Felix Yelin is an Associate in the Litigation Department. His bio is available here.
tell us about your recent pro BONO experience.
I was the first attorney in the Philadelphia area to take on a pardon project case for Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE). The pardon project involves assisting ex-offenders clear their record so that they may advance their careers and expand their work in the community through a constitutional process. This project involves getting to know the client and their story, helping them gather key supporting documents, and assisting them in crafting their story for the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. This is a fantastic way to help someone who has paid their legal debt to society advance their life forward and become and productive members. I have represented two clients who I met with and discussed the key issues of their cases. In the recent past, I’ve also assisted permanent residents in applying for and obtaining their citizenship, represented a minor who was the victim of domestic sexual assault and represented a client in a premises liability case.
WHY IS PRO BONO service important to you?
Using our skills to help people who may not be able to afford an attorney is one of the best ways to give back to the community. As a lawyer, not only do I meet very interesting people in different situations and backgrounds, but I also get to hone my skills, especially with client-attorney interactions.
How did you select an organization(S) to support? What would you want someone to know about the organization(S)?
I have been heavily involved in the Louis D. Brandeis Law Society as an officer over the last few years (currently the Chancellor). We have worked closely with pro bono organizations over the years in furtherance of our social action goals. We have worked closely with Tobey Oxholm of PLSE to set up trainings and recruit volunteers. My previous pro bono experience also came about in similar ways.
What value does pro service provide for you and your clients?
Pro bono representation helps sharpen an attorney and his or her skill set. Whether it is client interaction, oral advocacy, writing, or the myriad of other legal skills pro bono representation may require. These skills will benefit all of an attorney’s clients beyond those being represented pro bono.
Why should other lawyers get involved in pro bono service?
To help our community and those who need help, get personal satisfaction from doing so, and sharpen their own skill set.
What advice do you have for lawyers who want to get involved in pro bono service?
Don’t fear branching out beyond your practice area for pro bono, as long as you receive the proper training from the pro bono organization. Or, feel free to assist pro bono clients in an area where you have experience. There are many great organizations out there offering pro bono, including PLSE and Philadelphia VIP.