The Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Internship and
Fellowship program is featured in an article entitled,
Diversity Matters, in
the Sept./Oct. issue of the The Pennsylvania Lawyer
magazine published by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
The article outlines the operation of the
program and highlights the important role it plays in promoting
diversity within the public interest legal community.
A. Michael Pratt, a board member of PLAN and a
longtime board member of Community Legal Services in
Philadelphia, who is also currently chancellor-elect of the
Philadelphia Bar Association is the author of the article.
300 lawyers and judges crowded into the
Pennsylvania Bar Institute facility in
Philadelphia on Tuesday, October 23, to help
celebrate the 15 years that the Martin Luther
King, Jr. Summer Internships have been bringing
diversity to legal aid.
The proceedings were not only
televised on cable television, but they were
simulcast to four other locations in
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh, Mechanicsburg, Erie
and Stroudsburg – making this truly a statewide
Attendees heard words of praise, encouragement
and thanks from First Judicial District
President Judge C. Darnell Jones, II,
Pennsylvania Bar Association President Andrew
Susko, and Philadelphia Bar Association
Chancellor Elect Michael Pratt.
Also speaking were Mid-Penn
Legal Services Director Rhodia Thomas (a member
of the MLK Celebration Committee), Community
Impact Legal Services Director Carolyn Johnson
(a founding member of the MLK Program), and
Rasheedah Phillips (a former MLK Summer Intern
who will begin her two-year service as an MLK
Fellow next summer), whose speech about what
diversity means and offers ended in a standing
ovation from all present. The text of her speech
is posted at the link above.
PLAN, Inc. Chief Administrative Officer Cynthia
Newcomer introduced a video about the MLK
Program, which was created specially for the
Celebration and will now be shared with all law
schools and bar associations across the state.
Executive Director Sam Milkes
was able to announce that, thanks to almost
single-handed efforts of long-time PLAN
supporter Tobey Oxholm, the General Counsel of
Drexel University, and Chair of the 15th
Anniversary Celebration, PLAN, Inc. had received
over $250,000 in cash and pledges to support the
Martin Luther King, Jr. Program.
Rhodia Thomas told the
attendees that, thanks to Drexel’s Information
Resources and Technology Department, PLAN now
has a data-searchable website on which the
resumes and attributes of MLK Summer Interns and
Fellows would be posted, providing a new
diversity resource for PLAN programs and
financial supporters interested in hiring
minority attorneys – a talent pool that will
increase each year as more law students enter
the summer program and others are screened by
The luncheon’s keynote speaker was NPR’s senior
correspondent Juan Williams, author of the
acclaimed Eyes on the Prize: America’s
Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. Beginning
with a story about Thurgood Marshall to explain
how people misperceive others who do not share a
common past, Williams engaged in a discussion
with “the living Thurgood Marshall,”
demonstrating the huge shifts in demographics
that our country had gone through in the 40
years since the Brown v. Board of
He told the assembled legal
community that “we live at a time of great
historical importance” and that lawyers in
particular have the opportunity – and the duty –
to be social engineers, using the law to ensure
that all parts of American society are given the
opportunity to succeed. He said the era of the
melting pot was over, and America was now a
social “chef’s salad” with its parts remaining
separately identifiable, and the whole being
greater than just the sum of the ingredients.
The luncheon celebration followed a reception in
the elegant Mayor’s Conversation Hall at
Philadelphia’s City Hall. More than 125 managing
partners and hiring partners of law firms,
members of the judiciary, MLK summer interns,
and PLAN directors came together to celebrate
the MLK Program’s 15 years and to encourage the
profession to keep pursuing the twin objectives
of providing legal aid to the indigent, and of
encouraging diversity in the legal profession.
The video was unveiled at this reception.
PLAN, Inc. was honored to have
the Honorable Ronald D. Castille, the next Chief
Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and
C. Darnell Jones, II, the President Judge of the
First Judicial District, offer remarks in
support of PLAN and the MLK Program. The
reception was hosted by the Honorable John F.
Street, Mayor of Philadelphia and long-time
supporter of legal services and it was made
possible thanks to the support of the
Funding for the Martin Luther King, Jr. program is provided by
Pennsylvania IOLTA and the Pennsylvania Department of Public
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Recognizes
Participants in 2008 Martin Luther King Jr.
The Pennsylvania Legal
Aid Network celebrated the 2008 Martin Luther King
Jr. Internship Program at a reception that was held
on August 6, 2008 at the Dauphin County Bar
Association in Harrisburg.
Pedro A. Cortes, Secretary of the Commonwealth
was the keynote speaker at the Recognition Reception.
Secretary Cortés was nominated as Secretary of the Commonwealth by
Governor Rendell on April 2, 2003 and was unanimously confirmed by
the Senate on May 13, 2003, making him the first confirmed Latino
Cabinet member in Pennsylvania history.
financial support for the MLK Internship program is provided by the
Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyers Trust Account Board and the
Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. PLAN appreciates the
ongoing support of these organizations for the MLK program.
The 2008 edition of
The Drum Major, a
collection of essays by the interns reflecting on their summer in
legal services, was distributed at the reception. The essays
included in The Drum Major may be viewed at the link
Certificates of Recognition were presented to the
interns who participated in the internship program during 2008.
Interns receiving recognition included:
Pennsylvania Health Law Project
Sakeenah S. El-Amin
Community Legal Services
Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project
Philadelphia Legal Assistance
Amanda K. Franzen
Neighborhood Legal Services Association
Northwestern Legal Services
Ema L. Iruobe
Community Impact Legal Services
Cherie N. Long
Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania