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The Public Interest Law Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Crime & Law, Disabilities, Disabled Persons Rights, Minority Rights, Public Interest Law

Mission: The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia is dedicated to advancing the Constitutional promise of equal citizenship to all persons irrespective of race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, gender or poverty. We use public education, continuing education of our clients and client organizations, research, negotiation and, when necessary, the courts to achieve systemic reforms that advance the central goals of self-advocacy, social justice and equal protection of the law for all members of society.

Programs: For over a decade, the Law Center and its clients have devoted substantialfinancial and human resources to ensuring that states throughout the nationprovide prompt and effective medical services for poor children in accordancewith federal law. In Title XIX of the Social Security Act, Congress imposed anexplicit obligation on states to furnish medical assistance to children "withreasonable promptness to all eligible individuals." Each state participating in Medicaid, in exchange for the federal governmentpaying a percentage of the cost, agrees promptly to provide all medicalservices necessary to eligible children, including comprehensive preventivecare, and agrees to set rates at the level necessary to assure sufficientdoctors and dentists participate. In the cases brought by the Law Center,plaintiffs allege and prove that state officials are not complying with theseobligations. We are currently litigating cases in Michigan, Oklahoma andFlorida. These cases build on our successful suit in Pennsylvania settled in1995.

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 4

As a volunteer with The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with a dedicated team of lawyers and legal assistants. Whether they are working with environmental concerns in low income neighborhoods, striving to obtain quality education for children with disabilities, fightinmg to stop discriminatory truancy fines, or conducting educational classes, they do it all with a high level of professionalism. What makes PILCOP stand out is not only do they demonstrate a high level of technical expertise, but their passion for obtaining equal justice and equality for all peoples is equally impressive.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Here's what I wrote,

The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia has proven to be a lifeline for many of the African American students in the Lower Merion community, particularly those who have been identified as disabled (and those wrongly identified as disabled).
PILCOP's staff is highly qualified to advocate and litigate disability and civil cases. We have many victories to prove they are making a difference in improving the way children are educated. They are not "afraid" to challenge a school district, known for its deep pockets and high achievement, to do well by all of its students, not just those they deem the brightest--keyword "they."

PILCOP has filed more than 20 complaints on behalf of children with disabilities with great outcomes in every case. One student is attending a local college as a "13th" year student and showing herself and the world that she is a champion capable of high achievement---she just made the honors at the end of the first semester. Another student with dyslexia was dis-serviced while attending Lower Merion schools, he is now in a private school placement and says that it's a perfect match for him. Another student never should have been placed in special education and is thrilled to, finally, have confirmed what she always thought to be true--she was never learning disabled. There's no way these students would be experiencing such outcomes without PILCOP's intervention.

Parents who don't have the resources to obtain such high quality advocates but need the talent, steadfastness, and knowledge they bring to the table are assisted in obtaining what state and federal laws dictate their child(ren) is entitled to.
We love the PILCOP staff and all of those who volunteer to make a difference for those who otherwise would not have a fighting chance against large institutions. We all win when children receive the quality education, at least an appropriate one, intended by the US government and its people.

Personally, I cannot say enough about the benefits the PILCOP staff have provided to a small community. They are people making a difference for children, one at a time and every time.


Rating: 5

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP) is a great organization to be a part of, mainly because of the people who work there. These people have their heart's in the right place as they work hard to help those who are often forgotten in society. Currently, that means working on a number of issues; from helping disabled children receive a quality education; to increasing access to health care for less affluent children; to seeking better solutions for dealing with truancy; and working toward environmental justice.

The organization also provides many opportunities for being involved and learning. PILCOP offers seminars and symposiums on education and environmental topics. It also employs young lawyers and provides internships for law students to learn more about public interest law. As a volunteer, I have learned a great deal and have found the staff very open to providing information about their work. They are also very appreciative of the contribution I am making to their efforts.

If you are interested in learning about public interest law and want to help make a difference, I would highly recommend that you consider the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.


Rating: 5

As an intern without any legal experience, I came in with very little knowledge about how the legal system works and the nuances of legal work. The attorneys at PILCOP not only trained me to the point where I can now be a productive member of the legal team, but also showed me a level of kindness and respect that made me feel more like family and less like a pre-law student. Not only is the staff at PILCOP incredibly intelligent and not only do they do incredible work every day in such fields as education, healthcare, and environment, they are just plain good people.


Client Served

Rating: 5

I was represented by Pilcop when I felt I was unjustly denied my teaching certification. Michael Churchill along with his staff stayed with me and followed it through until it was shown that I did not mislead, misrepresent, nor do anything, to exclude me from my teaching certificate so, that I could do what I love, Teach. This organization believed in me and saw to it that a wrong was righted. Thank you all


Client Served

Rating: 1

I have asked and asked the Public Interest Law Center to help me with a very serious Environmental Justice next to my house. The lot next to me was a contaminated industrial lot with many witnesses to presence of vats of acid and more. There is long history of illegal dumping. Improper and absent good practice building and environmental and public safety procedure in place. Riddled with environmental and other crimes. I have lost everything and my health is several jeopardized due to exposure, yet the project has Philadelphia political protection and the only reason Philcop has to NOT take this case and protect public health is it's own political and funding interests. They have stood by for years allowing my life to fall further and further and allowed these crimes to happen by NEVER doing anything. Now future residents will suffer.