Sharon Dietrich has been an attorney with the Employment Unit of Community Legal Services, Philadelphia, since 1987. She became CLS’ Managing Attorney for Public Benefits and Employment in 1997, and its Litigation Director in 2014. Ms. Dietrich represents low-income Philadelphians in employment matters, with the goals of removing employment barriers, preserving jobs, and getting access to employment-related income.
A focus of Ms. Dietrich’s work has been issues involving the employment of people with criminal records. These activities include: (1) representing hundreds of people who have been denied employment because of their criminal records; (2) leading CLS’s legislative advocacy on Pennsylvania’s innovative Clean Slate law (Act 56) to seal minor criminal cases through automation; (3) leading CLS’s work in the National Record Clearing Project, to provide technical assistance nationwide for provision of expungement and sealing representation.
Prior to her employment with CLS, Ms. Dietrich served as law clerk for Ann Aldrich, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio. From 1994 through 2004, she also worked as a contract attorney with the National Employment Law Project in New York. NELP provides assistance to legal services programs, unions and community based organizations nationwide and promotes a national advocacy agenda on issues related to criminal records, unemployment compensation, and others.
Honors & Publications
In 2019, Ms. Dietrich received numerous awards for her work on Clean Slate, including from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. She also received the 2011 ACLU Pioneer Award, presented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. In addition, Ms. Dietrich received the 2006 Kutak-Dodds Prize from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Civil Legal Aid Attorney of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association (2006), and the Andrew Hamilton Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association (2005). She was named one of Pennsylvania’s Super Lawyers in 2005, 2007, and 2008.
Ms. Dietrich has published many works, the most recent concerning Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law. They include: The Left, the Right, and the Football Players: How Clean Slate Automated Sealing was Passed in Pennsylvania (with Rebecca Vallas), and Clean Slate Brings Automated and Expanded Criminal Record Sealing to Pennsylvania, published in the Pennsylvania Bar Assn Quarterly (January 2019).
Ms. Dietrich is a summa cum laude graduate of Albright College and earned her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.