Executive Message

Drinker Biddle was founded 169 years ago with a set of core values that remain the foundation of who we are as a firm. These values of commitment, collaboration, civility, integrity and excellence are central to how we pursue success, both as an institution and for our clients.

In 2017, the work and contributions of the people of Drinker Biddle were a demonstration of our values in action. Our Annual Report showcases how we again focused with intensity and commitment on our clients, our communities and our people—our formula for success.

Bringing our Strategic Plan initiatives to life has enabled us to address the needs of our clients as they navigate a complex and quickly changing business, legal and cultural landscape. Our cross-disciplinary teams of lawyers and professionals continued to achieve results across sophisticated litigation, business and regulatory matters.

On the home front, we could not be prouder as a firm to have reached the milestone of women now comprising half of the firm’s elected Managing Partners and Executive Management Team. We are striving to be a leader in the profession when it comes to advancing women into leadership roles to reflect the diversity of our clients and society. We also initiated and continued many programs to support and develop our people in their careers, because we know that retaining and developing top talent is critical to serving our clients and sustaining our future as an institution. This includes developing and promoting our next generation of leaders into significant client relationship and firm management roles.

In our communities, our lawyers and professionals continued our long history of dedicated pro bono work for causes that are important to them and to their communities. This year’s report features examples of organizations we are proud to support.

As in any other industry or profession, law firms need to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment and adopt new and enhanced management and service models to serve client objectives. Innovation is part of our DNA and one of the reasons that we are excited about the future. As a firm, we embrace change but, at the same time, we continue to cherish our values and the culture that we believe is critical to our identity and successfully representing our clients.

We thank all of our clients, friends, alumni and everyone else who is a part of the Drinker Biddle community. We are proud to be able to support and work with you each and every day.

Firm Leadership

We started off the 2018 fiscal year with a significant milestone in the history of our firm’s leadership.

At the conclusion of 2017, we elected seven new Managing Partners, bringing the representation of women on the firm’s governing body to 50 percent.

Additionally, Judith E. Reich and William M. Connolly were appointed Executive Partners and joined the Executive Management Team, which also includes Chairman and CEO Andrew C. Kassner and Chief Operating Officer Jane C. Koehl. The Executive Management Team is responsible for day-to-day firm management and is now equally represented by men and women.

The percentage of women now serving on Drinker Biddle’s most senior committees far exceeds the industry average of 25 percent reported by the 2017 National Association of Women Lawyers Survey on Promotion and Retention of Women in Law Firms and McKinsey’s 2017 Women in Law Firms report.

Strategic Objectives & Core Values

We challenge ourselves continuously to enhance our client service. Our Strategic Plan sets our course to provide clients with broader reach, new offerings and stronger relationships. The strategic objectives and core values listed below are the foundation from which we build a brighter future for our firm and address the needs of our clients.

Strategic Objectives

1
Expand our geographic reach and the depth of our core practices
2
Differentiate by industry
3
Pioneer new service offerings and enhance service delivery
4
Rigorously recruit, train and evaluate talent
5
Improve operational and financial performance
6
Conduct ourselves as one firm in all we do

Core Values

1
Commitment to similar professional beliefs and goals
2
Collaboration with mutual respect and fairness
3
Culture that values civility and diversity
4
Integrity that exceeds professional and ethical standards
5
Excellence in everything we do

Firm Highlights & Recognitions

We make it our business to be innovative, strategic advisers to our clients through our commitment to advance our skills, strive for excellence, and invest in our firm’s culture and community. Below is a brief by-the-numbers overview of 2017 highlights, and a snapshot of accolades from our peers, leading organizations and industry associations.

8
Newly promoted partners
5
Newly promoted counsel
19
New lateral partners/counsel
47
New associates
139
New staff colleagues
140+
Children attended Bring Your Child to Work Day
140+
CLE presentations delivered to clients
900+
Training and development classes
350+
Thought leadership articles published
175+
Client events
220+/$30+ Billion
Deals closed and value over last three years
33,000+
Active client matters
150+
Class action matters
8,800+
Active products liability matters
8,300+
Active intellectual property matters
24,200+/360+
Pro bono hours/active matters
Promotion of Women in the Law Award
Leader in 27 practice categories
70 lawyers ranked
50 Best Law Firms for Women
Pro Bono Award winner
Top Law Firm for LGBTQ Equality
3 practices and 4 lawyers recognized
Client Service A-Team 2018
13 lawyers recognized
Nationally ranked in 26 practice areas

Results & Practice Highlights

Whether it’s decertifying a class action, closing a multimillion-dollar transaction, or clearing a regulatory hurdle to pave the way for business success, we give our all to each and every engagement—from smaller matters to high-profile cases that have a lasting impact on the law and society. Below is a small sampling of our 2017 results.

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Supported Transformative Transactions for a Global Beverage Company
How does an international beverage company reshape its business from a low-growth, low-margin profile to a higher-margin, growth-oriented model? It embarks on a path of shrewd, strategic deal-making. In 2017, a team of lawyers from across practice groups represented long-standing client Cott Corporation in the $1.25 billion sale of its traditional beverage manufacturing business to Refresco Group, a publicly traded Dutch beverage company.

Our corporate lawyers had advised Cott on a series of acquisitions in the growing water and coffee spaces over the past few years. The sale of the carbonated soft drink and shelf-stable juice business completed the company’s transformation into a higher-margin home and office water delivery, coffee, tea and filtration business model.

To advise on the Refresco sale, our team of lawyers from across the firm worked together to navigate a full range of M&A issues, including financing, antitrust, employee benefits, environmental, real estate and tax. In addition, our intellectual property lawyers advised on licensing matters and handled the disposition of more than 1,800 trademarks, patents, copyrights, licenses and domain names.

This integrated approach demonstrated our ability to work seamlessly across disciplines to assist a sophisticated international company in a transformative transaction.
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Thwarted Putative Class and Collective Action Against Urban Outfitters
In 2013, five plaintiffs’ law firms joined forces to launch a putative class and collective action against our client Urban Outfitters. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that the lifestyle retailer had misclassified current and former department managers as exempt from state and federal overtime requirements and sought to recover, among other things, unpaid overtime pay, liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiffs sought to pursue their claims as a class action on behalf of department managers throughout New York state and as a collective action on behalf of department managers nationwide. At the outset of the lawsuit, over 1,400 current and former department managers received notice of the action.

While the putative class action was eventually abandoned after the discovery period, the plaintiffs pressed ahead with their effort to certify the case as a putative collective action.  

In September 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted our motion to decertify the collective action. The court held that the plaintiffs and opt-ins performed materially different duties with different levels of managerial authority and that, as a result, permitting the lawsuit to proceed as a collective action would not serve the interests of procedural economy or fairness.

The case has reduced a potential putative class of 1,470 employees and a potential opt-in class of 211 employees to 47 individual cases in 20 jurisdictions around the country. We are currently defending these cases.
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Advocated for TCPA Protections for the Retail Industry
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has given rise to thousands of lawsuits in courts across the country. The retail industry has been the target of many suits that challenge the sufficiency of consent or the scope of consent for marketing or informational phone calls or text messages. Many of these claims are lawyer-driven or manufactured by serial plaintiffs.

Many companies have dedicated significant resources to TCPA compliance and yet, in the current litigation environment, exposure still exists for even the most vigilant businesses. Many TCPA claims arise from calls or text messages to phone numbers that, unbeknownst to the callers, have been reassigned by carriers from consumers who had provided the requisite consent to be contacted to consumers who have not.

Our TCPA Team has successfully defended leading businesses in TCPA litigation and has also been a leader in advocating for changes to the law.

We recently addressed the D.C. Circuit’s decision partially striking the FCC’s July 2015 Declaratory Ruling and Order that broadly expanded the TCPA’s reach and put liability for calls to reassigned phone numbers on the shoulders of the unaware callers.

Our TCPA Team represents the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), a leading trade association with more than 200 retail members, in TCPA-related proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission. We deeply value our relationship with RILA and are proud to be its partner.

Our team is playing a leading role in advocating for a comprehensive database of reassigned telephone numbers and an accompanying safe harbor for companies that scrub their call or text lists against this database. We maintain that the FCC, which is going back to the drawing board on reassigned number issues following the D.C. Circuit’s ruling, should determine that TCPA liability should not exist for calls or texts to reassigned numbers altogether. If that is not the FCC’s ultimate ruling, then a database and safe harbor are critically important to ensure fairness and equity, and to curtail the explosion of frivolous and often manufactured lawsuits under the statute.

RILA’s response to the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry received positive attention among retailers, as well as from companies across industries. On March 22, 2018, the FCC adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to consider a range of options for commercial and public databases for reassigned numbers. This is a promising step and we will continue to advocate for the interests of the retail industry and other businesses in this proceeding. 

Our team continues to be at the forefront of defending against TCPA claims and advising retailers and other businesses on complying with the statute and mitigating risk. We are closely monitoring the courts and the FCC for updates on this issue and will keep clients apprised of new developments.
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Assisted Longtime Health Care Client with Milestone Transaction
Both our Health Care Group and our Education Team routinely work across practice areas to deliver exceptional results for clients. Working together, our health care and education lawyers advised Thomas Jefferson University on its combination with Philadelphia University. 

Our team represented Jefferson on all aspects of the transaction, including negotiation of the definitive agreements, due diligence, and corporate and regulatory requirements. In order to consummate the combination of the two universities, required notices were provided or consents obtained from the U.S. Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, approximately 30 programmatic postsecondary accrediting agencies, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference and the NCAA. We also assisted with obtaining HSR clearance from the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Now operating as Thomas Jefferson University, the comprehensive undergraduate and graduate postsecondary educational institution delivers high-impact education in a wide variety of areas such as health, science, architecture, design, fashion, business and engineering. 

We have also served as lead transaction counsel for Jefferson’s prior health care acquisitions and affiliations including Abington Health, Aria Health, Kennedy Health and Magee Rehabilitation.
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Delivered Results in Hamilton Lane’s IPO
An IPO is a game-changing life cycle event for any company. Hamilton Lane, a leading alternative investment management firm with more than $332 billion in total assets, relied on a team led by our Corporate and Securities Group when it went public in 2017.

The IPO raised approximately $203.2 million in proceeds. Our corporate and capital markets lawyers advised on all legal aspects of the IPO, including securities law compliance, corporate governance, deal structuring and tax matters. Lawyers from our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group provided advice on structuring equity compensation, and our Investment Management Group assisted with investment adviser regulatory matters.

We have long counseled Hamilton Lane with respect to a host of corporate and investment management matters and deeply understand its growth strategy. Our longstanding relationship with clients gives us a running start in matters where we need to quickly grasp the key issues at hand.

Our Corporate and Securities Group routinely handles high-dollar and complex capital-raising transactions, and its seasoned practitioners provide practical advice on ongoing issues, including periodic reporting and disclosure matters under the federal securities laws and NYSE and NASDAQ regulations.
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Shut Down Whistleblower Case with Effective Use of Advanced Analytics, Saved Client Thousands
A potential whistleblower case can be a long, exhausting process for a company and often leads to a settlement before even getting down to the truth. When a fired senior executive at a publicly traded company threatened a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that the company falsified financial reports to the public, our lawyers were called to handle the case.

Our Tritura Fact Development Team and the Information Governance and eDiscovery Group immediately went to work on an internal investigation. By using advanced analytics and machine learning, our team was able to quickly analyze more than 1 million emails, thousands of complex financial reports and numerous other documents to develop a timeline and track the story as it unfolded.

In just seven days, by using custom-designed algorithms to analyze 1.1 million documents, the team was able to prove with certainty not only that the former executive’s claims of accounting wrongdoing were false, but that the executive had falsified documents and fabricated evidence. Our team was able to shut down the case before it even started, saving the client an estimated $270,000 in legal fees.

Rather than going through the traditional approach for discovery, our lawyers are able to quickly master the facts of the case and gain a strategic advantage for our clients. Our team effectively negotiates and defends iterative, proportional discovery protocols for clients across a variety of industries that significantly reduce the burden of e-discovery and include protective mechanisms to limit the scope of preservation and discovery to safeguard privileged or protected information. We continually evaluate the latest search-and-review technologies and their applications, and can assist clients in effecting less expensive and more efficient compliant document reviews.
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Made a Historic Site More Sustainable Through Microgrid Technology
A microgrid is an innovative energy solution that is growing in popularity due to its economic efficiency, resilience and environmental performance. As plans unfolded for redevelopment of the historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center Campus site in Washington, D.C., efficiency and sustainability became key drivers and a microgrid the vehicle to achievement.

Our Environment and Energy Team represented the master developer for redevelopment of the former medical center site, in connection with the third-party development, financing and operation of an electric and thermal microgrid to serve The Parks at Walter Reed. Coming into the deal post-RFP, we successfully structured, negotiated, papered and closed the transaction by creating a novel microgrid concession agreement–based structure.

The Parks at Walter Reed is a 66-acre mixed-use site and is the largest land redevelopment project in northwest D.C. The microgrid will provide reliable, sustainable energy services to up to 3.1 million square feet of mixed-use real estate, which will cut costs for new and redeveloped properties and allow the campus to be more energy-independent and resilient. The microgrid is currently under construction.

Our team has a strong focus on microgrids, with particular experience in their development, finance, operations and regulatory treatment. We advocate for the microgrid sector as founders, board members and counsel to the Microgrid Resources Coalition, a consortium of leading owners, operators, developers, suppliers and investors working to advance microgrids as energy resources.
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Launched Transformative Interval Funds for Leading Asset Manager
Interval funds and other alternative registered fund structures have become increasingly popular as fund managers seek ways to offer less liquid investments that provide retail investors access to strategies such as private credit.

Because of their complexity and innovative nature, these funds require a deep understanding of the regulatory hurdles when it comes to fund formation, governance and compliance.

When FS Investments, a rapidly growing asset management firm, sought to diversify its existing investment solutions with interval funds, they turned to our investment management lawyers.

Throughout the accelerated process, our team leveraged relationships with the SEC and other advisers to provide practical and responsive counsel. The successful launch enabled FS Investments to create a new venture outside of its primary role as a business development company manager.

Our team continues to work with FS Investments on other investment strategies.
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Filed Brief That Reduced Risk of Pension Claims Against Faith-Based Organizations in Pivotal Supreme Court Case
In a unanimous decision last June, the Supreme Court settled an issue that impacts thousands of faith-based hospitals, schools, nursing homes and other organizations. At issue was whether pension plans established by religiously affiliated organizations are entitled to the “church plan” exemption from ERISA, or whether the exemption is only available when a so-called “steeple church” established the pension plan.

Lawyers from our Litigation and ERISA teams filed an amicus brief on behalf of several clients and in support of the religiously affiliated petitioners in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton (2017).

In the brief, our team argued that the exemption applies to all pension plans maintained by church-affiliated organizations, not just those that were established by “steeple churches,” and that the appellate courts’ attempts to exclude these plans from the exemption reflected “a fundamental misunderstanding of how many churches are structured and perform their ministries.”

The Court concurred with our arguments, holding that such plans qualify as “church plans” regardless of who established them. The outcome of the case reversed decisions in the Third, Seventh and Ninth Circuits.
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Represented the Royal Thai Government in Countervailing Duty Case
Undoubtedly, you have heard U.S. companies complain that some foreign governments unfairly assist their manufacturers by providing subsidies. This can result in what is known as a countervailing duty investigation. 

In June 2017, several U.S. domestic producers of citric acid filed a countervailing duty case alleging that imports of citric acid from Thailand received countervailable subsidies from Thai government authorities.  

Lawyers in our Customs and International Trade team represented the Royal Thai Government, along with one of its foreign exporters. Countervailing duties cases are complex on many levels.  In order to best advocate for our clients, our team needed to have a deep understanding not only of the U.S. Department of Commerce (the responsible U.S. agency), but also of the relevant industry; foreign jurisdiction; political, economic and cultural issues; and perhaps most importantly, the applicable Royal Thai Government agencies involved.

Our experience in this area allowed us to work seamlessly with several agencies within the Royal Thai Government and coordinate with Thai producers to gather the significant documentation and information needed to prove that the government provided only de minimis subsidies.

Our team achieved a favorable outcome for our client when the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a negative preliminary determination. Because of the successful outcome, the Royal Thai Government has hired us for a new countervailing duty case.
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Developed Innovative Tools for Sharing Life Sciences Data
The vast benefits of Big Data come with big challenges for the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries. Besides dealing with the sheer volume of data generated daily in the modern laboratory, companies also need to address how to access, share, and gain insights from laboratory and other scientific data, all while maintaining and ensuring data integrity.

Since 2013, we have counseled Allotrope Foundation, a consortium of global pharmaceutical companies, on its development of a “Laboratory Framework” to address the data management problems facing the entire scientific community. The Allotrope Framework has been designed to address the root cause of these problems (the lack of contextual, error-free metadata and the multitude of proprietary file formats) so that standardized and consistent metadata are stored along with the data in an open, non-proprietary file format, all while addressing the data integrity and compliance issues faced by the pharmaceutical industry.

The Framework solution created by Allotrope has been developed in collaboration and consultation with vendors, academicians and government agencies and provides the scientific community not only the standardization required for promoting data integrity and exchange, but also the programming tools to consistently implement those standards in the software utilized in the capture and storage of scientific data. Adoption of the Allotrope Framework by both end-users and solution providers will revolutionize the way scientific data is captured and utilized in the future.

In 2017, Allotrope’s vision began to be realized with the public release of the first two components of the Framework: the Allotrope Data Format and the Allotrope Foundation Ontologies, which provide the standardized file format and metadata vocabulary components to the solution. Allotrope Foundation members are leveraging this new technology to improve their data workflows and working with their partners to develop innovative, commercial technologies. BioIT World named Allotrope Foundation the recipient of the 2017 Best Practices Award for Knowledge Management in recognition of Allotrope’s achievement of this major milestone.

As Allotrope Foundation and its partners continue their work expanding and enhancing the Allotrope Framework, our team will continue to support their endeavors (along with other consortia working on collaborative scientific research and innovation that will advance the pharmaceutical industry) through legal counsel, project management, strategic planning, data governance and stakeholder engagement provided by our team of lawyers, life sciences professionals and project managers.
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Assisted with Private Equity Firm’s $360 Million Cross-Border Sale
In August 2017, private equity firm Milestone Partners completed the sale of its Canada-based portfolio company Precision Partners Holding Company to AK Steel for approximately $360 million. Our team represented Milestone in the transaction, which is one of its largest exits.

We acted as lead deal counsel for Milestone, coordinating multiple legal teams across multiple jurisdictions. The transaction represented an enormous success for Milestone and was critical to achieving its long-term institutional business plan. It was also highly complicated, involving an unusual and innovative exit structure to minimize client risk and maximize the ability to achieve closing.

Working across the table from a deeply experienced public company acquirer called for a host of resources from within our firm to provide advice on and manage a highly active sale process and, ultimately, a massive, time-compressed due diligence and negotiation process. We leveraged our full-service platform to provide Milestone with advice on multiple transactional issues, including financing, antitrust, tax, employee benefits, real estate and environmental regulation.

Our team also represented Milestone in its initial 2013 acquisition of Precision and subsequently represented Precision in numerous financings, reorganizations and add-on acquisitions, including multiple facility expansions and a key acquisition of a significant competitor.
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Cleared the Path to Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Communications Networks
Hurricane Maria’s powerful winds and heavy rainfall caused massive damage to Puerto Rico’s broadcast networks, overturning more than 90 percent of the island’s broadcast and wireless companies’ towers. In September 2017, all but a handful of stations on the island went off the air.

For broadcasters in Puerto Rico, rebuilding would be costly and, in the long term, redundant. As part of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) effort to auction spectrum for wireless uses, these broadcasters had already planned to construct facilities to move to different spectrum bands, a process called repacking. Originally, the repacking effort was set to take place over two years. If the FCC didn’t fast-track its repacking timeline, Puerto Rico’s affected broadcasters would have to rebuild not once, but twice.

Lawyers from our Telecommunications, Media and Technology Team worked with our clients Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting Corporation and Telecinco, Inc., along with other broadcasters in Puerto Rico, to petition the FCC to accelerate the repacking timeline so that the broadcasters could use the funds originally set aside for the repacking of the television stations to reconstruct their new channels in 2018.

The FCC ultimately issued a plan that incorporated our results-oriented solution, and stations were able to return to operation much earlier than would otherwise have been possible.

Clients rely on our lawyers to create results-oriented solutions. Because we regularly advocate for communications companies on FCC rulemaking, including wireless regulation and spectrum management, we were able to help these stations rebuild.
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Helped Combat No-Injury Class Actions in New Jersey
The past few years witnessed an outbreak of no-injury class actions seeking statutory penalties under the New Jersey Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA). Most of the plaintiffs in these cases challenged the wording of terms of use and other customer-facing documents, and did not allege that they had ever read those documents, let alone that they had ever been harmed or affected by them in any meaningful way. This resulted in a series of appeals—in both state and federal courts—regarding who qualifies as an “aggrieved consumer” with standing to seek penalties under the statute.

On April 16, 2018, the New Jersey Supreme Court resolved the issue once and for all in its decision in David Spade v. Select Comfort Corp., confirming that a consumer is not “aggrieved” if he or she has not “suffered some form of harm as a result of the defendant’s conduct.” The question of what “aggrieved consumer” means under the TCCWNA had been certified to the New Jersey Supreme Court by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 

Notably, this central part of the court’s decision adopts an argument that—as Chief Justice Rabner noted at oral argument—our Class Actions Team developed in an amicus brief filed on behalf of the Retail Litigation Center, which represents the interests of the retail industry in important judicial and regulatory proceedings. 

Our Class Actions Team continues to vigorously represent the retail industry in important regulatory and judicial proceedings across the country.
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Convened Thought Leaders to Impact Health Policy, Programs and Outcomes
Building coalitions and working collaboratively to advance advocacy priorities are key strategies that lead to successful policy change. Organizations and businesses often have issues, topics, projects and other endeavors that require a third-party facilitator who can convene and direct sessions and discussions with stakeholders and thought leaders.

The District Policy Group facilitated an all-day roundtable that was co-hosted by the Alliance for Aging Research and UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging. The roundtable focused on mental health and older adults, and our role included preparing panelists and speakers, helping to design the program, leading discussions, and serving as a reviewer of the meeting compendium. The meeting covered topics including mental health issues accompanying dementia, depression and suicide; serious mental illness; and substance use disorders, and also included an interactive discussion on federal policy, research, and programming recommendations.

More than 50 representatives from academia, patient advocacy organizations, health care provider and medical professional societies, research entities, and the federal government attended the meeting. The thought leadership generated from this meeting will be published in the June 2018 issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The District Policy Group has long-standing experience and a record of success with planning and executing meetings, policy discussions, strategic planning sessions, and other gatherings on specific topics or with a particular goal or outcome in mind. Our team understands the important role of a meeting moderator and regularly helps clients plan and hold important gatherings of their members, constituents, leaders, volunteers, stakeholders and community partners. We manage all aspects of such meetings, including agenda development, logistical planning, advance interviews and other preparation with staff and participants, discussion moderation, consensus building, and drafting of follow-up meeting notes, proceedings, and white papers.
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Represented Leading Financial Advisory Firm in DOL Investigation
In 2017, our DOL Investigations Team was asked to represent a leading financial advisory firm in connection with what could have been a very problematic investigation regarding the fees received by the third-party advisers to our client’s 401(k) plan.

Within a tight timeline, our team worked diligently to provide every document requested by the DOL and prepared the appropriate fiduciaries for their DOL interviews. During the investigation, our team was able to utilize contacts within the DOL to replace an unresponsive investigator with a new one.

Our lawyers were able to close the investigation with no findings 15 days before the end of the fiscal year. The closure of a DOL investigation without any findings, and in such a short time period, is a very rare result. 

Our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group works with plan sponsors as well as advisers who are being targeted during DOL investigations. We have a strong team that includes former DOL investigators as well as a former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits and former head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
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Represented Affiliated Debtors in Successful Chapter 11 Case
As market forces reshape the energy sector, companies must adapt to remain successful and grow. Our corporate restructuring lawyers, including a team from our newly opened Dallas office, represented two affiliated debtors in the oil industry in their Chapter 11 cases in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Immediately following commencement of the cases, the debtors began and concluded successful negotiations with their plan sponsor, SEACOR LB Holdings LLC, for the formation of a joint venture into which Montco Offshore would contribute substantially all of its assets. Following the proposal of its plan of reorganization, the debtors and their key constituencies agreed to mediation and vigorously negotiated certain modifications to the plan, whereby all allowed claims against each debtor will be paid in full over time. Our representation resulted in the confirmation of the plan, which received overwhelming support from each class of claims entitled to vote on it.

The plan includes a liquidation for Montco Oilfield Contractors, LLC. The plan further provides for the establishment of a liquidating trust, which will be funded initially with all remaining cash at Montco Offshore, Inc. after payment of certain claims, all remaining cash at Montco Oilfield Contractors, LLC, and additional cash in the amount of $500,000. In addition, until all allowed claims against the debtors have been paid in full, reorganized Montco Offshore, Inc. will pay to the liquidating trust 100 percent of its net earnings from the joint venture.

Our lawyers are adept in providing a full range of services to companies, financial institutions, and investors in the energy sector and all other industries, helping our clients navigate complex transactions in restructurings and reorganizations in and out of court.
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Assisted with $1.2 Billion Acquisition to Expand Product Line
Legrand is a global specialist in electrical and digital building infrastructures that expanded its portfolio of well-known product lines to service clients globally.

Our well-respected M&A team has helped Legrand with several high-profile transactions, including its $1.2 billion acquisition of Milestone AV Technologies, a leading designer and manufacturer of branded audiovisual (AV) products, in 2017.

The acquisition of Milestone AV Technologies was an important one for Legrand, allowing for the combination of Milestone AV Technologies with Legrand’s existing Middle Atlantic Products business line under the AV division of Legrand. The transaction further strengthened Legrand’s positions in digital infrastructure, in particular in the AV infrastructure and power segment in the U.S., which Legrand considers a high-value area. Milestone AV Technologies is viewed as a leader in commercial and residential AV mounts, as well as in projector screens. 

Our team advised Legrand on all legal aspects of the transaction, including deal structuring and negotiation, as well as real estate, environmental, employment, employee benefit and tax issues.

In recent years we have assisted Legrand with additional acquisitions that have expanded its business into high-performance lighting solutions and products, and intelligent power distribution units for datacenters.
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Advanced Science and Regulation in the Life Sciences Industry
Our Life Sciences Consortia Management Team worked on a range of cutting-edge issues on behalf of the International Consortium for Innovation & Quality in Pharmaceutical Development (IQ). IQ is an association of more than 40 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with a mission of advancing science and technology to augment the capability of member companies to develop transformational solutions that benefit patients, regulators and the broader R&D community.

IQ fosters the exchange of ideas within and across technical disciplines including chemistry manufacturing and control; preclinical safety; drug metabolism; clinical pharmacology quality; and the reduction, refinement and replacement of animal testing. IQ has regularly interacted with governmental bodies around the world, other pharmaceutical and biotech associations, and academic researchers.

Building on its progress, in October 2017 the consortium brought together thought leaders from the life sciences industry and academic researchers for the 7th annual IQ Symposium to contribute to the collective thought leadership around life-saving technologies and innovation. Topics discussed included stem-cell therapy, nanotechnology in early-stage disease detection, CRISPR and the human genome/gene therapy, patient centricity and digital health in clinical trials, and attracting and engaging younger generations in pharmaceutical development.
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Assisted Real Estate Company with E-Commerce Growth
As e-commerce continues to grow rapidly, space to store inventory in order to ship items is in high demand. In 2017, our team represented Matrix Development Group, a full-service real estate investment and development company, to develop a $320 million fulfillment center to be occupied by a global e-commerce leader. Matrix Global Logistics Park is a massive, 2.4 million-square-foot, state-of-the-art warehouse complex in Staten Island, N.Y.

We’ve also handled the development of a new 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center and a separate industrial project in New Jersey, the development of one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land in New York City, and a matter in connection with the sale of a portfolio of industrial properties located on the Arthur Kill waterfront in New Jersey.

Matrix, which has become one of the largest mixed‑use developers in the Northeast, has executed on more than 35 million square feet in industrial developments. Our team supports Matrix in significant and complex commercial warehouse deals, including lease negotiations, joint venture structure and agreements and land acquisitions.

Our team includes more than 40 lawyers located in key U.S. real estate markets who provide clients with complex, resource-efficient support on a wide range of projects.
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Defended Client Against Whistleblower Allegations
In 2017, our litigation team was called upon to defend a client who stood accused of violations of the False Claims Act’s whistleblower provisions and the National Defense Authorization Act.

Our client, a security contractor for the U.S. State Department and other federal entities, had terminated an employee who then alleged that his termination was an act of retaliation for his having reported what he claimed were dishonest billing practices. The employee sought damages in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for lost wages and benefits, compensatory damages for emotional distress and loss of reputation and punitive damages.

Our team prepared a comprehensive defense of our client, analyzing the case in light of the two distinct statutes under which the plaintiff brought suit, and succeeded in having all claims against the contractor dismissed.

The district court ruled that our client had successfully demonstrated that it had legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons for terminating the plaintiff’s employment, and that the former employee had failed to provide sufficient evidence that the stated reasons for the firing were pretextual.
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Obtained Summary Judgment for United Airlines in Labor and Employment Case
Our Labor and Employment Group represented United Airlines in a case filed in the Northern District of Illinois by a former long-term employee who claimed that United unlawfully terminated his employment.

In the months prior to his discharge, the plaintiff had lodged multiple complaints of discrimination internally with United and had filed charges of discrimination and retaliation externally with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In his lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that he was fired by United due to his race and age and/or in retaliation for his complaints of discrimination. During discovery, in addition to trying to prove that the decision to terminate his employment was motivated by his recent discrimination complaints, the plaintiff sought to establish his race discrimination claim by pointing to four employees outside of his race who he claimed had engaged in workplace conduct that was similar to his own, but were not similarly disciplined.    

Our team prepared a comprehensive defense of the claims and succeeded in having all claims against United dismissed. In response to the team’s opening brief in support of United’s summary judgment motion, the plaintiff withdrew his age discrimination claim. With respect to the remaining claims, our team convinced the district court that the plaintiff had been lawfully terminated for workplace policy violations and obtained summary judgment on both the race discrimination and retaliation claims.
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Continued Success in one of the Most Prominent Mass Torts in the U.S.
While serving as National Coordinating Counsel for one of the largest mass tort cases in the country, members of our Products Liability Group have continued to secure several key victories on behalf of a major pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Following a California trial court’s significant decision in favor of our clients to grant summary judgment dismissing plaintiffs’ state tort law claims based on federal law pre-emption, plaintiffs requested that the court reconsider its decision based on a recent Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held that pre-emption was a factual question for the jury to decide. The trial court reaffirmed its prior decision that plaintiffs’ claims were pre-empted as a matter of law and entered final judgment in favor of our clients. The closely watched result has impacted more than 2,500 active plaintiffs in this litigation.  

In addition to this significant victory, summary judgment has been granted in numerous courts, including California state court and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas; a motion to dismiss 53 out-of-state plaintiffs was granted in the Eastern District of Missouri; and members of our Products Liability Group defeated an appeal filed by a plaintiff in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, just to name a few of our successes.
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Invalidated Patent Claims Asserted Against Vital Pharmaceuticals
Vital Pharmaceuticals, a Florida-based maker of sports nutrition products, faced a potential business threat when a patent infringement lawsuit was brought by a well-known supplement-making rival.

Our patent litigation lawyers succeeded in obtaining a favorable decision from the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of California. After a bench trial, the court ruled in favor of Vital by holding that all 17 of the plaintiff’s asserted patent claims were invalid. Subsequently, the court ruled that Vital had proven that the case was “exceptional” and was entitled to recover its attorneys’ fees. The opinion stated that the claims were “frivolous,” and designed to “extract nuisance-value settlements.”

Our patent litigators have secured victories in the litigation of complex and sophisticated patent infringement and validity matters on both the plaintiff and defense side. Many of our patent litigators have the added advantage of technical backgrounds that enhance our understanding of our clients’ products and are adept at conveying complex concepts to the courts.
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Supported Health Care Merger That Created $11 Billion Health System
Complex, transformative health system mergers and affiliations require a resourceful legal team with the skills and industry knowledge to advise on every aspect of the transaction. As one of the largest national health care practices, we use our experience and understanding of health care governance, operations, law and policy in a collaborative way to deliver results.

In 2017, Drinker Biddle’s Health Care Team advised Advocate Health Care, the largest health system in Illinois, in its affiliation with Wisconsin-based Aurora Health Care through the use of a new not-for-profit, tax-exempt parent corporation. Our team across several offices provided integrated, practical counsel on the full range of transactional issues, including governance structuring, federal income tax exemption, regulatory compliance, antitrust, employee benefits and executive compensation.

The combined health system, Advocate Aurora Health, is the 10th largest not-for-profit, integrated health care system in the U.S., with an annual revenue of approximately $11 billion. It serves nearly 3 million patients through 27 hospitals and more than 500 other health care sites, and employs more than 3,300 physicians and nearly 70,000 associates and caregivers.
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Secured a Series of Victories in Inter Partes Review Proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board
When technology companies are targeted by non-practicing entities, they need a capable team that can litigate in the courts as well as challenge validity in the Patent Office. In this case, in connection with defending a large electronics company in an action brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, our team successfully launched a collateral attack against the asserted patents in the Patent Office.

Using the relatively recent inter partes review (IPR) proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), our team, in some cases in collaboration with other co-defendants, prepared and filed numerous IPR petitions.

Ultimately, the PTAB issued 13 separate Final Written Decisions, finding unpatentable 166 claims, including all the asserted claims of four patents in the litigation.

This case is an example of the creative and effective approaches that our IP team can develop – and successfully execute – to protect the important business interests of our clients.

Diversity & Inclusion

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION STRATEGIC PLAN

In 2017, our Diversity and Inclusion Committee held a Diverse Lawyers’ Retreat, attended by firm leadership, to discuss key diversity priorities at the firm. The retreat provided attendees with great insights on both challenges and opportunities for improving our programs and work culture. Drawing on these insights, we formulated a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan to implement the following priorities:

  • Establish diversity mentoring groups
  • Develop processes to increase diverse associate retention
  • Develop people management skills and training
  • Sponsor diverse attorneys
  • Support industry and firm-wide events
  • Increase diverse lateral hiring

Implicit Bias Training

Implicit bias, the attitudes or stereotypes that unconsciously influence our actions and decisions, can have a profound effect on career advancement, particularly for women and diverse lawyers. Recognizing that this bias exists is the first step in mitigating it, and Drinker Biddle is committed to having an open and honest dialogue with colleagues on how to address it.

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee completed the development of implicit bias training with the support of renowned expert Verna Myers. Training is taking place in all of our offices.

Diversity Sponsorship Pilot Program

In 2017, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee established the groundwork for a Diversity Sponsorship Program to be piloted in 2018. The diversity sponsorship pilot will create a formal sponsorship program that will pair diverse associates and junior partners with more senior lawyers. The year-long program has a checklist of requirements for the sponsor and protégé to complete. We are optimistic that the program will plant the seeds necessary to make sponsorship for all lawyers a natural part of our firm’s culture.

Sponsorships

We are proud to sponsor and participate in major events that address diversity and inclusion within the legal community and in the wider business community. Examples from 2017 include:

Women’s Leadership

230+ Women Attorneys
100%
of our committees have female members and 33 percent are led by women
50%
of our managing partners are women
43%
of new partners since 2014 have been women
25%
of our regional partners in charge are women
25%
of our compensation committee is composed of women
35%
of practice group leadership is composed of women

Our Women’s Leadership Committee worked with firm leadership on several new policies and benefits in 2017 to support the firm’s goal to attract, retain and develop women lawyers and leaders. These policies and benefits include:

  • An update to the firm’s Alternative Work Arrangement policies for non-partner lawyers and senior professionals. The flex-schedule policies codify the firm’s commitment to supporting lawyers who would like to utilize alternative work arrangements, while still providing them the opportunity for advancement.
  • Publication of the Parental Leave Mentoring Toolkit, a one-stop guide to the firm’s parental and family leave benefits, as well as best practices for client hand-off and return to work. Plans are also in the works for a companion mentoring program, which would be open to all attorneys on a voluntary basis.
  • Milk Stork, a breast milk delivery service that allows traveling mothers to ship breast milk home overnight. This benefit is available to all attorneys and staff traveling on Drinker Biddle business and is fully paid for by the firm.

Best Law Firms for Women List

In 2017, the firm was named to the prestigious 50 Best Law Firms for Women list published by Working Mother. This ranking recognizes our firm for its exceptional family-friendly policies and career and business development initiatives, which support both the retention of women in law and opportunities for women attorneys to advance in leadership positions. It is the fifth time Drinker Biddle has earned this honor.

MENTORSHIP AND SPONSORSHIP

Creating a more inclusive environment that supports the advancement of women and diverse attorneys requires everyone to work together toward this goal. The firm’s partners have pledged to foster opportunities for attorneys through lead roles in deals or cases, introductions to key clients, mentorship, invitations to business development events with prospective clients, and the recruitment of women and diverse partner candidates to the firm. Internal business development coaching programs, rainmaking forums and other initiatives that are open to all female attorneys are also a regular part of this effort. The events provide an opportunity for lawyers to network and discuss career development.

WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE SUMMITS

The Women’s Leadership Committee held summits in Philadelphia and San Francisco, which brought together women lawyers from across our offices for professional development and networking. The committee has built on the success of last year’s meetings and has planned a 2018 retreat.

NATIONAL SUMMIT ON ACHIEVING LONG-TERM CAREERS FOR WOMEN IN LAW

Chairman Andrew Kassner, executive partner Judith Reich and managing partner Cheryl Orr attended the American Bar Association and Harvard Law School’s National Summit on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in Law. The invitation-only event focused on the issues and career dynamics facing women lawyers who have been in practice for more than 20 years, and also discussed best practices to retain senior women lawyers. The firm was a gold sponsor of the summit. In the upcoming year, the firm will also participate in the Diversity Lab Law Hackathon, a joint program of law firms and corporations focused on developing new programs on diversity and inclusion within the legal profession.

WORKPLACE HARASSMENT TRAINING

In 2017, the firm renewed its commitment to ensuring a safe work environment that is free from harassment. We reinforced and developed training around the firm’s equal employment opportunity and anti-harassment policies. Training is taking place in all of our offices.

Pro Bono

In 2017, we continued to build upon our legacy of crucial and varied pro bono work. When the Travelers Assistance Project needed on-the-ground support at O’Hare International Airport following the president’s travel ban, we were there. On behalf of the thousands of people in North Carolina with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who are at risk of institutionalization, we filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the state constitution and statute that bars discrimination and segregation based on disability. We argued for a strong, modern, neutralist interpretation of the church-state provisions of the state constitution in an important case before the New Jersey Supreme Court. We continue to represent a putative class of hundreds of students with disabilities in the School District of Philadelphia whose parents have limited English proficiency and cannot participate meaningfully in deciding what’s best for their children. These cases are just a sample of the great public interest work our lawyers do every day.

We are so proud of everyone at our firm who has donated both time and talent to these important causes. We are also extraordinarily grateful to the nonprofit organizations that enable us to do a lot of this important work. In this year’s Annual Report we wanted to go behind the scenes and take an in-depth look at a few of our long-standing pro bono partners and their work on the front lines of social justice causes.

Please click on the icons below to learn more about our partner organizations

Litigation, advocacy and community organization to prevent and alleviate poverty.

Founded: 1969

No. of staff: 15, including nine attorneys

“Approximately 60 percent of our work is class action lawsuits, such as the federal lawsuit against the Philadelphia School District on behalf of students with disabilities whose parents have limited English proficiency. … We simply would not have been able to tackle a case of that size without the assistance of [Drinker Biddle partners] Paul Saint-Antoine and Chanda Miller.”

A big-picture view of widespread inequity

Since its founding as an affiliate organization of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Public Interest Law Center’s mission has been to advance the civil, social and economic rights of communities in the Philadelphia region facing discrimination, inequality and poverty. Its mandate is intentionally broad, touching on employment, environmental justice, health care, housing and education. “Our work focuses on the things that people need,” said Jennifer Clarke, the Law Center’s Executive Director. “We can’t just fight to improve access to education if our clients have nowhere to live, so a lot of what we do is intersectional.” Protecting voting rights is critically linked to everything in the Law Center’s mission. The Law Center is behind the high-profile lawsuit that successfully challenged Pennsylvania’s congressional map, which it contends was manipulated to entrench one party in Congress at the expense of the opposing party’s voters. In February 2018, the state Supreme Court held that the map violates the state constitution’s guarantee that “elections shall be free and equal” and ordered that it be redrawn.

Partnership is Key

The Law Center relies on contributions from firms, individuals and foundations and receives no government funding. Outside partnerships are also crucial to the Law Center’s model—although its staff attorneys are deeply familiar with the issues, and have the experience to litigate and advocate, they don’t always have the resources. With a limited staff and incredibly complex cases, it’s extremely helpful to the Law Center to have volunteer lawyers who can step up and provide court representation, as well as assist with the drafting of briefings and motions. “Working with firms like Drinker Biddle is the only way we can do what we do,” said Clarke. “Approximately 60 percent of our work is class action lawsuits, such as the federal lawsuit against the Philadelphia School District on behalf of students with disabilities whose parents have limited English proficiency. … We simply would not have been able to tackle a case of that size without the assistance of [Drinker Biddle partners] Paul Saint-Antoine and Chanda Miller.”

Committed to Changing the World

“After 11 years, I still love my job and am so proud of the work we do,” said Clarke. “We have the most incredible staff, who are fully immersed in what is happening to disadvantaged communities across the region … It is our job to understand those issues and how best to tackle them. Every day, we do our part to try to make the world a fairer place.”

Non-partisan leader in human rights and immigration law—protecting individuals and advocating for reform.

Founded: 1979

No. of staff: 89, including 40 attorneys

Drinker Biddle attorneys are currently working on 12 active asylum cases referred by NIJC, including five that arose out of an asylum clinic hosted at our offices in 2017. Last summer, a team of Drinker Biddle lawyers assisted in-house counsel at United Airlines to complete a successful hearing for a Mexican asylum seeker, who fled to escape her abusive husband. The firm has also hosted a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) clinic in conjunction with NIJC and Exelon, at which 30 DACA applications were completed.

There is no typical immigration case

Since its inception, the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) has advocated for and represented people from more than 90 countries. With the help of a network of nearly 1,500 pro bono attorneys, it provides low-cost or free legal services to more than 10,000 immigrants and their families annually. NIJC’s oldest – and largest – pro bono program is its asylum project. Last year, NIJC’s pro bono attorneys obtained asylum for more than 100 adults and children, including a Syrian doctor, a transgender Russian woman, and a young girl from El Salvador who came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied child. In December 2017, Drinker Biddle partner Dave Sudzus and associate Jeanna Palmer Gunville secured asylum for a client who had been an active participant in opposition politics in his home country and was tortured by government-sponsored paramilitary groups and police forces.

Pro Bono Support is Essential

Before agreeing to accept an asylum case and referring it to pro bono counsel, NIJC determines whether the individual has a viable asylum claim. If NIJC agrees to accept the case, it is committing to representing the individual in his/her asylum case whether or not it can secure pro bono representation. Because of escalating demand, NIJC’s in-house caseload has dramatically increased in recent years, forcing it to turn away asylum seekers due to a lack of resources. Thus, there is a particular need for pro bono attorneys to represent asylum seekers, and applicants are five times more likely to prevail with attorney representation. “In addition to being incredibly rewarding, these cases also make for great trial practice,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, NIJC’s Executive Director, adding that representation of an asylum seeker in court counts toward federal bar requirements because hearings are conducted in an adversarial proceeding.

Drinker Biddle attorneys are currently working on 12 active asylum cases referred by NIJC, including five that arose out of an asylum clinic hosted at our offices in 2017. Last summer, a team of Drinker Biddle lawyers assisted in-house counsel at United Airlines to complete a successful hearing for a Mexican asylum seeker, who fled to escape her abusive husband. The firm has also hosted a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) clinic in conjunction with NIJC and Exelon, at which 30 DACA applications were completed.

“Demonstrating that persecution is on account of a protected characteristic is probably the most challenging part of many cases, but it is also where good pro bono attorneys, like our advocates at Drinker Biddle, make all the difference in the world,” said McCarthy.

Building trust to tell a client’s story

Once attorneys accept a case, they must meet with the client regularly to cultivate a relationship of trust. “The client’s story is critical to the success of the case,” said McCarthy. “Many asylum seekers have suffered unimaginable human rights violations that can be difficult to discuss, which is why cultivating a relationship with their attorneys is paramount—the trust has to be there.”

Clients and their attorneys must be able to demonstrate that the client cannot return home because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of at least one of five grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Immigration judges place a high evidentiary burden on asylum seekers to meet these elements, and gathering evidence requires attorneys to think creatively and build a trusting relationship with the client. “Demonstrating that persecution is on account of a protected characteristic is probably the most challenging part of many cases, but it is also where good pro bono attorneys, like our advocates at Drinker Biddle, make all the difference in the world,” said McCarthy.

Empowering its community—Latinx immigrants alongside individuals and families of all backgrounds—through education, access to critical services and advocacy, working together to create a just and inclusive society.

Founded: 1870

No. of staff: 150

At the heart of the community

Erie Neighborhood House has served low-income immigrant families across the Chicago area for almost 150 years. Its programs are designed to meet the entire spectrum of family needs, from academic support to child care, adult education, immigration services and family programming.

“Although times have changed, our mission has stayed constant,” said Kirstin Chernawsky, Erie House’s Executive Director. “We serve family units holistically to empower communities, and our programming is designed to reflect that.”

The holistic approach

Erie House provides programs that lift up entire families, including after-school care, academic mentoring and literacy intervention for children; ESL, workforce development and tutoring for adults; and immigration, wellness and housing assistance for families.

An example of how this holistic approach works in practice is Maria de la Luz G., who was struggling to learn English after emigrating from Mexico. After Erie House’s ESL program gave her the tools and confidence she needed, she enrolled in a workforce development bridge class. Today, Maria de la Luz has earned an associate’s degree, works as a teacher’s assistant in a preschool program and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Two of her children have participated in Erie House’s READS literacy intervention program, and her family now gives back by volunteering at Erie House to help build community in the neighborhood.

Multi-faceted support

“Having the support of a large firm like Drinker Biddle is critical to the health of our organization and to our continued success,” said Chernawsky.

Drinker Biddle has been closely involved with Erie House for more than 50 years in a variety of ways. Chicago associate Nicolas Guzman has been a committed board member for seven years. Partner Jesse Ruiz is a former board member and current Awards Dinner Host Committee member who has provided pro bono legal counsel. Labor and Employment partner Laurie Holmes has assisted with HR matters, and lawyers from the Chicago office staff quarterly legal clinics at Erie House, providing crucial advice on landlord/tenant issues, domestic abuse, and more.

Drinker Biddle lawyers recently prepared two separate amicus briefs for Erie House, one filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the other with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Both briefs were filed in support of the City of Chicago’s challenge to the implementation of federal immigration policies that, as asserted by the city, would unconstitutionally withhold public safety grants from sanctuary cities and would have a resulting detrimental effect on impacted immigrant communities. “Having the support of a large firm like Drinker Biddle is critical to the health of our organization and to our continued success,” said Chernawsky.

Balancing needs

Erie House receives a mix of public and private funding, all of which entails tremendous oversight. “Generous grants from foundations are often restricted to specific projects or initiatives, which are rarely long-term,” said Chernawsky, “and don’t always correlate with our most urgent community needs.” Erie House relies heavily on individual donors and unrestricted funds, especially to fund day-to-day operations, such as direct services to clients, staff salaries, overhead, and the work involved in annual program audits that are used to apply for grants and other funding.

Hard Work and Heart

“Regardless of the challenges we face, our staff never fail to astound me,” said Chernawsky. “They show up and do outstanding work every single day.” She also noted the inspiring resiliency of Erie House participants: “Despite some of the political and policy-related pressures immigrant communities have faced over the past several years, the Erie House community remains invested and hopeful for their futures."

COMMUNITY & CULTURE

Culture

Conducting ourselves as one firm in all that we do is a key part of our Strategic Plan. Our firm has a culture that values civility and diversity, and fosters a collegial, supportive and collaborative work environment. We are one team working towards common goals, and that goes beyond our day-to-day work to include participating in fundraising and community service projects together. Our lawyers and staff also enjoy fun activities together, from office parties, breakfasts and luncheons, to softball tournaments and our annual staff appreciation week activities. 

Click below to view photos from throughout the year
Chairman Andrew Kassner, lawyers and staff take a photo following the Philadelphia office’s luncheon for staff members who have served the firm for more than 20 years.Our Washington, D.C., office team at the 2017 Lawyers Have Heart 10K Race, 5K Run and Fun Walk—the premier philanthropic event in the D.C. legal community, benefitting the American Heart Association.Managing Partner Mary Devlin Capizzi and members of our Washington, D.C., office show off the shirts given to lawyers and staff in all offices as a thank you gift during the firm’s annual Fiscal New Year’s breakfast.Members of our Philadelphia office dressed in costumes for a Take Our Kids to Work Day activity. Lawyers and staff from our Florham Park, New York and Princeton offices enjoy the annual luncheon for staff members who have served the firm for more than 20 years.Members of our Philadelphia office have breakfast together during the firm’s annual Staff Appreciation Week.Members of our Philadelphia office enjoy breakfast during the firm’s annual Staff Appreciation Week.The Chicago office was a proud sponsor of Race Judicata 2017, a 5K Run/Walk that benefits Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS). The firm also sponsors a CVLS legal clinic at the Erie Community Center throughout the year.Children talk to the Beast in the Philadelphia office during the firm’s annual Take Our Kids to Work Day. Characters from “Beauty and the Beast” were part of a mock trial, with the children serving as the lawyers.A group of our lawyers at the firm’s Diverse Lawyers’ Retreat, which took place in the Philadelphia office.Our Dallas office teamed up with client State Farm to volunteer with the Richardson Food Bank. Volunteers sorted, organized and prepared donations of food, clothing, school supplies, toys and other items, which were distributed locally and in the Houston area. Our Princeton office collected 1,000 children’s books for Bag of Books, which donates books to students, schools and nonprofits. Members of our office pack the books for processing.Our San Francisco office sponsored and had a team at the Out of the Darkness Walk. The walk benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which funds research and educational programs, advocates for public policy, and supports survivors of suicide loss. Lawyers and staff at the annual luncheon for staff members who have served the firm for more than 20 years.Dallas partners Neil Rambin and Paul Cauley prepare to hand out shirts to thank staff during the firm’s annual Fiscal New Year’s breakfast.Executive Partner Bill Connolly discusses a piece of evidence with children during the firm’s annual Take Our Kids to Work Day in the Philadelphia office. The children took part in a mock trial involving characters from “Beauty and the Beast.”Our Wilmington office had a team for Bike MS: Bike to the Bay (Delaware), which raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Community

Drinker Biddle has a long-held spirit of civic-minded community involvement, and all of our offices actively support a variety of community and nonprofit organizations and causes throughout the year. In 2017, Drinker Biddle colleagues supported organizations that address issues ranging from poverty, domestic violence, and disease research and awareness, to education, arts and youth empowerment. With the devastating hurricanes in the southern U.S. and Puerto Rico last year, our offices joined together to raise funds for hurricane relief and provided much-needed in-kind donations such as personal items, clothing and food. We believe that community does not end at our doorstep and we are proud to serve.

View All Organizations +
  • ABA Fund for Justice and Education
  • AIDS Legal Referral Panel
  • Alliance for Children's Rights
  • American Constitution Society
  • American Diabetes Association
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • American Heart Association
  • Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Biggs Museum of American Art
  • Career Wardrobe
  • Center for Disability and Elder Law
  • Chicago Bar Foundation
  • Chicago Legal Clinic
  • Chicago Volunteer Legal Svcs
  • City Year of Greater Philadelphia
  • Combined Campaign for Justice
  • Community Health Law Project
  • Community Legal Service Inc.
  • Community Soup Kitchen & Outreach Center
  • Cristo Rey Work Study
  • DC Bar Pro Bono Program
  • Diversity Scholarship Foundation
  • Domestic Violence Legal Clinic
  • Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
  • Equal Justice Works
  • Erie Elementary Charter School
  • Erie Neighborhood House
  • Evan Scholars Foundation
  • First Book
  • Healthy Schools Campaign
  • HERO Foundation
  • Hispanic Lawyers Assn of Illinois
  • Illinois Fatherhood Initiative
  • Independent College Fund
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium
  • Junior Achievement
  • Law2Life
  • Lawyers for Civil Justice
  • Lawyers for the Creative Arts
  • Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services
  • Legal Services of NJ
  • Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House
  • Mayo Performing Arts Center
  • McCarter Theatre
  • Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Morven Museum & Garden
  • Mural Arts Advocates
  • National Constitution Center
  • National Immigrant Justice Ctr
  • National Legal Aid & Defender
  • National Museum of American Jewish History
  • National Museum of Mexican Art
  • New Jersey Women Lawyers Association
  • Newark Day Center
  • NJ LEEP Inc.
  • PA Innocence Project Formation
  • Partners for Women
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Philadelphia Reads Inc.
  • Plansmart NJ
  • Public Interest Law Center
  • Refugee One
  • Rubicon Programs
  • Rutgers Minority Student Program Fund
  • Saint Francis Foundation
  • Saint Mother Teresa Food Pantry
  • Select Greater Philadelphia
  • Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
  • Squash Smarts Inc.
  • Support Center for Child Advocates
  • The Arc Foundation of Somerset County
  • The Cindy Foundation
  • The Cove School
  • The Transplant Foundation
  • Tri-County Scholarship Fund
  • United Way of Northern New Jersey
  • Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts
  • Women's Law Project
  • Working in the Schools
  • Young Audiences of NJ

Alumni

We greatly value the ongoing connection we have with our worldwide alumni network. Through our communications and events, we have built a vibrant alumni community that comes together for professional development, networking and social functions. Our alumni community also provides mentoring, career support and job opportunities for fellow alumni. We are so proud of the contributions our alumni have made to the firm, their communities and their professions.

350+
Alumni employed by 200+ client companies
40+
Alumni informational emails
4
Alumni newsletters
75+
External job opportunities shared with alumni
15+
In-person CLE programs for alumni
20+
Networking, charity and community events in which we participated with our alumni

Alumni Reunions

Our alumni reunions remain an important connection between our current and former lawyers and professionals.  In 2017, we connected with alumni at events hosted in Philadelphia, Florham Park, Princeton and Washington, D.C.

Click below to view photos from our alumni reunions