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Impact Stories Published September 7, 2022

Bench Bar & Annual Conference

The Philadelphia Bar Association will host the 2022 Bench Bar & Annual Conference at the Borgata in Atlantic City on September 16 and 17.

On Friday, September 16 at 9:30 AM, VIP Senior Staff Attorney, Mike Jones, will moderate the CLE session “No Good Deeds: Tangled Titles in Philadelphia.”

Mike will co-moderate the session with Winnie Branton, chair of the Real Property Section, and the panelists will include Judge Abbe Fletman of the Civil Division of the Court of Common Pleas, Karima Yelverton, Assistant Solicitor of the Register of Wills, and Eileen Quigley, senior attorney at Ballard Spahr.

Bench Bar this year aims to focus on the latest issues and hot topics, and tangled title fits the bill. Philadelphia VIP and its volunteer attorneys have been on the front lines of Philadelphia’s fight against tangled title for 15 years. This effort has intensified in recent months, and Philadelphia now boasts a coalition of legal services agencies, government entities, and members of the private bar dedicated to tackling this issue.

A tangled title is when someone lives in a home that they should own and have the deed in their name, but for any number of reasons they do not. Without a deed in their name, clients cannot obtain repair grants, assume or take out a mortgage, or even get utilities that have been shut-off restored so they can live in a habitable property.

In August 2021, Pew Charitable Trust released a study that found more than 10,000 properties in Philadelphia are affected by tangled title – more than 2% of all residential properties. All hands are on deck since the release of this report, and any attorney can join the fight. VIP has the resources to guide volunteer attorneys through the process of getting pro bono clients on the deed to their home.

The single best way to help end tangled titles is by helping a VIP client through the probate process pro bono. The CLE at Bench Bar will include discussion points on how properties get tangled and how you, volunteer attorneys, are the most important piece in fixing them en masse.