Delco re:View Fall 2018 - 17

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with legal aid organizations in Bucks, Chester and Montgomery
counties to form LASP. At that time, Michelle became Managing
Attorney of LASP's Delaware County Division, while also
handling more than 2,000 cases from 2001 to the present.
Former DCLAA colleague Michael Campbell, Esq., shared
that he and Michelle co-supervised a group of high school
scout explorers. "After we served clients, we tried to help the
community," he said. ... "I still see her in court sometimes, and
she is the same trooper that she always has been." Noting her
reliably unflappable, "no waves" demeanor, he joked that he'd
seen it challenged only once, over a hamburger.
But her understated manner belies her fierce determination
to bring justice for clients. Over the decades, Michelle has
represented clients in cases related to education, disability,
unemployment compensation, SSI (social security), housing,
custody, Protection from Abuse orders, consumer law, and more.
In 1987 Michelle won an appeal in the Commonwealth
Court that continues to impact Pennsylvanians who have
unemployment compensation claims. Her client was no longer
able, despite her best efforts, to do the assigned job and was
terminated for unsatisfactory job performance. Michelle's client's
application for unemployment compensation was denied, and
the appeal also was denied. "The law was that a person was not
entitled to unemployment compensation if they had engaged
in willful misconduct," Terry said. The Commonwealth Court
reversed the denial decisions of the then-Office of Employment
Security, Referee and Unemployment Compensation Board of
Review and ruled in favor of Michelle's client, stating that the
employee/client's "conduct did not rise to the level of willful
misconduct sufficient to disqualify her for unemployment
benefits."
Longtime LASP Staff Attorney Phil Rosenthal noted, "This
was the first of a string of decisions from the Commonwealth
Court that held when people try their best at their jobs,
they're still entitled to unemployment compensation." He
added, "Indirectly she has assisted in literally thousands of
unemployment compensation claims" through her appellate
advocacy.
Frank Cervone, Executive Director of the Support Center
for Child Advocates in Philadelphia, met Michelle when he
was a second-year student at Villanova Law School, working
on unemployment compensation cases. "... I want to celebrate
your work with young people, mentoring and walking alongside
them," Cervone said. "So many lawyers undoubtedly have been
touched along the way, who are now doing something ... in
exactly the same spirit that you taught us."

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Reflecting on her career, Terry said it's all about the clients.
Her first client, on her first day on the job, Aug. 21, 1978, was an
elderly woman who was just coming from the dentist. The client
didn't have money for dentures. "I was a new lawyer at the time.
... I learned by doing," Michelle said. Terry contacted the dental
office to negotiate a payment plan. While $10 per month wasn't
enough, $25 per month was, and her client went home with her
dentures.
Early on, Michelle's work focused on disabled children and
ensuring their right to a "free and appropriate" education. One of
her biggest cases involved a school district providing a laptop,
tutoring and placement outside the school district, in the 1990s,
before laptops were widespread.
She takes pride when she's able to win a retroactive award
for a disabled person. It enables the family to get the things
they need, like transportation to the doctor for therapy, updated
technology equipment, housing, pay off debts that are in arrears,
etc.
"My heart is with the client work," Terry said. "The real
reason I do this is because of the clients. ... The need is still
there. We need to help - there is no question." *
Fall 2018

| 17


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