PVLA COVID-19 Service Impact and Updates
Dear Friends of PVLA:
I’m reaching out to you today to provide an update on services and operations of Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (PVLA) amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
First and foremost, I want to assure you that PVLA’s staff and board members are closely monitoring government and media updates regarding the impact of the virus, and are taking every necessary precaution to ensure the health and safety of our clients, volunteers and employees. As part of our effort to help minimize the spread of this global pandemic, PVLA staff will be working remotely to process applications for pro bono services, and will be suspending all in-person client meetings for the foreseeable future. Although we will have limited capacity to field phone calls, our Legal Service Coordinators will remain available to field questions and requests via email at [email protected], and will continue to conduct client intake and hold meetings via teleconference.
PVLA will continue to respond to client requests for legal services through online applications located on our website. In an effort to help and serve as many clients as possible in this time of increased need, effective immediately PVLA will be amending its intake procedures and eligibility criteria in the following ways:
- PVLA will waive all client application fees for service, regardless of income level;
- PVLA will expand its definitions of “artists” to include non-artist individuals working in a support role for artists, arts and culture organizations or creative industries;
- PVLA will expand its definition of “arts-related legal issues” to include ALL legal issues where PVLA attorneys have expertise, provided such issues can be handled remotely; and
- PVLA will increase flexibility in evaluating client financial eligibility for services to the extent possible.
In an effort to maintain the health and safety of our clients, and in response to the increased demand placed on our law firm partners and volunteers, PVLA will be temporarily restricting pro bono case assignments to primarily Legal Line and ArtFax phone consultations and other limited engagement projects that can be handled remotely. However, PVLA will consider undertaking assignment on Full Service matters in emergency situations or extenuating circumstances. Please visit PVLA’s website for further information on each type of service.
As any good attorney knows, increasing equality and access to justice for those in need through pro bono services is both an ethical and moral imperative. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that the volunteer legal community come together to offer assistance and support for the more vulnerable members of our society.
As such, PVLA strongly encourages all of our volunteers to continue taking on cases and serving PVLA clients remotely, to the extent that they are able to do so. Additionally, we invite our volunteers to refer other attorneys to join the PVLA family and to take on pro bono cases on behalf of our clients. In particular, PVLA anticipates increased demand for volunteer attorneys who can provide legal counsel and assistance in the following areas:
- Entertainment & media;
- Labor and employment practices;
- Insurance; and
- State, local, and federal emergency aid resources
In addition to supporting a community in need of assistance, PVLA pro bono matters provide excellent opportunities for attorneys to stay busy and sharp while facing disruptions to their regular paid client work by offering additional training and allowing volunteers to practice critical legal skills.
PVLA will continue to monitor the situation pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak, and will provide updates as circumstances change. We encourage you to continue checking our website for more information, or to reach out to one of our staff members via email at [email protected], or our director Ryan Morris at the email below, should you have any questions or concerns.
Last, but certainly not least, PVLA extends our sincere wishes for the continued health and safety of our community members, and we hope that those reading this message will take the time to serve and help others as much as possible while remaining safe through this crisis. Thank you, and please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.
Ryan W. Morris, Esq.