay in the homes they grew up in, I have been privileged to work with and assist a number of wonderful people in helping them make their lives better. "

Georgette Miller

"For over 10 years, I have provided pro bono legal services to South Jersey Legal Services, Inc. (SJLS), a non-profit organization created to provide quality legal representation and advocacy to low-income individuals. Specifically handling Chapter 7 cases, helping individuals obtain financial relief and reorganize their financial lives to create a stable future.”"


"I particularly enjoy the pro-bono clinics Dilworth participates in through the Legal Clinic for the Disabled. I take pride in devoting my time that can have life-changing effects. Additionally, as the current acting General Counsel for the Urban League of Philadelphia, I, and the rest of Dilworth, take great pride in our representation of the ULP and ensuring the ULP has all the information and counsel it needs to face any hurdles so it can better serve the Philadelphia community and its members"

Lisa Rodriguez

"The pro bono project that meant the most to me was a prison overcrowding class action. Appointed by Judge Simandle of the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, I represented a class of inmates at the Camden County Jail. The rated capacity of the jail was 1,300 and the actual population was approximately 1,900. Rather than engage in protracted litigation the County agreed rather early in the litigation to engage in settlement discussions. Through a series of consent orders over the next few years we were able to reduce the population to below the rated capacity. One of the consent orders provided for a jail population manager to monitor the numbers. The Court retained jurisdiction for an additional two years to ensure that real change was made and that the jail population stayed within rated capacities. During the period of time I worked with numerous prison population consultants to explore viable solutions to address the overcrowding issues and we worked with a coalition of Judges, Court personal, prosecutors, public defenders and jail personnel to vet and implement solutions."

Christian M. Velez-Vargas

"The most meaningful pro bono project I engaged in was when I helped children obtain Special Juvenile Immigrant Status (SIJS), particularly those who lived in countries that were tragically faced with political discourse and violence. SIJS allows children to seek lawful permanent residence in an expeditious manner. I conferred with parents, translated I-360 forms, and assisted with their applications to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. When it comes to pro bono service, my commitment is clear: There are no incapable results and I am duty-bound to help families in need."

Ralph Wellington

"Representing renowned Russian artist Vladimir Kandelaki, who was brought to the United States by “agents” who stole all his art. Ralph assisted in recovering the art, which helped Vladimir become well-known and respected in the U.S."

Matthew Whitehorn

"Throughout the year, I work with the Legal Clinic for the Disabled (LCD) for Community Legal Outreach Clinics (CLOCs), where our attorneys and staff prepare living wills, advance health care directives, financial and healthcare powers of attorney and simple wills for low income seniors and individuals with disabilities. LCD empowers low-income people with disabilities in the Philadelphia region to achieve independence and justice by providing free legal representation to overcome legal obstacles that would otherwise affect their independence. The clients we serve at CLOCs are always quite appreciative of our efforts."