Catherine C. Carr L’79, Executive Director of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS) and a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, is the recipient of the prestigious Andrew Hamilton Award for distinguished service in public interest law. The award is given annually by the Public Interest Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association, which also presented Marisa Gold L’13 with a Law Student Award for her work with the Education Law Center.
Carr co-teaches a course on “Public Interest Lawyering,” serves on the Toll Public Interest Center’s Advisory Board, and chairs the Public Service Committee of the Alumni Society’s Board of Managers. She recently received the Alumni Society’s inaugural Louis H. Pollak Public Service Award in honor of her career advancing justice through the service of others.
As Executive Director of CLS, Carr oversees a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services to low-income Philadelphians in civil matters. The organization, which has two offices, more than 40 attorneys, 60 paralegals and other support staff, handles about 20,000 cases each year.
Of the organization’s work Carr has said, “The attorneys at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia work to ensure that America makes good on its promise of equal access to justice.” Before becoming director, Carr served as a staff attorney at the organization for 11 years, specializing in public benefits case litigation, including access to public assistance, Social Security and Medicaid.
Carr, who serves or has served on the boards of several public interest law firms in Philadelphia, including the Community Justice Project, Women’s Law Project, Homeless Advocacy Project and VIP, Philadelphia’s pro bono project, is a past recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation Award. She received the Andrew Hamilton Award Nov. 28, at the Public Interest Section’s Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception.
“There are simply not enough awards to acknowledge the dedication and expertise that Cathy offers in service to others,” said Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, who directs the Toll Public Interest Center and serves on the Board of Trustees of Community Legal Services. “She has the vision and tenacity to bring access to justice where it would not otherwise exist. She is a true role model for our students.”
Gold, one of six students from area law schools to be recognized for demonstrated commitment to public service, is a graduate of Harvard and Penn’s Graduate School of Education. She was a 2008 Teach for America Philadelphia Corps member.
At Penn Law Gold is the co-director of the Leaders in Education and Advocacy Network and a founding member of its School Disciplinary Advocacy Service, the co-president of the Equal Justice Foundation, the managing editor of the Journal of Law and Social Change, and an advocate for the Custody and Support Assistance Clinic. Off campus she has interned at the Juvenile Rights Practice of the Legal Aid Society of New York, Children’s Rights, Inc., The Door’s Legal Services Center, and the Education Law Center. She plans on pursuing a career in child advocacy law in New York City.
Gold’s passion and commitment to child advocacy is reflected in testimonials from the public service organizations where she has worked. Education Law Center notes, “We were so impressed by Marisa’s work that, when our intake coordinator went on medical leave, we asked her to take over the management of ELC’s client intake system. Luckily for us, Marisa agreed to work 20 hours per week with ELC clients while still managing a full law school course load and leading multiple projects on campus. Marisa rose to this challenge, seamlessly running our intake system and allowing ELC to serve hundreds of clients whose needs might otherwise have gone unmet.”
Jill Wade and Laura Potter Cahn of the Brooklyn Juvenile Rights Office write, “Working with children who have suffered abuse and neglect and the vicissitudes of the child welfare system is not for the faint of heart…Marisa’s passion, intelligence, perspective, experience, sense of humor and training will make her the kind of advocate for children that will make her a prize for whatever organization is lucky enough to have her on board.”