Pro Bono Eligibility

Eligibility to receive pro bono legal services through PVLA is determined based on the following three criteria:

Subject Matter – To ensure that we remain true to our core mission of supporting the Philadelphia arts and cultural community, PVLA limits the types of cases and clients that we work with. The client must be an individual artist, arts collective, or arts & cultural nonprofit or for-profit organization with an “arts-related” legal issue.  PVLA defines the term “art” broadly to include both traditional artistic disciplines (e.g. fine art, music, dance, theater, film etc.) as well as more modern forms of creative expression (e.g. animation, game design, user experience, web design, etc.). The types of legal issues handled by PVLA attorneys are widely varied, implicating a wide array of legal practice areas.

Geography – Due to staff capacity and volunteer availability, PVLA’s pro bono arts-related legal services are offered predominantly to clients currently living or headquartered within the Greater Philadelphia region. This area encompasses Philadelphia County and surrounding counties located in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and northern Delaware. In limited circumstances, PVLA may accept cases from clients outside of our normal geographic range where the client has demonstrated that no alternative legal services are available.

Financial – In an effort to ensure that our pro bono legal services are provided to those who need them most, PVLA limits pro bono eligibility to clients demonstrating significant financial need. PVLA determines financial need by gathering and reviewing the client’s income and asset information and measuring it against the appropriate financial eligibility threshold. These financial eligibility threshold amounts vary depending on the type of client, as well as the size and composition of the client’s household.

What are the Financial Eligibility Guidelines for PVLA Clients?

  • Individual Clients: Must demonstrate household income and assets below 300% of the federal poverty line (adjusted based on size and composition of household).
  • Artist Collectives: Each member of the collective must demonstrate household income and assets below 300% of the federal poverty line (adjusted based on size and composition of that member’s household).
  • Arts & Cultural Organizations: Must demonstrate an annual operating budget for the organization under $1 Million.

What Does the Term “Pro Bono” Mean?

An attorney assigned to a client for a “pro bono” project through PVLA will provide legal services to the client on a volunteer basis, and will not charge any attorney’s fees for time spent working on the case by either that attorney or others at their firm. This pro bono service typically also covers minor incidental expenses incurred by the attorney or their firm as a result of representation, such as costs associated with document printing or postage.

However, where the client’s goals for a pro bono project require payment of any significant third-party expenses – such as filing fees, registration fees or court costs – the client will be held responsible for these expenses. Clients should ask their attorney about any anticipated third-party expenses for the project at the initial meeting in order to make a more informed decision about how the representation should proceed. For a complete list of all filings fees and costs, visit the USPTO’s Online Fee Schedule (PA Patent clients pay the Micro-entity fee).

Is There a Cost Associated with PVLA Services?

Due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on the creative sector, PVLA is currently waiving all pro bono client application fees for the foreseeable future.