Message from the Executive Committee
By Thomas A. Brophy, Esquire, President & CEO
When Mark Thompson, the newest member of our Executive Committee, relocated to Philadelphia from his home and practice in Orlando, Florida, he asked what he might do to become more familiar with the Philadelphia legal community and the City of Philadelphia. I recommended that Mark become a member of the Grants Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation. The Philadelphia Bar Foundation is the charitable arm of the Philadelphia Bar Association. It distributes between $600,000-$700,000 a year to more than 35 legal service organizations that provide services to the poor, the elderly, and other disenfranchised citizens of Philadelphia. The Grants Committee vets those legal service organizations that are seeking financial support from the Bar Foundation.
One of Mark's first assignments was to participate in a site visit at a legal service organization called Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (CLCP), which operates a number of legal clinics in Philadelphia. Typically, one or more law firms will partner with the Salvation Army to open a CLCP clinic at a specific location. Mark learned that CLCP was looking for a law firm to sponsor a new clinic at a Salvation Army location at Broad and Fairmount Streets in Philadelphia.
Mark invited lawyers from our firm to staff that legal clinic. Very quickly Mark had a team of 26 lawyers from our Philadelphia, Doylestown, and King of Prussia offices who volunteered to staff that clinic. The lawyers from Marshall Dennehey who staff this clinic and the clients they serve are of various faiths and religious persuasions.
The speed with which Mark was able to gather a group of attorneys to staff this CLCP location reminded me of the myriad ways that the lawyers at our firm support the communities in which they live and practice. I have often been asked, "To what do I attribute Marshall Dennehey's success in its regional offices?" I respond that our regional offices are not mail drops but are offices staffed by people who live in the community in which that office is located and are invested in that community's well being and stability.
In preparing to write this article, I thought I would gather specific information from our lawyers about the things that they do to better the communities in which they live and work. One thing that I quickly learned is that hundreds of our attorneys are involved in community activities of one kind or another. In fact, the overwhelming amount of information that I learned in response to my inquiry has prompted me to write two articles about this topic. This first article will address some of the things that Marshall Dennehey does collectively. A subsequent article will highlight some of our lawyers and the things that they do individually to better their communities.
- Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia – As mentioned above, a number of our attorneys now staff a specific CLCP clinic at Broad and Fairmount Streets in Philadelphia. The primary focus of this clinic is to assist citizens in having their criminal records expunged. However, other legal issues are addressed as well at the clinic.
- Cristo Rey High School of Philadelphia – The Cristo Rey High School of Philadelphia is a Catholic college preparatory school open to students of all religious faiths. The total family income for a student to attend Cristo Rey High School must be below $30,500 per year. The educational model that Cristo Rey follows is that each student works one day a week in a professional setting and attends school four days a week. The salaries that are earned by the Cristo Rey students go directly to the Cristo Rey High School to defray the cost of tuition to attend this private school. Each student's family pays what they can afford to pay. The remainder of the students’ tuition is paid by foundations, businesses, and individuals who contribute directly to the school. Marshall Dennehey employs four Cristo Rey students. Two of these students graduated from Cristo Rey in 2016. One will be attending Penn State University and the other will be attending Millersville University.
- United Way – We run an active United Way Campaign, with each of our 20 offices participating. Each office does establish its own initiatives to promote participation. We encourage participation from our non-lawyer employees by rewarding them with an extra vacation day for certain thresholds of contribution.
- Class Action and the Marshall Dennehey Horns – Marshall Dennehey has its own firm band, "Class Action." In 2014, "Class Action" was a finalist in the Fortune Magazine Battle of the Corporate Bands and participated in the final competition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. "Class Action" volunteers to play for various community groups and, in particular, for organizations that provide legal services for those unable to pay for them. Our band's most recent gig was performing at the annual fund raiser for the "Senior Law Center," a legal service organization whose target population is the elderly.
- The Veterans Law Clinic of the Widener Law School – The Widener University School of Law maintains a clinic which provides legal services to military veterans unable to afford them. Lawyers from our firm volunteer their services to assist veterans under the auspices of The Veterans Law Clinic at the Widener University.
- Chester A. Arthur School – We have partnered with Chester A. Arthur Elementary School, which is one of the schools that the Philadelphia School District has deemed to be "distressed." The children who attend this school come from a diverse community with a number of at-risk students. Ninety percent of the students receive free lunches, which means that the population that the school serves meets the Federal government's definition of "needy."
- We have held book drives, breakfast bar drives and coat drives for students at the school. In addition, members of our firm have assisted children at the school in writing papers. Among the activities planned for the coming year are assisting students in preparing applications for private, magnet, and charter high schools. The firm has also donated books, pens and paper to the school.
- Raising the Bar – Raising the Bar is an initiative that was started over 12 years ago as a vehicle to encourage law firms to support the various legal service organizations that administer to the needy. These organizations range from Community Legal Services to the Public Interest Law Center to the Support Center for Child Advocates to the Legal Clinic for the Disabled, etc. Each firm participating in Raising the Bar commits to make a donation based upon the number of lawyers working in its Philadelphia office to support legal service organizations. Marshall Dennehey has been a participant in Raising the Bar since its inception.
- Red Cross Blood Drives – Marshall Dennehey has been sponsoring blood drives for the benefit of The American Red Cross for over 40 years. Initially, the Red Cross would send vans to pick up participants. Now, participation by our employees is so widespread that the Red Cross collects the blood in our offices.
- Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure – Our firm has been an active participant in the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure for well in excess of a decade. In 2016, we received the 2016 Outstanding Team Participation Award for "Law Firms For The Fight."
- American Cancer Society – Marshall Dennehey has sponsored a team of riders who participate in a 16-mile or more bike ride through Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Employees from as far away as our Scranton and Florida offices have participated in this ride.
- Multiple Fundraisers – Throughout the year, our many offices schedule collegiality events, dress down days, or other initiatives designed to raise money for local charities. For example, our Florida offices recently held a "Dress Day" day to raise money for the victims of the Orlando shootings at the Pulse nightclub. Another example is our participation in "Daisy Day." Money raised on "Daisy Day" is donated to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There are numerous other such events right through the year throughout our 20 offices.
In this article, I wanted to highlight some of what I would describe as collective efforts made by Marshall Dennehey and its employees to support and improve the communities in which we live and practice. In a subsequent article, I will address some of the individuals and the efforts that they make. At Marshall Dennehey, we are very proud of the level of civic engagement of the firm and of our employees.
Defense Digest, Vol. 22, No. 3, September 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 email@example.com.