Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week: Willig, Williams & Davison

Willig, Williams & Davidson is a union-side labor law firm committed to helping working individuals and their families resolve a wide variety of legal issues. The firm realizes, however, that legal assistance is not always affordable for some people. We feel strongly about helping individuals, who cannot afford legal counsel, to obtain and reap the benefits of this protection.

One such avenue where Willig, Williams & Davidson is able to contribute to this end is through Philadelphia’s Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP). VIP provides civil legal assistance to less fortunate individuals. Several of our attorneys commit their time and donate their legal services to Philadelphia VIP. For example, our attorneys have helped individuals to save their homes in conjunction with Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program. This program was created to give homeowners of single-family residences, who are losing their homes in foreclosure, an opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with the lender’s attorney, to see if they can save their homes. Armed with a pro bono VIP attorney, a homeowner has a much better chance at saving their property, than if they attended these conferences without representation.

This type of pro bono representation is very important, because it is usually due to a financial hardship that these individuals are losing their homes. Many people in this situation do not have the money to try to get their loan current, much less to obtain legal representation. So, in this instance, pro bono representation is invaluable.

I have had the opportunity to help many individuals through this program. One such individual was a hardworking union roofer who had been laid off due to budget cuts with his employer. The strain caused by this loss of employment affected him both personally and financially. His marriage fell apart, and he was at risk of losing his home which had been in his family for generations. His property was on the verge of Sheriff’s Sale, which brought him to the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program. Through Philadelphia VIP, I was able to negotiate a resolution with his lender, which kept him in his childhood home and gained notoriety for Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program in the New York Times. This was incredibly rewarding for both of us.

Pro bono work is the gift that gives back. In offering legal assistance to someone who could not normally afford it, you are helping to put this person on an even playing field with someone of greater financial means. At Willig, Williams & Davidson, we strive for equality and justice, and doing pro bono work plays an integral part in achieving this goal.

Kristine A. Phillips is a partner in the Legal Services Department of Willig, Williams & Davidson. The firm maintains offices in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pa., Baltimore, Md., Delaware County, Pa., Montgomery County, Pa., and Camden County, N.J.  

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