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avatar for Julia Simon-Mishel

Julia Simon-Mishel

Philadelphia Legal Assistance
Supervising Attorney, Unemployment Compensation Unit
Philadelphia PA
Julia is the supervising attorney of the Unemployment Compensation Unit at Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA), where she represents low-wage workers in unemployment matters. She has represented more than 800 clients and has an active appellate practice pursuing impact unemployment cases in Pennsylvania courts. Julia has won two cases in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Harmon v. UCBR, a statutory construction case that expanded the right to benefits for returning citizens; and Lowman v. UCBR, a groundbreaking case holding that an UberX driver worked in “employment” and was entitled to unemployment benefits. She also works closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry on system improvements and has testified by invitation before the Pennsylvania legislature many times on issues affecting her clients.

Julia’s research and advocacy focuses on how technology can improve access to benefits and how to prevent harmful uses of automated decision-making in benefit programs. She was the co-principal investigator and author of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded report “Centering Workers - How to Modernize Unemployment Insurance Technology,” and serves by appointment on Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Benefit Modernization Advisory Committee.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Julia has spearheaded community outreach and education about unemployment programs in Pennsylvania, working closely with social service organizations, community groups, legal services organizations, and local officials to help tens of thousands of workers access benefits. She is frequently cited in media outlets across the country, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, NPR, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg News. Recently, Julia launched a statewide unemployment resource and self-help website, www.UCHelp.org.

Before joining PLA, Julia clerked for the Honorable Norma L. Shapiro of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Julia has been named one of the American Bar Association’s “On the Rise: Top 40 Young Lawyers” and a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” in Pennsylvania. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Brandeis University.