Product Safety, Compliance and Recalls

Duane Morris lawyers working in a number of different cities and a variety of legal disciplines come together to form an integrated product safety, compliance and recall practice with a global reach. Duane Morris lawyers have a wealth of experience assisting clients in designing and implementing product recalls on a national and worldwide basis, and in representing clients involving compliance, reporting, recall and penalty proceedings before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Our clients include leading manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers. We provide sophisticated and practical counsel to clients on a wide range of issues arising from product development, marketing, promotion and distribution, including safety reviews, compliance with labeling requirements and standards, state and federal regulation of consumer warranties, records management, minimum advertised pricing (MAP), and a variety of related manufacturing, import-export, customs and distribution issues. Our lawyers also advise clients on issues that can arise regarding rebate programs, gift cards/gift certificates and consumer information privacy, providing dispute avoidance and resolution advice and class action defense.

The services that Duane Morris lawyers provide to clients regarding consumer product safety and the CPSC include:

  • Addressing challenges posed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA);
  • Identifying CPSC regulations that apply to the company's products, and determining when and how each regulation must be implemented;
  • Developing systems of documenting compliance with CPSC regulations, including testing and inspections (internal and third party) and conformity certificates;
  • Communicating with customers, as well as with subcontractors and suppliers, regarding the parties' expectations on product safety and CPSC compliance issues, and negotiating terms for warranties, indemnities, insurance and other compliance matters;
  • Training employees and industry groups regarding product safety and risk management issues;
  • Communicating with CPSC management and compliance staff regarding proposed regulations and to obtain rulings and interpretations on exemptions and other compliance issues;
  • Advising companies regarding possible reporting obligations to the CPSC under Sections 15 and 37 of the Consumer Product Safety Act and preparing and presenting product hazard reports as appropriate; and
  • Advising companies regarding possible obligations to recall products, negotiating the terms of recalls with CPSC compliance staff, counseling clients regarding logistics, public relations and other issues that arise in product recalls, and assisting clients with international compliance issues when their products are distributed in multiple countries.

We have guided clients through highly publicized product safety crises, government investigations and product recalls, including defect reporting and risk management audits. Our attorneys have represented manufacturers, importers distributors and retailers of products including:

  • Toys
  • Clothing, footwear and textiles
  • Electronic products
  • Batteries
  • Refrigerators
  • HVAC equipment and controls
  • Security/alarm system controls
  • Drugs and nutritional supplements (including child-resistant packaging)
  • Fireworks
  • Furniture
  • Cleaning products
  • Paint
  • Home improvement and construction materials
  • Mobile homes
  • Sporting goods; and
  • Boating and marine equipment.

Government regulators throughout the world share product recall and defect reporting data, and they have agreements in place to undertake cross-border enforcement efforts. Our product safety and recall team can advise clients regarding regulatory and safety/defect reporting requirements in the U.S., Canada, the EU and Asia. Through a global network of more than 60 law firms throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America and the Pacific Rim, we seamlessly manage defect reporting, product recalls and related regulatory and litigation issues on a global basis.

In addition, we assist clients in their relationships with and work with standards organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in developing and improving product standards.

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Diversity

"In my discussions with Duane Morris leaders, they frequently speak about how diversity within their firm has enabled them to better serve their diverse clients. They understand that investing in diversity is a wise business decision that positions them for the marketplace of the future."

Don Liu
Senior VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
Xerox Corporation

At Duane Morris, achieving diversity is paradoxical. By supporting and celebrating the differences of our attorneys - and the individual strengths that they bring - our firm culture expands, fostering creative solutions for our clients. But diversity at Duane Morris does not mean that we have a certain number of diverse attorneys; true diversity means that it is no longer noteworthy to see diverse lawyers leading our practice groups or managing client relationships. Ascending to positions of leadership and greater responsibility and providing the highest levels of client service is simply what is expected of all our lawyers. Diversity is another strong asset that adds to our collective abilities to meet the needs of our clients.

Our vision of diversity at Duane Morris is to realize an environment in which our lawyers' outstanding qualities are not just measured by ethnicity, race, gender and sexual orientation, but more importantly, that our lawyers are remarkable as excellent attorneys above all else. Only then can we celebrate our differences while focusing on the common pursuit of legal excellence which everyone shares at Duane Morris.

To reach this goal, Duane Morris understands that the familiar diversity strategies and policies that most law firms have are needed. Without demanding results from such policies, most law firms are bound to fail in even achieving numerical hiring and retention goals. Duane Morris has been proactive and ambitious in its efforts to improve diversity at the firm, and has set deadlines for reaching the milestones which mark our progress. To create a more diverse law firm, Duane Morris is:

  • Committed to strategically increasing our diversity levels, which is currently at 10 percent.
  • Bringing together our Diversity Committee and our Hiring and Retention Committee to raise diversity as an important factor in our hiring decisions.
  • Dedicated to improving retention by building upon our monitoring and mentoring program for all diverse associates.

Combining new initiatives with our longstanding diversity efforts, Duane Morris has seen increasingly positive results. In the Minority Law Journal's annual diversity survey of the nation's largest 260 firms, Duane Morris continued to improve its regional and national ranking, rising to number 136 of all firms surveyed. Our strides in Philadelphia are encouraging; in a city known for both the racial diversity of its population and the lack thereof in its law firms, Duane Morris is one of only two law firms to exceed the national average of minority partners at all law firms. Additionally, Duane Morris leads all national law firms based in Philadelphia in the number of Latino partners. Nearly 30 percent of all of our attorneys are women, and more than 20 percent of our partners are women.

In our approach to diversity, progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity cannot be measured in numbers alone. Duane Morris has focused our diversity initiatives on both increasing the number of diverse associates and addressing the challenges diverse attorneys face in building lasting careers and rising to senior and leadership positions. While several of our key practice groups are led by diverse partners and female partners, Duane Morris endeavors to create a culture which will foster a deep pool of such attorneys who can then develop into the firm's future leaders. Duane Morris understands that simply hiring diverse associates will not change the diversity of the firm; Duane Morris is working to mentor and retain diverse associates so that our progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity is also reflected at the highest levels of leadership within the firm.

Our progress on gender diversity has been profound. We have no glass ceilings: women hold positions of leadership at all levels of management at the firm. Women lead a number of our key practice groups, including our Energy, Immigration and International practices, and serve on the firm's Executive Committee. The success of our female attorneys at Duane Morris has not gone unnoticed. Barbara Adams was chair of the firm's Finance Practice until her appointment by Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell to serve as General Counsel of the Commonwealth. In 2004, our longtime General Counsel, Gene E.K. Pratter, was approved by the United States Senate and is now a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Our efforts to improve diversity extend beyond our firm's walls. The chair of our Diversity Committee, Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr., recognized the lack of diversity in Philadelphia's legal community and formed the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group. Nolan now serves as the chair of the organization, a consortium of 25 law firms and corporations that commits to employing at least one diverse first-year law student each as a summer associate. From this program, law students of diverse backgrounds gain access to what was once an exclusive legal community, and now have the opportunity to learn and develop their legal careers with experience at Philadelphia's top law firms.

In addition to our involvement in the Philadelphia area, Duane Morris has increased our presence at national conferences and events focused on diversity. We sponsor the Hispanic National Bar Association and its job fair. Duane Morris is also a longtime supporter and sponsor of the Equality Forum, a national gay and lesbian rights organization. Duane Morris continues to sponsor the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, and is active in other associations of diverse attorneys including: the Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley; the Charles Houston Bar Association; Cuban Bar Association; Korean American Lawyers Association; National American Indian Housing Counsel and the National Bar Association.

The challenge of improving gender, ethnic and cultural diversity at Duane Morris is an ongoing effort that has the support of the entire firm. Duane Morris has been at the vanguard in supporting gender diversity throughout the firm beginning a generation ago. Our diversity programs are leading to similar success in improving racial and national origin diversity at Duane Morris. But even as we share these examples of Duane Morris attorneys and our involvement in numerous legal events, associations and programs for diversity, our hope is that such examples will no longer be necessary to mention in the future. We hope that through our efforts, and the efforts of other law firms, these stories become so common that they are no longer the remarkable accomplishments they are today, but simply routine aspects of the legal world tomorrow.