On the Pulse…Spotlight on the Philadelphia Office
Defense Digest, Vol. 23, No. 4, December 2017
By Butler B. Buchanan, III, Esq.
The Philadelphia office of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin is the headquarters of the firm. With 140 attorneys and over 230 non-lawyer employees, this office serves as the nerve center for the firm. Among other departments, it houses our Billing & Accounting, Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources and Marketing departments, as well as internal file auditors, staff managers, and many paralegals and administrative assistants. Our non-lawyer staff works hard to facilitate the practice of law by our attorneys firmwide.
Marshall Dennehey is a for-profit corporation. However, it is much more than that. While the firm is a substantial contributor to a number of charitable causes, this article will highlight some activities our Philadelphia attorneys engage in outside of the practice of law to improve our community and to contribute to the improvement of the bar. There is no better example of the firm’s commitment to the community and to the bar than Thomas A. Brophy, our president and CEO. Over the past eight years, Tom has served on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, and he is currently in his second year as its president. The Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Philadelphia Bar Association. As the only foundation in Philadelphia solely dedicated to supporting the city’s pro bono legal services community, it supports the full range of non-profit legal aid organizations from education to employment, health to housing, youth to seniors, and people with disabilities to immigrants. Over 35 non-profit legal aid organizations have received crucial support from the Foundation in the past five years, totaling over $3 million in grants and other assistance. It is the embodiment of the Philadelphia legal community’s commitment to the fundamental principle of equal access to justice for all. Tom’s dedication to Board membership and his current role as president of the Foundation serves as a shining example of Marshall Dennehey’s commitment beyond the billable hour. Following his lead, several of our Philadelphia office attorneys currently serve on boards of the Foundation and its beneficiary organizations.
Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia
Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia seeks to address the legal issues of an impoverished clientele via the assistance of volunteer attorneys who travel to neighborhoods where their services are most needed. This organization operates nine legal clinics in some of the most economically depressed neighborhoods in the city. Clients have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with attorneys for a free one-hour consultation. They are given advice, counsel and direction on how to address the legal issues they bring. The clinics handle many types of legal matters, such as criminal record expungements, wills, powers of attorney, landlord/tenant, Orphan’s Court issues and other matters. Once per month, Marshall Dennehey’s attorneys travel to one of the clinic’s locations to provide this counsel. Over 15 attorneys have participated in assisting economically challenged Philadelphia residents in addressing legal issues.
Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School
Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School is a new model of private high school education. Cristo Rey is a top-quality, independent Catholic high school for students of all faiths from grades 9 through 12 who could not otherwise afford a private education. The school’s curriculum combines rigorous academics with professional work experience in businesses where the students are mentored by college-educated adults. Every student works five days per month with Philadelphia-area “job partner” businesses. The job experience accelerates the students’ development and provides a real-world employment experience. Marshall Dennehey serves as a job partner for four students. In exchange for their work, the firm pays a substantial portion of their tuition. In addition, our attorneys and staff mentor the students. Cristo Rey’s students come from extremely economically deprived parts of the city and the surrounding region. Thus far, Cristo Rey has graduated two classes. In each class, every graduating student was admitted to at least one four-year college. Two of the students who worked at Marshall Dennehey are now in college—one at Pennsylvania State University and the other at Millersville University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Our Philadelphia office employees take pride in our participation as a job partner of Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School students.
Chester A. Arthur Elementary School
Marshall Dennehey has also partnered with a Philadelphia inner-city public elementary school, Chester A. Arthur School. Three years ago, this relationship began in consensus with a call to action issued by then Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association to encourage law firms to partner with public schools in an effort to assist in raising the quality of education being provided by the Philadelphia School District. Chester A. Arthur serves students from kindergarten through the eighth grade. The firm supports the school in several ways. Many families that send students to Chester A. Arthur cannot afford basic school supplies. Prior to the start of each school year, the attorneys and staff on each of the five floors of the Philadelphia office compete to see which floor donates the most school supplies. The winning floor is rewarded with two dress-down days and two days of free lunches paid for by the firm. As the cold weather approaches, Marshall Dennehey also holds an annual coat drive for the students. Attorneys and staff either purchase outerwear or donate money toward this effort.
Some of the top performing public high schools in the Philadelphia School District require that students apply for admission. That process requires an essay, somewhat similar to essays required of applicants to colleges and universities. Several of our attorneys and staff go to Chester A. Arthur School to assist in drafting and editing essays for those students who apply to schools that requires an essay. In addition, throughout the school year, attorneys and staff donate high-nutrition breakfast bars, as well as “Box Tops for Education” coupons that can be redeemed for certain school supplies.
Giving Back to the Profession
Many Marshall Dennehey attorneys in Philadelphia (and outside Philadelphia) are involved in professional organizations, including bar associations and defense-oriented organizations.
Philadelphia Bar Association
Three of our attorneys currently serve as ex-officio members of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and others have sat as members of the Board in the past. One of our attorneys formerly chaired the Board of Governors. That same attorney has twice served as chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, which evaluates judicial candidates and informs the public regarding whether they find them to be “Recommended” or “Not Recommended.” Another of our Philadelphia office attorneys served for two years as chair of the Campaign for Qualified Judges. In Pennsylvania, once judges are elected, they must eventually run for retention to maintain their seat on the bench. The Campaign for Qualified Judges raises funds to support those judges running for retention who make a pledge not to request money from law firms or individual lawyers. Another Philadelphia office attorney is in his fourth year of service on the American Bar Association House of Delegates as a representative of the association.
Yet another Philadelphia office attorney currently serves as chair of the Editorial Board of The Philadelphia Lawyer, the quarterly magazine published by the association. Two Marshall Dennehey lawyers serve on the Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Executive Board. One of them is on the leadership track to become president of this board.
Some of our attorneys have served and currently serve as co-chairs of certain substantive law committees, including the Federal Courts Committee and the Medico-Legal Committee, and others have co-chaired committees in the past. A Marshall Dennehey attorney is currently in line to become co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation Committee of the Association in 2018.
Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel, Pennsylvania Defense Institute and Defense Research Institute
The Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel (PADC) serves as the voice of the defense bar in the Philadelphia region. The firm has been supportive of this organization, and three of our Philadelphia attorneys have served as president of PADC within the past 15 years. At least one member of the firm has been a member of the Executive Committee of PADC since the mid-1990s.
Four Marshall Dennehey attorneys (one from the Philadelphia office) have served as president of the Pennsylvania Defense Institute, which is the statewide civil defense organization in Pennsylvania. Similar to PADC, our attorneys have held positions of leadership within the organization’s Executive Committee for many years.
Our attorneys have also been and remain active in the Defense Research Institute, the national voice of the defense bar. There is currently a Marshall Dennehey attorney on the Board, and another (based in the Philadelphia office) served on the Board in the past. Numerous Marshall Dennehey attorneys are involved in leadership roles and substantive law committees of DRI.
Believe it or not, this only scratches the surface of the degree to which attorneys and staff in the Philadelphia office of Marshall Dennehey give of their time and energy to the local community and are involved in state, local, and national defense and other professional organizations. While Marshall Dennehey is a for-profit corporation, we continue to do our share to be a good corporate citizen and to be a good citizen of the profession while doing so.
*Buck is the managing attorney of our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office. In addition, he is Chair of our Diversity Committee and the Hiring Attorney. Buck can be reached at 215.575.2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.