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A Message from the Executive Committee

December 1, 2014

By Christopher E. Dougherty, Esquire, Chairman of the Board

“Take love, humanity, and humility and then place it against a performance-driven organization . . . we are unbeatable.”

                                    Howard Schultz – Starbucks CEO

Recently, on our annual employee appreciation day, several employees were recognized for their legacy contributions to our firm. We recognized Althea Banks and Terry Flint, for example, for their 35 years of service. Teresa Grace received a 30-year award. Sandy Howard, Dawn Voglesong, Lori Forsythe and Cherri Trowbridge received 25-year awards. Scores of others were recognized for their 10-, 15- and 20-year awards. This happens every year, as long-tenured employees are not unique at Marshall Dennehey—administration and attorneys alike. Their individual and collective experience yields untold benefits for our firm.

On one level, that so many employees choose to work at Marshall Dennehey for their careers re-affirms our positive firm culture. This culture is exemplified by our nomination for the second consecutive year as one of the “best places to work” in the Delaware Valley.

On another level, as I have said before, our culture of teamwork and unselfishness actually propels our business success. By having such a large segment of our workforce employed at Marshall Dennehey for a significant number of years—and in many cases, this has been the only law firm at which they have worked—our clients realize tangible benefits.

Our firm is supported by personnel who have been devoted to civil defense litigation for decades. Some of our senior administrative managers worked with our founding name shareholders. They not only have “grown up” with our firm, they have matured in and with the civil defense industry.

Because of that collective experience—and I tell clients this all the time when I proudly boast about our firm—we have become really good at what we do. Our organization was created as a defense litigation firm. We remain committed to the insurers and self-insureds who entrust us with their defense work. This commitment, coupled with an experienced and defense-dedicated workforce, sets us apart from other law firms.

In an era where increasing pressures constrain our clients to manage legal spend, we will continue to provide a distinct value to our clients. Everyone at Marshall Dennehey knows what our mission is, what our clients want and how we should deliver high-quality, value-driven legal services.

Our administrative managers are extremely skilled and experienced in what they do. Not only do they provide us with a disciplined and stable platform from which our attorneys can practice law, I daresay that they are as influential in mentoring our young lawyers as the senior attorneys in terms of teaching the finer points to becoming well-rounded civil defense attorneys.

Our firm has confronted some unique challenges over the past several years; 2014 was no different. Because of the extraordinary efforts of our administrative staff, we overcame some major obstacles.

This past year, Peter Miller, the former Chairman of the Board and Chief Operating Officer, retired after serving 37 brilliant years with us. Tom DeLorenzo, the Chair of our Employment Law Practice Group, retired after working at Marshall Dennehey for 38 years. For the first time in our firm’s history, an attorney from an office other than Philadelphia became a member of the firm’s executive committee, Mark Thompson. Liz Brown, formerly the Director of our firms IT department, replaced Peter as our Chief Operating Officer.

Against this flux, we executed the largest joinder of attorneys in our firm’s history when the Jones Hirsch firm joined us on July 1st. We opened a new office in Cincinnati, Ohio. It has grown from two to five attorneys within a matter of months. We opened an office in Westchester County, New York. We relocated our Hauppauge, New York office to Melville, New York.

2014 also was one of the busiest real estate years in our firm’s history. In addition to moving our Long Island office, we relocated our Harrisburg, Bethlehem and Wilmington offices.

We could not successfully accomplish all of the above without the exceptional sacrifices of so many administrative managers and personnel. With apologies in advance to those who remain unnamed, but who contributed to these efforts, I have to publicly thank Sandy Caiazzo, Terry Shuda, Eva Colon, Mike Marinucci, Paul Tenaglio and the entire New Files Group for their exceptional efforts this year. The level of planning and execution that goes into a single office move, or the opening of a new office, cannot be described in a note like this. Our staff made it happen multiple times this year. Their extraordinary work ethic, commitment to our firm and our clients, and their exceptional level of professionalism was commendable.          

One of the challenges Marshall Dennehey faces as we grow is transposing our differentiating culture to our new personnel. I quoted Howard Schultz at the outset of this note because what Starbucks has accomplished as a business is remarkable. Starbucks has grown from a single café in Pike Place (Seattle) to a global enterprise that now employs over 200,000 people and serves over 60 million customers weekly. More important than this fantastic growth, it has maintained a humane, caring and unselfish team-oriented culture that makes it one of the 10 “most trusted” businesses (Entrepreneur Magazine) and one of the “most admired” global enterprises (Fortune Magazine).

When we join laterals (or another firm), our senior staff performs another critical role for our firm: they are our firm’s “advance party” in the ever-important enculturation process. Inculcating new attorneys and new offices into our culture takes time. A solid foundation is built, however, by our senior administrative staff, who spend countless hours away from home meeting with attorneys and staff, clearing cases for ethical conflicts, teaching computer systems and new administrative processes, assisting with benefits, and essentially doing everything possible to make the transition into our firm as smooth as possible. These “ambassadors” do everything humanly possible to enable new employees to succeed here at Marshall Dennehey.

We keenly appreciate that our clients want consistent, quality defense of their cases—whether the case is called in to Jacksonville, Harrisburg or Cincinnati—and regardless of whether the case is a premises liability or accountant’s malpractice matter. For our clients to experience replicable service, we will continue to inculcate our new employees—at every level of the organization—with the same sense of teamwork, professionalism and commitment to client service. This mindset has enabled our firm to grow and to be a place where employees enjoy their work. The culture we develop and maintain inside our firm should be felt by our clients. They want to do business with firms they trust and respect. We must be committed to earning and maintaining both.

As we wind down calendar year 2014, we reflect upon our several blessings:

  • Our firm culture—created by caring and respectful individuals who work unselfishly together to give our clients the highest quality legal services that are distinguishable from our competition;
  • Our new employees—attorneys and staff alike—for the new opportunities you will provide us, the new experiences we will create together and for choosing to make Marshall Dennehey your new professional home; and
  • Our clients—who continue to support our firm and entrust us with your legal matters. We will strive to extend excellence in our service to you.


On behalf of the Executive Committee, we extend to every employee and every client our heartfelt wishes for a safe and peace-filled holiday season and a wonderful New Year.

*Chris can be contacted at 215.575.2733 or

Defense Digest, Vol. 20, No. 4, December 2014

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 © 2014 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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