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Louis S. Rulli

Practice Professor of Law, Director of Civil Practice Clinic & Legislative Clinic

Louis Rulli

Louis Rulli possesses expertise in public interest law, legislation, litigation, and clinical legal education, and has written and lectured extensively on access to justice for the poor. He is the recipient of the University-wide Provost’s Award for Distinguished Teaching (2006), Penn Law’s Beacon Award for exemplary faculty commitment to pro bono service (2012), Community Legal Services’ Champion of Justice Award (2012), Villanova University’s Praxis Award in Professional Ethics (2015), and the AALS Father Robert Drinan Award (2019).
Prior to joining the Penn Law faculty, Rulli was the executive director of Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. Continue reading…

Articles and Book Chapters

Prosecuting Civil Asset Forfeiture on Contingency Fees: Looking for Profit in All the Wrong Places, 72 ALA. L. REV. 531 (2021).

Seizing Family Homes from the Innocent: Can the Eighth Amendment Protect Minorities and the Poor from Excessive Punishment in Civil Forfeiture?, 19 U. PA. J. CONST. L. 1111 (2017).

5 Things Lawyers Should Know When Defending Against Civil Forfeiture, 2 For The Defense 22 (Digital Publication of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) (2017)

Testimony, Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee, Civil Forfeiture Reform (2015)

Roadblocks to Access to Justice: Reforming Ethical Rules to Meet the Special Needs of Low-Income Clients, 17 U. PA. J. L. & SOC. CHANGE 347 (2014)

Civil Forfeiture of Real Property Under the Pennsylvania Controlled Substances Forfeitures Act, Training Manual, July 1, 2013 (Newly Revised)

Justice Gap: Money Well Spent, The Value of Civil Legal Assistance to the Poor, 75 PHILA. LAW. MAG. 24 (2012) (Cover Article)

On the Road to Civil Gideon: Five Lessons from the Enactment of a Right to Counsel for Indigent Homeowners in Federal Civil Forfeiture Proceedings, 19 J.L. & POL'Y 683 (2011)

Filling Gideon’s Empty Chair, 73 PHILA. LAW. MAG., Winter 2011, at 37 (with Michael Carroll).

Sidebar: Status Report on LRAPs for Public Service Lawyers, PA. LAW., May/June 2010 at 22.

Student Loan Debt and Public Service: Is Relief Finally on the Horizon?, 71 PHILA. LAW. MAG., Winter 2009, at 14 (with Eric Foley).

Too Long Neglected: Expanding Curricular Support for Public Interest Lawyering, 55 CLEV. ST. L. REV. 547 (2007).

New Rule Represents Progress (Side Bar Commentary on Pa. Professional Responsibility Rule 6.5), 70 PHILA. LAW. MAG., Spring 2007, at 17.

Representation of Low-Income Clients, 5 ABA FAM. L. LITIG. 9 (2006).

Unfinished Business: The Fading Promise of ADA Enforcement in the Federal Courts Under Title I and its Impact Upon the Poor, 8 J. GENDER, RACE & JUST. 595 (2005).

Co-authored amicus brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on behalf of the Women's Law Project in the case of P.R. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., 801 A.2d 478 (2002).

The Long Term Impact of CAFRA: Expanding Access to Counsel and Encouraging Greater Use of Criminal Forfeiture, 14 FED. SENTENCING REP. 87 (2001).

Employment Discrimination Litigation Under the ADA from the Perspective of the Poor: Can the Promise of Title I be Fulfilled for Low-Income Workers in the Next Decade? 9 TEMP. POL. & CIV. RTS. L. REV. 345 (2000).

Access to Justice and Civil Forfeiture Reform: Providing Lawyers for the Poor and Recapturing Forfeited Assets for Impoverished Communities, 17 YALE L. & POL'Y REV. 507 (1998).

Pennsylvania Legal Services At Risk, 68 TEMPLE L. REV. 541 (1995).

The New Civil Rights Act of 1991: A Role for Legal Services? PA. LEGAL SERV. REV. (Lead Article, Summer 1992).

More publications can be found here.

Research Areas

  • Access to Justice for the Poor
  • Civil Forfeiture
  • Ethics
  • Civil Legal Services
  • Pro Bono


Penn Law - Director of Clinical Programs (2008- ); Practice Professor of Law (2001- ); Practice Associate Professor of Law (1995-2001)

Community Legal Services, Inc., Philadelphia - Executive Director (1986-95)

Facilitator, Consultant, and Mediator to non-profit legal organizations (1995- )

Rutgers University School of Law (Camden) - Adjunct Professor of Law (1991-95)

Community Legal Services, Inc., Philadelphia - Managing Attorney, Law Center South (1978-86); Supervising Attorney, Housing Unit (1977-78); Staff Attorney, Law Center West (1974-77)

Member, House of Delegates, Pennsylvania Bar Association (1991- ) Pro Bono Chair, Philadelphia Bar Association (2010- )

Professional Activities

House of Delegates, Pennsylvania Bar Association Delegate (1991-).

Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Task Force on Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Assistance, Co-Chair (2003 -).

Board of Trustees, Philadelphia Legal Assistance - Chairperson (2001-05), member (1998 -).

Pennsylvania Bar Associations Task Force on Legal Services to the Needy (1998-2003), Chairperson, Legislative Subcommittee.

Chancellors Commission on Pro Bono Legal Services, Philadelphia Bar Association - Consultant (2001-).

Chancellor’s Committee on Merit Selection of Judges (2005).

Pro Bono and Delivery of Legal Services Advisor to the Cabinet, Philadelphia Bar Association, (Jan. 2010 – Present); Board of Governors, Member of the Cabinet (January 2010 - present)

Board of Trustees, Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Chairperson (2001-05), member (1998-present)

Board of Trustees, Community Legal Services, Member (2008-present)

Board of Trustees, Friends of Farmworkers, Member, (2011-present)


  • Civil Practice Clinic
  • Advanced Civil Practice Clinic
  • Legislative Clinic
  • Public Policy Clinic
  • Strategic Lawyering for Social Justice
  • Access to Justice in the Civil Courts: Lawyering in the Public Interest
  • Poverty Law

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