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WGP Ranks in 2020 “Best Law Firms”

By: devweb

Philadelphia –January 24, 2020Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC (WGP) has received a top ranking in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list. The firm received top tier ratings in both Employment Law and Criminal Defense for individuals in the City of Philadelphia. Firms included in the 2020 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. The 2020 Edition of “Best Law Firms” includes rankings in 75 national practice areas and 127 metropolitan-based practice areas. Additionally, one “Law Firm of the Year” was named in each nationally-ranked practice area. Founded in 1996 as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.

Ron Greenblatt, Pat Pierce Named to Best Lawyers

By: devweb

Philadelphia – January 15, 2020Ronald L. Greenblatt and Patricia V. Pierce of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC (WGP) have been named to the 2020 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, the only purely peer-review guide to the legal profession. According to CEO Phil Greer, “Best Lawyers was founded in 1981 with the purpose of recognizing extraordinary lawyers in private practice through an exhaustive peer-review process. Almost 40 years later, we are proud to continue to serve as the most reliable, unbiased guide to legal talent worldwide.” Greenblatt, who is managing partner of the firm, was recognized for his work in Criminal Defense and Employment Law on behalf of individuals. This is his second straight year in Best Lawyers.  He has successfully litigated over 1,000 criminal trials on charges ranging from homicide, homicide by vehicle, sexual assault, serious drug offenses, fraud and other white-collar crimes, internet crimes, DUI/DWI, including those involving the insanity defense. He co-manages the firm’s extensive civil rights practice with Pat Pierce. Pierce was recognized for her work in in Employment Law on behalf of individuals. She has been listed in Best Lawyers since 1997. Pierce heads the Employment Law practice at the firm and serves as a principal in the firm’s Corporate Investigations practice. Lawyers named to the publication were recognized for their professional excellence in 146 practice areas. For the 2020 Edition, 8.3 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in the inclusion of more than 62,000 lawyers, or approximately 5 percent of lawyers in private practice in the United States. Founded in 1996 as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.  

What Are the Duties of the General Counsel to the Pa. Supreme Court?

By: devweb

By Peter F. Vaira, for the May 14, 2019 edition of The Legal Intelligencer newspaper This column discusses the duties of a general counsel to a state Supreme Court. Although the Pennsylvania Supreme Court does not have a general counsel, it recently created the position of counsel to the court which is similar. Several states including Texas, Missouri, Michigan and Rhode Island have a formal position of general counsel to the Supreme Court, which has advantages that I will discuss below. The general counsel, in the states listed above, is more than a lawyer employed to answer legal questions propounded by the justices. The duties of the general counsel in the states indicated above have the following responsibilities in common:
  • The general counsel is the personal lawyer to the justices for official administrative matters of the court, not involving a case or controversy.
  • The general counsel may respond, orally or in writing, to one or all members of the court.
  • There exists an attorney-client privilege between the general counsel and the justices. The advice sought by and given to the court members is confidential and is not made public.
  • The general counsel does not file an appearance in litigation when the court is a party; however, the general counsel may offer advice to the court in selecting outside counsel to represent the court. The general counsel may also give advice to the outside counsel representing the court.
  • The general counsel may bring to the attention of the justices, matters of administration, personnel, or potential litigation that may eventually involve the Supreme Court, the Commonwealth Court or the Common Pleas Court of the individual counties.
  • The general counsel may advise individual justices regarding their own conduct in running for election in those states where the justices must run for election or retention.
  • The general counsel may advise the court regarding public statements to be made by the court regarding matters before the court or matters between the court, the Legislature, the attorney general or the governor.
Individual justices seeking the advice of counsel is not a new issue. As a historical fact, justices of state Supreme Courts have often engaged private counsel for official matters not involving a case or conflict. Many Supreme Courts employ a person designated as counsel to respond to questions from the justices. This is the case in Pennsylvania. Chief Justice Thomas Saylor said, “Our court recently created the position of full-time counsel to the court, following the lead of other jurisdictions. Our most immediate interest was to improve oversight of the various Supreme Court boards. We also recognized that the Supreme Court has needs and interests that are distinct from those served by counsel to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.” Former Superior Court Judge Geoff Moulton was appointed as counsel to the court in early 2018. Saylor noted that Moulton’s contributions are expanding. This has been the experience of the general counsel in the other states.
The difference in employing a person with the formal title of general counsel is that the general counsel stands ready to respond to individual requests, but also has the capacity to bring issues to the attention of the court on his own initiative. Equally important in state government, is that the general counsel has the position to officially deal with other branches of state government or federal government. The appointment of a general counsel has occurred in other states, in part, as a result of courts having to deal with a growing number of administrative issues. Supreme Courts are no longer the isolated third part of the three branches of state government. The Supreme Court must respond to the legislature’s initiatives regarding supervision of the courts or proposed legislation or initiatives from the attorney general or agency heads in their rule-making power.  A justice on the Texas Supreme Court said that one of the reasons for appointing a general counsel was to send someone to deal with those agency heads, who had the title and the authority to speak for the court, rather than sending a person with the position of staff attorney or counsel. Texans understand political horsepower. When do the justices seek advice of the general counsel? Julie Hamil, the general counsel to the Rhode Island Supreme Court said, “Just because they are judicial officers does not mean they do not need to consult counsel on matters outside active cases that involve the administration of the justice system.” Hamil is in her second year as general counsel, after having served eight years as assistant general counsel. Joseph Baumann, former general counsel to the Michigan Supreme Court, said the justices often do not fully recognize the need for individual advice until the opportunity is offered to them. Baumann served as general counsel to the Michigan Supreme Court for three years. He is now general counsel to Wolverine Power Cooperative in Michigan. Baumann said he had overall administration over any proposed amendments to Supreme Court rules, although the day-to-day issues raised by counsel to parties is dealt with initially by an administrative counsel. The area of amendments to Supreme Court rules varies with each Supreme Court; however, all general counsel have input into final changes in the rules. Baumann said he had the duty of speaking on behalf of the supreme court in dealing with legislative issues involving the court being considered by the legislature. He also was the voice of the court when dealing with state agencies and their agendas or rule making procedure. He took no formal part in litigation when the court was included in a lawsuit but was active in advising the Michigan attorney general who represented the court. Hamil said she takes an active role in engaging outside counsel for the Rhode Island Supreme Court when the court is a party to litigation. In emergency situations, she has entered her appearance on behalf of the court until outside counsel could be engaged. The Texas Supreme Court general counsel deals with the Texas attorney general, who represents the court in litigation, when the court is included as a party to a lawsuit. Does the general counsel have the duty to identify issues that may be presented to the court prior to the court being presented with them? Baumann, the former general counsel of the Michigan Supreme Court, said it was part of his responsibility to inform the court of possible violations of the separation of powers when the role of the judiciary was compromised. A justice of the Texas Supreme Court felt that the court expected the general counsel to bring such incidents to the court’s attention. An observer of Pennsylvania politics only needs to recall three years ago when it was discovered that attorneys from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office were sending ex parte emails containing pornographic photos, ethnic or racial slurs to judges their agency appeared before. This was not a one-time incident, but a concentrated effort to compromise the judiciary. Ex parte communications are in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Code of Judicial Conduct. No one sought to bring this issue of compromise of the judiciary to the court’s attention. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has vast unlimited powers. The Pennsylvania Constitution, Article V, Section 10, gives the court general supervisory and administrative power over all the courts. A general counsel can assist the court in using this power in dealing with compromising situations such as described above, or situations when the court itself is the subject of complaints. A general counsel can assist the court in dealing with the legislature, state agencies, or the governor, on an arm’s-length basis. The general counsel can assist the court in assessing the reports of various committees and the report of the grand jury task force that is due to be presented in a few months. Peter F. Vaira is a member of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores. He is a former U.S. attorney, and is the author of a book on Eastern District practice that is revised annually. He can be contacted at p.vaira@gpfflaw.com.

WGP Keeps Partner’s Memory Alive at Colon Cancer Coalition Walk

By: devweb

Philadelphia – May 31, 2019 – Attorneys and staff from Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC (WGP) recently joined cancer survivors and supporters at the 2019 Philadelphia “Get Your Rear in Gear” run/walk. The event is an annual tradition for the WGP family to honor firm namesake Margaret M. “Meg” Flores, who died in 2014 from colon cancer. The firm’s team is aptly named “Legs4Meg.” “Meg was a brilliant attorney and a constant source of inspiration to us all,” said Managing Partner Ronald L. Greenblatt. “We march each year to honor Meg’s strength and love as an attorney, a mother and someone who valiantly fought this disease as hard as she fought for justice. We will continue to march to keep her memory alive.” The four-mile run/two-mile walk and kids’ fun run took place at Memorial Hall/Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. The event raises funds for the Colon Cancer Coalition, a nonprofit that provides funds to increase colon cancer screenings and save lives. Colon cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, and the second leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Colon Cancer Coalition. With regular screenings and early detection, colon cancer is preventable and treatable, notes the organization. Founded 23 years ago as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.

Bella Schnall Presents at Philadelphia Bar Program

By: devweb

Philadelphia – May 6, 2019 – Partner Bella “Billie” Schnall of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC (WGP) was a featured presenter at a recent Philadelphia Bar Association educational program on family law titled 2019 Update on Support Rules. The program provided an in-depth update on important changes in the calculation of child support, spousal support, alimony pendente lite and alimony, as a result of the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 amending federal tax law. Schnall is chair of the Family Law Practice Group at WGP and has more than 30 years’ experience in family law/domestic relations. She handles a wide range of matters including divorce, child support and child custody cases as well as drafting of pre- and post-nuptial agreements. She is a trained Collaborative Divorce Attorney and is a former co-president of the Collaborative Lawyers of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Schnall is a lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and the Pennsylvania Institute for Certified Accountants and has served as a faculty member of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. She also is a former adjunct professor at Western New England School of Law, where she created and taught a course on Women and the Law. Founded 23 years ago as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.

Joyce Collier Addresses Workplace Discrimination, Misconduct & Allegations at Wharton Event

By: devweb

Joyce L. Collier, second from left, stands with Lissa Goldenstein and student organizers of One Wharton Week
Philadelphia – April 10, 2019 – Partner Joyce L. Collier of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC recently shared tactical strategies to combat workplace discrimination, misconduct and allegations at the “One Wharton Week,” a week of thought-provoking events and lectures on diversity, identity and inclusion at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Collier co-presented with her sister, Lissa Goldenstein, a three-time CEO and successful business executive with more than 25 years of commercial experience. Their session, “Know Your Rights: Discrimination, Misconduct & Allegations in the Workplace,” addressed gender, racism and other bias in the workplace and legal and management approaches to resolutions. Collier and Goldenstein also discussed the roles of the accused, the accuser and the bystander. “Knowledge is the first step in overcoming bias and misconduct in the workplace,” said Collier. “In this era of #MeToo, it’s more important than ever to start the dialogue about how we can advocate for more inclusive practices for ourselves and others.” Collier is a partner in the firm’s Employment Law, Civil Rights and Complex Litigation practice groups. She has 30 years of experience as a trial lawyer in state and federal court in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Her passion is fighting for low-wage workers who have been denied the most basic workplace protections. Among her victories are the successful representation, along with attorney Gloria Allred, of some of the women who were harassed by Bill Cosby. She also represented the head of human resources of a large university who was terminated after eighteen years of loyal service, a cancer survivor who was the only employee terminated during a purported layoff, and a woman who was fired in violation of the FMLA while she was in treatment for alcoholism. One Wharton Week is organized by Return on Equality (ROE), a student-led coalition whose vision is to make Wharton a pioneering institution that deliberately equips students to be leaders and advocates of inclusive organizational practices. Founded 23 years ago as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.