Irwin L. Trauss, Esq.- 2012 PLAN Excellence Award – 844-292-1318 Pennsylvania legal aid

Irwin L. Trauss, Esq.
Supervising Attorney with Philadelphia Legal Assistance Center in Philadelphia, PA

Deputy Director of Legal Practice, Community Legal Services, Philadelphia, PA

Recipient of the 2015 PLAN Excellence Award
March 24, 2015

Deborah L. Freedman, Esq. has a distinguished record of public service consistently working to provide better access to justice for those without a voice or power. Ms. Freedman currently serves as the Deputy Director at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia where she started as a lawyer in 1992. She has held several positions at CLS including Interim Executive Director, Managing Attorney of the Law Center North Central, Managing Attorney of CLS’ Family Advocacy Unit and Supervising Attorney in both the Welfare and SSI Units. Her motivation for justice and ability to develop strong relationships haves allowed Ms. Freedman to become an exceptionally skilled lawyer and manager. Ms. Freedman is credited for raising the bar for CLS’ legal practice by improving supervision and evaluation systems, adopting holistic models of client service and facilitating staff training and compliance. She currently serves on the Boards of HIAS Pennsylvania, the Community Justice Project and Society Hill Synagogue. She is an active volunteer with Living Beyond Breast Cancer, where she is part of a team of volunteers who staff a helpline for survivors of breast cancer.
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Michael Lee, Esq. – 844-292-1318 Pennsylvania legal aid

Private Attorney Volunteer, Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, Philadelphia, PA

Recipient of the 2015 PLAN Excellence Award
March 24, 2015

Michael Lee, Esq. is the owner of his own law firm, the Law Office of Michael Lee which he established in 2010. His practice is a community-action-oriented law firm specializing in criminal defense, criminal records, forfeiture proceedings, dispute resolution and non-profit corporation formation and advising. He is also co-founder of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity. Attorney Lee leads a citywide Criminal Records Expungement Project which holds monthly free clinics around Philadelphia that has helped many Philadelphians get incorrect or outdated information removed from their arrest records. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Mr. Lee is a graduate of the 259th class of Central High School, George Washington University and Drexel Law School’s inaugural graduating class. He was one of eleven Pennsylvania attorneys invited to participate in the 2013-14 class of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Leadership Institute, which prepares young lawyers for future leadership opportunities within the state bar association.
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Joseph R. DeCristopher, Esq. – 2016 Excellence Award – 844-292-1318 Pennsylvania legal aid

Joseph R. DeCristopher, Esq. - 2016 Excellence Award

Staff Attorney, North Penn Legal Services, Sunbury, PA.

Joseph R. DeCristopher, Esq. has worked for North Penn Legal Services and its predecessor program, Susquehanna Legal Services, since 1979. He joined legal aid shortly after his graduation from Rutgers University Law School. Mr. DeCristopher handles a wide variety of cases for clients but focuses his practice on consumer, bankruptcy, mortgage foreclosure and public housing law. Mr. DeCristopher is also active in local bar activities, having served as President of the Northumberland County Bar Association in 2012 and on several local court rule committees. Over the years, he has achieved many notable litigation successes and obtained positive outcomes for clients.
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Mark A. Krochka, Esq. – 2016 Excellence Award – 844-292-1318 Pennsylvania legal aid

Staff Attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services Association, New Castle, PA

Mark A. Krochka is the face of legal aid in his small county legal aid office in New Castle, maintaining relationships with clients, the private bar, judges and social service agencies. He is an aggressive and relentless advocate for his clients, leaving no stone unturned in trying to find a way to resolve their legal issues. Mr. Krochka often receives praise from his clients for his advocacy on their behalf, including one client who has credited him with saving her life and her children’s lives and has stepped forward to testify to national, state and local audiences about the quality services she received from Attorney Krochka and the essential safety net provided legal aid programs. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. Krochka was a social worker investigating child abuse, often testifying in court proceedings. His passion for both social work and justice allow Mr. Krochka to serve each client with the top-notch services they deserve.
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Matthew D. Lee, Esq. – 2016 Excellence Award – 844-292-1318 Pennsylvania legal aid

Partner, Blank Rome LLP/Pro Bono Volunteer, Philadelphia VIP, Philadelphia, PA.

Attorney Lee is active in pro bono matters, and is the inaugural recipient of Blank Rome’s Edwin P. Rome Pro Bono Achievement Award for his commitment to pro bono service and devotion to the pursuit of equal justice for all. He has provided dedicated leadership and an unwavering commitment to pro bono legal work through is involvement with Philadelphia VIP, the hub of pro bono legal services in Philadelphia, serving VIP as a volunteer attorney and trusted leader while encouraging his fellow attorneys to volunteer with VIP. He has also served as a core member of a team of Blank Rome attorneys involved in a death penalty case, which resulted in a vacated death sentence and a new trial for his client.
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Diana Ingersoll, Esq. – 844-292-1318 Pennsylvania legal aid

Attorney, MidPenn Legal Services, Altoona, PA

Recipient of the 2015 PLAN Excellence Award
March 24, 2015

Diana Ingersoll, Esq. is the sole attorney in the Blair County office of MidPenn Legal Services. She passionately serves the community’s most vulnerable residents — survivors of domestic violence. Since 2001, she has handled 2,610 domestic violence cases, obtaining 1,605 orders of protection for 3,197survivors and their children. Ms. Ingersoll is an active member of the Blair County Bar Association and serves as a liaison to various community organizations and governmental entities, including the Altoona Housing Authority. Her work in these areas has increased MidPenn’s visibility in the community and helped to develop collaborative partnerships for better community partnerships. Ms. Ingersoll received her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1988. The following year she began her legal services career with Blair County Legal Services becoming its executive director in 1992 expertly handling an active caseload while addressing various administrative, management and compliance duties. Recognizing the benefits of a larger program model to her clients and staff, Ms. Ingersoll skillfully shepherded a merger with Southern Alleghenies Legal Aid, a predecessor program to MidPenn Legal Services.
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William Gibbons, Esq. – 2016 Excellence Award – 844-292-1318 Pennsylvania legal aid

Senior Attorney, Community Legal Services, Philadelphia, PA.

William E. Gibbons, Esq. has worked at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia since 1979 and is one of the founding members of the Dependency Project, now the Family Advocacy Unit, where he works to strengthen and unify low income families and ensure that they receive the individualized help they require in order to successfully reunify. Mr. Gibbons represents individual parents involved with the Department of Human Services who are seeking to keep their children at home or to have them returned from foster care to a safe home. He has represented hundreds of parents in dependency cases in court hearings and multi-party case meetings. He participates as a faculty member of the Support Center for Child Advocate training programs and works with several community organizations to promote fatherhood and support low income parents.