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Judah Bellin, an Associate at Dechert LLP, always knew that he wanted to work in law. His career started with a desire to develop his skills but grew into a need to help people. In his first year of law school, Judah attended an information session that was co-sponsored by VIP. He learned about the challenges tenants in Philadelphia face, and how a partnership between Dechert and VIP helps people negotiate a good exit.
Penn requires pro bono hours for all law students, and Judah chose to work on a landlord/tenant case with VIP. He worked on these cases through school and upon getting hired at Dechert. Dechert works closely with VIP in landlord/tenant cases. “I am very lucky that I’ve ended up with two organizations that take this very seriously and are equipped to help Philadelphians,” Judah said.
Judah recalled a client that had been furloughed during Covid and had fallen behind on rent. Even though she paid rent, later on, her landlord brought her to court. Judah was able to successfully defend his client in court, where ultimately the case was dropped.
Most tenants are navigating challenging economic scenarios, they don’t know how the law works, and it’s our job to step up to help. We need to hear their story and get a sense of what they want and what they need. We are here to tell their story and advocate for them.
Judah couldn’t have done this work without the Dechert and VIP teams. “Dechert has a dedicated pro bono staff,'” Judah said. “They also have lots of experience to help and guide me in really extraordinary ways.” Philly VIP has helped tremendously too. “The VIP staff is invaluable and is always there to be a sounding board if you have questions or need guidance,” Judah said.
Judah encourages others, whether first-year law students or an associate at a law firm, to do pro bono work. “Volunteering is a fantastic way to develop skills you might not get as a law student or a junior attorney,” he said. “You can be involved in the entire development of the case and appear before a judge.”
Judah wanted to emphasize the most important thing – helping low-income Philadelphians. “Whenever I go to landlord/tenant court, I’m there with my client. But you see a lot more people who are not represented,” Judah said. “The vast majority of tenants do not know how to work within the system, or what arguments they should be making. You can help them. Step up, and VIP will have your back.”