Protecting kids from lead poisoning in Philadelphia

George Donnelly testifying
George Donnelly testifying
We helped secure a major legislative victory for Philadelphia kids. On Thursday, September 26, City Council unanimously passed a new ordinance requiring universal lead inspections and certification for rental units built before 1978. Lead poisoning is a pernicious health problem in Philadelphia, affecting an estimated 2,000 children every year. This law strengthens the City's previous lead ordinance, which only required lead-safety certification in homes where children age six or younger resided. According to city data, less than 6,000 of the estimated 22,000 units covered by this law were compliant. By making lead safety a universal requirement--becoming the largest United States city to do so--Philadelphia will protect thousands of children from a life-altering environmental hazard, while making it clear that landlords have an obligation to provide safe and healthy housing to all. Read more about the bill in coverage from WHYY and a piece from bill sponsor Councilmember Blondell Reynolds-Brown in the Philadelphia Tribune. We are proud to have worked with Council staff, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, Community Legal Services, the Tenant Union Representation Network, and other organizations throughout the city to ensure passage of this bill.

Yesterday, our attorney George Donnelly testified to City Council, urging them to enact this lead bill. "We have a moral obligation to protect our children from the public health crisis caused by lead paint," he said. "The ordinance passed today by City Council creates a comprehensive framework to protect kids living in rental properties. By enacting this legislation, Philadelphia has become a national leader in preventing childhood lead poisoning."
Law Center in the News: School funding lawsuit continues
A teacher and an elementary school student
As students head back to the classroom, we are hard at work preparing for trial in our lawsuit representing school districts and parents taking on Pennsylvania's inadequate and inequitable system of state school funding. 

In a September 3 article, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covered education funding in Pennsylvania and our case, filed with Education Law Center in 2014. The article reports that 58% of funding for Pennsylvania school districts comes from local taxes, leading to huge disparities between the Commonwealth's 500 school districts and what they are able to spend, stemming from disparities in local wealth.

 "Our current school funding system is unfair to students because of the disparities, and it's unfair to taxpayers because of the disparities, and it's unfair to the communities that are having to bear the costs because the state's not willing to pay their share," said staff attorney Michael Churchill. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Carol Miller

Carol Miller
Carol Miller
Our dedicated volunteers play a major role in helping our organization succeed. Since June, Carol Miller has served as our volunteer coordinator. She recruits and interviews new volunteers and manages the project of cataloging and digitizing our archives. "It's an organization that aligns with my values and does work that is meaningful to me," Carol said. Before retiring in February, Carol was the Director of Operations at Community Learning Center, a nonprofit adult literacy organization, and before that she was Director of Associate Administration at Dechert LLP. 

In her work curating our archives, Carol has learned of many groundbreaking cases. She was particularly struck by our work representing Penelope Brace, a detective who challenged the Philadelphia Police Departments' policy of barring women from many roles in the 1970s. It was a great example of one person's struggle changing an unjust system, she said. "I was shocked that I wasn't aware of this case," Carol said. In addition to volunteering with us, Carol volunteers for the Village of Hope, a home for orphaned, hearing impaired, and other at-risk children in Vietnam. She recently returned from an annual trip to Vietnam. Carol is also a competitive ballroom dancer, and she has a small business finding and selling high-end special occasion dresses at low prices.
Welcome our new board members, David Gersch and Robin Roberts! 

We're excited to announce two new members of our Board of Directors, David Gersch and Robin Roberts! Help us welcome them by liking their post on LinkedIn

David Gersch is Senior Counsel at Arnold & Porter and was a leader of the pro bono co-counsel team in our cases taking on partisan gerrymandering and Pennsylvania's Voter ID law. 

Robin Roberts is an organizer with Parents United for Public Education and has fought for quality public education in Philadelphia for many years, serving as a principle plaintiff in our case challenging curricular deficiencies in schools.

Learn more
We're moving October 15! 
Two Penn Center
Two Penn Center
After 10 years in our space in the United Way building, we are moving down the parkway to Two Penn Center, across the street from Love Park, on October 15. Our new address will be:

The Public Interest Law Center
Two Penn Center
1500 JFK Boulevard, Suite 802
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Join us November 6 for a Voting Rights Celebration

An absentee ballot envelope
A voting booth

Congressional districts in SE Pennsylvania

On November 6, join us to celebrate the right to vote at a cocktail party hosted by Law Center board member Howard Langer and Barbara Jaffe. We will look back on our history of work making sure all citizens have access to the ballot box. Enjoy catered food and drink and learn more about our work today, including our case challenging Pennsylvania's absentee ballot system, in a short presentation from our staff. 

When: Wednesday, November 6, 6-9 p.m.

Where: 7303 Emlen Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119 (Parking on Allen Lane or Emlen Street)

Cost: $50
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Blast from the Past: Helping Children Access Healthcare
The Gorenflo family_ whose two sons were plaintiffs in the case.
The Gorenflo family, whose two sons were plaintiffs in the case.
To celebrate our 50th anniversary, we will look back throughout the year on past cases that help form the foundation of our work today.

In 2005, children enrolled in Medicaid in Florida faced severe difficulties in obtaining medical and dental care. We filed a case with co-counsel Boies, Schiller and Flexner LLP on behalf of the Florida Pediatric Society, the Florida Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and twelve families with children who were enrolled in Florida's Medicaid program. 

The case proceeded as a class action on behalf of approximately two million children eligible for Medicaid. During trial, we proved that hundreds of thousands of children, including newborns, did not receive even one of the check-ups they need in a year. The parties reached a settlement in 2016. Under the agreement, Medicaid providers in Florida can now receive higher payments for treating children on Medicaid, which has significantly increased the numbers of physicians and dentists, including specialists, who will accept Medicaid patients. We filed similar cases in Michigan, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania, increasing access to high-quality healthcare for millions of children across the country.

Learn more
In Pursuit of Justice--Our 50th Anniversary Celebration
Invitation to our annual celebration


In 1969, we opened our doors in Philadelphia, helping communities stand up against discrimination and poverty. On October 10, join us to celebrate our 50th anniversary with a night of festivities at the new artist space and venue Cherry Street Pier! A special anniversary calls for a special celebration--help us commemorate five decades In Pursuit of Justice! 


Thursday, October 10

6 - 9 p.m.

Cherry Street Pier

121 N Christopher Columbus Boulevard

Philadelphia, PA 19106


Tickets are going fast! Reserve your spot today.   

Our silent auction is now live! Visit our online portal to place your bids on unique items and experiences, from custom jewelry to behind-the-scenes restaurant tours. All proceeds benefit our mission. 


Tickets are available for $175 per person. For more information about this event, including sponsorship and accessibility, please contact Michael Berton at or 267-546-1303.  


Tickets _ Information
Honoree spotlight: The Public Interest Law Center's 21 Former Board of Directors Chairs
Former Law Center Board of Directors chairs
Left to right: Donald Joseph, William Ewing, Lea Knight, and Brian Feeney

Behind any organization that is able to persist for decades, there are many dedicated people whose contributions take place behind the scenes. Over our 50 year history, the leaders of our Board of Directors have been among these steadfast champions, making sure the lights stay on and that our work is focused on creating meaningful change for the people we serve. As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, we will honor these 21 individuals whose leadership and stewardship were essential to the Law Center's five decades of work in pursuit of justice.