PHILADELPHIA – Philip D. Amoa, a corporate attorney from McCarter & English’s Philadelphia office with an extensive track record in pro bono legal representation, has been elected unanimously to the board of directors of Philadelphia VIP, one of the area’s leading providers of pro bono legal representation.
Amoa, whose commercial practice includes representing private companies in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and licensing arrangements, as well as private equity firms in connection with their investments in portfolio companies, has focused his pro bono practice on assisting not-for-profits in formation and acquisition of tax-exempt status.
Philadelphia VIP, which has 10,000 volunteers, including attorneys, law students, paralegals and legal administrators, recognized Amoa in September 2012 as its volunteer of the month for his pro bono work with not-for-profits and low-income entrepreneurs and business owners.
Amoa, who successfully completed the Young Leaders Program of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and is on the executive committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, said he intends to maintain or increase his volume of pro bono legal work. He noted that the firm – a Center City fixture for 15 years – strongly encourages pro bono work and is a gold sponsor of Philadelphia VIP.
“Funding for legal services organizations is diminishing at the same time the need for legal representation is increasing in the populations we serve. Without organizations like us, those needs would largely go unmet,” Amoa said of Philadelphia VIP, which has represented more than 30,000 clients since being co-founded in 1981 by Community Legal Services and the Philadelphia Bar Association.
“We offer legal assistance in categories running from family stability and helping families maintain their income levels, to preventing homelessness and promoting economic development for the public good,” Amoa said. “The cases can involve adoption or custody, consumer debt, mortgage foreclosure, eviction from public housing, spousal or child support, landlord-tenant disputes and even forming not-for-profit corporations, which has a positive viral effect because it allows them, in turn, to do good in the community.”
In the spring, the Philadelphia office of McCarter & English hosted a Philadelphia VIP small business legal clinic, led by Amoa, that connected local micro-entrepreneurs with volunteer lawyers. The entrepreneurs, most of whom are enrolled in the Women’s Business Development Center’s NxLeveL for Start-Ups, which helps get new businesses up and running, secured one-on-one sessions with 50 volunteering attorneys, including 20 from McCarter as well as in-house counsel from other local companies such as DuPont, TE Connectivity, Pep Boys, and Exelon. Business ventures ranged from the development of a small rain barrel for gutters, to a mobile candy store, to a clean technology company, and legal issues included choice of entity, contracts, tax matters, as well as intellectual property, real estate, insurance coverage and employment issues.
F. Traynor “Tray” Beck, managing partner of the Philadelphia office of McCarter & English, said: “Besides being a terrific corporate attorney, Philip has truly distinguished himself by his selfless work on behalf of Philadelphia-area residents who have legal needs but cannot afford to retain attorneys privately. Philadelphia VIP is a shining emblem of what is right with the legal profession. And our firm has a longstanding tradition to be fully committed to using our legal knowledge and professional abilities to help those in need. So Philip’s election to the board works on a variety of levels.”
McCarter & English recently prevailed in a pro bono deportation case, preventing the government from returning its client to his native land, where persecution was a certainty and physical harm likely. It also received a Heroes of Sandy award from Volunteer Lawyers for Justice for its work on behalf of people who suffered losses as a result of the October 2012 storm.