PLA Blog

#RethinkCredibilty in Family Court

Its time we #RethinkCredibilty in Family Court to treat survivors of violence with compassion and respect. 

PLA Wins Unemployment Benefits for UberX Driver in Lowman v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review



Julia Simon-Mishel 

Supervising Attorney, Philadelphia Legal Assistance 


Phone: (215) 981-3889                                                 

Rising Leaders: Gabriela Rodriguez and Leslie Allen Named New Supervising Attorneys of the Family Law Unit

A graphic with a white background and orange details announces, "Philadelphia Legal Assistance Rising Leaders: Leslie Allen and Gabriela Rodriguez named new Supervising Attorneys of the Family Law Unit"

Philadelphia Legal Assistance is proud to announce two new Supervising Attorneys for the Family Law Unit: Gabriela Rodriguez and Leslie Allen. Gaby and Leslie are both rising from Staff Attorney positions in the Family Law Unit at PLA, and we are excited to see the new directions their leadership will take us.  

Social Worker Appreciation Month

When folks come to legal aid organizations such as Philadelphia Legal Assistance they are often experiencing several legal needs, including anything from experiencing violence at home, to lacking money for groceries, to facing a mortgage foreclosure. In 2017, a national report found that 1 in 4 low-income households has experienced 6+ civil legal problems in the past year, including 67% of households with survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault.

No One's Home Should Make Them Sick

Two young children look out a wintery window.

While Philadelphia has a strong legacy of homeownership across income levels, for many folks keeping up with repairs is a challenge. In families where homes are passed down through generations but inheritance isn’t clearly documented, the inability to afford repairs forces families to live in aging or deteriorating homes that threaten their health.

Joanne, an attorney in PLA's housing unit, wrote about how raising sons with asthma impacted by her work.

Attorneys Must Cede Power to their Clients

Samantha DiGiuseppe, a Certified Legal Intern and Student Advocate at PLA's Family Law Unit, wrote the following reflection on the importance of survivors of violence to maintain agency in their legal cases and how attorneys must consider the power dynamics of their role as legal experts.

Key takeaway: Clients are the experts of their own lives and are best suited to make decisions about their family law case. 

Legal Aid as Harm Reduction: How Legal Aid Supports Recovery from Opioid Use Disorder

Harm reduction is about rights and respect for all people

Mental illness and substance use disorders should not prevent people from accessing legal aid. Erin Davison, AmeriCorps VISTA for the Medical Legal Community Partnership (MLCP), is working to build the capacity of the MLCP to treat the socio-legal needs of Philadelphians with opioid use disorders. To celebrate September at National Recovery Month, Erin highlights the MLCP's partnership with Medicine Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs and how attorneys can act as harm reductionists and have a positive impact on clients' recovery journeys.

How HUD’s Proposal to Evict 55,000 Children will Affect Philadelphia’s Immigrant Communities 

How HUD’s Proposal to Evict 55,000 Children will Affect Philadelphia’s Immigrant Communities

All communities need access to stable, affordable housing to grow and thrive. As a social determinant of health, sub-par housing can lead to many negative health outcomes such as asthma, stressed mental health, and lead exposure. Legal interns Lauren Davis of the Medical-Legal-Community Partnership and Maddi Gray of the Consumer Housing Unit discuss the state of stable, affordable housing for families and how the Department of Housing and Development’s proposal to limit immigrant families’ access to housing assistance may impact their health and livelihood.

All Sexual Assault Survivors Deserve Independence

All Survivors of Sexual Assault Deserve Independence

All sexual assault survivors deserve independence and autonomy as they build a life of their choosing, yet outdated PA laws make it difficult for single parents to do so.

Arly Smith-Pearson, Staff Attorney in our Family Law Unit, represents survivors of sexual assault and other forms of violence in child custody and protective order cases, often in collaboration with advocates from our partners at WOAR and WAA. To recognize April as sexual assault awareness month, Arly highlights how challenging the legal system is for survivors—even as they “win” their criminal and civil suits.