Message From the Executive Committee

Defense Digest, Vol. 22, No. 4, December 2016


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

A reporter once asked Winston Churchill what his country’s greatest weapon had been during World War II. Without hesitating, Churchill replied: “It was what England’s greatest weapon has always been - hope.”

Have you not found most people will stand against adversity, press on, and forge ahead as long as there is hope? As we approach the holidays and what many regard as the season of hope, I thought it appropriate to take stock of the past year and explain why ours is a law firm full of hope.

To be sure, we are working in as challenging an environment as has ever existed in our 54-year history. Since the recession, demand for legal services has contracted and there is an overcapacity of lawyers. These conditions have led to increased competition, consolidation, and in the case of some firms, extinction.

We know our clients, be they carriers or self insureds, are under enormous pressure to deliver more value to their businesses. We get that and realize paying less money to law firms is one of the ways to achieve that goal.

The emergence of litigation management, the commoditization of legal services, the use of analytics to measure and compare panel counsel, convergence, rate compression, discounts, write-offs, and early resolution strategies all have the effect of reducing legal spend and, thus, law firm revenue. This at a time when our expenses continue to increase.

It is tough out there and easy to get discouraged. Lesser law firms throw up their hands, compromise, and allow their standards to decline. Marshall Dennehey has not done that. We have extended our success by remaining attentive, versatile, and able to move with the times. Our ability to excel while adapting to a changing industry is one of the many things that give us hope.

This past year, the Legal Intelligencer honored Marshall Dennehey as the 2016 Pennsylvania Litigation Department of the Year in the categories of Appellate Law and Professional Liability. This second category focused on both medical and non-medical cases. In others words, our Appellate, Health Care and Professional Liability Practice Groups were all recognized as the best in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Adding to this accomplishment was the news that for the fourth consecutive year, the Philadelphia Business Journal selected Marshall Dennehey as one of the Best Places to Work in the Philadelphia region. The honor reflects our achievement in creating a positive work environment that attracts and retains employees through a combination of benefits, working conditions, and firm culture. We were the only law firm within the large employer category to have received this recognition.

That same firm culture allowed us to work through a potentially devastating event this past summer. In June, a fire broke out at 2000 Market, the building housing our firm’s Philadelphia headquarters. Thankfully, no one was injured, and our offices escaped physical damage, however, the suppression efforts and resulting damage to the building’s electrical system left us without power, forced to shut down our servers, and barred by civil authorities from entering the building for four days.

Considering our Philadelphia and nineteen regional offices were, in one form or another, all dependent on the multiple systems installed at our headquarters, the episode could have weakened us. Instead, we went to work.

Displaced Philadelphia lawyers were welcomed with open arms into our regional offices. The terrific staffs in those offices, combined with the extraordinary efforts of our recovery team, backed by our business continuity apparatus, enabled us, despite the disruption, to continue serving clients and meeting our obligations to courts and counsel.

Why are we hopeful? We are hopeful because we have learned to persevere. We are hopeful because we have risen to be among the best litigation departments in the area while remaining one of the best places to work. We are hopeful because we always strive to do the right thing and people notice.

Earlier this year, I received an email from the chief auditor of one of our larger clients. Before taking on responsibility for a different geographic region, this individual shared the following:

For just under three years I had the opportunity to work with your firm, attorneys, and staff and consistently found your people to be of the highest professional and ethical standards among all the firms I’ve worked with across the country as well as being very capable and effective litigators and advocates. More important to me is the demeanor with which I was received in every single interaction I had with your firm - your people are very pleasant to work with, especially given that my involvement is not always a desired one. I wanted to personally thank each and all of you for the opportunity to work with you and your team and for your commitment to consistently strive to improve the billing process.

These sentiments are uplifting and echo what our own employees tell us when asked their favorite thing about the firm. Lawyers, paralegals, and administrative staff all agree - it is the people.

This year, in addition to awards, we celebrated victories, weddings, births, and retirements. We celebrated the 20th Anniversary of our Erie office and the 2nd Anniversary of our joinder with the New York firm of Jones Hirsch. We breathed a sigh of relief when Hurricane Matthew side-swiped the eastern coast of Florida yet largely spared the folks in our Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Jacksonville offices. We are fortunate even if we sometimes forget.

Hope has been defined as the desire for something good and the expectation of receiving it. When we consider our incoming class of associates, our next class of shareholders, the depth and talent of our middle management, the quality of our paralegals and support staff, and the strength of our client base, we literally define hope, as our expectations are exceptional.

We end 2016 stronger than we began, better able to serve our clients and each other. The new year will bring its own mix of successes and challenges, but through it all, Marshall Dennehey will remain hopeful and there for you.

On behalf of the Executive Committee, we wish you and your families a spectacular holiday season filled with peace, love, and the thrill of hope.

*Mark can be contacted at 215.575.3570 or



Defense Digest, Vol. 22, No. 4, December 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