The Independence Foundation is committed to the support of free legal services for poor and disadvantaged residents of the Philadelphia region. The centerpiece of this commitment has been the Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellowship Program. Created in 1996, the Fellowship Program is the only regionally concentrated program of its kind. It has had a direct impact on the lives of thousands of people who would otherwise have been unable to secure access to the justice system.
Through the Fellowship Program, the Foundation funds the compensation and cost of employment benefits for accomplished young lawyers who have decided to employ their considerable talents in public interest service. In an additional component of each Fellowship grant, the Foundation assists the Public Interest Law Fellows in the repayment of their often substantial educational loans. Thus the Foundation enables some of the best and brightest law school graduates to come to the Philadelphia area and obtain employment with an organization based in this region that provides free legal services to poor and disadvantaged people. People served include the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, and others deprived of their human or civil rights.
Importantly, the Foundation requires that the focus of all Fellowship work be on the direct representation of disadvantaged clients. Although the Foundation recognizes the value of broad based policy development, the Foundation is more interested in supporting direct legal services for those who cannot otherwise obtain the professional assistance they need to navigate the complicated judicial and administrative systems that affect their lives on a daily basis.
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