The Bending the ARC Award: Recognizing Achievement, Resilience, and Courage

A Note Regarding the Award Name:

From 1993 to 2016, the Public Interest Section bestowed the Andrew Hamilton Award each year on a distinguished attorney from our community. The Award was named for a renowned colonial era Philadelphia lawyer who famously defended John Peter Zenger’s right to criticize the government.

In 2016, the Section created an “Ad Hoc Committee to Recommend Whether the Andrew Hamilton Award of the Public Interest Section Should be Renamed,” chaired by Reggie Shuford, Executive Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and Professor Lou Rulli of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In October 2017, the Ad Hoc Committee recommended that the Andrew Hamilton Award be renamed the “Bending the ARC Award: Recognizing Achievement, Resilience and Courage.” The Executive Committee of the Section voted unanimously to accept that recommendation.

A report from the Ad Hoc Committee describing its composition, decision-making process, recommendation, and reasoning is forthcoming, and will be posted online when it is available.

With gratitude,
Molly Tack-Hooper, 2017 Chair, Public Interest Section

Past Recipients


Marsha Cohen


Marguerite Gualtieri


Amy Hirsch


Steve Gold


Anita Santos-Singh


Karen C. Buck


Marissa Boyers Bluestine


Catherine C. Carr

Catherine Carr has been as the executive director of Community Legal Services (CLS) since 1995. CLS helps low-income Philadelphians obtain equal access to justice by providing advice and representation in civil matters, advocating for their legal rights, and conducting community education.

Cathy graduated from Yale in 1975 and went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was the editor of the Law Review. She would later return to Penn as an adjunct professor, teaching appellate advocacy and Lawyering in the Public Interest. She also taught at Villanova and Temple Law schools, as well as at the Royal Iliria University Law School in Kosovo. Before joining CLS, Cathy was a staff attorney at the Education Law Center and worked at PILCOP. She was also a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Norma L. Shapiro.

Cathy took the reins at CLS at a crucial point. In 1995, Congress enacted restrictions on Legal Services Corporation funds. In response, Cathy worked with others to put a plan in place to create Philadelphia Legal Assistance, a plan that preserved the independence of CLS to work free from LSC restrictions. Of course, this meant that CLS also needed a plan for funding that did not depend on those funds. Under Cathy’s leadership, CLS did more than survive. It thrived.

While Cathy’s contributions to the greater public interest community are too many to mention, highlights include service as co-chair of the Bar Association’s Task Force on Civil Gideon and co-chair of the Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention. She has served on the boards of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Women’s Law Project, Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent, the Disability Law Project, the Homeless Advocacy Project and the University City Montessori School. In 2006 she won the NLADA’s Denison Ray Award, and she is the winner of the inaugural Louis H. Pollak award from Penn’s Law Alumni Society.

The Public Interest Section thanks the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association for its sponsorship of the 2012 Andrew Hamilton Award.


Frank Cervone


Len Rieser


Marsha Levick

Marsha Levick co-founded the Juvenile Law Center (JLC) in 1975 and currently serves as its Deputy Director and Chief Counsel. Juvenile Law Center is the oldest public interest law firm for children in the United States. For more than 30 years, Levick has been an advocate for children’s and women’s rights and is a nationally recognized leader in juvenile law.

Levick manages JLC’s litigation and appellate docket. She has litigated cases concerning children’s rights in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems; authored or coauthored numerous appellate and amicus briefs in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court; and has argued before many state and federal appellate courts. Levick has also co-authored several scholarly articles on children’s rights issues.

Levick serves on the boards of the National Juvenile Defender Center; Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana; Southern Poverty Law Center; and the advisory board of Rutgers-Camden Law School’s Juvenile Justice Clinic. Levick received the 2006 Temple Law School Women’s Law Caucus Annual Professional Achievement Award, the 2008 Pennsylvania Child Advocate of the Year Award, the 2009 Pennsylvania Prison Society Award for Meritorious Service, and was one of six winners of the 2009 Foundation for the Improvement of Justice Awards.

Levick is an adjunct faculty member at both the University of
Pennsylvania and Temple Law Schools.

click here for 2009 program


Judy Berkman

Judy Berkman, managing attorney at Regional Housing Legal Services, came to RHLS in 1996 with prior experience in private practice and legal services. She works on a broad range of home ownership projects, primarily focusing on large-scale developments of home ownership units for sale to mixed-income buyers.

Berkman is currently an elected member of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association and serves on the Executive Committee of the Bar Association’s Real Property Section.

She has received several awards including special recognitionfor her gender bias work and for her work as a founder of the Tangled Title and Philadelphia LawWorks programs. Berkman has worked with the state and local bar associations to enhance the status of women in the legal profession, to protect women’s rights, and to eliminate gender and other biases in the Pennsylvania justice system.

She received her A.B. from Wellesley College and her J.D. from the Boston University School of Law.

Linda Ware Johnson

Linda Ware Johnson received her Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers University and became a member of the Pennsylvania Bar in 1986.

She has practiced law representing low-income tenants and tenant organizations as an attorney in the Housing Unit of Community Legal Services, Inc. for more than 20 years. For several years, she served as chair of TAG/TURN, the premier tenants’ rights advocacy group in Philadelphia.

In addition, she has served as a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Judicial Selection and Retention Committee and the Executive Committee of the Real Property Section. She currently serves as co-chair of the Municipal Court Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Johnson is also a former recipient of the statewide legal services Award For Excellence for her community legal education work through a local television station.

click here for 2008 program


Terry Fromson


Thomas K. Gilhool

Thomas K. Gilhool has been an attorney with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia for 27 years. Tom retired in 2006 after being active in the public interest community for 41 years.

While serving as Consumer Advocate and director of law reform at Community Legal Services during the late 1960s, Tom won the first legal services case to reach the United States Supreme Court, Smith v. Reynolds, in which the Court struck down the durational residency requirement for public assistance benefits.

Tom's accomplishments also include his pioneering representation of plaintiffs in PARC v. Commonwealth, which established the constitutional right of children with disabilities to a free, appropriate public education. This decision was the source of the first federal civil rights acts in this area: Section 504 of the Civil Rights Act of 1973 and what is now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

In 1990 Tom developed a coalition of legal services organizations to enforce a new provision of the Social Security Act, which required states receiving federal funds to provide basic health care to children enrolled in Medicaid. The ensuing litigation led to the additional enrollment of 300,000 children in Pennsylvania.

In 2003 Tom received a Senior Fulbright Fellowship in Japan and brought together Japanese and American advocates for disability rights to consider how each country could build on the success of the other. He then participated in the United Nations drafting of a convention on rights of persons with disabilities.

Tom is also the first Philadelphian to have served as Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Lehigh University, Yale University and Yale Law School.


Sharon Dietrich

Sharon M. Dietrich has been an attorney with the Employment Law Project of Community Legal Services, Philadelphia, since 1987. She became CLS' Managing Attorney for Public Benefits and Employment in 1997. She represents low income persons in employment matters, such as unemployment compensation, discrimination, family and medical leave, wrongful discharge, pensions and the like. She also specializes in work-related issues arising in welfare reform.

Since January, 1994, she has also worked as a contract attorney with the National Employment Law Project, New York. NELP provides assistance to legal services programs, unions and community based organizations nationwide and promotes a national advocacy agenda on issues of job training, unemployment compensation, employment discrimination, welfare-to-work, and others.

Ms. Dietrich is a summa cum laude graduate of Albright College and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Prior to her employment with CLS, Ms. Dietrich served as law clerk for Ann Aldrich, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio.

Ms. Dietrich is a member of the steering committee of the Employment Task Force, a nationwide working group of legal services advocates and others who focus on employment issues affecting low income persons. She is also the co-convener of the statewide Employment Task Force, which addresses issues on the state level.

Ms. Dietrich's professional activities include her current membership on the executive committee of the Philadelphia Bar Education Center. Prior to becoming a managing attorney, she was also an active member of the Philadelphia Legal Services Union, serving as its president in 1991-1992.


Lynn A. Marks


Robert B. Dunham


Mark Schwartz


Irv Ackelsberg


Ilene W. Shane


Carol E. Tracy


Ann S. Torregrossa


Stefan Presser


Robert G. Schwartz


Bradley S. Bridge


Janet F. Stotland


Louis S. Rulli