It is clear that today's business and governmental environment involves increasing regulatory scrutiny, including the recent passage of substantial legislation directly affecting professionals, as well as a groundswell of litigation against lawyers, accountants and other professionals stemming from a volatile business climate. Amidst these developments, professionals are required to make more independent decisions and exercise a greater degree of judgment than ever before, heightening liability concerns. In addition, courts and regulators also have become increasingly willing to impose expanded duties, with attendant liabilities, on the professional and business fiduciary. In today's and tomorrow's world, there is no question that effective legal representation for professionals is not only critical, but essential. Duane Morris has a long history of providing such effective legal representation for the professional, before litigation and in it.
Range of Services
Duane Morris provides counseling, representation and advocacy services to a wide range of professionals and businesses in areas including:
The firm has a long history of counseling individuals, professionals, small businesses and major corporations on issues unique to their professional and business endeavors. By drawing on the depth and breadth of substantive areas of practice throughout the firm, members of the Professional Liability Group collaborate with other Duane Morris lawyers to respond to the particular needs of professionals facing potential licensing or liability risks and concerns.
A brief description of some of our services for particular professions follows:
Services for Lawyers and Judges
Enjoying a long history of being "lawyers' lawyers," Duane Morris has advised and represented judges, inside corporate counsel, private practitioners, law firms and lawyer liability insurance carriers in a myriad of matters, including risk management in the area of malpractice claims.
We have represented clients in cases involving complex constitutional separation of powers issues and high-profile securities and taxation disputes involving "cutting edge" third-party liability principles. Our services as defense counsel for lawyers and law firms accused of professional negligence span many years and all areas of law. We have served as counsel to the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges, represented judges before state boards in Delaware, rendered legal opinions to malpractice insurers and practitioners on insurance coverage matters and defended lawyers against disciplinary and malpractice claims.
Our attorneys have counseled law firms and both inside corporate counsel and outside lawyers on professional ethics and liability issues in connection with conflicts, discovery, reporting offenses, multistate practices, advertising, professional relationships with public officials, Rule 11 sanction orders and many other issues. In addition, we advise law firms on a variety of employment matters, including employment discrimination, sexual harassment and partnership and compensation procedures and decisions. We have also counseled law firms in connection with separation arrangements with former partners.
Duane Morris lawyers actively contribute to published literature on malpractice issues, ethics, professionalism and other issues of interest to lawyers, law firms and lawyer liability insurers. Likewise, a number of our attorneys are frequent guest speakers and faculty members for law schools, bar associations and other professional organizations on subjects concerning professional responsibility and lawyer liability.
Many of our attorneys are approved faculty members and panelists at continuing legal education courses sponsored by the Center on Professionalism, American Law Institute and American Bar Association, and bar associations throughout the country. Several of the firm's lawyers serve on bar association committees that address professional issues, such as certification of attorney specialists, ethics dilemmas and judicial administration.
Services for Accountants
Duane Morris has represented many large national accounting firms, as well as various regional firms, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the International Federation of Accountants in a variety of matters in a number of different forums. In professional negligence matters, Duane Morris has served as counsel to accounting firms in securities class action lawsuits, as well as suits by acquirers or sellers of business entities, banks and other lenders, bankruptcy trustees and bank and insurance regulators. In addition, we have represented accountants in investigations by professional licensing bodies, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, state and local governmental units and grand juries.
The firm has also counseled accounting firms on questions concerning the unauthorized practice of law, professional standards, business and professional ethics, firm mergers and dissolutions, and retention orders and fee applications in bankruptcy cases and related matters. In addition, we have represented accounting firms or individuals with respect to covenants not to compete, allegations of employment discrimination and other internal governance matters.
Duane Morris partners have also represented clients in accounting-related disputes, such as the proper interpretation of GAAP in acquisition agreements and various tax-related issues.
A number of our lawyers have been involved in the representation of accounting professionals, and we have a great amount of experience that can be applied to any particular matter. The firm's experience in bankruptcy, tax, employment law and criminal defense can also be brought to bear in any situation that so warrants. In addition, several of our partners also hold C.P.A. designations. Moreover, the firm's intimate knowledge of the terms and application of professional liability policies, directors' and officers' insurance policies, and fidelity policies has been especially helpful in particular representations.
Services for Actuaries
Today, more and more key financial and funding transactions depend upon actuaries. In particular, actuaries play an important role in the administration and funding of ERISA pension benefit plans and retiree medical benefit plans. Duane Morris has been involved in counseling actuaries on questions concerning ERISA compliance, minimum funding requirements, fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transactions.
Services for Business and Financial Planners and Consultants
Financial planners and consultants who provide comprehensive financial advice and strategic business planning services to individuals and businesses find themselves increasingly at risk in potential contemporary business disputes, regulatory investigations and similar matters. Duane Morris lawyers counsel and defend these professionals within the context of diverse settings in which their planning or consultative services may be challenged or questioned.
Services for Insurance Industry Professionals
Duane Morris attorneys provide thorough, sophisticated risk analysis for insurers, in addition to providing creative input toward the development of new insurance programs and coverages. We also provide pre-underwriting risk assessments for a variety of professional organizations and insurers. Our attorneys regularly provide formal and informal risk management seminars and advice to industry professionals.
Our attorneys also defend insurance agents and brokers in all types of contract and negligence actions and actions alleging fraud. Our lawyers represent major insurance brokerage firms, as well as independent insurance agencies, and counsel and represent agents and brokers on behalf of all types and sizes of insurance carriers. Our knowledge of the operations of carriers offering all lines of insurance and the regulatory environment in which carriers and their agents and brokers operate gives us valuable perspectives in evaluating, negotiating and defending claims against insurers and insurance professionals.
Services for Real Estate Agents and Brokers
The firm has represented both real estate agents and brokers in matters involving alleged errors and omissions, state licensing and disciplinary issues, unfair competition matters and other instances of alleged unprofessional conduct. Duane Morris also represents real estate agents and brokers in actions brought by purchasers and/or sellers of residential or commercial properties. The firm serves as counsel to title insurance companies, as well as individual realtors and real estate agencies.
Services for Securities Brokers
The firm counsels securities brokers and firms and others on issues ranging from compliance with state and federal securities, regulatory and licensing laws to litigation resulting from customer disputes, industry arbitrations, initial public offerings, mergers, acquisitions and tender offers.
Services for Other Professionals
In addition to the services specified here, Duane Morris represents directors and officers, employers in a range of industries, sports and entertainment management professionals, architects and engineers, physicians and other healthcare professionals.
Excellent securities lawyer. It was a pleasure to work on a transaction with him.Read more
Excellent securities lawyer. It was a pleasure to work on a transaction with him.Read less
Will Sirota is a highly respected and exceptionally qualified commercial lawyer with excellent ethical qualities.Read more
Will Sirota is a highly respected and exceptionally qualified commercial lawyer with excellent ethical qualities.
Sean has been much more than our legal counsel, providing advice, mentorship, network, and friendship to every member in our organization. He's gone a...Read more
Sean has been much more than our legal counsel, providing advice, mentorship, network, and friendship to every member in our organization. He's gone above and beyond his responsibilities as our lawyer to ensure we are setup for success in every aspect of our lives and business. As soon as Sean engaged with our business it became a personal responsibility and he has protected and advanced our mission from the moment we met him.Read less
I have known Denyse Sabagh since the 1990's when she handled all my family's immigration cases. She has a depth of knowledge about every aspect of imm...Read more
I have known Denyse Sabagh since the 1990's when she handled all my family's immigration cases. She has a depth of knowledge about every aspect of immigration law that is only matched by her very pleasant demeanor. She leaves no stone unturned and she makes sure that you are informed about every option available to you. In addition, she is a problem solver who genuinely cares about the well-being of her clients. She is a true GEM and her remarkable career accomplishments are proof of that...Read less
Patricia Hollenbeck is skilled, diligent, professional and highly experienced, with a deep understanding of the needs of a business client. She under...Read more
Patricia Hollenbeck is skilled, diligent, professional and highly experienced, with a deep understanding of the needs of a business client. She understands and can achieve business needs much better than most outside counsel, all the while representing the company extremely well. I would recommend her without hesitation to other business clients.Read less
Jim always has his client's interests at heart and thoughtfully and expertly handles each problem. I feel very confident that he is representing me.Read more
Jim always has his client's interests at heart and thoughtfully and expertly handles each problem. I feel very confident that he is representing me.Read less
"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."
Senior VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
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:
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.