Montgomery Bar Association | Montgomery County, PA
! s n r u t e R “Conshy” by Susannah Hart Thomer One of several prize-winning works of art from last year’s Courting Art Contest and Exhibition
MBA Welcomes New leaders
A Primer For Attorneys Serving As Arbitrators
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14 A PRIMER FOR
ATTORNEYS SERVING AS ARBITRATORS
Montgomery Bar Association | Montgomery County PA
22 MBA Welcomes
young lawyers volunteer on dr. martin luther king, jr. day of service
IN EVERY ISSUE... President’s Message............................4 Bits & Bytes........................................10
FEATURES MBA Welcomes New Board Members...................................................6 To Be or Not to Be (an Attorney)......... 8 A Message from USI Affinity...............12
Wiretaps.............................................34 Young Lawyers...................................36
MCAP Celebrates 10th Anniversary..23
Attention Family Law Attorneys.........25 Concurrent Employment in PA Workers’ Compensation........................................26 Defending Preference Claims............27 MBA Receives Awards from the Pennsylvania Bar Association...........28 Annual Ski Trip......................................30
Courting Art Returns
Robert R. Watson, Jr., Esq. Gary J. Friedlander, Esq.
Regular columnists: Joel B. Bernbaum, Esq. Richard E. Cohen, Esq. Jack Costello Lindsay Hanifan, Esq. Joshua David Macel, Esq. Jim Mathias Dennis R. Meakim, Esq. Jules J. Mermelstein, Esq. Gerald L. Shoemaker, Jr., Esq.
Recommendations of the MBA Judiciary Committee for the 2015 Election...................................................18
SIDEBAR COMMITTEE MEMBERS Co-Chairs
MCPA Celebrates with 15th Anniversary Crystal Gala.....................31 SIDEBAR: A Look Back........................32 2015 Mock Trials...................................37 MBA To Host Blood Drive on June 4.................................................38
Cover Artist: Susannah Hart Thomer has a BFA from Moore College of Art and has been studying and painting watercolors for most of her life. Her work has been featured in magazines: Financial Today , American Artist’s Watercolor, and Montgomery County Life, Town, and Country. She also illustrated a book titled, A Red Rose for Frania, which was given to Pope John Paul II and is now housed in the Vatican Library in Rome. Currently, she works in pen and ink to create illustrations for the Historic Society of Southeastern District Calendar and she is represented in galleries in PA and DE.
George Cardenas IT Manager Jack Costello Marketing Manager Jim Mathias Director of Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs Nancy R. Paul Executive Director The SIDEBAR Committee invites articles and news information of interest. Please send content to: MBA, c/o SIDEBAR Committee, P.O. Box 268, Norristown, PA 19404-0268 or email: email@example.com. The SIDEBAR Committee reserves the right to edit any material submitted and/or to omit the same from publication. Most articles are written by members for members.
Montgomery Bar Association
Serving the Profession and the Community since 1885
Bruce Pancio, Esq., President Carolyn R. Mirabile, Esq., President-Elect Eric B. Smith, Esq., Vice-President Mary C. Pugh, Esq., Treasurer Gregory R. Gifford, Esq., Secretary Publisher Hoffmann Publishing Group, Inc. 2921 Windmill Road, Reading, PA 19608 610.685.0914 x201 | HoffPubs.com Advertising Contacts Karen Zach 610.685.0914 x213 | Karen@HoffPubs.com Mark Schelling 610.685.0914 x205 | Mark@HoffPubs.com
A Thank You to Our Young Lawyers Section By Bruce Pancio, Esq.
he Montgomery Bar Association is incredibly fortunate to have an active and energetic Young Lawyers Section. Their activities and hard work are a benefit to all young lawyers, the Bar Association as a whole and even the citizens of Montgomery County. With a mix of education, service and fun, the Young Lawyers section is an essential part of our organization. While we cannot imagine the MBA without the Young Lawyers Section, it was not always so well-received. The young lawyers almost left the MBA to start their own organization in the early 1930s. Between 1927 and 1932 fifty-three young lawyers were admitted to the Bar Association. Many of the newer members did not have family members in the profession and sought to form relationships and obtain continuing legal education from the MBA. The early leaders of this group included Desmond McTighe and Frederick Smillie. The young lawyers began to hold lunch meetings to exchange ideas and discuss issues within the profession. A request was made to hold these meetings as part of Bar Association activity. At that point in time, the Bar Association activities were focused on organizational, entertainment and memorial meetings. The Bar Association was not a source for education. The request by the young lawyers was not well-received by the existing members of the Bar. The young lawyers would not take no for an answer and threatened to form their own organization. To keep the organization together, a new Entertainment Committee was formed to plan meetings to meet the needs of the young lawyers. The committee took the first steps in providing continuing legal education for the members of the Bar Association. Two of the young lawyers on the new committee were Desmond McTighe and David Groshens. What could have been a devastating split within the organization became one of its greatest triumphs. In the past six months, the Young Lawyers have undertaken two service projects. In the fall of 2014, the Young Lawyers organized a clothing drive to benefit Dress for Success, an organization that benefits women entering the work force. Over 600 lbs. of clothing were collected thanks to project coordinator Joseph A. McNelis, III and then-YLS Chair, William G. Roark. Under the leadership of Colin Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Boyle, current Chair of the YLS, the young lawyers have continued the tradition of a day of service to the community on
In my year as President, I would like to get as many new members involved in the MBA as possible. My job is made much easier through the efforts of the Young Lawyers. Members and leaders of the YLS, both past and present, deserve our thanks and recognition. Source: Scriabine, Christine B. History of Montgomery Bar Association, Norristown, PA. 1981.
Martin Luther King Day. This year over twenty volunteers were present at the Norristown State Hospital to caulk the sleeping areas for the residents. The staff at the State Hospital was very appreciative of the help, not only for the work but for the cost savings to the Hospital. This winter wrapped up another successful year for the Mock Trials. The Young Lawyers are responsible for organizing the trials as well as obtaining volunteers to serve on the juries. This may be one of the tougher tasks that the Chair of the YLS faces each year, but it is always done well and the Mock Trials continue to bring accolades for the MBA. Our current Young Lawyers have carried on the tradition that began in the early 1930s when they became part of the Entertainment Committee. Today the social events include spending an afternoon in front of televisions cheering on a favorite team during March Madness. The late summer is a time to gather together to draft your team at the Fantasy Football Draft. Throughout the year the YLS schedules happy hours at locations throughout the county to reach as many members as possible.
MBA / FEATURE
MBA Welcomes New Board Members By Dennis R. Meakim, Esq.
Robert L. Adshead, Esq.
Abington with his wife and three daughters. Bob looks forward to encouraging the many young members of the Association to take advantage of the social aspects of their membership, particularly attending the Bench/Bar Conference and other gatherings that foster more personal relationships between members of the legal community.
Robert Adshead began his legal career in 1982, after graduating from Widener University Law School. He initially worked as an associate for a Philadelphia Law Firm, devoting his practice to Elder Law, Wills, Estates and Trusts. During the period of 1983 to 1985, he served as a Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney assigned to the Narcotics Enforcement Team. He prosecuted countless high profile crimes including drug trafficking, armed robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, sex crimes, vehicular homicide, weapons offenses and white-collar economic crimes. He was widely regarded by the police, defense attorneys and the Court as a tough but fair prosecutor. Beginning in 1986, Mr. Adshead has been continuously engaged in private practice. He devotes his time to three areas of law: criminal defense, serious injury cases and estates-elder law. He has defended many criminal cases of note and has been frequently in the news and on television. District Attorney Bruce Castor selected Bob to serve as a Special Assistant DA to help prosecute a fugitive mother who kidnapped her daughter and eluded police for five years. That same year, he was unanimously appointed by the Montgomery County Board of Judges to serve as Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of View. He has been appointed by the Court to serve as a Fiduciary in many estate matters. His past clients include judges, police officers, attorneys, public officials and ordinary citizens. In addition to being an attorney, Bob is an instrumentrated pilot who donates his time flying Angel Flight missions for patients who can’t afford transportation to hospitals. He has previously served on the Board of Directors of Angel Flight East. He also serves as legal counsel to the Abington Police Athletic League, The Artisans and many other organizations. Bob lives in
Cynthia L. Brennan, Esq. Ms. Brennan joined Kane, Pugh, Knoell, Troy & Kramer, LLP in 2007. She is a 1987 graduate of Moravian College where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Business and Biology. She obtained her master’s degree in International Business in 1998 from Point Park College where she graduated summa cum laude. Ms. Brennan attained her law degree from The Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1994 where she graduated cum laude and was a published member of the law review. She also served as an editor of the Michigan Opinion Notes column in the statewide Michigan Bar Journal. Ms. Brennan dedicates her practice to the litigation of complex medical malpractice claims. She has defended hospitals, physicians, nurses and other medical personnel in hundreds of cases in Philadelphia and the surrounding Pennsylvania counties as well as federal court. She has significant experience in mass tort litigation and has served as liaison counsel in the silicone breast implant litigation and the Philadelphia Coordinated Rezulin litigation. Ms. Brennan has also defended other professionals in professional liability matters including attorneys, insurance brokers, and real estate agents. She also has experience in corporate insurance coverage matters. Ms. Brennan is also a member of the American Bar Association. She is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and Arizona. She is also admitted to practice in the United States
as Chief Counsel to two subsidiaries, SunGard for six years and Sun Transport for seven years. He also held the positions of Chief Counsel for Commercial Transactions and Chief Counsel for Antitrust. David opened an office for the practice of commercial and business law in Plymouth Meeting, PA in 1998. He is well-versed in contractual “Best Practices,” and has been an invited guest speaker to address this topic at meetings sponsored by bar groups and various trade associations. David has served as Chairman of the Business, Banking and Corporate Counsel Committee of the Montgomery Bar for twelve of the past thirteen years. As an MBA Director, David’s goals are to assure the Association’s financial stability and to encourage members to become more involved in Bar activities.
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Michigan and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Ms. Brennan serves as a volunteer attorney for the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project where she represents, on a pro bono basis, abused and neglected children.
Michael F. Dunn, Esq. Mike graduated from LaSalle College High School, Temple University (Honors) and Temple University School of Law (Class President). In 1980, he opened the Law Office of Michael F. Dunn in Glenside where he maintained a general practice of law as a sole practitioner. Approximately 15 years ago, he decided to concentrate his areas of practice to Criminal Defense (with an emphasis on DUI defense) and Estate Planning and Administration. He has been married to Terri for 32 years and they have 3 adult daughters: Christine, Catherine and Caroline. He has been a member of the Montgomery County Bar for almost 35 years and is currently CoChairman of the Criminal Defense Committee. He is also a long-term member of the Bench Bar Committee, has been a Mock Trial juror for many years, and has been a member and speaker of the Montgomery Bar’s Civil War Roundtable since its inception. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Bar, Mike hopes to help increase membership and to continue to maintain the Montgomery Bar Association as one of the premier county bar associations in Pennsylvania.
Neil A. Stein, Esq. Neil Andrew Stein, Esq., has represented landowners, developers, institutions and nonprofit groups for over 25 years in each and every phase of the real estate transaction including structuring, financing, land use approvals, land use litigation, eminent domain and community association documentation. Neil has also served as a solicitor to several local townships and zoning hearing boards. This public sector expertise promotes development of strong relationships with elected and appointed government officials, as well as a keen sense of the best ways to cut through “red tape.” Neil brings “outside the box” legal thinking to complex projects such as non-conforming uses, and adaptive reuse of former military bases, landfills and distressed properties. Neil lectures frequently for professional organizations and occupies a leadership role in many builder and developer trade groups and bar association committees. He was also designated a Super Lawyer by Philadelphia Magazine in 2007 and 2008. Neil graduated magna cum laude from Temple University with a Bachelors of Business Degree in Accounting and Economics and is a cum laude graduate of the Temple University School of Law and holds a Matters of Law (LLM) in Taxation. Neil also served as Research Editor of the Temple Environmental Law Journal.
David A. Feldheim, Esq. David Feldheim is a recognized attorney with a successful history of representing individuals and businesses who value high quality and reliable legal advice. He has acquired knowledge and expertise in numerous areas of commercial law. After graduation from New York University School of Law in 1972, David served as the Law Clerk to David E. Groshens, President Judge of Montgomery County. After completing his clerkship, David joined the Sunoco Law Department in 1974, serving
MBA / FEATURE
To Be or Not To Be (an attorney) By Jules J. Mermelstein, Esq.
attorneys but lousy businessmen. Within a few years we were working as Managing Attorneys for two of Hyatt Legal Services’ Philadelphia Region offices. Although I enjoyed managing the office into a profitable one, I did not enjoy general practice or putting in the necessary 50-60 hours per week away from my family. The proverbial straw on the camel’s back came when my wife mentioned that my 5-yearold daughter was crying herself to sleep asking why I was never home. I hardly knew my one-year-old son. So my wife sent out resumes for a full-time job and found one making much more than I was earning. Except for the fact that I was terrified to become the main childcare parent, the decision was a no-brainer. The years I spent as the main childcare parent changed my life. I loved helping my kids become independent adults with both roots and wings. I was interested in their education and became a member of the Upper Dublin Education Advisory Committee. I joined believing that good district policies could ensure good education, but after researching and writing several reports for the district, I learned that the most important variable in education is the teacher in the classroom. At my wife’s urging, I went back to school, part-time (until student teaching), and became certified to teach secondary Social Studies in December 1993. Several school districts interviewed me the summer before my student teaching and told me that my background as a lawyer and an elected official was perfect and to reapply after my student teaching. Unfortunately, no positions were available mid-year, so I chose to take one more course. I did not know that getting my M.Ed. would prevent me from getting an entry level suburban teaching job. School districts were unwilling to pay
wanted to be a criminal defense attorney ever since I read The Boston Strangler by Gerold Frank when I was in junior high school. I was intrigued by how F. Lee Bailey was able to maneuver the law to prove that Albert DeSalvo was not competent to stand trial and should be in a mental facility for treatment. During high school, I became convinced that the Nixon Administration was using criminal law to crack down on dissent, most notably with the Chicago 7 trial. I wanted to become a criminal defense attorney to get all those innocent people out of trouble. I pursued the typical path to the legal profession. I participated in junior high drama and high school debate and drama. I attended college at Temple Ambler and majored in, of course, political science. I went to American University’s Washington College of Law because they had a nationally renowned criminal litigation clinic. While at WCL, I was the only student chosen for both the Mock Trial and Moot Court competition teams. I was the first second-year student in the school’s history to be given the award as the outstanding student in Trial Practice. When I graduated, my wife, my newborn daughter and I moved back to Montgomery County. As a 25-yearold know-it-all, I had no interest in working for a firm that was not going to let me into court right away. I was admitted to the Bar in June of 1980. I thought about following F. Lee Bailey’s path by going into the Judge Advocate Corps first, but unfortunately I weighed too much at the time to fit into any military uniform. I ended up opening my own practice with a friend from college who had gone to Villanova Law. We were both excellent
more money for someone who had no experience to prove they could teach. Philadelphia had a residency requirement. I ended up putting together several part-time teaching positions, including Sunday school, which I continued for 19 years. These jobs were satisfying but paid very little. When my daughter was about to start college, I went back to law. A friend of mine with a real estate law firm and title agency hired me, first part-time as a closer, and eventually as managing attorney. Philadelphia finally eliminated their residency requirement and I began teaching at Germantown High School in Fall 2005. I guess I was naïve because I was shocked at the conditions I found. Many supplies, including copy paper, were provided by the teachers themselves. The administration provided no way to discipline students. On my first day, I sent a disruptive student to the principal’s office. She escorted him back to my classroom and said, “What do you want me to do about it?” The student came walking back in with a smirk on his face. As a result, the disruptive students made it very difficult for the students who wanted to learn. Teachers were regularly disrespected, pushed, and shoved by students. We were disrespected by administrators but at least they did not physically assault us! There were many teachers who were there as second careers who only lasted a couple of months before quitting. I had waited 11 years for this opportunity, I connected with the students, and I was not about to leave the profession. There were some really great kids at Germantown. During my second year at Germantown, one of my colleagues had his neck broken by two students. Teachers after that were regularly threatened by students when we did something they didn’t like with the comment, “You don’t want to be the next (name of teacher with broken neck), do you?” Presumably because of my legal background, Germantown’s union representative asked me to head a committee of teachers to report on what needed to be done to bring order to the school. We all knew this meant we were going to have to go head-to-head with the principal. When I told my wife about this development, she replied, “Couldn’t they pick someone with tenure?” The report did criticize the principal and the way she refused to discipline disruptive and violent students. Despite this, and because I felt I was helping the students, I told them I would only leave if my alma mater (Upper Dublin) made me an offer. Sure enough, they did. I started teaching at Upper Dublin in 2007 and loved my interaction with the students, parents, and my colleagues. We were all on the same
page, trying to push the students to become what they could be. Toward the end of my first year, I was asked to coach a newly-formed Speech and Debate Team. My department chair knew I had been a member of the team when I was a student and that I was dismayed that the team no longer existed. Over the next few years we sent competitors to states and nationals. I felt I had finally found my calling, and regularly received thank-you notes from parents and students. Recent health issues have prevented me from working full-time so I am taking a series of online courses to learn how to teach online courses and hope to find a job teaching one or two per year. I joined two book clubs that meet at the Upper Dublin Public Library. I participate in the Bar Association’s fantasy football league. And I have joined the Sidebar Committee, which is why I am telling you my story. For some of you, law was not your first career. For others, law was not your last career. Some of you have retired and are pursuing other adventures. Tell me your stories, and perhaps Sidebar will share them with the membership. Please email me at jules.mermelstein@ gmail.com to have your story told.
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BITS & BYTES
By Joel B. Bernbaum, Esq.
Many years ago, a committee was formed to coordinate the implementation of e-filing in Montgomery County by the Prothonotary’s office. This was, after much time and effort by all concerned, initiated, and today, we have a system that not only works, but also has streamlined the Prothonotary’s operations and increased productivity in our law practices.
At the time, newly appointed Director of the Domestic Relations Section, Gary Kline, wistfully acknowledged a desire to have a similar system for DRS. The solution was problematic since DRS is under the control of PA Department of Public Welfare with a separate Prothonotary, etc. Since then, PACSES, the acronym for the Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement System, has been implemented. PACSES is used for all transactions in the 67 local Domestic Relations Sections within the State. The County’s DRS website and the State’s Child Support Program’s (CSWS) websites have been enhanced and provide a wealth of information, assistance and automated services. Recently, with little fanfare, a form of “e-filing” has been rolled out across the
State through the E-Services feature on the PA Child Support website. I recently met with Director Kline and members of his staff to discuss and review the new online tools. The first task all attorneys should undertake is registering on the home page of the PA Child Support Program (www.humanservices.state.pa.us/csws). If your practice includes family law, this registration should be completed. The ID required to register for the PA Child Support Website is your PA Bar Association ID preceded by zeroes. The ID is a 10 digit number. Therefore, if your PA Bar Association ID is 12345, the ID for the website would be “0000012345.” Once registered, an attorney can perform the following on
behalf of their clients: submit new applications, modify an existing order, recover an overpayment, submit an entry of appearance or withdraw a compliant for support. When your client has an existing case, you must enter the case ID and your client’s member ID before proceeding with any action associated with that case. The essential factor to understand is that this is different from the system you have become accustomed to with our Montgomery County Prothonotary. Because the procedures are promulgated by the Department of Welfare and are implemented in every county (with some exceptions), they are technically “submissions” and not official filings. They will be reviewed and processed by the local DRS staff and only then will the “filing” be completed. Our DRS staff is highly motivated to make this new service work and has e-mail and even live chat available for questions and assistance. It does not replace the traditional paper filing. Since this is an evolving service, it is very important that we utilize it and give feedback to DRS. As is the case with our Prothonotary’s own e-filing, the feedback, questions and comments will allow it to grow and evolve into a more fully implemented system.
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MBA / FEATURE
Small Employers Need To Evaluate These Solutions Before Renewing 2015 Medical Insurance
t’s that time of year once again. Employers need to evaluate their options regarding how they’re going to handle their medical benefits for 2015. Insurance companies tell us about everything they’re doing to keep increases to low double digits. Employers have been practically conditioned to accept a 12% medical renewal as the cost of doing business. However, before you accept the trend renewal, you should be sure all options have been evaluated and fully understood. The implementation of health care reform and agebanded rates has made the evaluation process for employers more complicated and has forced the industry to undergo an evolution of the solutions they’ve made available for employers. We’ll briefly discuss five solutions that all small employers should understand before they make their decision.
market doesn’t offer employees the same tax advantages as buying group insurance through a section 125 plan, some employees may find cheaper coverage when they factor in federal subsidies and cost sharing. The final two options we’ll discuss have become more viable with the pricing changes due to health care reform. Now that all employers in a particular area pay the same rates for the same plan, we have an environment where employers who are a better “risk” to insurance carriers are looking to find ways to find pricing below market rates. Professional Employer Organizations (PEO): Allow an employer to outsource employee management tasks, such as employee benefits, payroll and workers’ compensation, and training and development. The PEO does this by hiring a company’s employees, thus becoming their employer of record for tax and insurance purposes. The advantage to small employers from a health insurance perspective is that since the PEO is not a small group, they can base the medical rates on preferred demographics and medical underwriting. Many employers can save money on their health insurance as well as consolidate additional administrative functions.
Moving to a High Deductible Plan: Reduced premiums open up employers’ flexibility to either invest the savings towards reducing the employees’ contribution, or help the employee fund the additional deductible. If employers don’t generate enough savings to help the employees offset the additional deductible, they can help their employees by offering certain voluntary benefits.
Self Funding: The concept of self funding isn’t new, but the options available to small employers under 100 lives have never been greater. From insurance carriers to TPAs, it seems there’s a new self-funded platform introduced every week. The real advantage to self funding is that groups with better risk factors can get preferred pricing by going through underwriting and paying their claim costs, hopefully saving money instead of their excess premium being used to subsidize less healthy groups. When looking at these options, employers need to be sure of the maximum downside if claims are high. What is the liability if there are catastrophic claims? Often, this maximum cost can still be lower than a traditional plan, but employers still need to make sure they understand the risk. There’s no one solution for every employer, and a good solution in 2015 may not be the right solution in 2016. The key to navigating health care reform for employers is making sure you have the resources to educate yourself on the options so you can make an informed decision.
Defined Contribution: In simplest terms, this involves the employer giving employees a set dollar amount to spend towards benefits, while the employees pay any additional cost above that defined amount. Although the concept is simple, the implementation presents employers with many questions to consider. Is the contribution just for medical, or will it include ancillary benefits? Is this going to be a paper or electronic enrollment? If electronic, does the technology provider offer decision support and the carrier you prefer? How will employees find the help they need to make decisions? These questions can be answered, but employers need to give themselves time to research the answers. Individual Policies: Does it still make sense to offer a group plan? What are the options in the individual market? With health care reform and no medical underwriting, the individual market has become a viable option for employees, even those with pre-existing conditions. While the individual SIDEBAR
Brian McLaughlin (Brian.McLaughlin@usiaffinity.com) is vice president of USI Affinity’s Benefit Solutions Group. For more information about insurance, visit the Montgomery Bar Association Insurance Exchange at www.usiaffinityex. com/MontgomeryBar. For Lawyers’ Professional Liability and other business coverage, you can continue to visit the regular Montgomery Bar Association Insurance Program website at www. mybarinsurance.com/MontgomeryBar. If you’d like to talk to someone about insurance and benefits options for Montgomery Bar Association members, call USI Affinity Benefit Specialists at 1-855-874-0267. For over 75 years, the divisions of USI Affinity have developed, marketed and administered insurance and financial programs that offer affinity clients and their members unique advantages in coverage, price and service. As the endorsed broker of the Montgomery Bar Association and more than 30 other state and local bar associations and with more than 30,000 attorneys insured, USI Affinity has the experience and know-how to navigate the marketplace and design the most comprehensive and innovative insurance and benefits packages to fit a firm’s individual needs.
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MBA / FEATURE
A Primer For Attorneys Serving As Arbitrators In Montgomery County’s Compulsory Arbitration Program “The compulsory arbitration system was adopted in order to alleviate the enormous case load of our trial courts.” Pantoja v. Sprott, 721 A.2d 382, 385 (Pa. Super. 1998). The Superior Court has recognized that “[t]he expeditious disposition of pending litigation is the overall objective of compulsory arbitration.” McGonigle v. Currence, 387 Pa. Super. 511, 564 A.2d 508, 510 (1989). “Compulsory arbitration… is a mechanism designed to remove some of the logjam from the overburdened civil trial courts. The statute governing compulsory arbitration is a single mandate, leaving the procedural, evidentiary and conclusory aspects to be set up by rules of procedure.” Hudson v. Shoemaker, 16 Pa. D. & C.4th 143, 149 (Pa.Com.pl. 1992). Arbitration in Pennsylvania is governed by statute, and the applicable provisions are collected at 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 73017362. Sections 7361 and 7362 concern judicial arbitration, which may be compulsory (7361) or voluntary (7362). The current statute empowers each judicial district to establish its own compulsory arbitration program. The Act enables, rather than requires, the districts to provide for compulsory arbitration. Each district at its option determines by local court rule whether to adopt such a program. The system of compulsory arbitration as we currently understand it was first authorized pursuant to a 1952 amendment of the Act of June 16, 1836. The Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery
County, under the direction of President Judge William F. Dannehower, adopted the modern system of compulsory arbitration in 1955. For nearly 25 years compulsory arbitration operated pursuant to the 1952 statutory framework, at which time the provisions set forth in the Judiciary Act were implemented. In Pennsylvania, a matter may be submitted to compulsory arbitration where the amount in controversy does not exceed $50,000. Compulsory arbitration programs address only civil actions at law that do not involve title to real property, and in Montgomery County actions seeking equitable relief – including actions to quiet title, mandamus, and quo warranto – are further excluded. Arbitrators are held to the standards of judicial conduct provided under the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 2.5., Comment, states: “Competence in the performance of judicial duties requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary to perform a judge’s responsibilities of judicial office.” This article, of course, does not presume to provide all of the information necessary for compliance with Rule 2.5, but is intended as a primer for attorneys who serve, or would like to serve, on a board of arbitrators chosen to hear matters and issues assigned to Montgomery County’s compulsory arbitration program. This article focuses on the rules regarding the qualifications of arbitrators and the conduct of the hearing generally, and offers additional points for consideration. Pa. R.C.P. Nos. 1301-1314 set forth the general rules for compulsory judicial arbitration. They cover the qualification of arbitrators, fundamentals of the hearing, rules of evidence, the award, notice, judgment, molding of the award, the time and form of an appeal from arbitration, and the parties to an appeal.
Selection and Qualifications of Arbitrators A board of three arbitrators hears all actions submitted to compulsory arbitration. Rule 1302 establishes minimum qualifications for the arbitrators that are further defined by local rule. First, to serve as an arbitrator, the attorney must be actively engaged in practice within the judicial district. In Montgomery County, this refers to those members of the bar “who maintain his/her principal office within Montgomery County.” Second, the chairman must be engaged in active practice for at least three years. Montgomery County local rule further provides that two of the arbitrators “shall have been admitted to the practice of law for at least eight years,” and the chairperson of the panel shall be the attorney with the lowest attorney identification number. Third, only one lawyer from the same firm may serve on a board. Finally, disqualification considerations parallel those of a judge under the Code of Judicial Conduct. The specific methods for establishing a list and assigning members to a board are left to local court rule. Pursuant to Local Rule 1302, within sixty (60) days after their admission to the bar, all members of the Montgomery Bar Association receive a letter from the Arbitration Administrator, advising the member of his or her right to accept an assignment of Arbitrator. The member does so by sending, in writing, a statement of his or her intention to so act, directed to the Arbitration Administrator. Preparation for and Conduct of Compulsory Arbitration Hearing In order for the board of arbitrators to issue an award in a plaintiff’s favor, the plaintiff must appear at the hearing and present evidence sufficient to support an award in the plaintiff’s favor. The Rules state that a party is present if it, or an attorney who has entered an appearance on its behalf, appears at the hearing. If the plaintiff fails to appear, the board may not enter a compulsory non-suit. Rather, the arbitrators, unless the court has ordered a continuance, are to proceed and enter an award for the defendant. The defendant’s presence is not necessary, and if the board deems the evidence submitted by the plaintiff to be insufficient, they must enter an award for the defendant. The hearing itself is governed by Rules 1304 and 1305. The board is empowered and required to administer oaths and affirmations to all witnesses. The Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence apply at all hearings, though several exceptions are expressly provided for during compulsory arbitration hearings. Under Rule 1305, a party is permitted to introduce certain documents into evidence without additional proof or testimony, provided that the party gave twenty (20) days’ notice to the other party. The documents covered by Rule 1305 are set out in the rules and do not need to be repeated here. However, it is important to note that the notice requirement may be waived at the arbitrators’
discretion if the documents were provided during discovery, absent a finding of prejudice. This, like all decisions made by a board, is by majority decision. Also, the mere fact that certain documents will be admitted under the relaxed rules does not automatically make them admissible. The opposing party maintains its right to object on relevance or other grounds, and the panel must decide all objections. Making An Award in Compulsory Arbitration “The board shall make an award promptly upon termination of the hearing. The award shall dispose of all claims for relief and… shall be signed by the arbitrators or a majority of them. A dissenting vote without further comment may be noted thereon.” Pa. R.C.P. 1306. In Montgomery County, the award is made on a form provided to the arbitrators prior to the hearing. Note, also, that the documentation given to the board contains an Oath that must be signed. The Award is given back to the arbitration division of court administration who, in turn, files the Award with the Prothonotary. continued on page 16
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MBA / FEATURE meaningless and unworkable.” Conner v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 820 A.2d 1266, 1271 (Pa. Super. 2003).
Calculating the Award in Compulsory Arbitration It is worth noting that Section 7361 does not expressly cap the total amount of damages recoverable in a compulsory arbitration proceeding at $50,000, it simply compels arbitration unless the “amount in controversy” is over $50,000. Moreover, Pennsylvania courts have not construed the statute as creating a $50,000 damages cap; rather Section 7361 “is viewed as creating a jurisdictional trigger compelling arbitration, not a substantive recovery limit. See, e.g., Robert Half Int’l, Inc. v. Marlton Techs., Inc., 902 A.2d 519, 529 (Pa. Super.2006) (“[The compulsory arbitration statute] makes clear the monetary limits of compulsory arbitration are jurisdictional,” (citing 42 Pa. C.S. § 7361)).” Thus, in the absence of any authority, an arbitrator should not as a matter of rule cap damages at $50,000. Delay Damages Concerning delay damages, the board must first make its award on the basic case before proceeding. Local Rule 1306 instructs that, “[a]fter the amount of the award has been so entered, the Board shall make a determination as to damages for delay by accepting a sealed envelope containing a stipulation setting forth whether an offer was made in writing and if so, the amount as well as the date of the offer. If no such stipulation is submitted by counsel, the Board shall, following announcement of the award, consider evidence from counsel relating to damages for delay.” Treble Damages The compulsory arbitration statute mandates that all “matters or issues” subject to compulsory arbitration “shall first be submitted to and heard by a board” of arbitrators. 42 Pa.C.S. § 7361(a). And, under the Rules the board is required to rule on all issues and dispose of all claims. Pa. R.C.P. Nos. 1304 and 1306. Therefore, “the matter of enhancement of damages is no less a proper issue for the arbitrators than is compensatory damages or any other legal or factual matter. If arbitrators did not function as they do, [compulsory] arbitration would be
Attorneys’ Fees The arbitrators may consider a statutory claim for attorneys’ fees as well. The board should apply the law with respect to calculation of attorneys’ fees, as would a court, after being presented with proper proofs. See, Croft v. P & W Foreign Car Service, Inc., 383 Pa. Super. 435, 557 A.2d 18 (1989). Comparative Negligence In negligence actions to which the Comparative Negligence Act, 42 Pa. C.S. § 7102, applies, Chester County Local Rule 1306.2 provides that “the arbitrators award shall state: (1) the percentage of the causal negligence attributable to each of the parties; (2) the amount of damages, if any, sustained by the plaintiff and any counterclaimant without reduction by the percentage of that party’s causal negligence; and (3) the amount determined by the board to be awarded to the plaintiff or counterclaimant after reduction of the damages by the proportion or percentage of that party’s causal contributory negligence.” Montgomery County Local Rules do not contain any of these, or similar, requirements. Miscellaneous In addition to those noted above, several rules (general and local) are worth setting forth here for your consideration. * Rule 1311 concerns procedure on appeal, and states: “(b) An arbitrator may not be called to testify as to what transpired before the arbitrators.” * Local Rule 1302(f) provides: “…In cases requiring hearings of unusual duration or involving questions of unusual complexity, the Court, on petition of the members of the Board and for cause shown, may allow additional compensation [beyond the $100 provided for by local rule]. The Court may also, on petition of any party to a case, on cause shown and to prevent injustice, reduce the amount of such compensation or disallow compensation entirely.” * Local Rule 1303(c) deals with an arbitrator’s absence or incapacity. It states: “If one member of the Board fails to appear or refuses to perform his duties, the matter should proceed before the remaining members. After the hearing but before a report is made, the merits of the case should be determined by the remaining members of the Board. If they cannot agree, they shall so notify the Arbitration Administrator, who shall then appoint a third member from
more parties is not present, and wait for a determination before taking further action. If the court decides to hear the matter, it should be heard on the same date as the scheduled arbitration hearing.
the list of attorneys in the same manner as the original panel was selected to rehear and decide the case.” * The Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 2.2, offers guidance for hearings involving pro se litigants, and states: “(4) It is not a violation of this Rule for a judge to make reasonable accommodations to ensure pro se litigants the opportunity to have their matters heard fairly and impartially.”
Conclusion The existence of the compulsory arbitration system in Montgomery County for over 60 years is evidence that it has been widely embraced by the members of our bar. It provides an efficient means for resolving small claims, and offers attorneys an opportunity to serve as a “part-time judge” and exercise judicial authority. In addition, given its important role in facilitating swift justice for small claimants, attorneys should view serving as an arbitrator as a public service (a fact reinforced by the amount of compensation). The continued service of the members of our bar will help to maintain the high level of trust placed in our judicial system, and will further refine each attorney’s ability as a practitioner and arbitrator. Therefore, all qualifying members are highly encouraged to sign up for, and actively participate, in Montgomery County’s compulsory arbitration program.
* Often, an arbitrator will ask a witnesses a question from the bench. Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 614, titled “Court’s Calling or Examining a Witness,” reads as follows: “(a) Calling. Consistent with its function as an impartial arbiter, the court, with notice to the parties, may call a witness on its own or at a party’s request. Each party is entitled to crossexamine the witness. (b) Examining. Where the interest of justice so requires, the court may examine a witness regardless of who calls the witness. (c) Objections. A party may object to the court’s calling or examining a witness when given notice that the witness will be called or when the witness is examined. When requested to do so, the court must give the objecting party an opportunity to make objections out of the presence of the jury.” * The general and local rules do not consider what should happen if the arbitrators fail in their duty to call a meeting, mishandle the hearing, or neglect to file the award promptly. However, the Rules of Professional Responsibility are, of course, applicable to attorneys acting as arbitrators.
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* Arbitration proceedings are not of record, and arbitration panels are not required to report their findings in conclusions of law and findings of fact. See Pa. R.C.P. 1304, 1305. However, a stenographic record or a recording of the hearing shall be made if a party does so at his or her own expense.
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* Rule 1303(a)(2) authorizes each court to adopt a rule requiring the following statement to be included on the notice of arbitration: “This matter will be heard by a board of arbitrators at the time, date and place specified but, if one or more of the parties is not present at the hearing, the matter may be heard at the same time and date before a judge of the court without the absent party or parties. There is no right to a trial de novo on appeal from a decision entered by a judge.” This statement has been adopted in Montgomery County and is set forth at Local Rule 1303(a)(2). Note, however, that it is within the discretion of the court whether it should hear the matter or whether the matter should proceed in arbitration. See, Pa. R.C.P. 1303(b), Note. Therefore, the board must inform the court or arbitration administrator that one or
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MBA / FEATURE
Recommendations of the Montgomery Bar Association Judiciary Committee for the 2015 Election The Judiciary Committee of the Montgomery Bar Association is charged with interviewing and rating candidates for the position of judge on the Court of Common Pleas. The Judiciary Committee is composed of 34 lawyers of diverse background, ages, practices and geographic areas of Montgomery County with a combined legal practice exceeding 750 years.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Daniel J. Clifford Maureen C. Coggins Jeffrey M. Lindy
Each candidate is evaluated individually and not as compared to other candidates. The purpose of the ratings is to educate the public as to how the candidateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s peers view them as possibly becoming judges, and to assist the electorate in their evaluation of judicial candidates on Election Day.
RECOMMENDED Gregory F. Cirillo Michael Drossner Todd Eisenberg Risa Vetri Ferman Stephen G. Heckman Henry S. Hilles, III Wendy G. Rothstein Joseph P. Walsh Diane M. Zabowski
The Committee is charged with the duty to rate a candidate recommended, highly recommended or not recommended. The recommendation awarded the candidate does not speak to the candidateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability as a practicing attorney at law. The criteria considered by the Committee to rate the candidates are: A. Integrity. B. Good moral character. C. Industry. D. Good health. E. Legal ability. F. Bench trial, jury trial, or evidentiary hearing experience. G. Judicial temperament including patience, courtesy, compassion, impartiality, humility, even temper, and sense of fairness.
NOT RECOMMENDED Natasha Taylor Smith
Each candidate submits to the Committee a biographical summary of his or her legal experience and background. These submissions are carefully reviewed and considered. The Committee also conducts reviews and discussions with persons each candidate advises so as to become familiar with their qualifications. The Bar Association considers this procedure a public service.
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MBA / FEATURE Photos by Sandi Yanisko, Montgomery County Community College
Courting Art Returns for 2015 M
ontgomery County is filled with innumerable treasures, and local artists and members of our legal community have created a unique way to celebrate them. In just two years, the Montgomery Bar Association’s award-winning Courting Art program has creatively transformed the once-bleak walls of the Montgomery County Court House into a vibrant gallery of homegrown art depicting the beauty of our county. The fruits of this ground-breaking project are enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year. Remarkably, this renaissance taking place in our county courthouse has been achieved at no cost to taxpayers, thanks to a special group of prize-winning amateur and professional artists and the pioneering attorneys, judges, law firms and community partners who have stepped up to support the program. Courting Art epitomizes the positive and far-reaching effect that the MBA can produce when working for and with the community. Since the program’s inaugural launch in 2013, Courting Art has helped heighten local and even national awareness of and recognition for our county’s talented local artists and art programs. Last October at an annual meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives held in Indianapolis, the MBA received “best of show” accolades on its way to earning the national association’s highest honor, a Luminary Award, for its vision through Courting Art. Weeks later, it was among the first projects to receive a Stellar Award from the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board for raising awareness of local tourist attractions and community treasures. What began as an idea to help relieve stress and create a more visitorfriendly courthouse, has become a model for community-led courthouse art projects nationwide. One Maryland judge recently credited the Montgomery Bar Association and its local artists and sponsors as the inspiration behind the Courting Art program in his own city of Baltimore, scheduled to launch later this year, with others in line to follow. Montgomery County artists (ages 55+) are again encouraged to prepare and submit work for the highly anticipated 2015 art contest and three-week juried art exhibition, scheduled to take place at The Fine Arts Center at Montgomery County Community College. The drop-off date for this year’s contest is Thursday, April 30th between the hours of 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. Prize-winning work from this year’s “WHAT I LOVE ABOUT MONTGOMERY COUNTY” contest will again be professionally reproduced by North Penn Art in Lansdale and hung indefinitely to complete the transformation of the third and final wing of the Montgomery County Court House, Plaza Level. Be sure to visit CourtingArt.com today for sponsorship info, contest rules and entry forms, key dates and times for this year’s contest and exhibition, and more.
MBA / FEATURE
Montgomery Bar Association Welcomes New Leaders
n Friday, January 9, 2015, the Montgomery Bar Association (MBA) held its Annual Business Luncheon Meeting at Normandy Farms in Blue Bell, PA. Nearly 300 local dignitaries, legal professionals and community leaders attended the event which included the election of the MBA officers for 2015; an awards presentation to honor area attorneys, members of law enforcement and community leaders; as well as the installation of its new president, Bruce Pancio, Esq., with the ceremonial passing of the gavel. Pancio graduated summa cum laude from Mercyhurst College in 1983 and attended Villanova School of Law where he graduated in 1986. His practice focuses on civil litigation, with his primary concentration in insurance defense work. In 2007 he co-founded Walsh Pancio, LLC, which is presently located in Lansdale. With the MBA, he has served on the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors and is a past president of the Trial Lawyers Section. He is also a former Chair of the Law Reporter Committee. Since 2011, Bruce has served on the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP) Board of Directors. Bruce volunteers his time as an MCAP attorney and also represents parents in Dependency Court. He is presently serving on the Board of the Montgomery Bar Foundation. He is an avid cyclist and resides in Worcester with his wife Linda and their three children.
Immediate Past President Michael F. Rogers (right) passes the gavel to 2015 President Bruce Pancio (left).
MBF President Steven H. Lupin (left) presents The Honorable Milton O. Moss Public Service Award to the Honorable Steven T. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neill (right) for distinguished service to the judicial system for his contributions as Administrator of Montgomery Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Drug Treatment Court.
MBF President Steven H. Lupin (left) presents The Honorable Louis D. Stefan Award to Lower Providence Police Chief Francis L. Carroll, III (right).
The Honorable Mark A. Kearney (left) accepts the President’s Award from 2014 President Michael F. Rogers. This award was given for his lifetime of contributions as a lawyer to the Montgomery Bar Association.
Accepting the Committee of the Year Award on behalf of the SIDEBAR Committee are Co-Chairs Robert R. Watson, Jr. (left) and Gary J. Friedlander (right). Presenting the award is 2014 President Michael F. Rogers.
MCAP Celebrates 10 Years By Mary C. Pugh, Esq.
medical hardships needed an advocate to help facilitate lifesaving treatment. MCAP celebrates its 10th Anniversary because its volunteer lawyers are helping vulnerable children and offering opportunities to heal by trusting an adult who will protect them. Today, MCAP has 125 active volunteer lawyers who give their expertise, time and talents to a child in need. We invite you all to join MCAP at our many “friend-raisers” where we will be raising awareness for at- risk children and appreciating all who help vulnerable children. • MCAP Appreciation Lunch - May 27, 2015 at the MBA • MCAP Run for the Hill of It – July 25, 2015 at Fairmount Park and Forbidden Drive • MCAP Family Bowling Day – October 2015, date and time TBA • MCAP Salute to Heroes Dinner Dance – November 21, 2015 Find out about all of the exciting events by visiting our website at www.mcapkids.org or calling our office at 610279-1219. I look forward to seeing you soon! Thanks so much for all you do!
ilestones offer the chance for reflection and celebration. August 2014 marked the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP)’s 10th anniversary as a nonprofit organization! MCAP was created to address the specific unique needs of child victims of abuse and neglect. Today, domestic violence and abuse are hot topics - as seen with high profile couples in volatile relationships, famous athletes using force to discipline children and people living with debilitating addictions causing hosts of hardships. Unfortunately, domestic violence in all its forms is much more than a hot topic. It is sadly a way of life for families. No child should ever have to live in fear; a safe home should be a guarantee for all children. One case of child abuse and neglect will forever be one case too many. As MCAP reflects upon its 10 years, it celebrates the many children who had a voice, a friend, and advocate in the midst of the turmoil of family violence. Since 2005, MCAP has served more than 3,800 children in over 2,500 cases. Recognizing that there is not a typical case or mistreated child, MCAP has helped countless boys and girls who were sexually violated by a family member. Many children have been beaten and burned by addicted parents; far too many children with
Warm and inviting, Mango Tree Bistro pleases with ambiance and service
By Joshua David Macel, Esq.
ituated 50 feet off Ridge Pike at the corner of Oaklyn Avenue, this Thai restaurant is housed in an attractive older home, with a wrap-around porch that allows for outdoor seating. Upon entering, the inside has a friendly café vibe at the take-out counter, and around a corner the dining room has a spa-like ambiance, complemented by napkins folded into roses on each plate. The roadside marker for this Eagleville establishment constitutes the top third of a sign that it shares with a framing business and home health care company. If you aren’t actively looking for it, you probably won’t notice it’s there, and that’s a shame, because the Mango Tree Bistro, with its modern Thai menu and exceptional staff, is worth noticing. The restaurant plays Thai pop music that is a little dissonant, but it’s kind of great if you really listen. The softly-lit dining room is brightened by mirrors on the wall, candles on the window sills and tables, and flowers throughout. Fresh flowers were placed at each table during dinner on St. Valentine’s Day. The menu contains all of the Thai staples – dumplings, noodles, and curry – and is scattered with inventive entrees ranging from mild to “raging fire,” representing the “exotic flavors of Thailand.” If you order right (i.e., within your spice range), you’ll likely try something memorable and perhaps new to you. If you want a dependable Thai option, follow my lead and order the Evil Jungle Princess ($16.95). Chicken, boldly flavored with curry spices at the “raging fire” level, is sautéed with vegetables and served over rice. It is admittedly spicy, but offers a traditional Thai option, and is quite good. Other entrées are less formidable and offer the same traditional flavor, with fresh basil, coconut milk, and rice. At the other end of this creatively-named menu is the Fancy Duck ($19.95). A member of my dining party chose the sweet raspberry sauce for this crispy, semi-boneless duck, though spicy red curry sauce is also an option. The Fancy Duck was the table-favorite, and a reliable choice.
The Mango Tree Bistro also serves a stable of worthwhile soups, salads, and appetizers. True to form, my wife ordered the Fresh Summer Rolls ($6.95) for her appetizer and, even truer to form, “shared” half with me. Fresh cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts, shrimp, and rice noodles are wrapped in a rice skin and served with a sweet yellow sauce that is worth enjoying until the last drop. There is no reason to pass on a dining (or lunch) experience at the Mango Tree Bistro. It provides a traditional Thai menu with modern deviations that can please anyone, and is especially great for those who are looking for a quiet, intimate dinner in an area that is made up mostly of commercial buildings. I look forward to returning when the weather is warmer to dine outside, and you should consider doing the same.
MBA / FEATURE
Attention Family Law Attorneys:
Follow the Rules By Andrew D. Taylor, Esq., Secretary, Family Law Section
antidote to such discrimination is for family law attorneys and judges to practice, and to demand, formality and respect for the Rules of Evidence and Procedure.” In Green v. Green, 69 A.3d 282 (Pa.Super. 2013), Judge Wecht, again writing for a three-judge panel, condemned the use of “trial aids” in family law proceedings. In Green, the husband filed a petition to enforce the marital settlement agreement entered into by the parties. The Butler County trial judge permitted the parties to file with the court a trial aid, which was to list the entire marital estate as distributed between the parties, the corresponding values, and what transfers must yet be made to effectuate a 50/50 division of property. The court then scheduled a hearing in the event that testimony became necessary. At that hearing, the parties’ counsel offered oral argument but declined to put on any testimony. Mr. Green was unsuccessful and appealed to the Superior Court, challenging the trial court’s use of these trial aids. Judge Wecht found that “nothing in our rules of evidence or civil procedure contemplate the use of ‘trial aids’” and that the trial aids submitted consisted largely of the parties’ arguments, but also contained assertions of fact that lacked evidentiary support developed on the record. Because the trial court’s order, at least in part, relied upon these trial aids, the order was flawed. Further, it was found that “trial aids appear to be used almost exclusively in family law cases. Otherwise, they are creatures unknown. They generally seek to submit to the trial court some admixture of facts and argument as if the documents form an exhibit.” However, because the husband in Green did not object to the use of trial aids at the time of trial, the Superior Court affirmed and the issue was waived. Tecce and Green demonstrate that, if appropriately requested by counsel, family court judges must follow the Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence or face reversal. Compliance with these Rules will likely promote consistency and predictability in family court, as well as help remove the stigmatic perception some have about family law practitioners and judges. However, it cannot be overlooked that family court judges are faced with increased filings every year, swelling numbers of pro se litigants and significant backlogs. Strict compliance with the Rules could mean spending more time on each case, and time is certainly a precious commodity in family law.
ttorneys new to the practice of family law are often surprised at the informal nature in which some matters proceed. In family court, unlike civil or criminal, it seems as though the Rules of Civil Procedure sometimes go unfollowed and the Rules of Evidence are often ignored. That, however, may be coming to an end. Judge David N. Wecht of the Superior Court (who is currently running for Supreme Court), a longtime advocate for “following the rules in family court,” has made clear in two recent reported decisions that the Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence need to be followed in family law matters. In Tecce v. Hally, 106 A.3d 728 (Pa. Super. 2014), the wife filed a petition for enforcement of the parties’ equitable distribution order. The trial judge in Delaware County held a hearing on the wife’s petition which consisted of legal argument by the parties’ attorneys as well as statements from both parties. At the hearing, neither party was sworn in before placing statements on the record. However, neither party objected to this procedure at the time. When the wife received an unfavorable result, she appealed to the Superior Court and challenged the method by which the trial court conducted the hearing. Judge Wecht, who wrote for a three-judge panel of the Superior Court, found that the hearing was flawed because neither party was given an oath or affirmation before “testifying.” In addition, neither party was subject to cross-examination in this “haphazard proceeding in which the parties’ attorneys offered argument, peppered with interruptions by the judge and by the parties as they ventured thoughts or provided explanations.” Because there was no actual testimony, the trial court’s ability to make credibility determinations was called into question. However, because neither party nor counsel objected to the procedure used by the trial court during the proceeding, the issue was waived on appeal and the Superior Court was constrained to affirm. In a footnote, Judge Wecht wrote that if a trial court begins to proceed without a record, it is incumbent on counsel to respectfully demand such a record be created, and that lawyers and their clients are entitled to expect that trial judges will not take offense when reminded of their obligation to ensure that hearings proceed on the record. Judge Wecht noted that “[f ]rom time to time, family law practitioners (and judges) are heard to complain that they are not taken seriously, or are treated as second-class citizens in our judicial system. The best
MBA / FEATURE
Concurrent Employment in PA Workers’ Compensation By Levi S. Wolf, Esq., Workers’ Compensation Committee
s more and more people are working multiple jobs, it is not unusual for workers’ compensation lawyers to hear the question: “I was injured at my part-time job. Will workers’ comp also pay for lost wages from my full-time job?” Thankfully, in Pennsylvania the answer is yes. People who work multiple jobs and are injured at one of the jobs are eligible to be paid wage loss benefits which include the lost wages from both jobs. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides “[w] here the employe [sic] is working under concurrent contracts with two or more employers, his wages from all such employers shall be considered as if earned from the employer liable for compensation.” 77 P.S. § 582(e). This area of the law has developed from the difficult and confusing statutory and case law surrounding pre-injury average weekly wage (“AWW”) calculations. Some explanation is appropriate. In short, workers’ compensation “disability” is synonymous with “wage loss.” The Workers’ Compensation Act seeks to provide a wage loss benefit, described as a total disability benefit or a partial disability benefit, based on how much an injured worker can earn after she is injured on the job. If she is totally disabled, and she is not released to return to work by her doctor in any capacity, she is generally entitled to total disability benefits, which are frequently calculated to be two-thirds of the workers’ pre-injury average weekly wage. If she is released to return to some kind of work, with medical restrictions, and can earn something, but not as much as she earned prior to the injury, she is generally entitled to partial disability benefits, which last up to 500 weeks. Partial disability is calculated by subtracting current earnings from the pre-injury average weekly wage, and multiplying the difference by two-thirds. It is plain to see that the pre-injury average weekly wage is a highly important figure, essential to correctly calculate an injured
worker’s wage loss benefit. In Pennsylvania, when a worker is injured at one of his jobs, the pre-injury average weekly wages of all of his then-current employers are added together to yield the correct measure of his pre-injury earnings experience, and total or partial disability is then calculated based on that combined average weekly wage. The workers’ compensation benefit is paid by the carrier insuring the time-of-injury employer. If the injured worker can resume one of the jobs but not another, then partial disability should be appropriately paid. Interestingly, this can mean that the insurance company which insures a part-time employer might pay far more in wage loss benefits than the actual wages from the part-time job, when the injured worker can no longer work his full time job due to the injury. Not all injured workers in the United States are so lucky. In some states, injured workers can only be paid based on the earnings from their time-of-injury jobs, and not their concurrent employment. This article cannot hope to cover all of the intricacies of AWW calculations, concurrent employment considerations, or total or partial disability calculations. These are complicated concepts, and even experienced workers’ compensation adjusters and lawyers can miss minor details or nuances which can alter the outcome of an injured workers’ claim by thousands of dollars. Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation is a specialized area of practice, and is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Employers are typically provided lawyers by their insurance companies who only practice workers’ compensation law. Injured workers are well-advised to consult experienced workers’ compensation claimants’ attorneys when they have had a work injury. Although Pennsylvania is better than some states in this arena, the potential levels of complication leave too many pitfalls for the unwary. It is best to involve competent counsel early on in the process, to make sure all of the client’s rights are protected.
MBA / FEATURE
Defending Preference Claims By Alfred Abel, Esq., Vice-Chair, Bankruptcy/Creditors and Debtors Rights Committee What is Preference Claim?
What should I do?
A Preference Claim is when a bankruptcy Trustee demands the return of money paid by a bankrupt debtor within 90 days of filing bankruptcy. A debtor is deemed insolvent 90 days prior to the filing of any bankruptcy, and to make sure that no creditor gets treated “preferentially,” the money paid during the preference period is paid back to the court for redistribution according to bankruptcy guidelines. For insiders such as family members, partners, attorneys, accountant of the debtor or the debtor’s officers, the preference period is longer.
If you receive a preference demand claim letter, here are the 3 steps you must take: 1. Check if your customer has paid you in the last 90 days (or one year if you are an insider); 2. Gather all relevant documentation; 3. Consult an Attorney.
What are your options? The bankruptcy code provides a number of defenses against preference claims. You should not hand over money simply because you have received a preference demand letter. Defenses: 1. Cash-on-delivery payments: payment received from the debtor at the same time you have transferred goods to the debtor. 2. Ordinary course of business: payment received from the debtor is in the same timeframe and the same amount as prior transactions between the debtor and creditor. 3. New value: A creditor who supplies new value to the debtor and gets paid for it, rather than an antecedent debt has a defense. 4. Floating lien: security interest in the debtor’s present/tobe-acquired assets (such as inventory, accounts receivable). If the creditor’s position has not improved during the preference period, he/she can defend the claim. 5. De Minimus payments: transfers that are deemed too small are exceptions, and the amounts are different for consumer and business cases. 6. Two-year statute of limitation from the filing date of the bankruptcy, or from the date the trustee is appointed, whichever is later. If there is a preference payment and no action is taken until after the statute of limitations date, there is a defense.
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MBA / FEATURE
MBA Receives Awards from the Pennsylvania Bar Association
he Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) presented three County Bar Recognition Awards to the Montgomery Bar Association during the 49th Annual Seminar of the Conference of County Bar Leaders, Feb. 26 – 28, at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster. Recognized for the MBA Young Lawyers Section’s Month of Service, the CONNECT Membership Recruitment Campaign, and the MBA Leadership Academy, the Montgomery Bar Association is one of 26 local bar associations in Pennsylvania honored this year for sponsoring projects that improve the legal profession, justice system or community. The awards are presented annually by the PBA. “The voluntary efforts of lawyers, who so willingly invest their time and their expertise to improve their communities and the legal profession, are worthy of recognition,” said Francis X. O’Connor, president of the PBA. “We applaud them for their efforts and hope even more legal professionals are inspired to participate in their good works.” Throughout the month of May, members of the Association’s Young Lawyers Section (YLS) rolled up their sleeves to serve meals for those less fortunate at the Grace and Cecil Bean Soup Kitchen at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Norristown. Young lawyers served Saturday morning breakfasts to upwards of 150 people. Those unable to volunteer time were asked to donate gift cards to stores such as Costco and Giant in an effort to help the cause. Other YLS outreach projects have included an “Extreme Home Makeover,” held in conjunction with the Souderton-based Keystone Opportunity Center; hosting of the high school mock trial competitions; volunteering time for the association’s award-winning Courting Art program; and participating in upcoming efforts such as the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Wills for Heroes program. During the fall and winter months, these efforts continued with the Dress for Success Clothing Drive in which YLS members collected more than 600 pounds of business attire for women in need who are transitioning into the workforce. These young lawyers clearly SIDEBAR
embody the notion that the “highest of distinctions is service to others.” In addition to the recognition of its noble work in reaching out, the Association was also recognized for its efforts to reach within. To that end, it launched a strategic direct-response campaign aimed at learning more about non-member lawyers who live or practice in the county. Postcards and e-mails were sent to non-member lawyers throughout the county. For a limited time, lawyers who met the criteria for membership were invited to complete a brief online survey for a chance to win a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet. While on the survey site, qualifying attorneys were able to explore practice-specific benefits of membership, earn valuable practice discounts and complete an online membership application. The campaign provided valuable information to help better target prospective members and produced several new member sign-ups. Along with reaching out and reaching within, the MBA was also recognized for its efforts to reach up, as it launched a new, multi-year initiative aimed at helping its members become better leaders, both in their professions and in their respective communities. Parameters and benchmarks for the MBA Leadership Academy were takeaways of a spring planning session that included officers, board members, communications staff and a diverse “focus group” of 10 pre-selected member lawyers from varying practice areas and demographic backgrounds. The members of the focus group will serve as the program’s inaugural MBA Leadership Academy class and have been asked to participate in one-hour pre- and post-event programs, to complete formal assessments, and to weigh-in on measurable objectives as a means to establish and improve future programs. Attendees who want to be considered for the next MBA Leadership Academy class must request an application in writing to apply for the program. An applicant is required to have at least three years of experience as a practicing lawyer, remain in good standing with both the MBA and PBA, and be willing to commit to the time involved in completing the program. SPRING 2015
The Conference of County Bar Leaders, whose membership includes leaders from county bar associations throughout the state and from the PBA, organizes a yearly educational conference focusing on the exchange of innovative bar association projects and ideas and on the development of mutually-beneficial relationships among bar leaders that improve the legal profession. Founded in 1895, the PBA strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 27,000 lawyers who are members of the Association.
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Surf’s up for the MBA delegation at the PBA’s Conference of County Bar Leaders, February 26-28, Lancaster, PA. From left: Lindsay Hanifan, William H. Pugh, V, Mary C. Pugh, Aimee L. Kumer, Bruce Pancio, John R. Howland, Donald J. Martin, Nancy R. Paul, Colin J. O’Boyle, C. Dale McClain, Lindette C. Hassan, Eric B. Smith
MBA / FEATURE
WHINE… AND FREEZE 2015 Annual Ski Outing
his year’s MBA Ski Outing, held on Monday, February 9, 2015, was the polar opposite of last year’s event which featured incredibly good weather and ski conditions. Unfortunately, this senior member of the bar spent more time exploring and enjoying the newly-renovated lodge than he did on the slopes. As we drove from Montgomery County to the lovely resort at Blue Mountain, Lehigh County, we started in dry weather, but that rapidly changed, and by the time we arrived at our destination, it was freezing rain/ice. The glazed slopes provided more than a challenge to anyone, regardless of level of skill, when it came to attempting to stop while descending the mountain. I found myself twisted, at the base of the hill, lying on the ice, asking myself whether or not there was anything broken. Following a fight much like that of a Galapagos turtle attempting to right itself, I did one additional quick run, and happily rejoined my fellow bar members in the cafeteria/lounge area reserved for us. Once again, the highlight of the outing was Joe Lynch and his wonderful wife, Trish, providing an amazing array of cheeses, fruits, chocolates, crackers and luncheon snacks for the tired and wary skiers. An appreciated benefit was provided in the form of several door prize gifts, courtesy of Salter’s Ski Shop, with almost as many prizes as bar members attending the outing. This year’s group included numerous Bar Association members, together with some of their families and support staff. Unfortunately, a few members could not make it because of the inclement weather. Among bar members registered for the outing were: Dave Allebach, Ted Coxe, Tim Daly, Mike Dunn, Tom Keenan, Rowan Keenan, Dave Keightly, Joe Lynch, Sam Millinghausen, Robert Snyder, Erik Snyder, Vince Vangrossi and Paul Vangrossi II. The weather could have been better, but the company was, as always, outstanding. The invitation is extended to all for next year, to please take that day off to appreciate the beauty of the mountains, share the company of your fellow barristers, and experience a gourmet luncheon. A good time is guaranteed, with a great time being a real possibility. SIDEBAR
MBA / FEATURE
MCPA Celebrates with 15th Anniversary Crystal Gala By Annette M. Long, CRP, Pa.C.P.
onths of planning and organizing culminated in an evening of celebration! On January 15, 2015, Montgomery County Paralegal Association members, sponsors and supporters gathered at the William Penn Inn to celebrate the Association’s 15-Year Anniversary. The 86 guests in attendance included MCPA members along with spouses or guests and MCPA sponsors including representatives from Kelly & Partners, TASA, Morgan Wentworth, Digital Justice and Love Court Reporting. Faculty representatives and students from the Lansdale School of Business and Manor College attended the event in acknowledgement and celebration of each school’s paralegal certification program. Of note, Lisa Vessels, 2015 President of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, and Judy Stouffer, past President and current board advisor to the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals, were also in attendance. Other special guests included four Court of Common Pleas Judges, including the Honorable Kelly C. Wall, the Honorable Garrett D. Page, the Honorable Cheryl Austin and the Honorable Steven C. Tolliver. Also in attendance were Montgomery Bar Foundation President Steven Lupin (along with wife, Linda), District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, Chief Deputy Sheriff Willie Richet and Magisterial District Justice candidate Edward Levine, Esquire. As MCPA could not continue to grow without the support of the legal community at large, two individuals were recognized for their support throughout the years: George Whitehair of the Lansdale School of Business, who has promoted MCPA to his students and has been a consistent source of information and knowledge, and George Cardenas of the Montgomery Bar Association for his tireless work with the MCPA Listserv and SIDEBAR
assistance with publications. Both of these individuals have been instrumental to MCPA’s continued success. The speaker for the evening was the vibrant and charismatic Melissa Murphy Weber, Esquire. A current member of the law firm of Elliot Greenleaf, Ms. Weber served as a member of the PA House of Representatives and as an assistant District Attorney in Montgomery County. The audience laughed out loud as Ms. Weber described an attorney approaching a paralegal: “Hey, I have a favor to ask you...” Meanwhile, the paralegal is thinking, “Oh no! Here he comes again, thinking it’s something that won’t take me all day, but it will. I should have just run while I had a chance to get away!” Ms. Weber’s words of encouragement and understanding of a paralegal’s role in the law firm were delivered with humor, honesty, respect and appreciation for the paralegal profession. Rounding out the evening, retiring board members, Sheila Keyes-Hayden and Harry Reichner, were acknowledged for their contributions and years of service to MCPA. The ceremony installing the 2015 Officers and Board of Directors was performed by the Honorable Steven C. Tolliver. We were reminded that an association functions best when combining the elements of leadership and teamwork. The election to the Board of Directors is both a privilege and an honor. The 2015 MCPA Officers include: Tracey L. Barnes, President; Sherry Barag, Vice President; Roberta Fedorka, Secretary; Kelly Smith, Treasurer; and Board of Directors Noreen Messmer, Christopher Gregg, Michelle Caulkins, Jennifer Kuemmerle and Suzanne Sarver. A special thanks to our members, guests, sponsors and supporters for having made this such a spectacular event. We anxiously look forward to the bright future of MCPA and the paralegal profession!
MBA / FEATURE
SIDEBAR: A Look Back By Robert R. Watson, Jr., Esq.
For this issue’s SIDEBAR: A Look Back, we turn to Past President Marc Robert Steinberg’s message to the membership in Spring 2003. Marc’s article spoke of the rich tradition of all of our Past Presidents in continuing their service to our great organization even after their tenure is complete. Many of the individuals Marc references continue to give back to the MBA today, and the profession here in our County is better for it.
Continued on next page SIDEBAR
continued from preceding page
You take care of your clients, but who takes care of you?
Look for more historical perspectives on our Association’s past leaders from William H. Pugh, IV, Esq. in upcoming editions.
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Members in the News The law firm of Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin is pleased to announce that John F. Walko has joined the firm as an Associate in the Municipal Law, Real Estate Law, and Criminal Defense departments. In conjunction with the annual High School Mock Trial District Competition held at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Mr. Walko presented a CLE on Pennsylvania’s criminal homicide laws to the attorneys serving as mock jurors for the competition on February 3. As the 2015 mock trial competition involved a murder prosecution, John discussed the various degrees of murder, including the applicable mens rea for the different degrees, manslaughter charges, and other enumerated homicide-related charges and applicable defenses. The law firm of Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin is pleased to announce that Steven A. Hann, chair of the Environmental Law Department, recently presented at the Chester County Association of Township Officials’ 2014 Fall Conference. The presentation was entitled When Rain and Not Money Falls from the Sky. Starfield & Smith, PC is proud to announce that Jeffrey S. Feldman has been elected to the partnership of the Firm. Jeff is a member of the Firm’s Commercial Litigation and Creditors’ Rights practice groups, where he focuses his practice on the litigation of commercial disputes in the state and federal courts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He has more than 17 years’ experience as a civil litigator and trial attorney, and he has received the highest possible rating, AV® Preeminent™, from Martindale-Hubbell. In addition, Jeff was selected for inclusion in Super LawyersPennsylvania in the area of Business
Litigation in 2014 and 2013. Prior to that, he was selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers-Pennsylvania Rising Stars in the area of Business Litigation for 2012 and 2011.
June P. Singh has joined Kaplin
Stewart in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania as an Associate in the Land Use, Zoning and Development group. Her practice focuses on the areas of zoning, land use, and development of commercial and residential real estate. She received her Juris Doctorate from Villanova University School of Law. Ms. Singh is licensed to practice law in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Craig J. Fleischmann is pleased
to announce the opening of The Fleischmann Law Firm, PC, PO Box 798, Suite A8, 3900 Skippack Pike, Skippack, PA 19474, (215) 253-6903. The firm is focused on its clients’ business needs, including debt collection and recovery, judgments and executions, and commercial litigation. Referrals are most welcome.
Cary L. Flitter of Flitter Lorenz, P.C. was recently presented with the Consumer Lawyers of the Year Award at the annual meeting in November of the National Association of Consumer Advocates in Tampa, FL. NACA is a national organization of attorneys, law professors and consumer rights advocates. Kaplin Stewart in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that Marc A. Snyder has been named a partner of the firm. Mr. Snyder concentrates his practice in the areas of Real Estate Transactions. Mr. Snyder’s practice involves representation of a wide array of clients including retail, commercial and industrial leasing, sales and acquisitions of all SIDEBAR
types of commercial and residential projects, negotiating financing transactions, creating and documenting condominiums and planned communities, preparing partnerships and other joint venture agreements. Keenan, Ciccitto & Associates is pleased to announce the addition of two partners to the firm, Lynn Fleisher and Damien D. Brewster, effective January 1, 2015, and the formation of Keenan, Ciccitto & Associates, LLP. We congratulate each of them for the manner in which they distinguish themselves in the courtroom and the community. We are fortunate and excited to have them as members of our new team. The Pottstown law firm of Yergey Daylor Allebach Scheffey Picardi is pleased to announce that Gregory W. Philips, a partner in the firm’s Pottstown Office, was elected as Chairman of the Upper Merion Board of Supervisors at the Board’s 2015 Reorganization Meeting that took place on January 5, 2015. Philips, who has been active in Upper Merion Township since 1984, was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2011.
Amee S. Farrell has been named a partner of Kaplin Stewart in Blue Bell, PA. Ms. Farrell concentrates her practice in the areas of land use, land development and zoning of commercial, public and residential real estate. Ms. Farrell represents private developers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey before municipal board, state and federal agencies, and in state courts. The Pottstown law firm of Yergey Daylor Allebach Scheffey Picardi is pleased to announce that Jamie V. Ottaviano has joined the firm as
an associate. He currently serves as President of the Pottstown Area Police Athletic Association, a member of the Pottstown Rotary Club, an Advisor to the Pottsgrove High School Mock Trial Team and is a former Vice President of The Sunnybrook Foundation. Mannion Prior, LLP is pleased to announce that Obadiah “Obie” English has been named a partner at the firm, which is based in King of Prussia. His practice is concentrated in litigation involving trusts, estates, guardianships and other fiduciary matters. He also counsels clients on select matters related to commercial and general civil litigation. The law firm of Hamburg,
Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin is pleased to announce the
formation of its specialized Business Advisory Group. Comprised of some of firm’s top business, tax, estates and employment lawyers, the Business Advisory Group was formed to help local and national businesses grow, avoid costly pitfalls and save money. More information about the group including a list of 16 questions every business owner should address to sleep more soundly at night can be found at www.BusinessAdvisoryGroup.com.
Marc Robert Steinberg,
managing partner of the Lansdale law firm of Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg and Gifford, has been named one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This was announced on December 31, 2014, by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Fort Washington-based law firm Timoney Knox is pleased to announce the addition of Daniel A. Czaplicki, an experienced attorney in the fields of taxation, business planning, and estate planning and administration. The law firm of Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin is pleased to announce that William G. Roark co-led Montgomery Bar
Association Young Lawyers Section’s “Dress for Success” efforts. An estimated 600 pounds of women’s professional clothing were donated toward Dress for Success Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to promoting the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Wisler Pearlstine, LLP is pleased to announce that Maureen M. Carr has joined the firm as an associate in the School Law Department.
MacElree Harvey, Ltd.
announced the launch of a new website—the first stages of a year-long strategic rebranding initiative that will showcase the Firm’s attorneys and highlight its legal services. Found at www.macelree.com, the new website features expanded content, streaming videos, and a clean, open look that is consistent with MacElree Harvey’s commitment to building fluid communication with its community and clients.
Anthony D. DiFiore joined the Law Offices of Jennifer J. Riley as an Associate Attorney in Blue Bell, PA. Mr. DiFiore practices Family Law, Real Estate Law, and Estate Planning. Joel D. Rosen, managing partner of High Swartz LLP, was elected to serve a three-year term as a Trustee of the Montgomery Bar Foundation, starting in 2015. Mr. Rosen presently serves on the Board of Directors of several nonprofit organizations, including the Hepatitis B Foundation, the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center and the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute (formerly the Institute for Hepatitis and Viral Research). Mary Cushing Doherty, partner at High Swartz, met the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Annual Light The Night Executive Challenge! A national fundraising campaign invited participating corporate executives to raise at least $5,000 for the Leukemia &
Lymphoma Society’s mission in 2014. This organization supports cancer research and provides support for cancer patients and their families. For the third year in a row, Mary’s team, Chemist to the Stars, named in memory of her husband Jim Doherty, ranked one of the top ten fundraisers among the Friends and Family Teams in the Greater BucksMont Walk of the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter. The law firm of Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin is pleased to announce that Andrew P. Grau recently moderated a session of the 4th Annual Small Business University, a half-day education program sponsored by the Penn Suburban Chamber of Commerce. The session focused on business transitions and decisions, including intergenerational transfers of ownership, family dynamics, and key actions to change or sustain the direction of businesses. Andrew Grau’s practice focuses on Business Law, Tax Planning, Estate Planning and Estate Administration.
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg and Gifford, P.C. is pleased to
announce it has received a Tier 1 ranking as a 2015 Best Law Firm by U.S. News. This Tier 1 ranking is determined through an evaluation derived from a combination of client feedback, feedback from other lawyers, and firm surveys. This is the sixth consecutive year the firm has received this honor.
Wisler Pearlstine, LLP is pleased to announce that Adam L. Fernandez has been elected a partner in the firm. He has been an associate in the firm’s Business, Tax, and Estates practice groups. Wisler Pearlstine, LLP is pleased to announce that Scott C. Denlinger has joined the firm as an associate in the firm’s Municipal Law, Zoning and Land Development practice groups. High Swartz LLP is pleased to announce that attorney Lisa Kane Brown has joined the firm, expanding its Family Law and Domestic Relations practice.
Young Lawyers Volunteer on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
n celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 19, members from the Montgomery Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, along with Bar leaders and members of the bench, volunteered their time at the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center of Montgomery County (CHOC). CHOC is the only shelter in Montgomery County that serves single adults (men and women). CHOC provides social services and a day center where clients can receive mail, shower, wash clothes, access the internet, and utilize other social services and support groups. CHOC also operates an overnight shelter that houses approximately 50 people. Over a dozen volunteer attorneys helped recaulk the interior walls of the shelter, saving the organization valuable time and resources, as well as improving the quality of life for its residents. Volunteers were on hand throughout the day, from 9 am until 5 pm, and included Jessica Bowman, Elizabeth Early, Thomas Jackson Elliott, Emily Geer, Linsday Hanifan, Michael Kelley, Aimee Kumer, Andrew Levin, Melissa Mazur, Michelle Modery, Colin Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Boyle, MBA President Bruce Pancio, and William Roark.
2015 Mock Trials – Court is Adjourned
By Colin J. O’Boyle, Esq., Chair, Young Lawyers Section and expert witnesses, who were then guided through direct examinations and subjected to grueling cross examinations framed by opening and closing statements. The passion and commitment of each student and advisor was evident throughout this year’s competition. The competition could not have occurred, and the students’ efforts wasted, if not for the time volunteered by so many people throughout the community. We especially thank the many judges and discovery masters, who presided over the trials, and the numerous members of the MBA and other members of the community, who served as jurors and timekeepers. We also thank the MBA staff, who helped gather the many jurors for each round along with countless other efforts, and Gina Eberhardt from Court Administration, who brought our students, judges and jurors together in the courtrooms.
The Montgomery Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section recently coordinated the Zone 9 Regional Competition for the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s annual High School Mock Trial Competition. Jenkintown High School (Team A) prevailed over North Penn High School in the final round on March 10, 2015 in a trial presided over by President Judge William J. Furber and a panel of distinguished jurors. This year’s competition included twenty-seven teams from high schools throughout Montgomery County, who competed for the chance to contend for the state championship in Harrisburg later this month. The case involved the tragic death of a fictional college student and a classmate who stands accused of homicide. The teams throughout the various rounds presented three counsel and three witnesses – for both prosecution and defense. Guided by the generous help of teacher and legal advisors, these students breathed life into the fictional college students, professors
16 t h A N N UA L
A U C T I O N G A R D E N PARTY GOE S COU NT RY Enjoy the ambiance of this 1879 mansion while: • Bidding on exciting silent auction items • Savoring luscious hors d’oeurves & buffet, wine, champagne and a specialty drink • Sampling tantalizing candies and desserts created by noted area pastry chefs and chocolatiers
SUNDAY, MAY 3, 2015 5-8PM
• Participating in fun, country-themed activities! • Enjoying country music & entertainment!
For tickets or information contact Lisa Radin Lisa.Radin@alz.org 609.970.9157 800.272.3900 alz.org/delval
931 Rhawn Street Philadelphia, PA 19111
Proceeds benefit the Delaware Valley Chapter SIDEBAR
MBA / FEATURE
MBA to Host Blood Drive on June 4 By Pamela M. Tobin, Esquire
ach of us has known someone, whether it be a neighbor, colleague, or loved one, who was struck down with illness in the prime of their life. Too often, we have felt powerless to know how to help them in a meaningful way. We send flowers or cards. We make meals and visit. But what can we do to help them where they need it the most? Donating blood at the MBA’s June 4 Blood Drive is how. The American Red Cross estimates that every two seconds someone in America needs blood. As the single largest supplier of blood in our country, the Red Cross must collect 14,000 units of blood every single day! With this kind of demand, our help is critical. The MBA has made it easy on us to donate by holding
this Blood Drive on June 4. All you need to do is schedule a time between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm on June 4 and show up. (Look for an email blast from the MBA with the website link to register.) On June 4, the CLE room will be transformed into a mini-hospital. You will be asked some questions about your health in a confidential setting. The actual donation will only take between 15 to 20 minutes. After drinking some juice, you will be good to go. Since the MBA is a new sponsor, we want to ensure its success. Let’s demonstrate to the Red Cross and our community that we as lawyers know how to give back and help our neighbors, colleagues and loved ones in a way that truly counts.
The need is constant. The gratification is instant.
Montgomery Bar Association Thursday, June 4, 2015 11 AM - 4 PM
Giving blood is great because it’s pure: No politics. No hidden agenda. No quid pro quo. Just a feeling that you did something which will help someone somewhere.
Upcoming MBA Events May - September 2015
Appeals and Briefs
May 1, 2015
Law Day, Montgomery County Court House
May 6, 2015
Courting Art Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony, Montgomery County Community College Fine Arts Center
Anthony J. Vetrano
June 26, 2015
Legal Aid Golf Classic, Meadowlands Country Club
630 Freedom Business Center, Suite 215 King of Prussia, PA 19406 TonyVetrano@VetranoLaw.com www.pennsylvaniaappealslawyer.com
August 4, 2015
Old vs. Young Lawyers Softball Game, Norristown Area High School
September 10, 2015 Annual Clambake, The Barn at Mermaid Lake
September 25-27, 2015 Bench Bar Conference, Omni Bedford Springs Resort Bedford, PA
Visit MBACLE.org for the latest schedule of upcoming CLEs. Visit montgomerybar.org for the latest schedule of events and to register for any of the above-mentioned events.
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