What is A Living Will Anyway?

The concept of a “living will” can be very confusing. After all, the term Will typically refers to the document that will control what happens to your assets post death. On the other hand, a “living will” is a document that controls what happens to you while you are alive, but you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness or an irreversible state. One can use the vernacular term “brain dead” to describe the state when a “living will” would apply to your condition. You are in fact still alive but you are not aware of your surroundings nor are

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The Holidays: A Perfect Time To Discuss Estate Planning

I know you are thinking, why would I discuss my planning with my family over the holidays? The answer to the question is yes because this is one time of year that multi-generations of families are together. The days when death was a hush-hush topic are over. Male heirs receiving everything is a dead concept. So, how do you approach this subject at the Thanksgiving table or do you? To begin with, every family and conversation is different, but it is important that the conversation focuses on your family’s values. What does your family value? Did your family work hard

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Networking 101

I have owned my own law firm for about ten years now and one thing I have learned is that my networking style has evolved over the years.  At the outset of my career as a lawyer, I attended different events with no clear-cut goal or plan in mind. In fact, I figured “being out there” was enough. I came to realize that I only had so many hours in the day for networking, that I wanted to spend some of my free time enjoying family activities and other social activities.  Over the years, I have learned how to spend

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Peer Review in Modern Health Care

The Narrowing of Peer Review in Modern Health Care

There is little doubt that the way health care is delivered is changing in Pennsylvania. The delivery of service model is expanding rapidly along with an emerging corporate liability theory. It is common in the modern health care delivery system to outsource delivery services by using independent contractors, consultants and other experts. The hospital is no longer considered the sole provider of patient services. Contemporaneous with the outsourcing model is The Peer Review Protection Act. The Act is an important Pennsylvania statute developed 40 years ago that was meant to facilitate self-policing in the health care industry. The Act seems

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Hoarding Poses Complex Problems

Hoarding Poses Complex Problems With No Easy Solutions

For those who have ever been to a home where a hoarder is living, it can be quite a shockingly dismaying experience. Hoarders are not collectors or people who tend to clutter but are classified as suffering from a DSM-V mental disorder. The American Psychiatric Unit definition includes the following characteristics: 1) difficulty discarding, 2) accumulation of stuff that prevents normal use of space, 3) distress or impairment and 4) behavior not due to some other medical or mental health condition. For example, the disorder is not classified as depression, but there can be symptoms of depression along with it.

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Sustaining Success for Women Lawyers

Sustaining Success for Women Lawyers

Being successful is important to all of us in one way or another, but the ability to maintain success is more difficult to achieve. The legal profession is a demanding one, and as Gail J. Cummings, JD, MSS, LCSW, discussed at the Women in Profession Committee meeting on Jan. 26 that “we as lawyers are perfectionists by nature, we self select for law school and this profession.” In our profession, attention-to-detail and time pressure is the norm, but one’s ability to adjust under these pressures is what is most important. Perfectionism is demanded of the practicing lawyer, but this puts

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American Professor in Russia

American Professor in Russia Shares Experiences Abroad

Most have probably seen “The Sound of Music” at some point in time in their lives. The musical features beautiful views of Salzburg, Austria, and the surrounding Alps. If teaching international law is your bent, then the mandatory week-long orientation in Salzburg, in the castle where “The Sound of Music” was filmed, will probably be part of the agenda. Many gorgeous old castles and palaces are used as conference centers to prepare students for teaching assignments with the Center for International Legal Studies (CILS). CILS places experienced commonlaw practitioners in visiting professorships (with terms ranging from 2-6 weeks) at institutions

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Charlie Hebdo

Free Speech, Religious Tolerance Collide in Charlie Hebdo Incident

“Cartoons do not kill people. Humorless fanatics do.” That’s what Signe Wilkinson, editorial cartoonist for the Philadelphia Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer, said of the Jan. 7 bloodbath in Paris that occurred after French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. Eleven journalists and one police officer were killed by Islamic gunmen, who later attacked a kosher supermarket. Wilkinson was among the panelists for the recent Chancellor’s Forum on the Charlie Hebdo attack and free speech, presented by the International Law Committee. Other panelists were Mark C. Rahdert, professor of law at the Temple University

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Rating Sites

Rating Sites Can Boost Practice

With more and more consumers searching for attorneys online, the importance of website and Internet marketing is more important than ever, members of the Solo, Small and Mid-Size Firm Management Committee were recently told. Laura Powers, chief marketing officer for Furia Rubel Communications, and attorney Harper J. Dimmerman were the presenters at the Nov. 20 program “Navigating Avvo and Other Online Lawyer Rating Sites.” Powers said more than 95 percent of consumers turn to the Internet when looking for a lawyer. Failure to take advantage of these marketing sites, many of which are free, leaves you solely relying on other methods

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Civil Rights

50 Years After Civil Rights Act, Progress Sometimes Elusive

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a statute that was intended to end discrimination based on color, race, religion, sex and national origin, particularly in the areas of voting, education, public accommodations and employment. Panelists at a Sept. 29 program reflecting on the Act discussed their perspectives. Part of the discussion centered on how the Act is being interpreted in light of today’s different social issues, such as LGBT rights. Although we have made significant and meaningful progress in some areas, much progress still needs to be made particularly with respect to criminal

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Women in the Profession

Women in the Profession, Issue 2

Following our celebration on Thursday, September 15, 2011 of a very successful launch of our inaugural Women in the Profession Newsletter, I wondered how the next issue could continue the momentum started by our initial issue. After all, a launch has its own appeal. I think the contributors to our latest Newsletter have answered that question. The preparation of this December edition, amid the winter holidays has brought back memories of my swearing in ceremony at City Hall in December after passing the Pennsylvania Bar exam. That ceremony launched my career as a brand new lawyer. I have always thought

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Women in the Profession

Women in the Profession, Issue 1

Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Philadelphia Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Newsletter. I am proud to present the first edition, which represents a compilation of empowering articles written by women who have achieved a high level of excellence in the legal profession. My goal for this first edition, and in future editions, is to present unique and relevant perspectives, advice and opinions. Additionally, we seek to explore creative solutions and provide a forum for both current and persistent issues impacting women in the profession today. Lastly, our hope is that you find value in the pragmatic presentation

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Premarital divorce

Divorce, Divorced, or Death Planning? Consider A Premarital Agreement

Famous couples and not so famous couples get divorced a lot. We hear about this famous person got divorced and had a prenup, this famous person did not have a prenup. However, premarital agreements are not just for the rich and famous. These type of agreements can be a very useful tool for the modern day couple. The premarital agreement is a contract that can customize or change what you may be entitled to under the laws of Pennsylvania at death or divorce. For example, if you are entering your  second marriage and have children from a previous marriage, a premarital agreement is

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A Competition of One

Recently, the subject of competition came up while I was chatting with some female running friends of mine. I have run multiple marathons and find that the marathon distance is the true test of competing against yourself. It is the toughest and most challenging distance to complete because you will always be teetering on the edge of being over trained and getting injured during the training. Not to mention the race itself and what can happen to you during it. I told my friends that I liked playing a game with runners and counting runners I passed in the last

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Die Without A Will?

  Did you know that when you die without a will in Pennsylvania stepchildren do not receive anything? Ultimately, your family members pay the price because resolving issues post death becomes much more complicated and expensive for your family.  If dying without a will or “intestate” in Pennsylvania, your grieving family members will need to pick someone to administer the estate. It may difficult for the family to decide who should and can take on this responsibility.You may need to find a lawyer right away to assist you with the process. This may put you at a disadvantage because you

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Judges Retirement Age

Judges’ Retirement Age Question Stirs Controversy

In addition to electing a new U.S. President, state attorney general and state senator this fall, Pennsylvanians will also need to make a decision on judicial retirement age. This November, voters will be asked to decide whether the retirement age for Pennsylvania judges should be raised to age 75. Currently, judicial retirement is set at 70. The question of increasing the retirement age has been fraught with political controversy and tension. Originally placed on the April ballot, votes were not counted, and it was bumped to November. Since then, much political maneuvering has surrounded this issue, and the final vote

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Race, Gender Played Roles in Disgrace of Famous Men of Color

We all remember, or most of us remember, where we were during the 1994 O.J. Simpson Ford Bronco chase. It was the first time many witnessed such broad media coverage of a real-life spectacle. The coverage and drama of the chase, splashed across television screens nationwide, transfixed the general public as it watched Simpson, a football star and film actor, fleeing from police and threatening suicide. The Bronco chase was the beginning of a media feeding frenzy that would continue throughout People v. O.J. Simpson in 1995. Lasting approximately nine months, the trial was the general public’s first taste of

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Philaelphia Common Man

Datz Has Interests of the Common Man at Heart

When A. Harold Datz made remarks following his acceptance of the PNC Achievement Award, he thanked people, talked about his life growing up and his commitment, passion and service to the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention and Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association’s board of directors. Having dedicated almost 28 and 30 years, respectively, to both of these groups, it is very difficult to summarize that level of commitment into a six-minute speech. Datz’s speech, funny and heartfelt, gave the audience only a small glimpse of who he really is. During the speech, Datz explained to colleagues not

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Laquila Italy

Bar Academy Visits Gran Caffè L’Aquila

A devastating earthquake in 2009 that destroyed Stefano Biasini’s and Michele Morelli’s restaurant in their city of L’Aquila, Italy was not enough to dampen the restaurateurs’ ambitions. In partnership with investor Riccardo Longo, they set their sights on Rittenhouse Square and have artfully been able to replicate an authentic Italian “great cafè.” Aptly named Gran Caffé L’Aquila, after their beloved and partially destroyed city, this gastronomical delight proved to be as authentic as its name. Gran Caffè L’Aquila features a multiregional Italian bar and café featuring assaggi (small plates), regional wines and beer, artisanal gelato and pastries made on the

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Learn from the Past

Rizzo: Learn From Past, But Move On

“It’s OK to look over your shoulder, but don’t stare.” That was how Judge Annette M. Rizzo began and ended her recent presentation to the Women in the Profession Committee at a jam-packed Philadelphia Bar Association Conference Center. Judge Rizzo advised the audience not to get stuck in the moment. The past is something to look back on and learn from, but she said to be careful not to get mired in it. The message that day was evident – Judge Rizzo quite clearly is focused on moving forward. After 16 years of proud service on the Philadelphia Court of

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Starting Your Own Firm

Panel: Consider Everything Before Starting Own Firm

Starting your own law practice is a risk and involves multiple considerations and layers. It can be a time-consuming and daunting undertaking, panelists at a recent Law Firm Laboratory program said. The days of putting up your own shingle without serious consideration of issues such as what type of office space, technology, marketing and financing strategies is ill advised and can lead to disastrous business consequences. Panelists at the Oct. 23 program included Lisa Kennedy, SBA Finance Group, PNC Bank, NA; Daniel J. Siegel, principal of the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC and president of Integrated Technology Services,

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Keep Technology Simple

Keep Technology Simple in Mediation, Panel Suggests

When using technology in mediation, attorneys should keep animation simple, be credible and not use technology just for the sake of using it, panelists told members of the Medical Legal Committee at a recent meeting. Panelists included Judge Sandra Mazer Moss (ret.), a distinguished neutral with the Dispute Resolution Institute; Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Lisa M. Rau; and Jerry P. Roscoe of JAMS The Resolution Experts. After viewing two different versions of three-dimensional renderings of two different procedures, panelists were asked for their opinions of the animations. Judge Moss was very impressed with the first one because it

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Launch Event

75 Attend WIP Newsletter Launch Event

The Women in the Profession Committee recognized the launch of its first newsletter on Sept. 15 with a celebration held at Reed Smith LLP. Nearly 80 people attended the party and showed their support for the brand-new publication, released in July. Both men and women, including Chancellor Rudolph Garcia and Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judges Ann M. Butchart and Marlene F. Lachman came out on a rainy night to support the new publication. The party was primarily given to honor the first contributors: Temple University Beasley School of Law Dean JoAnne A. Epps; Bar Association Vice Chancellor Kathleen D. Wilkinson; past Chancellors

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