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      Commonwealth Law News

      Public Interest Law Society Recognizes Need for Legal Aid, Celebrates Pro-Bono Week

      Steve Turner, DBA Pro-Bono Lawyer of the Year

      Steve Turner talks about his pro-bono work experiences and how they shaped his life and career.

      The Public Interest Law Society at Widener University Commonwealth Law School recently celebrated National Pro-Bono Week by collecting new items for the local YWCA Women's Shelter and hosting a roundtable discussion about the current art exhibit on campus, "Painting Invisible People" by Mary Lapos. The talk focused on the need for legal representation of underprivileged and misunderstood groups of people.

      PILS also welcomed guest speaker Steve Turner, the Dauphin County Bar Association's Pro-Bono Lawyer of the Year. Turner shared his experiences in the community providing pro-bono legal services to victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. He called his pro-bono work a "salve for the soul."

      Many of the students in the audience closely identified with Turner's words. Through PILS, they work to provide legal advice and services for individuals who may not be able to afford it. Currently, PILS members are scheduling a Wills for Heroes event to provide will writing services for emergency first responders and an expungement clinic in the spring.

      "An important part about volunteering is that law students get to practice skills they learn," said Cheri Sparacino, a second-year law student and president of PILS. "You are not just helping people, but you are applying the legal skills you have learned as a law student."

      Jo-Anne Thompson, a second-year law student, originally from Kingston, Jamaica, added that PILS works to understand the needs of the community and creates legal clinics and events that address those needs.

      "There sometimes isn't a lot of emphasis on legal aid and public service law," said Thompson. "It can be an under-represented area. The goal of PILS is to bring more people together to make them aware of the legal needs in the community. Pro-Bono Week is one week out of the year, but our goal is to provide support to those in need year-round."


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