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The Drum Major

The Drum Major is a collection of essays prepared by the participants in the Martin Luther King Internship Program reflecting on their summer working in legal services.

Click here to read the compositions by this year's MLK interns.

Drum Major 2007
Drum Major 2006
Drum Major 2005
Drum Major 2004
Drum Major 2003
Drum Major 2002

MLK Program Featured in The Pennsylvania Lawyer

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Internship and Fellowship program is featured in an article entitled, Diversity Matters, in the September/October issue of the The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine published by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

The article outlines the operation of the program and highlights the important role it plays in promoting diversity within the public interest legal community.

A. Michael Pratt, a board member of PLAN and a longtime board member of Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, who is also currently chancellor-elect of the Philadelphia Bar Association is the author of the article.

The article is available at the link below.

Diversity Matters
©  Pennsylvania Bar Association


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MLK Program Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Martin Luther King Jr. Summer Internship Program

Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Summer Internships are available at Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network programs across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the summer months for law students who are social justice oriented and desire an opportunity to make a difference.

The MLK Internship is an integral part of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network goal to initiate new lawyers to the lifelong commitment of providing access to justice for all individuals regardless of their ability to pay.

Students engage in unique situations through which one might better understand the special legal issues facing individuals who live in poverty and low-income communities. In turn, the summer interns provide valuable and necessary service to the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network program offices in which they are placed.

Law students experience the real world of legal aid advocacy. PLAN seeks opportunities for MLK Interns to experience direct client contact, participate in court hearings (for those certified), administrative hearings, legal research and writing on actual cases under the supervision of seasoned legal aid attorneys.

Interns are challenged to put classroom training and talent to work on behalf of the many needy individuals the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network serves, and to work creatively to reduce the barriers to a more just society. Each MLK intern is treated as a valuable member of the legal staff and is expected to participate in case strategy and contribute to overall case management.

Each summer, the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network awards 10 paid internships to current law students to participate in legal services work over the traditional 10-week summer internship period.

History: The Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Internship Program was established in 1991 to encourage and support a diversity of attorneys to work in the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network programs across the commonwealth. The goal is to promote cultural and ethnic diversity in legal services and to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Since its inception, which was prompted by the Pennsylvania Legal Services Black Caucus, over 260 law students have participated in the program.

A current law student (1L or 2L) may indicate their interest in serving as a MLK summer intern by sending a letter (expressing interest and preferences), resume and three (3) references to:

MLK Summer Internship
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network
118 Locust Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101

  Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship Program

In 2003, an evaluation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Summer Internship Program revealed that while the internship experience has been a very positive one for PLAN, students, clients and programs; the goal to enhance cultural and ethnic diversity within the programs was not being realized.

In response, PLAN created the Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship program in 2004. In partnership with a sponsoring regional or specialty program, law school graduates and attorneys who are new to practice are hired as full-time staff attorneys for a two-year fellowship.

Fellows are assigned mentors and supervised by experienced attorneys. Salary and benefits are determined by the host program.

In addition, loan repayment assistance up to $11,000 is available during the first two years of employment.

PLAN hired the first MLK Fellows in fall of 2004:

Sharele T. Tucker, a graduate of Widener Law School in 2001, began her fellowship with MidPenn Legal Services (MPLS) at the Chambersburg office in September 2004.

Kaiyilla J. Matthews, a graduate of Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2004, began her fellowship with Legal Aid of Southeastern PA (LASP) at the Chester office in October 2004.

Nicole Scialabba, a June 2006 graduate of Duquesne University School of Law is the most recent MLK Fellowship appointment. Nicole will begin her public interest career at Neighborhood Legal services Association (NLSA) in August 2006.

The MLK Fellowship is not a two year limited employment program. It is intended to support and promote new lawyers who are interested in a long term public interest career.

Third year and recent law school graduates may indicate their interest in the MLK Fellowship program by sending a letter expressing interest, a resume, a writing samples and three (3) references to:

MLK Fellowship
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network
118 Locust Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101


For additional information or questions about the summer internship or fellowship program, contact the program coordinator, Cynthia G. Newcomer, Chief Administrative Officer, at, or by phone at 1-800-322-7572, ext. 216.

Funding for the Martin Luther King, Jr. program is provided by Pennsylvania IOLTA and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
Support the Martin Luther King, Jr. Program
Click here to pledge your support for the program
Featured Speaker Juan Williams, National Public Radio

Featured Speaker
Juan Williams,
National Public Radio

MLK Program Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Over 300 lawyers and judges crowded into the Pennsylvania Bar Institute facility in Philadelphia on Tuesday, October 23, to help celebrate the 15 years that the Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Internships have been bringing diversity to legal aid.

The proceedings were not only televised on cable television, but they were simulcast to four other locations in Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh, Mechanicsburg, Erie and Stroudsburg – making this truly a statewide celebration.

Attendees heard words of praise, encouragement and thanks from First Judicial District President Judge C. Darnell Jones, II, Pennsylvania Bar Association President Andrew Susko, and Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Elect Michael Pratt.

Also speaking were Mid-Penn Legal Services Director Rhodia Thomas (a member of the MLK Celebration Committee), Community Impact Legal Services Director Carolyn Johnson (a founding member of the MLK Program), and Rasheedah Phillips (a former MLK Summer Intern who will begin her two-year service as an MLK Fellow next summer), whose speech about what diversity means and offers ended in a standing ovation from all present. Click here to hear those remarks.

PLAN, Inc. Chief Administrative Officer Cynthia Newcomer introduced a video about the MLK Program, which was created specially for the Celebration and will now be shared with all law schools and bar associations across the state.

Executive Director Sam Milkes was able to announce that, thanks to almost single-handed efforts of long-time PLAN supporter Tobey Oxholm, the General Counsel of Drexel University, and Chair of the 15th Anniversary Celebration, PLAN, Inc. had received over $250,000 in cash and pledges to support the Martin Luther King, Jr. Program.

Rhodia Thomas told the attendees that, thanks to Drexel’s Information Resources and Technology Department, PLAN now has a data-searchable website on which the resumes and attributes of MLK Summer Interns and Fellows would be posted, providing a new diversity resource for PLAN programs and financial supporters interested in hiring minority attorneys – a talent pool that will increase each year as more law students enter the summer program and others are screened by PLAN, Inc.

The luncheon’s keynote speaker was NPR’s senior correspondent Juan Williams, author of the acclaimed Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. Beginning with a story about Thurgood Marshall to explain how people misperceive others who do not share a common past, Williams engaged in a discussion with “the living Thurgood Marshall,” demonstrating the huge shifts in demographics that our country had gone through in the 40 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Click here to watch the Keynote Address.

He told the assembled legal community that “we live at a time of great historical importance” and that lawyers in particular have the opportunity – and the duty – to be social engineers, using the law to ensure that all parts of American society are given the opportunity to succeed. He said the era of the melting pot was over, and America was now a social “chef’s salad” with its parts remaining separately identifiable, and the whole being greater than just the sum of the ingredients.

The luncheon celebration followed a reception in the elegant Mayor’s Conversation Hall at Philadelphia’s City Hall.

More than 125 managing partners and hiring partners of law firms, members of the judiciary, MLK summer interns, and PLAN directors came together to celebrate the MLK Program’s 15 years and to encourage the profession to keep pursuing the twin objectives of providing legal aid to the indigent, and of encouraging diversity in the legal profession. The video was unveiled at this reception.

PLAN, Inc. was honored to have the Honorable Ronald D. Castille, the next Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and C. Darnell Jones, II, the President Judge of the First Judicial District, offer remarks in support of PLAN and the MLK Program. The reception was hosted by the Honorable John F. Street, Mayor of Philadelphia and long-time supporter of legal services and it was made possible thanks to the support of the Independence Foundation

Support the MLK Program
Thanks to MLK Program Supporters
Tribute Video

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. The Louise Brookins Building  118 Locust Street Harrisburg, PA • 17101-1414
Phone 717.236.9486 or 800.322.7572 • Fax  717.233.4088
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