Annual Public Interest Award to Honor Activist Alumna Involved in Reshaping LGBT Law

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Garden State legal pioneer Mary Philbrook continues to be honored at Rutgers Law–Camden as an annual public interest award in her name will recognize the efforts of two pro bono advocates who promoted social justice and equality by representing the LGBT community.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, the Rutgers School of Law–Camden will present the Mary Philbrook Public Interest Award to 1998 Rutgers Law–Camden alumna Tiffany Palmer, co-founder and shareholder at Jerner & Palmer, PC, where she specializes in LGBT family law. The life and career of former Mazzoni Center Legal Director David Rosenblum, who passed away on May 2, will also be celebrated. This year marks the 29th annual Philbrook celebration, sponsored by the Women’s Law Association aand Association for Public Interest Law, and co-sponsored by the Law Alumni Association and the Camden County Bar Association.

Palmer wasnamedone of the nation’s “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40” by the National LGBT Bar Association, honored with the Distinguished Service Award by Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, and was selected as a “Pennsylvania Rising Star: The Top Young Lawyers in Pennsylvania.” She is a member of the National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Advisory Council, served on the Board of Directors of Philadelphia Family Pride, and is one of only 10 attorneys in Pennsylvania to be admitted as a fellow to the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys.

Palmer is a pioneering advocate for the rights of nontraditional families in Pennsylvania. Most recently, she acted as co-counsel in a successful federal lawsuit seeking to require Pennsylvania to recognize same-sex marriages entered into in other states. She was also counsel on a groundbreaking case that established child support obligations for non-biological, no-adoptive same-sex parents. She served as counsel for amici on groundbreaking adoption cases, including the case that established same-sex couples’ right to second-parent adoption in Pennsylvania. Palmer is also a leading expert on assisted reproductive technology law in Pennsylvania. Her articles on assisted reproductive technology and establishing parental rights for same-sex parents and their children have been published in the Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy and the American Bar Association Human Rights Magazine.

Prior to establishing her firm, the Rutgers Law–Camden alumna created the legal department at Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, a nonprofit that provided direct legal services, education, and policy reform advocacy for LGBT Pennsylvanians. She launched her career at Equality Advocates as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, and later went on to become Equality Advocates’ first legal director. Palmer earned a public policy degree from the Rutgers Eagleton Institute and a B.S. in journalism from Northern Arizona University.

The annual Rutgers Law–Camden event will also honor David Rosenblum, who served as the legal director of the Philadelphia-based Mazzoni Center, which provides wellness care for LGBT individuals, including free legal services to low-income clients, until he suffered a fatal heart attack at 47.

When Rosenblum joined the Mazzoni Center in 2011, he led Pennsylvania’s only program that offers direct legal assistance for those facing sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. The Mazzoni Center Legal Department is the successor organization to the legal department at Equal Advocates Pennsylvania which Palmer earlier founded. In his role at the Mazzoni Center, Rosenblum led a law school internship program and worked with Clinical Professor Jason Cohen in supervising the Rutgers Law–Camden’s Community Based Practice hybrid clinic, in which students provide legal services to Mazzoni Center clients. Rosenblum played an important role in helping secure marriage equality in Pennsylvania as the convenor and facilitator of a working group of counsel in the six marriage equality cases.

A founding board member of the organization now known as Equality Pennsylvania, Rosenblum served as chair of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia and helped to create the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Committee on the Legal Rights of Lesbians and Gay Men. He was a co-founder of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s LGBT Committee, as well as co-founder and co-chair of Proud2WorkNJ, the State of New Jersey’s first employee resource group.

Rosenblum was a graduate of Brandeis University and earned his J.D. from Villanova University School of Law.

Ann Freedman, an associate professor at Rutgers Law–Camden, founded the annual public interest event 29 years ago to connect the legal community to the law school’s ever-expanding commitment to social justice. In 1999, the Mary Philbrook Student Public Interest Awards was launched to further exemplify students’ growing involvement in the region’s pro bono activities.

Born in 1872, Mary Philbrook was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1895 and later became the first New Jersey woman to be admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. She was a leading advocate for civil rights, social justice and gender equality and is remembered for her instrumental role in establishing New Jerseys first legal aid society, as well as for creating the equal rights provision in the 1947 New Jersey state constitution.

The event is co-hosted by the law school’s alumni association, as well as the Camden County Bar Association.

Proceeds from the gala benefit APIL and its summer grants to Rutgers-Camden students who work in volunteer positions at public interest legal service organizations, and the Rutgers Domestic Violence Project, which assists victims of domestic violence in obtaining restraining orders against their abusers.

Tickets are $50, which includes dinner. To register and to place ads in the program, visit camlaw.rutgers.edu/philbrook.

The event will be held in the Campus Center, located on Third Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the Rutgers-Camden campus. For directions, visit camden.rutgers.edu.

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