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Employment Advocacy Project (EAP)

The Employment Advocacy Project (EAP) aims to protect the rights of workers and provide legal representation to low-income Philadelphians who have been unfairly denied unemployment compensation benefits.

What we do:

We directly and fully represent low-wage workers who are appealing an unfair denial of unemployment compensation benefits.

How we do it:

We partner with Philadelphia Legal Assistance’s Public Benefits Unit to assist clients with their unemployment compensation cases. This representation can take a few possible forms. At the first stage of appeal, we represent workers at administrative hearings against their former employers in front of a referee, who acts like a judge. These hearings are similar to short civil trials and allow for the introduction of testimony and documentary evidence. In preparation for hearings, we interview clients and prep them for direct and cross-examination. Currently, hearings are being held over the phone due to the pandemic, but they may return to their usual in-person format this fall. At the next stage of appeal, we represent workers before the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review by writing appellate briefs. This involves research into labor law and identifying legal errors that occurred during hearings. Finally, we troubleshoot technical issues in the unemployment compensation system that prevent clients from receiving their proper payments.

How and when can I join:

Interested students can complete an application at the beginning of fall semester. To ask questions or to receive an application form, please email EAP’s Managing Advocate, Alexander Sprenger (aspre@pennlaw.upenn.edu). Full participation is limited to 2Ls and 3Ls, but first-year students can apply to be a 1L representative and gain an early look into the unemployment compensation system. We ask advocates to make a one-year commitment to EAP and to have space in their schedules to handle two cases per semester.

What skills will I develop:

Interviewing and intake, client counseling, trial prep, working with vulnerable clients, legal writing, legal research, oral advocacy, and the rules of evidence.