Advocating for the Arts

Philadelphia Bar Reporter

Pro Bono Spotlight – Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

When I began working at Blank Rome LLP, I was thrilled with how encouraged we were to participate in pro bono activities. Blank Rome not only encourages and supports pro bono participation, it also assists its attorneys with finding meaningful pro bono opportunities that each attorney is passionate about. As a young corporate attorney who once considered a career in the performing arts rather than law, Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts was my perfect pro bono fit. PVLA has been a resource for Philadelphia’s arts and cultural community since 1978, providing pro-bono and low-cost legal assistance to artists, inventors, and arts and culture organizations in the Philadelphia region and statewide.

I was tasked with assisting a nonprofit modern dance repertory company in Philadelphia by drafting the legal documentation necessary for the dance company to receive certain assets from a recently deceased famous dancer’s foundation in New York City. PVLA’s client was thrilled to hear that a former ballerina was taking on her case, as I could truly appreciate the impact these assets would have on her dance repertory company.

However, this case was not so simple as just drafting a few documents. The case required analyzing the organizational documents of each of the entities involved in the transfer, participating in negotiations with the lawyers representing the dance foundation, and even contacting the New York Public Library, as PVLA’s client planned to donate various assets to the Lincoln Center. Despite a few hurdles and countless emails and phone calls, the client remained optimistic and eager to help, and we were able to successfully negotiate and transfer the assets.

The most rewarding part of the experience was seeing how happy and grateful the client was after the transaction was completed and knowing that my small contribution would help an incredible dance company and artist continue to thrive. I hope to see a performance by the company one day in the future.

PVLA has been such an incredible organization to volunteer with, as it allows me to give back to a thriving arts community that is so important to me in the city that I love most. I am excited to continue working with PVLA and highly recommend this organization to any attorney searching for their next pro bono opportunity.

“Advocating for the Arts,” by Ashley Catalano-Leckerman was originally published in the September 2020 edition of the Philadelphia Bar Reporter. © 2020 Philadelphia Bar Association.