“It’s the culture and collegiality that I’ve experienced regularly since I joined the firm. I think we have a partnership and leadership team that is truly striving to do the right thing on a daily basis.”
Today’s good is tomorrow’s average. Because the performance bar keeps rising, we have to keep pushing to turn good into better and better into best. Those efforts don’t happen by chance. They happen because the firm is guided by our strategic objectives – the carefully calibrated goals that are built into a strategic plan that is our North Star, our guidebook.
If our strategic objectives make up our guidebook, then our core values constitute our compass. These are the shared beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes that bring us together into a cohesive organization committed to providing our clients with outstanding service – and our people with a welcoming, energizing, rewarding place to work.
Drinker Biddle’s strategic objectives and core values have shaped our culture and reflected our fundamental principles for more than a century.
Each year we look back at what made the previous year interesting, noteworthy, and maybe even a landmark. We make it our business to be purposeful, innovative, strategic advisers to our clients by continually working to advance our skills, improve our processes, and invest in our firm’s culture and community. 2018 was a year of which we are immensely proud. Here’s a by-the-numbers glimpse of what made 2018 another year to remember.
“The quality of the work I get to do and the caliber of the people I work with make Drinker Biddle a great place to build a legal career. I have the opportunity to work with the top lawyers in the field both within the firm and through our clients on legal issues that I feel are challenging and exciting. At this firm, I learn from the best.”
When global oral health innovator GC Corporation and U.S. affiliate GC America faced allegations of patent infringement by a major competitor, they looked to Drinker Biddle’s Intellectual Property litigators. In a mission-critical victory, our cross-disciplinary team secured an initial determination of “no violation” from the International Trade Commission’s chief administrative law judge. After a full trial on the merits, the verdict was upheld by the full commission. The win ensures that the GC Initial LiSi Press ingot technology for dentists and dental laboratories remains available in the United States without disruption.
Our Employment litigators secured an important victory for one of the world’s largest booksellers, defeating a second effort by former managers of the company’s cafés to conditionally certify a nationwide collective action on behalf of more than 1,000 current and former managers. Plaintiffs alleged the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by misclassifying them as exempt employees. Our team also defeated the plaintiffs’ first effort to gain conditional certification a year earlier. The outcome was noteworthy given the difficulty in defeating conditional certification in FLSA cases once let alone twice in the same case.
When it came time for Wilton Re, a life re-insurance company specializing in the acquisition of in-force life insurance and annuities, to negotiate their inaugural long-term care insurance transaction with CNO Financial Group, they looked to Drinker Biddle for guidance on the long-term care insurance-specific aspects of the transaction. This was a complex, multifaceted deal in which CNO subsidiary Bankers Life and Casualty ceded a sizable portion of its legacy comprehensive and nursing home long-term care policies — with statutory reserves of approximately $2.7 billion — through 100 percent indemnity coinsurance. The transaction played to Wilton Re’s strategic goals, expanding their leading position for comprehensive runoff management solutions in North America into the long-term care insurance line of business.
Our Products Liability team secured summary judgment for GlaxoSmithKline. For a third time in the same case, plaintiffs alleged their son died because GSK’s Purinethol and other medications caused him to develop cancer. In a suit of twists and turns, we first obtained summary judgment based on warnings causation. After granting plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration, a Daubert motion, and our second summary judgment, the suit moved to the United States Supreme Court. The justices denied review and remanded it to district court, which then granted plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration. A final round of briefing and successful argument by our team resulted in this third summary judgment based on lack of duty for client GSK.
Our Products Liability litigators, working with Tucker Ellis LLP, obtained a full, pre-answer dismissal in a breast implant case for Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, and Mentor Worldwide. The Ohio-based plaintiff claimed she developed anaplastic large-cell lymphoma as a result of using MemoryGel SILTEX Round Moderate Implants. She brought claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, consumer protection, design/warning/manufacturing defect under the Ohio Products Liability Act, and breach of express warranty. The court granted the motion to dismiss based on preemption grounds and failure to state a claim. All of the claims were dismissed with prejudice, and a motion for reconsideration was denied.
When you learn that your company is the subject of both SEC and FBI criminal probes, having experienced legal advocates by your side is critical. Facing this reality, Singer Financial Corporation looked to our talented White Collar litigators. Acting on a tip that the company was running a Ponzi scheme, the agencies began a two-year investigation. After persuading the SEC against immediately obtaining a temporary restraining order and appointing a receiver, and then against filing fraud charges, they offered to settle for an unregistered offering charge but insisted on restrictive undertakings. Our client decided to litigate, and we negotiated a settlement with none of the restrictions. Importantly, Singer Financial continued operations, and the investigations were closed without our client having to defend against formal charges of fraud.
Our Insurance litigators took what, on its face, was a classic life insurance lapse and delivered both complete victory for Lincoln Benefit Life Company and clarity on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisprudence on diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiff argued that he never received a grace notice and that the notice received was insufficient. The trial court and Ninth Circuit disagreed, finding that Lincoln Benefit followed policy requirements and California law, specifically rejecting the notion that a lapse be deemed invalid if the policy owner does not receive notice. Instead, the insurer simply has to prove that notice was mailed. What makes this case particularly important for the industry is that the court made clear that when a dispute concerns the validity of an insurance policy or whether it is in force, the face amount of the policy should be used to determine diversity jurisdiction.
Our Antitrust litigators successfully argued a Daubert motion and secured a class action settlement for Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc., a former subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The court preliminarily approved the settlement in the nine-year-old case. Ortho and its co-defendant were accused of fixing the prices of blood reagents, products used in blood tests. The settlement resolved multiple lawsuits brought by dozens of hospitals. Ortho reached the settlement in principle with plaintiffs two weeks after winning a Daubert motion to exclude $405 million in treble damages from the antitrust claims. Under the terms of the settlement, Ortho will pay the class $19.5 million.
A team of our Los Angeles litigators obtained a complete victory for the minority shareholders of a community bank with approximately $3.7 billion in assets. When the community bank decided to merge with a large national bank, share values increased significantly. Another group of shareholders sought to wrest approximately $100 million in shares from our clients, asserting a variety of breach of contract and trust claims. After two years of litigation, we obtained summary judgment for our clients on each of 13 claims. Thereafter, our team successfully sought an order requiring the plaintiffs to pay attorneys’ fees under a prevailing party provision, with an award of nearly $4 million for the benefit of our clients.
A team of our Corporate and Health Care lawyers advised global media and technology giant Comcast in structuring and documenting a 50/50 joint venture with health insurer Independence Health Group. The companies are launching a newly branded, patient-centered technology and communications platform intended to improve the overall efficiency and experience of the care delivery process between providers and patients. The groundbreaking, internet-based platform will provide both patients and caregivers with personalized content and information related to their individual health care needs, at home or on the go, and is expected to be accessible nationally, across multiple distribution channels and devices. Over several months, the firm’s interdisciplinary team of lawyers and professionals coordinated with Comcast’s business and legal teams to address critical aspects of the partnership’s structure.
Our Corporate Restructuring lawyers were engaged by Wilmington Trust Company as administrator and trustee of the Motors Liquidation Company GUC Trust in all aspects of General Motors’ bankruptcy cases. Among other things, the trust was charged with resolving unsettled claims against the pre-2009 “old” GM, which that year filed for bankruptcy and entered into a sale agreement with a newly organized General Motors, the “new” GM. The work is complex and largely focused on resolving bankruptcy claims of personal injury and economic loss related to late claims litigation of the Delta ignition switch and other defects. Our team is crafting innovative solutions to challenging and novel legal issues, including creating precedent regarding certifying Rule 23 classes in bankruptcy cases. Settlement will resolve billions of dollars of late claims.
In an important win for Drinker Biddle’s Investment Management Group, the Independent Trustees of the Board of the Domini Funds selected Drinker Biddle to be their independent trustee counsel. The funds are advised by Domini Impact Investments, a women-led SEC-registered investment adviser. A leading voice in socially responsible “ESG” investing, founder Amy Domini and her company have been profiled by Time magazine as one of 25 “Responsibility Pioneers” changing the world. ESG investments, which apply environmental, social and governance standards, now account for more than $12 trillion — or one in four dollars — in total assets under professional management in the United States. Since 2016, ESG assets under management have grown more than 38 percent.
In a series of large-scale commercial real estate deals, our lawyers advised Matrix Development Group on the construction of a one million square-foot mixed-use warehouse distribution/office project straddling the boundary of New Jersey’s Burlington City and Burlington Township. The high-profile project, with Amazon — the world’s largest e-commerce and cloud computing company — as sole tenant, is expected to bring upward of 900 jobs to the state. Our work included multiple redevelopment and PILOT agreements, procurement of development approvals from numerous governmental authorities, lease negotiations, joint venture structures and agreements, and land acquisitions, all of which was complicated by a challenging environmental history and the involvement of multiple jurisdictions.
More than 8,000 investors, many of them retirees, thought they were investing in Woodbridge Group of Companies’ safe, short-term real estate loans. Instead, their investments funded a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme centered on Los Angeles high-end real estate. Woodbridge purchased trophy properties with a view toward renovating and flipping them. However, it had held itself out as a finance company — making loans to creditworthy property owners — not as a developer. Money raised fed a slush fund to buy properties, pay fake returns, and support the principals’ lavish lifestyles. As investigations escalated, Woodbridge filed for bankruptcy. Our Corporate Restructuring team was engaged to protect the interests of more than 8,000 investors with exposure totaling $750 million. A Chapter 11 plan was confirmed and an initial distribution to investors was made.
Like many properties in New Jersey’s industrial corridor, building-materials giant GAF’s former manufacturing property in Linden is located in an area with a history of environmental issues that for years made it the subject of litigation. Selling the 140-acre site required the creative deal-making of Drinker Biddle’s Real Estate team. We succeeded in closing the $112 million sale and then set up a series of 1031 exchanges to roll the proceeds of the sale into property acquisitions and plant development and expansions throughout the United States. Our team handled transactions in Texas, California, Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, and Maryland, including the acquisition from Exxon of a former refinery property, which was Baltimore’s largest undeveloped property.
Lawyers from our Corporate and Securities Group led a multidisciplinary team of more than 75 lawyers and professionals across nine practices advising Cott Corporation, a leading North American and European beverage service provider, in the $1.25 billion sale of Cott’s carbonated soft drink and juice manufacturing business to Netherlands-based Refresco Group. The sale represented a strategic shift for Cott away from sweetened carbonated drinks and toward a route-based services model facilitating delivery of bottled water, coffees, and teas to homes and businesses. The transaction also involved amending and restating Cott’s credit facility with JPMorgan Chase Bank, repayment of other senior indebtedness, a global tax reorganization, and restructuring the ownership of a significant trademark portfolio spanning 170 countries.
Mountain View, California–based Hippo Insurance, named a “Start-Up to Watch in 2019” by Business Insider with $109.5 million in capital raised to date, engaged Drinker Biddle to advise on regulatory, transactional, IT, and intellectual property issues. Offering a lower-cost, more transparent, and faster alternative to traditional homeowners’ insurance policies, Hippo leverages real-time data in the application process, yielding a more accurate risk assessment, enhancing information accuracy, saving time, and increasing technology efficiencies. Hippo partners include other Drinker Biddle clients Comcast/Xfinity, Canopius, and Munich Re. We continue to advise Hippo as the company, which already operates in 15 states, forges ahead with its ambitious plans to expand service throughout the country.
Hospital consolidation is both a cause and effect of the evolving, value-based health care landscape. To guide Mission Health in its $1.5 billion merger with HCA Healthcare, we assembled an integrated team of 85 lawyers from 21 specialty practices, including Health Care Transactions, Regulatory Compliance, Corporate, Antitrust, and Real Estate. Mission Health, previously North Carolina’s sixth-largest health system, became a new operating division of Nashville-based HCA, which runs approximately 1,800 care sites in 21 states and the UK. This complex deal entailed a host of legal, licensure, and regulatory challenges. In addition to legal acumen and knowledge of the health care business, our team brought an understanding of the client, its board, and other stakeholders to this high-profile transaction.
FS Investments, a fast-growing firm in the alternative registered fund space, turned to Drinker Biddle’s Investment Management Group for regulatory guidance when looking to branch out from its core business of managing business development companies and into interval funds and mutual funds, and making private equity strategies accessible to smaller investors. With assets under management of more than $23 billion, FS Investments is a leader in the alternative registered fund space, and Drinker Biddle is its trusted adviser.
More than 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic passes through Virginia’s Loudoun County and its “Data Center Alley,” about 25 miles outside of Washington, D.C. When Sentinel Data Centers went to M&T Bank for a $214 million loan to develop a data center, comprising two buildings with a combined nearly 240,000 square feet in the Alley, the bank chose Drinker Biddle’s Real Estate lawyers to represent it in the negotiation and documentation of the transaction. The national team worked seamlessly to assist M&T Bank, headquartered in Buffalo, New York, with assets of $118 billion, on financing for the 280-acre Washington Dulles Gateway site.
As our multidisciplinary legal team worked to shape the $1.5 billion deal between Mission Health and HCA Healthcare, Drinker Biddle’s subsidiary Tritura, a specialized technology services company that helps organizations gain visibility into their information, worked to dot every “i” and cross every “t.” We deployed advanced machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other technologies to solve what would otherwise have been a resource-intensive, but necessary, review — assessing legal obligations and identifying business synergies in the more than 12,000 existing contracts from both systems. Tritura was able to automate the assessments, assuring effective contract integration and significantly accelerating due diligence.
For more than two decades, Drinker Biddle’s Consortia Management team has established and supported life sciences collaborations that help global companies address complex and often cutting-edge topics of mutual concern. Microphysiological Systems (MPS), consisting of interacting organs-on-chips or tissue-engineered 3D organ constructs that use human cells, is the latest collaboration facilitated by our industry-leading Consortia Management team. Growing excitement surrounds MPS, which presents the opportunity to bring groundbreaking tools to biology, medicine, pharmacology, physiology, and toxicology.
Our Government Contracts team won a hard-fought bid protest for 2M Research, a minority-owned research and advisory firm. Twice, and despite the litigation challenge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded a $29 million contract for its Firefighters Grant Program to a grossly unqualified company. We argued that FEMA had abused its discretion, illegally waiving requirements and bending the rules in order to effectuate a desired result. Challenges to federal bids are difficult to win, with only one in five succeeding. After more than two years and three protests, we ultimately prevailed for 2M. The court found that the agency had abused its discretion and acted in bad faith, and effectively granted 2M a directed award.
In response to proposed legislation aiming to make it easier for plan sponsors to offer guaranteed lifetime income products to defined-contribution plan participants, the U.S. Department of Labor’s ERISA Advisory Council solicited guidance on how to remove existing regulatory uncertainties. The DOL looked to Drinker Biddle as an industry leader for our insight and guidance. Specifically, the department sought clarification on safe harbor aspects of annuity selection and input on the possibility of modifying the Qualified Default Investment Alternative rule to focus on asset accumulation and decumulation issues in the context of lifetime needs and solutions. Our partner testified on these issues before the council and observed that the conversation about retirement income needs more emphasis on 401(k) and other defined contributions.
Despite a gridlocked Congress, our District Policy Group played an instrumental role — in some cases spearheading the effort — in securing enactment of four pieces of federal legislation important to health care clients, including the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, supporting review committees on causes of and solutions for addressing maternal deaths; Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, allowing medical professionals to treat injured athletes across state lines without fear of professional harm; Global Health Innovation Act, directing the U.S. Agency for International Development to report to Congress on global health innovations; and revision and reauthorization through FY 2023 of the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers Who Deliver Infants Early, or PREEMIE Act.
When the Trump Administration announced Section 301 tariffs on Chinese imports, the potential impact on North America’s consumer electronics retailers was negative and considerable. Among products on the list were flat-panel televisions, a big seller in the retail electronics industry. A top retailer looked to Drinker Biddle’s Customs and International Trade team for guidance. We worked closely with the company’s C-suite to employ a “whole of government” approach, which included participating in administrative hearings and proceedings, along with educating administration officials about the harm duties would have on the retail sector and consumers. As a result, our team succeeded in getting flat-screen televisions removed from the list.
Drinker Biddle’s Education lawyers continued work at the forefront of the industry. Over the past year, they were counsel on a number of wide-ranging and complex transactions for clients, including private postsecondary institutions, education technology companies, a multi-state nonprofit charter school management entity, and alternative education providers. The team collaborated with other firm practices to advise both nonprofit and for-profit educational institutions on General Data Protection Regulation implementation, and to defend a TCPA class action against a nonprofit university. The team successfully defended significant regulatory compliance actions taken by the U.S. Department of Education against a higher education client. Also, one of the team’s partners was appointed by the Department of Education to represent private postsecondary institutions on a federal rulemaking panel, whose efforts were reflected in proposed regulatory changes issued in July 2018.
“From day one, I’ve been consistently impressed by the character, integrity and support of everybody at the firm — from the support staff to the paralegals to the other attorneys. In my experience, this is not something you get at every law firm. It’s what makes Drinker Biddle special, and something that distinguishes us from other law firms. I choose Drinker Biddle every day because of the people.”
Women at Drinker Biddle rise through the ranks because of their talent and the firm’s steadfast commitment to creating an environment that gives everyone the opportunity to grow as attorneys, professionals, and leaders. At the heart of this effort is the Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC), with its mission to attract, retain, and advance women at Drinker Biddle.
A highlight of the year was holding our first annual firmwide Women’s Leadership Committee Retreat. Women attorneys and other professionals from throughout our firm gathered in Chicago to shape an agenda, introduce tools for empowerment, further their individual business plans, and generally build relationships and share experiences.
We also held numerous client-facing and networking events in 2018 that boosted our profile and reinforced our brand as a firm committed to programs that are important to women. Furthering that notion, our Washington, D.C. office hosted an Executive Women’s Forum that featured Mika Brzezinski, broadcast journalist and co-host of CNBC’s “Morning Joe,” who spoke about her book: “Know Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth.”
“I choose Drinker Biddle every day because of its commitment to attorney development and diversity. I really value my colleagues and I enjoy the collaborative working environment that we have here.”
Meritocracy has long been an American ideal. At Drinker Biddle, we view diversity and inclusion efforts as a natural extension of that ideal: creating a work environment where respect and access to opportunity for all are a given. D&I is also about building a workforce that reflects our clients and the communities we serve.
Although our D&I efforts are not new, we have been steadfast in our progress during the past two years. Our many accomplishments in 2018 are a measure of our dedication and commitment to achieving a more diverse organization, and reflect ambitions that are beyond the norm in our profession.
Last year was a landmark year for D&I at Drinker Biddle: we appointed Maria Lewis as the firm’s first Chief Diversity Officer. By creating this high-level post, the firm commits significant resources and support to advancing our D&I efforts for the long term and on a day-to-day basis. Working with our Executive Team and various firm committee members, the CDO plays an integral role in developing policies and procedures that help foster a diverse and inclusive environment. Maria remains co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, which governs and carries out D&I initiatives, events, and activities, and develops policies and practices to meet D&I goals.
Building a cadre of diverse talent involves orchestrating many wide-ranging initiatives – formal and informal. Some of the activities we implemented for diverse attorneys include a firmwide mentoring program and, in partnership with our Women’s Leadership Committee, piloting a Sponsorship program that pairs firm leaders with diverse attorneys to provide career development support. Additionally, the D&I Committee and our Professional Development team began helping our practice groups identify ways to increase the quantity and quality of work assigned to our diverse associates, as well as ways to expose them to client development opportunities.
Recruitment offers an important avenue for building the diversity pipeline, and our recruitment leaders have collaborated on a number of formal programs. For example, our Chicago office successfully piloted its Diverse 1L Summer Internship Program. Conceived by firm leadership as a means to invest in young lawyers from diverse backgrounds, the program fundamentally alters the summer associate paradigm. Rather than showcasing candidates and assessing their suitability for employment, the program’s priority is to give diverse, relatively inexperienced first-year law students an opportunity to become fully immersed in the large law firm environment and thereby help them to become better equipped to pursue their legal careers.
In addition to our many partners and staff colleagues who are active in diversity and inclusion programs, our Chairman and CEO Andy Kassner participated in the 2018 Diversity in Law “Hackathon” jointly sponsored by the Diversity Lab and Bloomberg Law. With more than 100 law firms and legal departments from top companies participating, the Hackathon serves as a “shark tank”−style incubator in which teams comprising law students and lawyers pitch ideas designed to boost diversity and inclusion in the legal industry. Participants make use of data, behavioral science, design thinking, and technology to develop and test their ideas. There is also a fair amount of old-fashioned brainstorming—“design thinking”— which invariably leads to practical solutions with immediate applicability.
Andy was supported by the Co-chairs of our Women’s Leadership Committee, Lynne Anderson and Jennifer Breuer, and by Managing Partner Cheryl Orr. All served as invaluable resources in helping his team — the “Gap Busters” — prepare their submission on narrowing the diversity leadership gap. The Gap Busters finished in second place, and the team’s program, or “Hack,” on diversity sponsorship will be implemented across the country by the Diversity Lab organization.
In April 2018, our diverse attorneys and firm leaders gathered to participate in Drinker Biddle’s Eighth Annual Diverse Lawyers Retreat. We also held Diversity & Inclusion summits and Continuing Legal Education seminars—developed and led by our diverse attorneys—in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Guided by nationally recognized industry expert Verna Myers, we implemented a firmwide Implicit/Unconscious Bias Training program. All firm personnel participated in the training, which included holding small-group meetings and facilitating discussions. Firm members’ feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we are proud of our efforts to foster an environment where all are valued and respected.
Drinker Biddle continues to support efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession through our membership in and sponsorship of our diverse attorneys in more than 20 national and regional D&I organizations.
In July 2018, Drinker Biddle became a signatory to the Mansfield Rule 2.0, further underscoring our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Named for Arabella Mansfield, the first licensed woman lawyer in the United States, the Mansfield Rule was conceived at the Diversity Lab’s 2016 Hackathon. The Mansfield Rule and Mansfield Rule 2.0 are programs designed to boost the representation in law firms of women, LGBTQ+, disabled, and racial/ethnic minority lawyers by broadening the pool of candidates.
As a participating firm, Drinker Biddle is committed to ensuring that diverse lawyers represent at least one-third of the candidate pool for significant leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and lateral positions. We are proud to be fully invested in this important program.
“I choose Drinker Biddle every day because we have really, really great lawyers – all willing to stop at the drop of a hat and pitch in to collaborate with you anytime, any day.”
Throughout our history, Drinker Biddle has encouraged all of our attorneys to fight for the causes that interest them and appeal to their sense of justice. With that in mind, we take cases that are as varied as the dedicated attorneys who work on them—from defending the rights of inmates on death row and the free speech of political protesters to representing those wrongly evicted and assisting with financing development in some of the country’s poorest neighborhoods.
Our firm continues to be widely recognized for its pro bono work. We are particularly honored to have received the John Carroll Society’s Pro Bono Legal Service Award in Washington, D.C. and the Dallas Bar Association’s Pro Bono Bronze Award. We also have been publicly recognized by the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey for our outstanding efforts in the prisoner reentry program.
We are proud of our attorneys, professionals, and staff colleagues who give their time and talent to pro bono activities. We also are extraordinarily grateful to the many clients who join us in pro bono endeavors and to the nonprofit organizations that allow us to do this important work.
Senior Attorney Kelly Petrocelli (Chicago) and Partner Jerry Hathaway (New York) have been representing the Ali Forney Center, a home for LGBT runaways, in real estate and employment counseling matters. Partners Bill Hanssen and Heather Abrigo (Los Angeles), as well as associates Sujata Wiese and Shamar Toms-Anthony in the Los Angeles office, are representing minors with respect to immigration asylum and guardianship matters with the Kids In Need of Defense organization.
Partner Ken Wilbur (Florham Park) and Associate Justin Ginter (Florham Park) recently concluded a three-year fight to defend the right of houses of worship to participate in historic preservation grant programs. The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari generated national attention due to an unusual, strongly worded Statement by Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch, adopting our position that “barring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion.”
Partner Dan Aiken (Philadelphia) and Associate Jessie Shields (Philadelphia) represent an abused mother of two children who were conceived in an incestuous relationship with her adopted father. Our client seeks to terminate the parental rights of her abuser, but Pennsylvania law only allows this in connection with a child’s adoption. We are challenging that law as unconstitutional under the state and federal constitutions. The case is now before the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Partner Sondra Sylva (Dallas), and Associates Savir Punia (Los Angeles) and Brooke Razor (Philadelphia), are representing a leader in the anti-trafficking movement in attempting to expunge, vacate, or seal her prior convictions for prostitution during the years she was a victim of sex trafficking. Associate Krissa Webb (Washington D.C.) worked with the Amara Legal Center to provide background research on efforts by the Virginia state legislature and administrative branch to address human trafficking issues. In particular, they researched individual legislators’ legislative records with respect to initiatives that might provide remedies for women who have been sexually trafficked.
Partner Jason Gosselin (Philadelphia), and Associates Daniel Rotko (Philadelphia) and Joseph Connor (Philadelphia), represented a middle-school teacher wrongfully terminated from his position. During trial, they obtained a favorable settlement, which allowed our client to resume his teaching career.
This McDowell Initiative case was brought in partnership with Disability Rights North Carolina and challenges the systemic flaws in the design, funding, implementation, and administration of North Carolina’s health and human services system for institutionalized and developmentally disabled individuals. Drinker Biddle Alumnus Jerry Hartman and Counsel Karen Denys (Princeton) are handling the case.
In partnership with the Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center, Partners Paul Saint-Antoine (Philadelphia) and Chanda Miller (Philadelphia) and Associates Victoria Andrews (Philadelphia) and Lucas Michelen (New York) filed a class action to compel the School District of Philadelphia to translate essential planning documents into languages other than English so parents with limited English proficiency can meaningfully participate in determining their children’s educational needs.
Partner Brad Campbell (Washington D.C.), and Associates Scott Brinkerhoff (Dallas) and Anthony Glosson (Washington, D.C.), represent a husband and wife who operate a farm stand but have been barred by the Texas Department of State Health Services from selling homemade pickled products. The complaint alleges that the ban is arbitrary and impairs the right to earn an honest living under the Texas Constitution. The case garnered nationwide media coverage and has sparked corrective legislation.
Partner Sheldon Eisenberg (Los Angeles), and Summer Associate David Belcher (Los Angeles), and Paralegal Anita Jonian (Los Angeles), brought a lawsuit against Foster Poultry Farms claiming that its marketing of “humanely raised” chickens violated California’s Business and Professions Code. In 2018, the Superior Court granted the defendants’ motions for summary judgment and we have appealed the decision to the California Court of Appeal.
Attorneys throughout the firm were particularly active in immigrants’ rights matters. We filed a class action to challenge the denial of parole to detained asylum seekers handled by Partner Vincent Gentile (Princeton), Senior Attorney Ingrid Johnson (Princeton), and Associates Victoria Cordova (Philadelphia), Antoinette Snodgrass (Philadelphia) and Brendan McHugh (Philadelphia).
We represented individual asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries. Senior Attorney Ingrid Johnson (Princeton) gained asylum for some, Partner John Simon (Chicago) and Associate Reeya Thakrar (Chicago) obtained temporary work authorizations for others, and Partner David Sudzus (Chicago) and Associate Caroline Henry (New York) secured Special Immigrant Juvenile status for several youngsters, allowing them to receive an education in the United States and apply for resident status.
Partner Alicia Hickok (Philadelphia), and Associates Mark Taticchi (Philadelphia) and James Jones (Princeton), handled two appeals to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals; in one of the appeals we secured the right of an eight-year-old Guatemalan boy to remain in the United States with his mother.
Partner Susan Sharko (Florham Park) and Paralegal Diane Ravenscraft (Chicago) spent a week working with RAICES in a federal detention facility near the border with Mexico to assist Central American immigrants preparing for their “credible fear interviews,” which is the first step in the asylum process. This is Susan’s second visit assisting on these matters.
Partnering with our client Aon Insurance, a team of Drinker Biddle attorneys led by Partner Mary Devlin Capizzi (Washington D.C.) and Counsel Katherine Armstrong (Washington D.C.) advised Human Rights Watch on compliance with the new EU GDPR.
Working with the University of Pennsylvania Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic, Partners Eirik Tellefsen (Philadelphia) and Bryan Bloom (Florham Park) led a team that assisted a charitable trust in structuring a loan to a local food cooperative.
Working with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, Associate Adam Schlosser (Washington D.C.), drafted materials to local officials to reestablish the D.C. Parole Board, which was federalized as part of a 1997 law. Senior Attorney Ingrid Johnson (Princeton) and associate Brian Morgan (New York) represented the firm in the District Court of New Jersey’s “ReNew” program, which provides assistance and advice to those on parole or probation.
In partnership with the American Immigration Council (AIC) we convinced the district court to order the release of records relating to CBP’s disposition of complaints of misconduct by CBP agents. In 2018 we filed a motion seeking statutory attorneys’ fees with the intention to make a donation to the AIC. This case was part of the McDowell Initiative and handled by Drinker Biddle Alumni Tom Starnes and Jerry Hartman.
Partner Jerry Goodman (Philadelphia) and Associate Reuben Asia (Philadelphia) successfully represented the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia at Historical Commission hearings, overcoming neighborhood opposition to BCP’s plan for a new facility in Germantown. As a result, the BGCP can move forward with the project and better serve the 7,000 youths who live within 1.5 miles of the new location.
Together with our clients, we were proud to partner with the following organizations to host legal clinics that benefit many of our local communities:
Broad Street Ministry, Philadelphia
Catholic Charities, Washington, D.C.
Center for Disability and Elder Law Clinics, including participating with the Association of Corporate Counsel, Chicago
Christian Legal Clinics, Philadelphia
Erie Community Center Legal Clinic, Chicago
Family Court Help Center, Philadelphia
Homeless Advocacy Project, including a joint event with Comcast, Philadelphia
Law2Life, Florham Park, NJ
National Immigrant Justice Center, including a clinic with Allstate, Chicago
PBA Young Lawyers Division, expungements and sealing clinic, Philadelphia
Quality Trust, clinic for senior citizens, Washington, D.C.
Walnut Creek Church of Christ, child protection clinic, San Francisco
Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, child protection clinic, San Francisco
“Drinker Biddle’s commitment to pro bono is real. In addition to my work representing insurance companies, I’ve had the opportunity to work on free speech issues, freedom of religion issues, and due process – things that really matter. And the firm has always fully supported me.”
“I choose Drinker Biddle because of one simple word: [the] people. Whether it’s the partners, the associates, or the staff, this firm has tremendous people and it’s reflected in the collegial and collaborative culture that I see every day when I come to the office.”
It is an honor to give back to the communities in which we live and work. It’s also a responsibility that we take to heart because, at our core, it is who we are as a firm. Drinker Biddle is committed to the highest ideals of serving, whether it involves our offices across the country joining forces to raise funds for hurricane relief, or individual offices aiding local food banks, or helping children build their reading skills.
In 2018, we built upon our long-standing dedication to community service by formalizing our firmwide efforts under one name: WeGETInvolved. It means we GET that there is no higher calling than being in service to others. It also means we understand that many people benefit when all of us GET involved, lending our time and talents to help make immediate and tangible differences in the communities where we live and work.
The program uses InvolveSoft, a platform that makes it simple to find and register for various community outreach opportunities based on location, personal interests, skill sets, and availability. Our efforts are tracked via “impact reports” and commemorated in photos, videos, and other media that can easily be shared across the firm. In the fourth quarter of 2018 alone, more than 200 of our people completed 31 events for a total 526 hours of community service.
To us, “community” also extends inward, and all across the firm. Investing in our attorneys, professionals, and staff colleagues is one of our top priorities. With that in mind, we were delighted to establish Well-Being 360, a voluntary program designed to further support Drinker Biddle’s commitment to health and wellness in and out of the workplace. Well-Being 360 allows easy access to a web-based platform that engages participants in various fitness challenges. The technology is available online and via an app on smartphones. Program elements include mindfulness training and a dynamic portal page that houses additional resources.
The culture of a firm reflects the ideals for which it stands. At Drinker Biddle, we work hard to ensure that our culture clearly communicates that we know what our clients seek and what our communities and our attorneys, professionals, and staff colleagues deserve.
At the heart of our culture is an understanding that we must endeavor to provide satisfying, rewarding, and meaningful work for all firm members. The outcome is a dynamic, responsive, and collaborative organization working purposefully toward common goals.
But what truly distinguishes Drinker Biddle is a culture of collegiality…where colleagues are friends and where personal and professional respect are not just platitudes. We live the intangibles the firm has always prized, including integrity, selflessness, and courtesy. Ask anyone at Drinker Biddle what elevates our firm above other organizations, and you’re likely to hear those very words. Listen also for the enthusiasm in their voices. It’s real.
“I choose Drinker Biddle every day because of the special sauce. That’s what distinguishes us: mutual respect and civility among all of us, and a comfortable and supportive work environment.”
Hiring well requires identifying and selecting candidates who share a firm’s core values and embrace a culture of excellence, and then recruiting those individuals to the firm. It is essential for any leading law firm.
In 2018, we added 15 new partners and two counsel across seven offices and eight practice groups, and six of these laterals are women. With these additions, we expanded many of the firm’s national and regional practices. These include the Government Contracts and ERISA practices in Washington, D.C., our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice in Dallas and Los Angeles, and our White Collar practice in New York City.
Additionally, we welcomed 55 lateral associates collectively across all firm offices. We also conducted on-campus interviews at 31 schools and eight career fairs to identify 27 law students for our 2L summer program.
When it comes to our associates, our hiring strategy includes training and mentoring, whether in retaining full-time associates with several years under their belts or hiring promising summer associates. In 2018, we made the decision to restructure our hiring practices and adopt a non-traditional approach.
For example, we replaced the traditionally unstructured interview with structured behavioral interviews. Traditional interviews, which rely disproportionately on tacit considerations such as social pedigree, shared interests, or having attended the “right” schools, are fodder for implicit biases and don’t tell us enough about the abilities that truly matter. They also undermine diversity, in every sense of the word. Today, our approach focuses the interviewer on factors that do tell us about the abilities that matter: problem-solving, teamwork, interpersonal skills, analytical capability, judgment, and the ability to think creatively. These qualities transcend background, and candidates who exhibit them are the kind of people we want to work with and who we believe make Drinker Biddle a great firm and a great place to work.
The quality and experience of our lawyers is our greatest asset. We invest substantially in professional development, particularly in our associates. Our training and mentorship programs are designed to develop legal skills, cultivate leadership abilities, and create a stimulating and fulfilling environment that enables us to attract and retain the best talent.
First-Year Associate Development: Every first-year associate begins with an intensive three-month training program. After the three-month program, as they begin to practice law, associates participate in an apprenticeship program in which they observe senior lawyers in action.
Leadership Education and Associate Development: This curriculum is continuously updated with content relevant to our lawyers. Topics include: Paths to Promotion: Partnership and Counsel Tracks; Emotional Intelligence; Financial Acumen; Time Management; Giving Effective Feedback; Public Speaking; Delegation Training; and Writing for Clients.
Opt-In Mentoring: This program gives associates an opportunity to meet one-on-one with a partner or counsel for informal feedback and guidance.
Peer Adviser Program: New associates and lateral hires are paired with peers within their practice groups.
Senior Associate Adviser Program: Senior associates in the partnership promotion “window” are connected with recently promoted partners who help guide them through the promotion process and the transition to partner.
Mentoring Groups for Diverse Attorneys and Professionals: This program provides opportunities for diverse attorneys and professionals to get additional mentoring experiences beyond the traditional offerings.
Refining our overall strategy for different types of entry-level hiring, we created a program for law students from diverse backgrounds with an emphasis on local and regional law schools. In 2018, we launched a six-week program for interns that featured a pre-arrival assignment, weekly practice group assignments, practical skills seminars, practice-area rotations, shadowing opportunities, and long-term assignments. Importantly, this intern program was designed with the help of our own diverse associates who vetted applicants, organized interviews, and assisted in developing the curriculum.
“The five years I spent as a corporate associate at Drinker Biddle were the most formative of my legal career. The opportunities to engage with clients to help them creatively solve their business issues provided an essential perspective that continues to serve me well in my in-house role. I feel fortunate to have been mentored by smart, practical, forward-thinking professionals who care about their clients. I will always be proud to have been a Drinker Biddle lawyer.”
From their first day at Drinker Biddle, attorneys and professionals become part of an exclusive and influential community that extends beyond their co-workers to a vast network of alumni.
Our current lawyers, professionals, and alumni use this dynamic, collaborative ecosystem to stay connected to business colleagues, share knowledge, and create new experiences among clients, friends, and current firm attorneys and professionals. Our alumni network provides a variety of resources that create continued value, including virtual and in-person CLEs, networking and community events, and regular communications that include personal updates, alumni news, career support, and much more.
During 2018, we continued to expand our alumni network by regularly engaging the firm’s lawyers at all points in their careers. We emphasize to our newer associates and lateral hires the importance of the alumni network and the value it provides.
“When I first met my teammates, I was struck by these strong, smart creative thinkers. I’m a scientist who works at a law firm, which is pretty unconventional. The fact that there is a place for me here at Drinker Biddle, people who welcome me and my ideas, and provide support for the different projects I’m interested in, make this firm unique and innovative.”
Delivering innovative solutions to our clients often necessitates going outside the traditional practice of law. Many firms may talk about their multidisciplinary approach, but Drinker Biddle was among the first to deliver truly integrated service offerings. And we continue to lead the pack.
We supplement the work of our talented lawyers with complementary services from other accomplished professionals. These collaborations bring increased value to our clients, frequently spawning innovative solutions to their most challenging legal and business issues.
In 2018, Drinker Biddle continued to break new ground through our Consortia Management Team, facilitating critical industry cooperation; The District Policy Group, mastering federal legislative and government regulatory advocacy; and Tritura, harnessing technology and using data and analytics in impactful ways for business.
A unique blend of lawyers, scientists, policy analysts, compliance specialists, and project managers, the Consortia Management Team (CMT) assembles and supports collaborations in the biopharmaceutical, medical device and other life sciences fields. There is no industry landscape more dynamic and perhaps no team more illustrative of how Drinker Biddle steps outside of its role as a “traditional law firm” to advance its clients’ objectives.
With more than 25 years of related experience, the CMT currently manages numerous industry consortia, with members ranging from some of the world’s most venerable life sciences organizations to many vibrant newcomers, and to several research and manufacturing organizations. Underpinning each consortium is the premise—proven time and again—that functional collaborations empower companies to effectively address common challenges.
Indeed, the challenges have never been greater. Against increasingly stringent compliance regulations, widening global competition, vast data privacy and data security concerns, and a proliferation of connected devices, it’s clear that companies and associations—even those that otherwise compete with each other—find it more effective to join forces rather than go it alone when confronting these profound issues.
The CMT enables these collaborations, executing central legal and administrative tasks, such as:
Virtually all the consortia supported by the CMT expanded in 2018 with respect to the number of companies represented, working groups, individual participants, projects, and initiatives. The team has grown apace, currently comprising more than 30 lawyers, scientists, and allied professionals.
The demand for CMT-managed consortia continues to increase as does the number of participating member companies in these efforts. Most importantly, these constructive collaborations, regardless of the challenges they address, each share a common goal in that they facilitate the efforts of these organizations:
All CMT-managed consortia and their member companies work collaboratively to address common concerns. The IPMPC focuses on addressing global data privacy laws and regulations applicable to the life sciences industry. It also exemplifies how a special-purpose consortium enables Drinker Biddle lawyers and professionals to collaborate with colleagues throughout the firm and provide their clients with a comprehensive, integrated service offering. CMT attorneys have served as legal counsel and secretariat for the IPMPC since 2002, providing specialized expertise in global data privacy and security.
As global data collection, use, and storage have increased exponentially, potential liabilities have grown in kind, strengthening the demand for practical and strategic legal and compliance expertise in this area. The CMT maintains a core team of dedicated and experienced professionals focused on providing practical and timely data privacy counsel to a wide range of organizations in industries such as life sciences, automotive, education, retail, and financial services.
The CMT also works in concert with Drinker Biddle’s Information Privacy, Security and Governance (IPSG) team. The IPSG team collaborates with specialists throughout the firm to assess information privacy and security practices, develop information governance programs, respond to regulatory compliance inquires and investigations, and handle associated litigation. This cadre of experts, with global reach and a demonstrated record of accurately interpreting and helping to craft privacy statutes and regulations, contributes to Drinker Biddle’s reputation as an industry leader in this area.
As policymaking gridlock becomes the new normal in the nation’s capital, the art of moving issues and positions forward becomes both more difficult and more valuable.
Masters of that art, Drinker Biddle’s District Policy Group (DPG) celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2018. We marked that milestone the way we began — by listening to our clients, many of whom convened for interactive presentations, panels, and other enlightening exchanges at our biennial summit in October 2018.
The DPG, made up of former congressional staffers and in-house lobbyists and a former member of Congress, represents clients in federal legislative and regulatory policy work focused on the issues affecting the key drivers of the nation’s economy, including health care, agriculture, and trade.
In 2018, DPG President Ilisa Halpern Paul and Executive Vice President Jodie Curtis were named two of Washington’s leading influencers on The Hill’s “Top Lobbyists” list. This was the fourth straight year Ilisa was recognized and the second year for Jodie.
“The nation’s capital is teeming with lobbyists and influencers,” The Hill said, “but when the stakes are at their highest, these are the players at the top of their game, known for their ability to successfully navigate the byzantine and competitive world of federal policymaking.”
While a divided Congress made legislative progress difficult, our District Policy Group advised and advocated for a wide range of clients, including Advocate Aurora Health, Alliance for Aging Research, American Diabetes Association, Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, Hematology Oncology Pharmacy Association, and Integra Lifesciences. As part of the team’s 2018 successes, DPG led efforts that resulted in enactment of four new public health statutes addressing maternal and child health, global health, and sports medicine.
Data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are increasingly talked about in the legal context, but nearly always as part of an amorphous future. For Drinker Biddle’s Tritura, that future is here and already delivering dramatic results for our clients.
Value doesn’t come only from data collection and insights gleaned from analysis. The real difference—as our clients enthusiastically appreciate—derives from the strategic legal advantages spurred by a comprehensive understanding of data science as applied to the practice of law.
Tritura is dedicated to advancing data science and utilizing the latest technology to help our clients leverage their information. We work with clients to maximize the actionable value of their information, while complying with complex, overlapping legal requirements for its use and management. Data scientists, technologists, and data scientist-lawyers provide a range of analytics, eDiscovery, and information governance services. Our proprietary analytics tools help clients with a wide array of objectives, from monetizing and productizing their data to responding adroitly to cybersecurity breaches.
With the assistance of Tritura’s data science team, in 2018 Drinker Biddle’s M&A teams were able to apply data analytics to the typical due diligence process and complete it in a fraction of the time, with heightened accuracy, and at a greatly reduced cost.
Another example from the past year was the development and deployment of advanced machine-learning algorithms, which transformed document review from a painstaking manual exercise into a highly efficient fact development process. Helping our clients determine their position and exposure with unparalleled immediacy and accuracy—at significantly reduced costs—has revolutionized litigation.
Our Tritura business unit is reshaping the practice of law, enabling Drinker Biddle to become a leader in the use of legal technology, leveraging a rapidly growing set of capabilities that distinguish us and give our clients an advantage in today’s data-driven marketplace.