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Message from the Executive Committee

March 1, 2017

Defense Digest, Vol. 23, No. 1, March 2017

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

March is upon us, but one can’t move forward without looking back. Unquestionably, 2016 was marked by extraordinary events—defining a world some might characterize as chaotic. The Temptations’ 46-year-old song, “Ball of Confusion,” is awfully prescient. Let’s see:

Real estate tycoon and reality TV host actually wins the presidency! Email servers, Miss Brazil, Tic Tacs, The Clinton Foundation, a torrent of tweets, Comey’s investigation(s), Weiner’s laptop, Russian hacking ... British voters shocked the world with Brexit, global financial markets shudder and British Prime Minister David Cameron resigns ... ISIS suicide bombers terrorized Brussels with a coordinated attack on the city’s subway system and airport... a Tunisian-born immigrant plowed a 19-ton truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing 86 people ... 44 die in an Istanbul airport blast ... A truck driver plowed into a Berlin crowd of Christmas shoppers killing 12 ... The brutal Syrian civil war drags on with over 250,000 deaths recorded... A shooter kills 49 people in an Orlando nightclub ... Police shoot two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, sparking national protests by the Black Lives Matter movement ... In Dallas, a sniper shot and killed five police officers ... A sovereign’s prime minister boasts about tossing a criminal suspect off of a helicopter... .

Against this backdrop, we functioned in a fluctuating insurance industry. While the stock market improved its posture late in the year, insurers still struggled to find decent investment return on premium. Insurers continued convergence of outside panel counsel. Rate increases continue to be difficult to obtain. Ace merged with Chubb. XL merged with Catlin. Tokio Marine purchased HCC. Fosun first purchased Ironshore, and then Liberty Mutual later did the same. Fairfax purchased Allied World.

Yet in the face of unpredictability, we remain rock-solid.

We are privileged to have maintained the favor of those insurers involved in panel convergence. We fortunately have held our position with insurance companies that integrated panels. We are grateful for their confidence in us.

For the fourth year in a row, our firm was named one of the best places to work in the Philadelphia region by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Also, The Legal Intelligencer announced in 2016 that Marshall Dennehey had the best Professional Liability Department (inclusive of health care) and the best Appellate practice in Pennsylvania.

When I spoke at our shareholder meeting in December—anticipating that 2017 will continue to exert dynamic forces—I urged our shareholders to embrace one particular character trait: PERSEVERANCE.

perseverance will shape our mindset in everything we do this year. Here are a few examples of how we will persevere:

  • In the hiring and development of quality personnel defined by a “total person” concept: solid scholastic aptitude, hardy work ethic, team-oriented disposition, strong character, an ability to communicate and relate well with others, and effective problem-solving.
  • In our commitment to maintain comprehensive internal training of our attorneys, paralegals, and administrative staff. While we are confident we train more purposefully than other firms, this year, we will expand and emphasize training on early resolution protocols, accurate budget formulation, and leveraging our experience and technology to yield greater efficiencies and a higher value defense.
  • Improving the quality of our legal services by our internal audits of our attorney files, conducting case roundtables, and heeding the areas of improvement noted by insurer audits.
  • In our commitment to partner with insurers who are dedicated to early resolution of cases. Last year, we had three “partner” meetings with insurance companies—AIG, Liberty Mutual, and Zurich. Attorneys and paralegals attended these sessions to acquire a better sense of our insurers’ litigation objectives. We enjoyed a healthy dialogue regarding reducing write-offs/write-downs. We are aligned with insurers in reducing our errant rates and the time we all spend in the invoice adjustment process.
  • In our personal visits to clients to assess our relationships and to deepen them. We want our clients to tell us how we are doing. We want to know how we can assist insurers in advancing their litigation objectives, their professional development, and their standing in the industry. We seek healthy dialogue about how we can help insurers manage legal expense. We want to explore new ways to demonstrate our value.
  • In the advancement of our industry thought leadership. We will write about salient legal issues, speak at national and local industry conferences and events, serve on industry committees, and develop initiatives to further what we and insurers do to advance the evolution of claims management.
  • In the provision of pro bono services to those in need. We have a variety of individual and company-wide initiatives to build upon. One of our attorneys is the Board Chair of the Nationalities Service Center, which is dedicated to providing support for immigrants and refugees struggling to find and keep hold of the American dream. Twenty-eight attorneys in our Philadelphia office work with the Christian Legal Clinic helping impoverished citizens with a host of legal issues—e.g., expunging criminal records, immigration problems, landlord/tenant issues, child support and more. We directly partner with a Philadelphia elementary school and a high school with our time, talents and financial aid. That Tom Brophy is the current president of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation (the philanthropic arm of the Philadelphia Bar Association that supports charities and public interest non-profits to assist Philadelphia’s most vulnerable populations) speaks to our firm’s commitment to help others less fortunate than we.
  • In our efforts to preserve our teamwork-oriented ethos—which fortunately exists at every level of our organization. It is our teamwork that will allow us to confront and surmount any challenge with confidence. It is our teamwork that fosters genuine personal trust in each other. It is our teamwork that makes us greater than the sum of our parts.


In 2017, we will cling to those organizational traits that define us: steadfast attitude of “client first,” 55 years of defense litigation know-how, responsiveness, honesty, and a grounding in humility.

With our experience, regional presence, stable personnel base, anchored financial position and innovative technology, Marshall Dennehey remains a safe harbor for our clients’ stormy litigation needs. While some may see a “ball of confusion” out there, our firm remains a refuge for cost-effective resolution of our clients’ problems.

*Chris Dougherty works in our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office and can be reached at 215.575.2733 or



Defense Digest, Vol. 23, No. 1, March 2017. 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. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING pursuant to New York RPC 7.1. © 2017 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm. For reprints, contact

Affiliated Attorney

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


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