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Volunteer Spotlight Published January 22, 2021

Julie Foster

Meet VIP’s Volunteer of the Month

Julie Foster has represented eight Philadelphians in VIP landlord/tenant matters since late 2018. When she’s not defending her pro bono clients in Municipal Court, she balances her time between her work as co-owner and in-house counsel at Tired Hands Brewing Company and her life on a small farm in Chester County.

It’s remarkable what a volunteer can accomplish with a few phone calls and a little paperwork. These cases are amazing opportunities to change a person’s life with relatively little effort.

Julie recently shared some reflections on her pro bono service with VIP’s team. Read on to learn more.

On Making an Impact

“I see the impact of volunteering every time I appear in Municipal Court. Many of the tenants in that courtroom might avoid being evicted if only they had attorneys to represent them. Meanwhile, many of the landlords benefit from legal counsel.

“These landlords often lack required licenses, or they have allowed their properties to fall into disrepair, and so they should not be able to evict their tenants. But because they can afford representation, they walk about with favorable judgments, and their tenants must live with a ‘scarlet E’ on their rental histories.

“Volunteering in these cases is fun! It’s full of surprises, and the clients and VIP staff I work with are wonderful. Eviction defense cases are fairly discrete projects, so I find it easy to budget my time. Plus, it is exciting work, and it is especially nice for attorneys who do not go into the courtroom every day.”

One Memorable Case

“I have valued all of my VIP clients. A recent client, a senior citizen with disabilities, has the patience of a saint. When her landlord decided to sell the building where she had lived for fifteen years, he evicted her, rather than give her time to find a new residence. The eviction on her record barred her from safe and stable housing.

“It took over a month to convince her landlord to sign our petition to vacate the judgment, and another three months for the Court to rule on it. But each time I call her, she is cheerful as ever (and she always asks about my farm animals).

“The Court just granted our petition, so my client is ready to move on from this terrible time. I hope one day to be as patient as she is.”