On the Pulse…Message from The Executive Committee

By G. Mark Thompson, Esq.*

            “It is the responsibility of leadership to provide opportunity and the responsibility of individuals to contribute.”

                                                                                                            - William Pollard

Before sharing with you some exciting developments in the life of Marshall Dennehey, I would like to take a moment and introduce myself. I am the newest member of our three-person Executive Committee, the governing body of our 480-lawyer firm. 

That last sentence says so much about the nature of Marshall Dennehey. When I came aboard in 2001, I could not have imagined writing it. I had not grown up in the firm. I was a lateral hire practicing out of a regional office in Florida, a thousand miles from our headquarters in Philadelphia. I knew one person in the organization. The funny thing is, none of that mattered. I was given one opportunity after another and quickly discovered that the firm was full of people who had started modestly, worked hard, let others help them and gone on to hold positions of leadership and responsibility. It was, I came to learn, a trait that defined us.

As I strived over the years to live up to the opportunities the firm provided, the firm kept providing me more. I was given access to wonderful clients and all the resources with which to defend those clients in high-profile, interesting and complex litigation. I went from managing our Orlando office to providing regional management of all our Florida offices. I was elected to our Board of Directors, able to work with all of the firm’s practice groups, all of our administrative departments, and many of our great lawyers and support staff. And now this great honor. Despite all the opportunities, great coaching, increased responsibility and years of preparation (including taking the Pennsylvania Bar Exam), it is still humbling to think that “I am the newest member of our three-person Executive Committee.”

My humility stems from the realization that in the history of the firm, only four people have ever served on the Executive Committee. Tom Brophy, Chris Dougherty, Pete Miller and Phil Toran have all distinguished themselves through extraordinary leadership, hard work and commitment to the firm. They have earned the trust and respect of our clients and employees. They have proven good stewards of the authority granted them, and the firm has prospered under their tenure. True to the epigraph from William Pollard, they have provided opportunity, and they have contributed mightily. I am grateful to call each of them a friend and mentor and am heartened by the confidence of those who consider me in some measure capable of meeting their very high standards.

As I transition into this new role and prepare to relocate to Philadelphia, I look forward to working closer with Tom and Chris, embracing my new home and perpetuating the firm’s culture of opportunity. One of my distinct responsibilities will be overseeing the management of our nineteen regional offices located across Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Delaware and Florida. Two-thirds of our lawyers work in these regional offices. I am proud to have come from one and am eager to begin collaborating with them all. 

Our regional presence has always been important to our clients. We have endeavored this year to bolster this network and expanded in two markets in particular. 

In March, we opened a new office in Cincinnati, Ohio. The location compliments our growing Cleveland office and allows us to cover the state from top to bottom. Many of these lawyers have statewide practices. Sam Casolari, who formerly managed our Cleveland office and now manages Cincinnati, has a casualty practice focusing on retail and restaurant liability, product liability and trucking. Ray Freudiger is a seasoned litigator who chaired the school law practice at his prior firm. In addition to offering public entity and school leaders liability experience, he is well-versed in realtors errors and omissions, business litigation and personal injury defense. Sam and Ray are joined by Tim Schenkel, another seasoned litigator who practices in both Ohio and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Tim’s practice includes defense of trucking and transportation, construction, premises and product liability cases. Rounding out this new office is Laura Hillerich, a twelve-year casualty lawyer who, like Tim, is also licensed in Ohio and Kentucky. 

In July, the firm completed the largest lateral acquisition in its history when 25 lawyers joined us from the former Jones Hirsch firm in New York. We had been in discussions with this well-established law firm for over a year and were impressed by how closely aligned they were with our culture, clients and civil litigation experience. These lawyers focused their practice on general casualty, medical malpractice, aviation, insurance coverage and construction litigation. They had also handled high-profile litigation. Jim Connors, who managed the firm, was lead counsel for the airport security firms in the 9/11 litigation and represented the estate of John F. Kennedy, Jr. after he died in a 1999 plane crash.

Having these lawyers join us is a terrific opportunity to expand our footprint in New York while adding talent, experience and depth. They have allowed us to essentially double our size to nearly 50 lawyers and to become a meaningful player in the New York defense litigation market. 

Jim Connors has also assumed management of our newest and 20th office in Westchester County, New York. This office joins Manhattan and Long Island to provide us a broad regional presence and a base from which to expand into Albany and Syracuse.

Joining Jim in Westchester are attorneys Daniel Corde, Charles Gura and Angela Evangelista. Our Manhattan office has been strengthened by the addition of attorneys Scott Miller, Steven Kaplan, Charles O’Bryan, Michael Manarel, Peter Read, Mark Wellman, William Bell, Thomas Vaughan, James Freire, Richard Imbrogno, Tonya Lindsey, Gail McCallion, Merav Biton, Seth Frankel and Bronagh Kelly. We have also added depth to our Long Island office with the addition of attorneys Neil Higgins, William Pirk, Jr., Kevin Ryan, Michael Kelly and Daniel Levin.

With two new offices and many new friends, these are exciting times for Marshall Dennehey. Our history owes much to the contribution of lateral hires, be they lawyers or those who support them. They have enabled us to diversify and expand our geographic reach and to better serve our clients. Their personalities, intellect and values have added to our practice, our culture and our success. I know from experience that the firm will provide them tremendous opportunity, and I look forward to their many contributions.

*Mark can be contacted at 407.420.4390 or gmthompson@mdwcg.com.


Defense Digest, Vol. 20, No. 3, September 2014

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. Copyright © 2014 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.