Community Lawyering Clinic receives $1.65 million grant | The Triangle

Community Lawyering Clinic receives $1.65 million grant

Photograph by Christian Ear for The Triangle

The Thomas R. Kline School of Law’s Community Lawyering Clinic will now be known as the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic following a $1.65 million gift by Gwen and Andy Stern, both lawyers with ties to Drexel University.

Gwen Stern is the director of the Trial Advocacy Program and is a pProfessor of Llaw at Drexel. Her career has been spent practicing with Philadelphia firms like Kline & Specter PC and White and Williams LLC, serving as a board member of the Nation Youth Justice Alliance and directing the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy project, which is a joint program through Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania aimed at engaging high school students with the United States Constitution.

“The program empowers teens from communities that are typically estranged from the legal system and enables those young people to see the potential for obtaining justice,” Gwen Stern said about the program.

Andy Stern is a partner at Kline & Specter and has accumulating record-setting settlements in a highly accomplished career as a trial lawyer. These include a $95.6 million settlement for the final survivor to be pulled from the rubble after the deadly thrift store collapse at Center City’s Salvation Army location in 2013.

The couple’s contribution extends the existing impact they’ve already had on the community by offering free legal assistance to those who can’t afford it. Both Gwen and Andy will be volunteering their legal services at the the newly named clinic.

“I am honored to be part of the team of ‘legal eagles’ at the Community Lawyering Clinic and looking forward to making a positive difference to clients in need,” Andy Stern told DrexelNow.

In addition to providing legal support free-of-charge to low-income individuals, the center publishes reports that advocate for the rights of West Philadelphia community members. These reports include a 2016 report called “Needless Drought: The Water Deficit for Low Income Philadelphians,” which details how some Philadelphians have lived without running water in their homes for decades.

Dan Filler, Dean of the Kline School of Law put out a statement sharing the news Feb. 6.

“This is great news for both Kline Law and our surrounding community. In addition to providing critical support for Kline Law’s social action mission, this gift will be life-changing by helping to meet the legal needs of many individuals living in West Philadelphia. I am deeply grateful to Andy and Gwne for their generous support,” Filler wrote in a statement to DrexelNow.

Filler also suggested that the gift would go towards hiring a staff attorney that will increase the clinic’s capabilities.

Rachel Lopez, Director of the Community Lawyering Clinic, reiterated the impact that the gift would have.

“Not only will it mean that we can provide more high-quality legal assistance to some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable, but it will also create new opportunities for innovations that will facilitate more collective and holistic approach to legal problem solving,” Lopez said in a statement to DrexelNow.

More information about the center, which is located in Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, can be found here.