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We Have Moved!

December 1, 2008

Welcome to The Legal Intelligencer Blog.

Our blog has moved to the address below. All previous posts from this blog are available at our new location.


Hillary Clinton at Wolf Block…

August 4, 2008

Sen. Hillary Clinton made an appearance at Wolf Block’s Philadelphia offices today … rumor has it for some fundraising. She had left the offices before 3 p.m.

A call to the firm’s politico and heavy fundraiser Alan Kessler, who served on Clinton’s finance committee before she suspended her campaign, wasn’t immediately returned. More to come…
— Gina Passarella, Senior Staff Reporter

Chance Plays by No Rules

April 11, 2008

As the winter sky slowly changes to a springtime blue – a deep vibrant color that hints at immortality – memories return. I inhale the cool morning air as I walk among trees budding with promise, and I sink into a reverie of my youth, a reflection that is painfully informed by the fact that I know the springtime sky lies.

In May 1970 the sky was an eternal blue for several days, a rare stretch for the usually cloud-covered northeastern Ohio region. On one of those glorious days of bright sunshine four students at Kent State – a mere 35 miles away – met their end amid a hail of National Guard bullets.  I was still in my teens, and I was shocked by the senseless tragedy that had occurred at a place I had visited several times.

A couple of years later in my senior year of high school we experienced another wonderful spring. There was a hint of chill in the air, not unusual given the long, harsh winters we used to have in Ohio, but the days were bright and full of sunshine and uplifting to an adolescent finally getting over a football injury and enjoying the outdoor track sessions during gym period.

I’d like to say that a classmate of mine from grade school was in that gym period because it would make this story easier to tell. But frankly I can’t remember if Joe Treberry was there or not. What I do remember about him, though, remains sharp in my memory for one day, way back in grade school, I had an encounter with Joe that changed my young life.

I was in the third grade and it was a late winter day. Nice enough to run around a black-top enclosure during our lunch break but still cold enough that we wore winter coats. For reasons I can’t remember, I got into a fight with some obnoxious kid who had provoked me. He was easy to beat, and I remember leaving him crying and sitting on his rump on the rough, cold asphalt.

The fight was quick and no one was even mildly hurt, but his pride was severely injured. So the kid complained to a bigger friend of his who came over and started another fight. I knocked his front tooth out and that ended that.

Though it might sound like a weak plot twist, the kid with the missing tooth reached out to a friend of his and he tried to settle the score. This kid wasn’t big but he was wiry and, for that age, street-wise. I bloodied his nose.

I was a bit surprised that I had won all three fights and rather easily. But I didn’t think much past that as I was only 8 years old and even though fights were rather unusual, they occurred with some frequency. Anyway, I started to play again till I noticed everyone around me had disappeared. A bunch of guys I didn’t know too well had encircled me and Joe Treberry, whom I did know, stepped forward. He was short but popular. He had a lot of friends and they were apparently going to teach me a lesson. I was scared but determined to hurt some people before they got me so I pivoted around with my fists up, making eye contact with everyone, and waited. Treberry asked me about the fights, and I just shrugged. I kept on pivoting and staring down my soon-to-be executioners when Treberry said, “Let him alone” and, just like that, the kids melted away into the playground crowds.

That escape did wonders for me. From then on I believed I could do just about anything if I approached the situation with intelligence and endurance. Years later after losing some fights and much later on after some professional and personal setbacks, I realized I could go too far with this belief, but my faith in myself was merely tempered, not scrapped.

So I had Joe T. to thank for that. And although we never became friends, we always got along until my family moved to a different school district. Years later in high school, I found out Joe was in my class. Again we weren’t tight, but I felt good occasionally seeing him because it always reminded me of that incredible day.

Then one day in the late winter of our senior year, Joe, his father, mother and sister, got into the family car and Joe drove them to Western Pennsylvania. I lived on the Ohio side of the border, not too far from the state line, and I knew the road Joe and his family were on quite well. Joe still lived in the old neighborhood in decaying Youngstown, Ohio, so I suspect he wasn’t too familiar with that highway, which was in the suburbs.

The road, a U.S. highway, was four lanes in Ohio, but only three in Pennsylvania, with the middle lane sometimes available to drivers going east and sometimes available to west-bound traffic, depending on whether you were going up or down one of the many foothills in the area.

A couple of years later I was tooling around in my Dad’s Chevy on that same three-lane road and I decided to run out the small V-8 to see what the top speed was. I hit 110, then slowly brought the car back to a more reasonable speed. Obviously I survived.

Another time I probably shouldn’t have. I was riding down the semi-rural road where I lived, with a friend at the wheel. For some reason that was never clear to me, he accelerated to 100 miles per hour, then got in the left lane as we approached a small hill about a quarter of a mile from my house. Needless to say if someone had been coming in the other direction, I wouldn’t be writing this.

So life is full of chances, the kind that can make you and the kind that can hurtle you into oblivion. For some reason I’ve been dealt the former.

But not Joe Treberry.  On that March day, he and his family didn’t arrive in New Castle, Pa., where the road ends. Instead Joe ran up the hard shoulder at highway speed, lost control, slid into the soft shoulder and crashed.

No one survived.

I sometimes wonder why he and his family, on a Sunday drive, all perished whereas I, taking very dangerous chances, lived. I don’t think too long on it, though, because there’s no point. How can you explain the various turns and twists of someone’s life?

What might have happened if Gov. James Rhodes wasn’t running for the U.S. Senate in 1970 and hadn’t felt compelled to take a tough stance on civil disobedience, would he have refrained from sending the National Guard to Kent State?

Ultimately it’s futile to speculate. All I know for sure is that one fine-looking day way back when Joe Treberry and his family died en masse underneath a sky of eternal blue.

The best I can say about it all is that when I think of Joe it is with affection, a sense of loss and gratitude. Then I put away my thoughts and continue my own drive through life.

— John F. Manser, Managing Editor


Litigating Hague Convention Claims

April 9, 2008

The Hague Convention is an international treaty that many countries have ratified, including the United States. The treaty prohibits parents from wrongfully removing and/or retaining a child from his or her home country. In order to seek relief under the convention, both the child’s home country and the country where the child was taken must be signatories to it. 

Once you confirm that both countries are signatories to the convention, there are two ways to request that children be returned to their home country. First, the left behind parent (the one who no longer has the children) may file an application with a country’s central authority to ask that the children be returned voluntarily. In the U.S., the Department of State is the central authority. The central authority will then contact the central authority where the children are located and they will ask that the children be returned to their home country voluntarily. 

As a practice pointer, make the application to the State Department and also directly to the central authority where the children are located if they are not in the U.S. Then file a Hague Petition with the court immediately.  The faster that you act, the easier it will be to prove your case and the sooner that your client will, hopefully, be able to see his or her children. You must file the Hague Petition in the country where the children are located.

You may file your Hague Petition in federal or state court — it is your choice.  Both courts have concurrent jurisdiction. Before deciding where to file, consider your strategy. You may want to file in state court because you are more comfortable with the judicial system there, or you may want to file in federal court because your opposition may be less comfortable with the federal court than the state court. Also, you may have a preference whether you would like a state or federal judge to hear the case. 

In some federal circuits, if the parent who wrongfully takes or keeps the children files a custody action in state court, then the Hague Petition must be heard in state court. In the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, it does not matter whether a state court custody action is pending. Here, the petitioner gets to choose where he or she files the Hague Petition.  The 3rd Circuit reasons that the custody and Hague actions may involve the same parties, but they involve different questions of law and fact.  As a result, the petitioner can make a federal case out of the Hague action if he or she wants.

Judy McIntire Springer
Fox Rothschild LLP

Client Interviewers Increasing in Popularity

March 28, 2008

While Ballard Spahr was the latest Pennsylvania firm to add a client interviewer, it isn’t the only one to have such a position.

Duane Morris, well known for having one of the largest marketing departments in the country relative to its lawyer headcount, has had a dedicated client relationships manager for more than four years. The former attorney has been doing the interviews for about three years and has spoken with between 40 and 50 clients, the firm’s chief marketing officer, Edward M. Schechter, said.

Five other senior marketing team members assist the manager in talking to several people in each client organization. The firm asks the client who it should meet with in the company in addition to the in-house attorneys, and that can often lead to anywhere between two to 10 interviews per client, Schechter said.

The firm then asks the attorneys who work with those clients to address the concerns within 10 business days with the understanding that they may not all be resolved in such short order.

Duane Morris also has business developers working in a sales function who sometimes act in a client relations capacity, Schechter said.

He said the goal has nothing to do with selling — it’s all about listening and responding.

According to Schechter, the client interviewer role is being utilized country-wide on a much more frequent basis than it had been even two years ago.

As previously reported, Reed Smith has a director of general counsel relations. The firm started the position in 2005, but the original director was hired away by a firm client. Reed Smith filled the spot in December 2006 with a former general counsel.

Ballard Spahr brought on a former reporter to handle its new client interviewer post.

~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

Schnader Harrison Brings Back Former Partner

March 28, 2008

Jeffrey O. Greenfield rejoined Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis as a partner in the firm’s business services department. He was most recently with the firm in 2001.

Schnader Harrison said he plans to use is experience as an attorney for more than 18 years along with his business background to work with the firm’s corporate clients on transactions.

Just prior to joining Schnader, Greenfield was the owner and chief operating officer of a wholesale book distribution company, and prior to that he was the founder and president of privately held company that sought to acquire and operate middle-market companies within broad industry categories in the mid-Atlantic region.

Greenfield began his career at Mesirov Gelman Jaffe Cramer & Jamieson in 1987, becoming a partner in 1995. He served as a member of the firm’s executive committee and the hiring partner. He originally became a part of Schnader Harrison when it merged with Mesirov Gelman in 2000.

“We are extremely pleased to have Jeff back at Schnader,” Chairman Ralph Wellington said in a statement. “His experience both as an attorney and as an executive gives him a unique perspective that will benefit our clients. I am confident that his extensive background in corporate and commercial finance, real estate and leasing, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and syndications will allow him to be a dynamic addition to the Schnader team.”

~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

Cozen O’Connor Names New CFO

January 8, 2008

Cozen O’Connor named John A. Curran as its new chief financial officer.

Curran replaces former CFO David W. Ellman who moved into the firm’s chief operating officer position in August 2007.

Curran will be responsible for conducting strategic financial analysis for the firm, overseeing its annual budget process and decision support analyses.

For the last six years, he served as vice president of finance and planning at InfraSource Services. Prior to that, Curran held financial planning and analysis positions with Exelon Corporation.

~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter