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Defender attorneys are part of a dynamic team that includes social workers, paralegals, mitigation specialists, investigators, and administrative professionals who play critical roles serving our clients and communities.

Complementing our trial practice, the Defender Association focuses on meeting the needs of clients pre-trial and following incarceration.

We work with justice partners and stakeholders to change the culture of mass incarceration. By working to end cash bail, reform probation/parole practices, support successful diversion programs, and empower communities to play a more active role in the criminal justice process, we can fundamentally change our system to reduce racial disparities and end our over-reliance on incarceration.

The Defender Association of Philadelphia represents approximately seventy percent of all persons arrested in Philadelphia. Clients are represented by full time Assistant Defenders who are members of the Pennsylvania Bar and who are not permitted to maintain a private practice or to participate in partisan political activity.

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Our Work

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Defender Association attorneys and staff represent clients in adult and juvenile state courts, at civil and criminal mental health hearings, and as child advocates for children with open dependent petitions.
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Community leaders, trained facilitators, and dedicated volunteers hold public meetings across the city each week to support individuals and families entangled in the criminal justice system.
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We are working to transform the criminal justice system through policy changes that support fair outcomes for clients, empower communities, and protect rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
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We value our strong community partnerships that support expungement clinics, Know Your Systems trainings, and other programs that engage and empower communities’ work in the justice system.

Client Services

Not only do we provide legal services, we also provide record expungement and community-based services to help you in your day-to-day life. We believe in empowering organizations and communities to play an active role in the criminal justice process.

Record Expungement

The Defender helps individuals, both youth and adults, with criminal records get a fresh start through the expungement process.

Social Services

Defender social workers connect clients with services at the front-end of the criminal justice system by developing individualized support plans.

Participatory Defense Hubs

Community hubs meet each week in neighborhoods across Philadelphia to support individuals and families entangled in the justice system.