Community Legal Services, a nonprofit public interest law firm that provides free legal
services in civil cases to low-income Philadelphians, recently announced that it has moved into a new central office in the city’s Hunting Park section.
The North Philadelphia Law Center, located at 1410 W. Erie Avenue, opened on Jan. 31, according to CLS.
For the past three decades, the nonprofit organization had called a previous rental space home, but the facility began to deteriorate significantly, and much of it was not accessible to individuals with physical disabilities, a major portion of the firm’s client base.
The group turned to architectural firm Atkin Olshin Schade to help craft a space that would “embody respect for clients, staff, and the pursuit of equal justice,” CLS stated in a news release announcing the grand opening of its new headquarters.
Catherine Carr, the executive director of CLS, said in a statement that the process for a new office space has been “transformational” for the firm she has led since 1995, and for the 14,500 clients the firm serves on an annual basis.
“It’s important that we remain present in this neighborhood, the home of so many low-income and vulnerable Philadelphians, who are the focus of our work,” Carr said in a statement.
The new 18,500-square-foot North Philadelphia Law Center was built using $8.5 million that came in part from the state, city, charitable donors and key lenders, according to CLS.
The organization had also secured a $3.8 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Partners and lead donors included PNC Bank and PNC Bank New Markets Investment Partners, Commonwealth Cornerstone Group, Connelly Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce, and many individual, foundation and law firm donors to “Stand Up for Justice,” which is the capital campaign for CLS.
The new office building, which was designed using many “eco-friendly elements,” such as a vegetated roof, solar shading and bike racks and showers for commuters, is fully handicapped accessible, which is crucial given that many of the firm’s client’s are aging and disabled.