BSM & HAP Set a New World Record

March 3, 2014

With the final ceremonies at the Winter Olympics now history, we thought that talk of world records would be put on hold for a couple of years. We were wrong. On the last Wednesday in February the BSM-HAP partnership led to a world record…well, at least a HAP world record.

Let’s back up a bit.

HAP stands for the Homeless Advocacy Project, a legal clinic provided by the Philadelphia Bar Association to vulnerable adults who are experiencing homelessness, housing insecurity, or deep poverty. HAP in turn partners with prominent law firms to provide this much needed legal assistance. It is BSM’s good fortune that the firm who comes quarterly to one of our Breaking Breads is Drinker, Biddle & Reath. And they brought along a few attorneys from the Air Products Company. So it may be more accurate to say that four organizations shared the top step of the podium when the medals were distributed.

“At our other sites, if we see 30 people, that is huge”, explained Morgen Black-Smith, the lead HAP attorney.  “During that meal we saw 47. A new HAP world record!” So, there you have it – a record for the ages…or until the next clinic in the spring.

There is, of course, more to the story. These dedicated lawyers bring the same drive, expertise, energy, and dedication to their work with our guests as they do with any of their other clients. And they also are gaining some important insights as they work with our guests. One attorney noted that the impact of their work is not always directly related to their efforts. Sometimes one well-written letter to just the right bureaucrat requesting documents that a client desperately needs, or a phone call to that one person who can break a log-jam that has been an impediment to one of our guests for years, can have life-changing implications. And then at times there are the more protracted and complicated legal issues. The attorneys take those on as well. And all the work is pro bono. And all the work is life changing – for our guests, and no doubt for their lawyers as well.