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A Message From the Executive Committee

December 17, 2013

By Christopher E. Dougherty, Esq., Member of the Executive Committee

As the holidays approach and 2013 draws to a close, I have been reflecting on the past year and how quickly it flew by. As I engage in that process, it’s exciting to see what a wonderful year it was for us.

This year, our firm was recognized among the “Best Places To Work” by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Our firm was lauded for creating a positive work environment that attracts and retains employees through a combination of benefits, working conditions and company culture.

For those of us who have worked here for quite a while, we already knew that about our firm. Yet, that so many of our employees took the time to assess our firm in a survey speaks volumes about our firm’s culture in and of itself. It is even more rewarding that the survey results validated what we embrace about our firm.

While the recognition is noteworthy, I believe that our culture actually fuels our varied successes. Everyone strives hard to maintain a positive work environment. In turn, this environment encourages motivation, and that cultivates achievement. In 2013, we attained some remarkable results:

  • ALM’s Corporate Counsel published the results of its annual, national Fortune 500 survey “Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies 2013?” We were gratified to learn that, in the category of Torts Litigation, Fortune 500 companies most frequently cited Marshall Dennehey. In this survey, we were recognized by some of the leading companies in America, including Walmart, Home Depot, Lockheed Martin and Disney, to name a few.
  • Perhaps I am showing some bias, but I want to boast about one of the Professional Liability Department’s practice groups – our appellate group. As of this writing, in 2013, this group handled over 100 appeals; multiple members were recognized as Super Lawyers in the area of appellate practice; and, most importantly, their appellate record was simply incredible. In the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the group has a record of 11-0 thus far in 2013. Since January 1, 2012, the appellate group’s record in the Third Circuit is 25-2. In precedential decisions by Pennsylvania state appellate courts, the appellate group is 7-1 in 2013 and has been 12-2 since January 1, 2012. In 2013, the appellate group had 14 significant victories, too many to recount in detail here. Three of the decisions involved vacations or reversals of plaintiffs’ trial court verdicts of $14.5 million, $18.5 million and $20 million. We are extraordinarily proud of the leadership that John Hare provides to the appellate group and the services that John and his attorneys provide to our firm and our clients.
  • William Banton, Jr., the assistant director of our Health Care Department, was selected to become a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. This is one of the premier legal associations in America. Bill was inducted at the Spring Meeting of the College in Naples, Florida, before 615 attendees. Fellowship in this College is extended by invitation only. Invitations are only extended to those experienced trial lawyers whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality. Membership in this College cannot exceed one percent of the total lawyer population of any state.
  • Former Delaware Attorney General Richard R. Wier, Jr. joined our Wilmington, Delaware, office as senior counsel, significantly enhancing our employment law and health care liability practices.
  • Scott Dunlop was elected to the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Admission into this Academy is by invitation only, and only after extensive peer review and an election process. Scott is the managing attorney of our Pittsburgh office.
  • Four shareholders were selected 2013 “Best Lawyers of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America©: Dennis Roman - Pittsburgh (Legal Malpractice); Steve Ryan - King of Prussia (Medical Malpractice); Dan Sherry - King of Prussia (Personal Injury); and Mike Obringer - Jacksonville (Personal Injury). Additionally, we learned right before going to press that three of our attorneys have been selected 2014 “Best Lawyers of the Year” by Best Lawyers: Tom DeLorenzo - Philadelphia (Personal Injury Litigation); Mike Obringer - Jacksonville (Medical Malpractice); and Richard Wier, Jr., - Wilmington (Employment Law). This designation is meaningful because it reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities for their abilities, professionalism and integrity.
  • Dan Sherry, longtime shareholder in our King of Prussia office, was named to the “Top 100 Attorneys in Pennsylvania” and the “Top 100 Attorneys in Philadelphia” Super Lawyer Lists. This was Dan’s seventh recognition in both areas.
  • Candy Barr Heimbach, shareholder in our Bethlehem office, was selected as the recipient of the 2013 Lynette Norton Award by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. This award is given to a female attorney who excels at litigation and who is devoted to mentoring women attorneys.
  • Three of our shareholders were named “Top 50 Women Pennsylvania Super Lawyers”: Niki Ingram (Philadelphia); Candy Barr Heimbach (Bethlehem); and Ronda O’Donnell (Philadelphia). This is the third time that Niki and Candy have been named to this exclusive list. We are proud that Ronda has received her first recognition in this category.
  • Martin Coleman, shareholder in Philadelphia, was elected a Municipal Court Judge of Philadelphia in the November 5, 2013, general election. Marty will begin serving a six-year term in January 2014.
  • Diane Magram, shareholder in Cherry Hill, was elected president of the Southern New Jersey Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). She will serve a two-year term through November 2015.
  • Tashia Small, associate in our Jacksonville office, was selected to the Lawyers of Color (LOC) Hot List for the Southern U.S. Region. Tashia was recognized for her outstanding work following a nomination process that included selection committee review and candidate research.
  • Approximately 90 of our attorneys received “Super Lawyers” recognition in our various states. Of note, many of these attorneys were selected as “Rising Stars,” a program that recognizes outstanding attorneys under the age of 40 or who have been practicing for ten years or less. Our future looks bright.
  • The culture of our firm, which was recognized by the Philadelphia Business Journal, is one marked by caring, respect, humility and humor. Emblematic of this healthy work environment are four initiatives we launched this year.
  1. We partnered with the Widener University School of Law and its Veterans Law Clinic to provide pro bono legal services through its Volunteer Attorney Program. Under the direction of Lawrence Schempp, our Director of Professional Development, we are providing free legal representation to veterans and their dependents for their disability compensation benefit claims pending before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Nine attorneys volunteered to participate in this program to assist veterans who may not otherwise have access to legal services. Not only does this program display the compassion our attorneys have for their community, but it also provides our attorneys with opportunities to advocate for clients in an environment of shrinking trial opportunities. Attorneys in our Pittsburgh and Harrisburg offices have also volunteered for similar veterans pro bono cases.
  2. Butler Buchanan III, Chair of our Diversity Committee and our hiring attorney, is overseeing our new partnership with the Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School to sponsor the education of four of its students through the school’s unique work-study program. Cristo Rey is an independent college preparatory school for students of all faiths who cannot otherwise afford a private education. Four low-income students job-share a position within the firm, each working one day per week. We pay a portion of each student’s high school tuition in exchange for their work services. We are enthused to help these young teens find opportunities that might not otherwise be available to them.
  3. We supported our firm band, “Class Action,” as they competed in the “13th Annual Fortune Magazine Battle of the Corporate Bands” competition. The band made it to the final round of competition, which was held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Class Action competed against seven other bands for the title of “Best Corporate Band in North America.” While the band did not win, Nicolai Schurko of our Philadelphia office was singled out as “Best Keyboardist,” and we were the only law firm band represented in the national competition.
  4. Lastly, we established a corporate Twitter account, @MarshallDennLaw, to keep clients abreast of real-time industry updates and firm developments. Please follow us!


Amidst some significant personnel changes in 2013, our firm remains financially secure while other law firms are constrained to reduce attorneys and support staff. We successfully assimilated a new billing and accounting system this year. We firmly settled into our new headquarters in Philadelphia. We’ve expanded our health care practice in Cleveland this year, and we expect more growth in Ohio in the near future. Our New York City offices consolidated last year, and our New York operations, too, continue to strengthen. We are also looking to expand our New York presence.

With a talented, stable and experienced professional and administrative employee base, coupled with our core values of excellent client service, respect for others and humility intact, we are poised to set sail toward unlimited horizons in 2014.

Therefore, I close this letter on a note of thanks. Thank you to our clients for your business and for your continued trust in us to represent you in all manner of defense matters. We value each and every client relationship, and we will strive to earn your continued confidences and exceed your expectations for legal counsel in 2014 and beyond.

And to our employees – thank you for your individual 2013 contributions to the firm and for everything you do to make this a “best” place to work. Big or small, every effort by every person makes a difference in how we deliver our legal services to our clients.

On behalf of the Executive Committee, we sincerely wish everyone a healthy and safe holiday season, and blessings to you and your loved ones in the New Year.


Defense Digest, Vol. 19, No. 4, December 2013

Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2013 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.

Affiliated Attorney

Christopher E. Dougherty
Director, Professional Liability Department
(215) 575-2733


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