Archive for December 2007

Firms Responding to Markets Through Formation of New Practice Areas

December 13, 2007

Stevens & Lee and Flaster Greenberg have each formulated a new practice group, drawing from the experience of existing attorneys. While one looks to offer compliance advice across several client groups, the other is industry focused.

Flaster Greenberg said today that it would create an automotive practice group focused on the needs of car and truck dealerships.

Labor and employment attorney Ken Gilberg and real estate practice chairman Frank Wisniewski will serve as co-chairmen of the new practice.

There will be 17 attorneys from across the firm’s offices in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to help automotive dealers on a range of issues including consumer fraud, environmental assessments, real estate, labor relations, wage and hour compliance, tax planning and commercial litigation.

The firm is following up the creation of the practice with a five-part series of programs designed for automotive and truck dealers.

In November, Stevens & Lee formalized a white collar litigation and corporate investigations group that will be headed up by James C. Schwartzman – a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“A number of Stevens & Lee attorneys have had active, successful white collar defense practices for many years, and so we felt the best way to serve our clients was to formalize our group and combine our broad range of collective experience in this area for their benefit,” Schwartzman said in a statement.

Daniel B. Huyett, Joseph E. Wolfson, Larry B. Selkowitz and Renardo L. Hicks will serve in the new practice group along with other defense attorneys in the firm.

~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter


Administrative Error Omits Some of Saylor’s Dissent in Gaming Case

December 11, 2007

When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court paved the way last week for SugarHouse Casino to start building in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, Justice Thomas G. Saylor was the lone dissent.

He questioned the court’s jurisdiction in the case and today he offered further insight into how he would have ruled. In this update to his dissent, Saylor suggested that City Council wasn’t given enough time to respond to allegations made by SugarHouse, resulting in the court granting summary relief.

The casino, through its parent company HSP Gaming, brought the case against City Council directly to the Supreme Court in late October. After granting an expedited schedule, the court ruled in a per curiam order on Dec. 3 that City Council acted in bad faith by delaying the issuance of permits to HSP Gaming.

Saylor said he didn’t think the casino should have been granted relief at that stage in the litigation, questioning whether the court had jurisdiction in the “developing area of law.”

“Moreover, the pleadings have been filed directly in this court, and there has been no lower court decision or, indeed, any fact-finding at all,” Saylor said. “There is therefore no record on which to determine the merits of petitioner’s claims.”

Saylor said today that the court made a ruling based on statements from SugarHouse that were actually questions of fact and should have been answered based on an evidentiary record, according to his updated dissent.

The court’s ruling in favor of SugarHouse was premised, he said, on City Council’s failure to controvert the accuracy of the statements made, and documents provided, by SugarHouse.

“The City Council cannot be faulted for acting in this manner, moreover, as it was given only one week to respond to the initial petition and a reasonable request for an extension of time was denied,” Saylor said.

According to a footnote in the opinion, he said HSP Gaming filed the case on Oct. 25 and the deadline for responsive briefs was set for Nov. 2. Counsel for City Council entered his appearance on Nov. 1. and requested an extension to file his brief. That was denied the next day, the due date for the brief, Saylor said.

He continued to say that City Council did in fact dispute certain factual allegations made by SugarHouse.

In a footnote at the end of the dissent, Saylor said an administrative error resulted in these additional thoughts being omitted from his original dissent.

~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

Dilworth Paxson L&E Chair Found Beaten in Southwest Philly

December 7, 2007

Gino J. Benedetti, the chairman of Dilworth Paxson’s labor and employment group, was found beaten in Southwest Philadelphia Thursday night, according to police.


Sgt. Charles Layton of the Southwest Detectives Special Investigation Unit said Benedetti was found at 63rd Street and Passyunk Avenue shortly before 8 p.m. He was lying in proximity to his Acura, the report said.


Layton said there was nothing that led the police to believe the car was involved, but he categorized the attack on Benedetti as an “attempted robbery that went bad.”


Police believe Benedetti, who suffered chest and severe head injuries, was hit with a blunt object — possibly a rock wrapped in a towel or shirt, Layton said.


No arrests have been made in the case, but police are looking into getting as much video surveillance as possible and speaking to witnesses. The beating might have something to do with similar crimes in the area, but Layton said there is nothing definitive relating the attack on Benedetti to any other crime.


There was no damage to Benedetti’s vehicle and police have no idea as to why he was in that area, Layton said.


According to Dilworth Paxson partner James W. Hennessey, Benedetti underwent neurosurgery Friday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Hennessey said Bendetti has regained consciousness after surgery and is currently recovering. They don’t yet have an idea of recovery time but they are confident he is getting the best of care.


Benedetti has been with Dilworth Paxson for less than a year. He came to the firm from Miller Alfano & Raspanti, where he practiced for 13 years.

— Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

The Lateral Lineup

December 3, 2007

The Philadelphia market has seen several lateral moves in the past month with the most recent between two local intellectual property boutiques.

Daniel N. Calder joined Volpe & Koenig as a shareholder from Ratner Prestia. He was the first lateral shareholder the firm has ever hired since its inception 20 years ago.

Calder had served as in-house patent counsel for JCPenny and RCA before joining Ratner Prestia. His practice focuses on technology with a specific expertise in solar cell technology.

Volpe Koenig has been on a growth spurt in its 20th year, leasing additional floors in United Plaza to accommodate. The firm now has 40 professionals and a total of more than 100 employees.

Kevin F. Berry joined Duane Morris as a partner from the Philadelphia office of Cozen O’Connor. Berry had been the chairman of Cozen O’Connor’s commercial litigation practice group from 2002 to 2006. He is now a member of Duane Morris’ trial practice group. Berry also serves as the general counsel to the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association.

He was most recently in the news for being named in a gender discrimination suit against his former firm by a female partner who was allegedly fired for her political work. Berry was not a name defendant in the suit.

Post & Schell brought on two attorneys into its insurance practice from Gibbons. William H. Black Jr. and M. Jane Goode, who had been with Hecker Brown Sherry & Johnson before it merged with Gibbons, joined Post & Schell as partners to handle insurance coverage matters.

Black was a former managing partner of Hecker Brown and both he and Goode were directors at Gibbons.

Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads picked up real estate and land use attorney Stephen G. Pollock from Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll. He joined the firm as of counsel.

His addition adds to that of William W. Keffer who joined as of counsel in the spring from Blank Rome.

After Blank Rome saw the departure of two public finance attorneys this year when Jeremy Spector and Jeffrey Blumenfeld left for Mintz Levin and Wolf Block, respectively, the firm was on the lookout for attorneys to build up the practice.

To that end, Blank Rome hired Linda L. D’Onofrio as a partner in the public finance group. She joined form Winstead and will work in the firm’s New York and Philadelphia offices. The firm said this marks the beginning of growth for the practice area.

— Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

Ballard Spahr Diversity Director Moves On

December 3, 2007

Stacy Hawkins, who has served as Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll’s first-ever director of diversity for a little more than year, has left the firm to start her own diversity consulting business.

Her last day was Friday, and she will now focus on serving national clients in a full-service diversity consulting practice from Philadelphia.

Hawkins said she doesn’t have a name for her business yet because she is in talks with a prospective partner. Right now she is informally consulting and will create a formal business if and when she joins with this partner.

She didn’t join Ballard Spahr with the expectation of it being short-term, but after a year of traveling as the firm’s director of diversity, she realized she could serve a larger number of clients. Hawkins said she helped Ballard Spahr establish its formal diversity program and the firm will look to replace her. She said it might hire someone in a slightly different capacity given that she was the first person to hold the position.

Hawkins had worked in a similar role for seven years at Holland & Knight in Washington, D.C., in its diversity corporate counseling group before moving to Philadelphia.

– Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter