Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor once observed that “public service marks the difference between a business and a profession. While a business can afford to focus solely on profits, a profession cannot. It must devote itself first to the community it is responsible to serve. I can imagine no greater duty than fulfilling this obligation. And I can imagine no greater pleasure.”  

Hangley Aronchick is of course a business, but its attorneys have always believed that serving the community is an essential part of the legal profession. We regularly take on pro bono matters involving issues ranging from the mundane to cutting edge social issues with a broad reach. We represent community members who may not always have access to the legal system, including children, families, prison inmates and their families, economically disadvantaged individuals, and members of minority groups. 

We counsel individuals and families facing overwhelming circumstances. Mike Carlson and Isa Naveira Lopez recently helped a Venezuelan woman and her family obtain political asylum in the United States after fleeing their homeland due to increased threats and harassment for her political activities. Over the years, the firm has also been part of highly-publicized matters such as the Kids-for-Cash scandal and the Whitewood decision legalizing same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, and, on multiple occasions, partnered with organizations such as the Pennsylvania Innocence Project to overturn wrongful convictions. 

Our attorneys frequently author amicus briefs in legal matters that have considerable consequences for those involved, but also society at large. For instance, John Summers, Andrew Erdlen, Michael Masciandaro and Alexander Egervary recently authored a number of amicus briefs addressing the use of evidence obtained through torture in cases the U.S. government has brought against prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. As another example, Helen Casale and Kyle Victor wrote an amicus brief last year on behalf of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers arguing in favor of the non-biological parent in a groundbreaking case that could redefine parentage under Pennsylvania law. 

Many of our attorneys work with community organizations, developing long-term relationships and taking on leadership roles. Matt Hamermesh, who heads the firm’s pro bono program, currently serves as president of the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project, continuing his years long volunteer work with the group. John Summers served on the boards of the Innocence Project and Children First, and currently serves on the Education Law Center board. Robert Ebby works with the Support Center for Child Advocates, helping children escape unsafe home situations and transition to adoption or permanent legal custody in loving and safe homes. Robert Wiygul is now secretary of the board of Public Interest Law Center, and Jerry Shoemaker volunteers at Philly VIP and provides free legal clinics at the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, an organization that focuses on freedom from domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Associates Nicholas Bellos, Mathew Gomez, Eitan Kagedan, Caitlin McHugh, Chelsea Nichols and Kyle Victor have all participated in the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s board observer program, which allows young lawyers to learn first-hand about board participation for non-profits. 

For 30 years, Hangley Aronchick has proudly served our clients, our neighbors, and our community; and we will continue to do so as we enter our fourth decade of legal practice.