Mary Gay Scanlon

Pro Bono Counsel
Tel 215.864.8912
Fax 215.864.9050

Mary Gay Scanlon is Pro Bono Counsel for Ballard Spahr and chairs the firm's Pro Bono Committee. Mary Gay is also a member of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, and serves as Co-Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association's Law Firm Pro Bono Committee and on the board of Philadelphia VIP. She is an elected member and past President of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District's Board of School Directors and a member of the Constitution High School Advisory Board. Prior to joining Ballard Spahr, Mary Gay was an attorney with the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, where she represented parents and families in issues involving public schools and educational reform.

Representative Matters 

  • Represented parents and students in a federal class action to reform an academically distressed school district 
  • Represented families in a federal class action and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to enforce federal law requiring the state to operate an effective special education complaint system 
  • Drafted legislation to implement federal special education laws requiring planning and services to help students with special needs transition from school to adult life 
  • Testified before the Pennsylvania House Education Committee in support of amendments to zero tolerance law

Judicial Clerkships

Hon. J. Sydney Hoffman, Superior Court of Pennsylvania

Professional Activities

American Bar Association

Philadelphia Bar Association
Co-Chair, Law Firm Pro Bono Committee; past Co-Chair, Commission on Children at Risk; past Chair, Legal Rights of Children Committee

Association of Pro Bono Counsel

Ballard Spahr's Diversity and Inclusion Council

Constitution High School, Mock Trial Team Coach

Recognition & Accomplishments

Recipient, Howard Lesnick Pro Bono Award, University of Pennsylvania’s Law Alumni Society

Recipient, Philadelphia Bar Association Fidelity Award, presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to improving the administration of justice

Recipient, Education Law Center's Education Champion Award

Recipient, Support Center for Child Advocates' Distinguished Child Advocate award


"Increasing Pro Bono Work in a Recession—Are You Kidding?!" The Legal Intelligencer, January 20, 2009

"How Pro Bono Programs Build Law Firm Identity," The Legal Intelligencer, January 2008

"Doing Well While Doing Good: Pro Bono Work as an Integral Part of Associate Development," The Legal Intelligencer, August 2006

Speaking Engagements

"Pro Bono Work for Refugees," University of Pennsylvania Law School seminar, April 2013

"Lawyering in the Public Interest," University of Pennsylvania Law School seminar, November 2009, November 2012

Ethics of Pro Bono CLE, Philadelphia, October 2011, October 2012

Course planner and presenter, "Hours, Caps and Bonuses as Pro Bono Incentives & Disincentives," Association of Pro Bono Counsel Seminar, Las Vegas, May 2011

"Law Firm Associate Externs: Best Practices To Institutionalize the Externship Model," ABA Equal Justice Conference, Las Vegas, May 2011

Ethics and Pro Bono CLE program, Philadelphia, December 2010

"Why Pro Bono?" Dispute Resolution Institute, April 9, 2008

"Spotlight on Philadelphia: Constitution High School," NALP Diversity Summit, March 28, 2008

Community Activities

Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, Board of School Directors, 2007-present (President, 2009-2011); Tax Commission, Vice Chair, 2006-2007

Foundation to Support Wallingford Swarthmore Schools, school board liaison 2011-present

Board Memberships

Constitution High School Advisory Board

Philadelphia Legal Assistance Corporation, founding member, past board member and officer

Philadelphia VIP

Support Center for Child Advocates, past board member

University of Pennsylvania Law School Public Interest Program Advisory Board, past member

University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D. 1984)

Colgate University (B.A. 1980)

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit