A Message from the Executive Committee

By G. Mark Thompson, Esq., Member, Executive Committee

“I have always thought that what is needed is the development of people who are interested not in being leaders as much as developing leadership in others”. 

                                                                                - Ella Baker 


This year Marshall Dennehey will celebrate its 54th year in business. During this span we have grown from a small office with 8 lawyers in Philadelphia to a firm of 20 offices in six states and over 500 lawyers. 

Imagine all the change five decades represent, yet we have remained versatile and able to adapt, even to changes in leadership. 

It is an impressive feat considering many law firms are unable to survive the transition from first to second generation management. When their founders step down, these organizations tend to unravel. This is particularly common in the archetype “eat what you kill” firm where compensation is based on origination, hoarding clients is the norm and stewardship a foreign concept. 

Marshall Dennehey is different. On the few occasions senior management has changed at our firm, it has occurred in a deliberate, organized and well planned manner without any drama.  As a result, we remain stable and intact. It is a testament to our lawyers and staff and to a culture of competence and trust that transcends any one person. 

It also has much to do with our firm’s middle management. While the title may conjure images of Dilbert or Steve Carell in The Office, our middle management is unlike either parody. These folks are essential to the firm’s cohesion, its day-to-day operation and the delivery of legal services to our clients.

As the firm has grown we have naturally become a more layered organization. Senior management—consisting of the three-member Executive Committee, Board of Directors, Practice Department Directors and Assistant Directors—have all been the subject of previous columns in this publication. I am, therefore, focusing this message on the next tier.  

Middle management at Marshall Dennehey consists of the managing attorneys of our Philadelphia and 19 regional offices spread across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Florida, Ohio and New York. It also includes the practice group supervisors who manage lawyers within the broad practice departments of Professional Liability, Casualty, Health Care and Workers’ Compensation.  

When you consider two-thirds of our lawyers practice out of one of our regional offices, you begin to appreciate how important this layer of management is to what we do. Even in Philadelphia, middle management is vital.  

These men and women have all stepped up and answered the call to lead. They serve on the front lines of a busy defense litigation practice in an increasingly competitive market. Outstanding lawyers in their own right, they have all committed to improving the performance of others through teaching, evaluating and sharing opportunities with those they supervise. They don’t just orchestrate, they lend perspective and establish trust. Both nurturing and perceptive, this group is often the first to discover hidden talents in our lawyers and is tireless in coaching them to distinction. To their credit, they are less interested in being leaders than in developing leadership in others. It is a virtue that contributes to our culture and internal stability.   

To our clients, these managing attorneys and practice group supervisors serve as a familiar resource and point of contact within our firm. Clients know them as “go to” people for questions, file assignment and problem solving. They rely on them for tactical guidance, including putting the right case with the right lawyer in the right location. They benefit from their participation in roundtables, audits, seminars and command of the discipline in which they practice. 

From the perspective of senior management, one of our most important responsibilities is growing our replacements. It’s comforting to know we have in our middle management such a deep and talented pool from which to draw.

At present, upwards of 10% of our lawyers serve in middle management. I invite you to visit our website at MarshallDennehey.com, click on Practices and preview the list of 36 distinct practice groups within our four practice departments. There you will be directed to the chairs or supervisors of each group, provided a biography and contact information. Alternatively, you can click on Offices, chose one of our 20 different locations and obtain similar information about the managing attorneys in each. 

As we look toward the future, these leaders and those they are developing ensure Marshall Dennehey will continue its long record of success. 

*Mark can be contacted at 215.575.3570 or gmthompson@mdwcg.com.


Defense Digest, Vol 22, No. 1, March 2016

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. © 2016 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 tamontemuro@mdwcg.com.