Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit legal aid organization. PLSE’s mission is to work toward just outcomes for low-income individuals who have had contact with the Pennsylvania criminal justice system. Through individual representation, strategic litigation, community education, research, and legislative advocacy, PLSE advocates for a more equitable social environment for those with criminal records, including expanding access to employment and social services.
OriginsPLSE was founded in 2010 by three Philadelphia-based civil rights lawyers – Ryan Allen Hancock, Michael Hollander, and Michael Lee – who wanted to create an alternative model that brought legal services directly into the communities most affected by criminal history record information and other social justice inequities. At the time, Ryan was Assistant Chief Counsel with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Mike Hollander was a Skadden Fellow with Community Legal Services (CLS), and Mike Lee was a criminal defense attorney not long out of Drexel University’s Law School.
The idea for PLSE was summarized in a grant proposal submitted by the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild in November 2009 and signed by Ryan: