Galfand Berger: 65 Years Of Paying It Forward
September 11, 2012 – Reprinted from the Philadelphia Bar Reporter, September 2012, Vol. 41, No. 9, Pg. 20
By: Debra A. Jensen, Managing Partner and
Norman Weinstein, Chair – Community Outreach and Social Action Program
2012 marks a milestone year in Galfand Berger’s history. It was sixty-five years ago that our firm began its mission of helping people. Our success is attributed in large measure to a great legacy passed from each generation of attorneys to the next. In part, a common thread that binds our firm’s history – beyond quality and successful advocacy – is the principal belief that lawyers have a responsibility to be agents of change in the community.
From the time our firm was established, we understood that making a difference in the lives of clients is a rewarding job; however, making a difference in the broader community is an equally enriching responsibility.
At Galfand Berger, we embrace a favorite Winston Churchill quote, which informs our actions in and out of the office. Churchill said: “we make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.” Throughout our firm history, the attorneys and staff have embraced this value. For us, civil justice and social justice go hand-in-hand.
Most often, we are the real beneficiaries of this philosophy. Indeed, from such communal engagement comes an intimate portrait of the clients and communities we serve. This translates into a greater appreciation of the challenges they face. In the end, we simply become better lawyers as a result of civic engagement.
However, such engagement may not be natural to every firm’s culture. Instead, community outreach must often evolve through the encouragement and guiding example of firm leadership. By embracing civic engagement and social justice, firm leaders signal to their colleagues the importance of lawyers as positive agents of change. Of course, a pleasant consequence of embracing such efforts – besides the impact on community and self — is the benefit to the firm. Active roles in the community provide a fertile ground for preparing a firm’s next generation of leaders. And, these new leaders pay it forward to the generation that follows. Soon, 65 years will have passed and your firm’s legacy will include the good work of well-taught leaders instilled with the notion that from good deeds spring good business, too.
One simple way of nurturing community leadership is through support of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s “Raising the Bar” campaign. It is easy to do and only requires a minimal commitment. At our firm, we support the Bar Foundation, we serve on non-profit Boards, we have helped establish community foundations and non-profits, and we fundraise for a variety of charities.
Here are some examples of the generational impact of community leadership at our firm and its lasting legacy. In 65 years, you can accomplish so much! Joe Lurie, an early partner at our firm (now retired from Galfand Berger to focus on his non-profit work), established the Peggy Browning Fund, named after his late wife and well known labor right’s attorney. The Peggy Browning Fund provides law students with diverse, challenging work and educational experiences in the area of workers’ rights. Through Joe’s commitment to community the next generation of leaders learned the value of giving back.
Marc Jacobs, another early partner, still working at Galfand Berger, volunteers at Children’s Hospital, visiting children and helping cheer them; he volunteers with Reading for the Blind, helping make recordings; he delivers food to the homeless and has been President of the Workers’ Compensation Sections of the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Association and served as a member of the Governor’s Committee on Proposed Amendment’s for Workers’ Compensation Rules and Regulations. Marc also guided our firm as it established the Martha Hampton Award, honoring our former partner and well-respected attorney Martha Hampton.
Richard Jurewicz, one of our firm’s senior partners, founded Kids’ Chance of Pennsylvania, Inc. This Foundation provides scholarships for college and vocational training to children of Pennsylvania workers who have been killed or seriously injured in a work related accident.
Peter Patton, another senior partner, is active in the Brain Injury Association, a non-profit dedicated to brain injury prevention, research, treatment and education and to improve the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury. Pete is also active in the System Safety Society, an organization committed to reducing workplace injuries through safer product design.
Finally, as Managing Partner of Galfand Berger, I have the honor and responsibility of cultivating the firm’s social justice culture through my direction and example. I serve as a Trustee with the Legal Clinic for the Disabled and in 2012, established Galfand Berger’s Community Outreach and Social Action program, hiring my co-author of this article, Norman Weinstein as its Chair.
Our firm’s next generation of leaders is following in their predecessors’ footsteps and likewise take an active role in the community. Here are some examples: Arthur Bugay has volunteered with the Disability Law Network of Pennsylvania, Legal Clinic for the Disabled, the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project for Philadelphia Community Legal Services, and is a charitable fundraiser for a variety of non-profits. He is also a Member of the Pennsylvania Association of Justice, Amicus Curiae Committee.
Michael Malvey serves as a Board Observer with Esperanza Immigration Legal Services through a new program of the Young Lawyers division of the Philadelphia Bar Association and The Philadelphia Bar Foundation. Henry Yampolsky, through this same program, serves as a Board Observer on the HIAS Pennsylvania board. Henry is also a member of the New World Association of Immigrants from Eastern Europe. And, recently, Henry became a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Justice, Amicus Curiae Committee.
Recent additions to Galfand Berger have joined our firm, in large part, because of our community efforts. In our experience, creating an environment that fosters social justice invites talent. Both Marla Soffer and Norm Weinstein joined our firm in 2012 because they knew our firm would encourage and support their social justice efforts. Marla sits on the Board of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, is a member of Puentes Latino Collaborative of Montgomery County, and volunteers with Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and the Free Library of Philadelphia. Norm is Trustee of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, is Trustee and past president of HIAS Pennsylvania as well as past president of Philadelphia Volunteer for Indigent Program.
So, what has giving back taught us? It is not only a wonderful reward for the individual and the community but also is a great way of shaping a successful practice. Social justice and community outreach helps nurture future leaders, attracts remarkable talent, and cultivates a proud legacy.