Message from the Executive Committee

Defense Digest, Vol. 23, No. 4, December 2017

By Thomas A. Brophy, Esquire, President and CEO


There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

(In My Life – Lennon-McCartney 1965)



On December 31, 2017, I will be stepping down as the President and CEO of this law firm. The timing is right. I am sixty-five years of age. I am in good health and have served in this capacity for thirteen years, but I have been involved in management in one way or another since 1986. Prior to becoming President and CEO, I had served three years as a member of the Executive Committee with Phil Toran and Pete Miller, reporting to Robert Coleman who, at that time, was Chairman, President and CEO of the firm. For three years prior to that, I had served with Phil Toran and Pete Miller as members of the Ad Hoc Committee. Those combined six years were essentially transitional years designed to test Pete, Phil and me to see how we would get along and whether we could lead this firm.

Pete and Phil have already retired and had been involved in the decisions that have moved Chris Dougherty and Mark Thompson into their respective roles. I have had the pleasure of working with them now for several years and plan to work two more years in a consultative capacity, while transitioning some client relationships and undertaking some additional projects at the request of Chris, Mark and Howard Dwoskin, the newest member of the management team. I have a lot invested in this team, having brought Chris and Mark to Marshall Dennehey and having worked directly with Howard over the last seventeen years in the management of our Casualty Department. I know the firm will be in good hands under their leadership. Collectively, they know the firm’s history, have a strong belief in its culture, and know that their responsibility is first and foremost to the clients and employees of Marshall Dennehey.

If there is one word to describe how I feel as I watch the days of 2017 slip away, that word is gratitude. I am incredibly thankful that I have had the opportunity to serve in a management capacity and have been able to shape this firm and, to some extent, steer the direction that it has taken over the last twenty years.

·         I am thankful that so many people I like and admire thought that I had the ability to lead and better this organization;

·         I am thankful that I had the support and loyalty of so many talented people, both attorneys and non-attorneys;

·         I am thankful to Bob Coleman, Bob Goggin and Jack Warner for their confidence in me and their guidance and tutelage over three decades.

·         I am thankful to Pete Miller and Phil Toran who, with me, defined what our Executive Committee is and how it functions. We started as good friends and completed our time together in management as better friends.

·         I am thankful to the many clients for whom I provided direct representation as well as to the clients who entered into and maintained strong institutional relationships with Marshall Dennehey. Without their confidence and loyalty, any success that I had would have been fleeting.

·         I am thankful for all of the friendships that I have developed while at Marshall Dennehey and for the network of advisors and supporters who have helped me to do my job;

·         I left teaching to come to this law firm, but to a significant extent, the teacher never left me. I am so pleased to see the success of so many people whom I hired or mentored or counseled during their careers and am proud to see them assume positions of leadership and prominence in this firm;

·         Serving as President and CEO required me to balance many competing interests, and, at times, I couldn’t help but wonder who questioned one decision or felt disenfranchised by another. Over the last several months, many of you have told me that you liked me in the position of President and CEO because you “trusted” me. I am most appreciative to those of you who have trusted me to make wise and, even more importantly, fair decisions.

·         I am particularly thankful to my wife, who tolerated my many long days and my many nights out attending to firm business and to the needs of people with whom she was only marginally familiar. No one gets to do an adequate job as a President or CEO without the support of his or her spouse.

To me, one of the great attractions of this place is its culture. I’ve always believed, and still do believe, that it is a place where everyone is provided an opportunity to improve their professional, economic and personal situation. It doesn’t matter where you went to school. It doesn’t matter who your parents were. It doesn’t matter when you started with the firm or where you started with the firm. What matters most is who you are, how willing you are to work hard, and how well you treat your fellow workers.

A number of years ago, I was called upon to make a toast about the firm. I toasted this firm’s culture and described it as follows:

·         It is a culture that treats employees fairly and respectfully, be they shareholders, associates, administrative assistants, receptionists, or file clerks;

·         It is a culture that recognizes and promotes diversity among its members;

·         It is a culture in which lawyers like and trust one another and like and trust their leadership;

·         It is a culture that hires employees with the hope and expectation that they will finish their careers at the firm;

·         It is a culture that encourages and rewards loyalty, humility, and teamwork;

·         It is a culture where humor is a great equalizer and where no one is above a friendly jest.

I have always believed in this culture, and still do.

Sure, there were days when this job was very difficult, and, yes, the job of President and CEO can be unrelenting. But, without a doubt, the good times, the opportunities, the friendships, the successes and the laughs outweigh all of those things.

It has been my great privilege to have served you as President and CEO, and I am very thankful to all of you for that opportunity.

*Tom works in our Philadelphia office. You can reach him at 215.575.2748 or


Defense Digest, Vol. 23, No. 4, December 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