At Schnader, we believe our communities are best served when we all roll up our sleeves and pitch in. That’s why giving back is a major part of our Firm’s culture. Below are several examples of our involvement.
Camden Center for Law and Social Justice
Lisa Rodriguez serves as Chair of this organization, which provides legal services to the working poor in New Jersey, provides immigration services, and is one of the leading New Jersey organizations involved in the resettlement of Afghan refugees.
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
As described in Our Diverse History, Schnader was instrumental in the founding of this important national organization, and has continued to supports its work. Our former Chairman David Smith currently serves on the Board as Treasurer.
Schnader is extremely active in providing pro bono services to refugees and asylum applicants. Across our many offices, the Firm has assisted many dozens of individuals in filing claims and representing them in Immigration Court and before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Edward J. Sholinsky, chair of our Hiring Committee, is vice president of the Board of HIAS Pennsylvania, and Keith E. Whitson, managing partner of our Pittsburgh Office, is a Board Member of Legal Services for Immigrants and Internationals.
Criminal Justice Reform
Schnader has a long history of supporting prisoners’ rights and helping to combat mass incarceration. Our attorneys routinely handle prisoner civil rights cases. Samuel W. Silver, partner in our Philadelphia office, is president of the Board of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. The Firm has participated in many individual cases with the Project, including serving on the team that achieved a landmark court decision overturning the conviction of Anthony Wright.
Schnader also has taken a leading role in impact litigation involving prisons and jails. Schnader represented a class of inmates in a constitutional challenge to jail overcrowding. Through a series of consent orders, over the course of eleven years, the inmate processing system was revamped, and the issue of overcrowding addressed.
In 2018, Schnader partnered with several nonprofit organizations to stop the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ practice of copying the privileged mail of incarcerated individuals. Since 2020, Schnader has partnered with other organizations alleging systemic constitutional violations in the provision of mental health care at the Allegheny County Jail. Samuel W. Silver is a member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project.
Kevin S. Blanton, co-chair of our Business Services Department, serves as president of the Board of the AIDS Fund whose mission is to increase awareness and education about HIV/AIDS, and provide emergency financial assistance to those living with HIV in the Philadelphia region.
Allegheny County Bar Foundation
Keith Whitson serves as president of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, which, along with its partner organizations, runs several dozen pro bono programs focused on crucial needs including housing, protection from abuse, termination of parental rights and other family law matters, and disability rights.
Manchester Academic Charter School
Our Pittsburgh office has partnered with the Manchester Academic Charter School on various law-related projects. These include helping the students draft a “bill of rights” for their school, preparing the students for a mock trial, setting up the school’s youth court, and sponsoring an annual eighth grade trip to Harrisburg, where the students meet with legislative leaders and advocate for restorative justice.
Schnader was a longstanding supporter of Caton Village, a residential treatment center for women in Philadelphia which provided education and life skills training until its closure. The Firm held legal clinics, holiday events and service days, and donated computers for a new computer lab.
Turning Points for Children
Schnader has teamed up with Turning Points, the largest coordinator of services for foster children in Philadelphia, for Days of Service in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King. Schnader purchased items to create 50 “care kits,” a duffle bag equipped with essential items needed by a fostered child to make the transition into a new home more comfortable. The care kits were created for children from newborns to teens, and included age appropriate toiletries, books, school and art supplies, and small toys.
We also designed and taught a pilot life skills seminar for young adults aging out of the foster care system. The seminar focused on the skills needed to land a first job, such as gathering information needed for the application process, assistance with drafting resumes, the dos and don’ts of interviewing, how to open a bank account, and how to secure vital documents needed for the application process. At the end of the seminar, each young adult was given a “launch kit” that included many of the basic items needed to live independently. The launch kits were funded by donations from Schnader staff and attorneys, along with a generous donation from Spikes Trophies that allowed us to provide folios for interviews. Over 20 additional launch kits were sent to Turning Points for distribution.
Other Examples of Community Involvement
Our lawyers also serve on the boards of other well-established community and nonprofit organizations whose missions run the gamut from human services and civil rights to access to justice and fair election advocacy. Examples include:
Allegheny County Bar Association Gender Equity Committee
American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
Ashley Addiction Treatment
Committee of Seventy
JFCS Legal Services to Immigrants and Internationals
Legal Services of New Jersey
Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project’s Screening Committee
Military Assistance Project
Pathways to Housing – Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project
Philadelphia Diversity Law Group
Pittsburgh Legal Diversity and Inclusion Coalition
Public Interest Civil Litigation Fund
West Side YMCA
Women and Girls Foundation