PLA's History

Eight PLA employees pose together in front of the entrance to PLA's office

Our Mission: Enforce and protect the rights of individuals and families by providing accessible, creative and high quality legal assistance and working collaboratively for systemic change.

Founded in 1996, Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA) provides free civil legal services to over 6,000 individuals and families in Philadelphia who cannot afford an attorney each year. 

We help people going through some of life’s greatest challenges: from violence within a family, to the loss of a home passed down through generations, and the loss of a job that threatens being able to put food on the table. PLA knows that one legal problem can quickly impact multiple aspects of your life, and assists with a variety of civil legal problems to provide holistic care.

Connecting to legal aid makes a huge impact on the thousands of people who find themselves in such a difficult situation.

PLA is committed to innovating legal services in order to meet our community’s needs and has established the Medical Legal Community Partnership to help address the social determinants of health in public health centers across the city. With the rise of the opioid epidemic, we expanded our MLCP model to support folks recovering from Substance Use Disorder with critical legal help. 

We also provide legal services to migrant farmworkers working in Pennsylvania.

In addition to providing direct legal services, we provide referrals and support to organizations that coordinate pro bono volunteer lawyers, including Philadelphia VIP and the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project.  We work closely with other providers of legal services in Philadelphia.

PLA receives funding from the Legal Services Corporation, the Department of Justice, the City of Philadelphia's Division of Housing and Community Development, Pennsylvania IOLTA, the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, and other sources.  We operate on a $4 million annual budget.  You can find more information on our Guidestar profile. Copies of our IRS Form 990 and audited financial statements are available upon request.

If you need legal help, we encourage you to apply for assistance over the phone or online.