Mary Gay Scanlon Wins Congressional Election in PA
Mary Gay Scanlon—an attorney, advocate, and community activist who leads Ballard Spahr's nationally recognized pro bono program—has been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ms. Scanlon, a Democrat, won two congressional elections on Tuesday: the race to represent Pennsylvania's newly redrawn Fifth Congressional District and the special election to complete the term of former Representative Patrick Meehan in the Commonwealth's Seventh Congressional District.
Ms. Scanlon has led the charge at Ballard Spahr's nationally recognized pro bono program for 15 years. Each year, the program provides roughly 50,000 hours of free legal representation to individuals and families in need—people fighting violations of their civil rights, immigrants seeking asylum, and those advocating for equal opportunity or access to justice. The program also provides legal services to veterans and first responders and support to nonprofit organizations and small businesses.
"Directing the pro bono program at Ballard gave me an opportunity to change people's lives for the better and provide a leg-up to fledgling businesses struggling to succeed. What I saw during those years informed my decision to run for Congress and bring change on a wider scale," Ms. Scanlon said. "I am grateful to everyone who supported me through this journey and excited for the opportunity to serve."
Under Ms. Scanlon's leadership, Ballard Spahr's pro bono program has grown to become one of the finest in the United States, winning the 2018 American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award. Ms. Scanlon also maintains a robust pro bono practice of her own, serving low-income people and families in public interest law, including human rights, immigration, election protection, children’s advocacy, and poverty law matters.
The team she led has helped to secure pay equity for female athletes, change onerous civil forfeiture laws, win freedom for the wrongfully imprisoned, and protect the civil rights of thousands of crime victims. When President Trump tried to enforce a travel ban, Ms. Scanlon deployed volunteer lawyers from Ballard Spahr to airports to defend wrongfully detained passengers. At the Education Law Center—where she once served as a staff attorney before joining Ballard Spahr—she fought for the rights of disabled students and exposed patronage at a local school district.
"When Mary Gay sees a problem, she investigates the facts and finds a solution," said Ballard Spahr Special Counsel and former Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. "She understands how to collaborate but also how to fight—fearlessly and hard—for what is right. We'll miss her terribly at the firm, but she is the right person to send to Washington and we're incredibly proud of what she has achieved."