Jonathan M. Stein began his career with Community Legal Services Inc. in 1968, when he joined CLS as a staff attorney through the Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship Program. Since then Mr. Stein has served as Chief of Health, Education and Welfare Project, Chief of Law reform, Acting Managing Attorney of Law Center North Central, Chief of Special Projects, Executive Director (1983-1986), and General Counsel. In 2019 he retired but remains Of Counsel at CLS. His more than 50 years of unique practice at CLS on behalf of low-income people in the Philadelphia region and nationally has allowed him to be at the forefront of social change and reform while pursuing a broad range of avenues of advocacy and representation.
Mr. Stein has represented and worked closely with many community, city-wide, state, and national organizations of the poor, elderly and disabled; initiated legislative and administrative reform at the local, state and federal levels; and successfully conducted trial and appellate litigation in state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. In 1971, he argued and won the precedent making Graham v. Richardson welfare and resident alien discrimination case in the Supreme Court, and later was co-lead counsel in Sullivan. v. Zebley, the 1991 Supreme Court SSI child disability benefit national class action case, which was the largest Social Security Act class action and the only major Court win for the poor during the Rehnquist Court. In addition, Mr. Stein’s advocacy has included extensive work with the media, coalition-building, presentations at national and regional conferences, and seminars and cooperative efforts with law schools and law firms.
Honors & Publications
Mr. Stein’s many awards include, the Reginald Heber Smith Award of the National Legal Aid and Defender Assn. for lifetime achievements and the Zebley Supreme Court case; first recipient of the Edward V. Sparer of the Pennsylvania Legal Services Center; the Gerald F. Flood Memorial Award of the Philadelphia Bar Assn.; Advocacy Award for Advancing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems; the Bread and Roses Community Fund, Paul Robeson Social Justice Award ; and the British Council’s Atlantic Fellowship in Public Policy in London, 2000-2001, resulting in various publications including the monograph, The Future of Social Justice in Britain: A New Mission for the Community Legal Service (London School of Economics, CASE paper 48 (2001).