From Firm Founder Sheryl Axelrod:
My service to the Temple Law Alumni Association dates back to 2003. I founded and co-chaired TLAA’s Women’s Initiative, its events, and the TLAA Women’s Champion Award, the TLAA Diversity Committee, its events, and the TLAA Diversity Leadership Award, the TLAA Admission Ceremony, and a successful multi-year Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course. On top of that, I co-chaired Law Day events, Happy Hours, and social events. Before becoming President of TLAA, I was awarded the organization’s 2009 Distinguished Service Award for my volunteerism on behalf of Temple alumni.
I was the 4th woman president in TLAA’s nearly 100 year history. When I was President of TLAA, I supervised and coordinated all programming for Temple Law graduates, from CLEs to award ceremonies, from networking events, sporting events, and luncheons, to panel presentations. I organized and ran all TLAA Executive Committee meetings, too.
The photographs to the left provide a glimpse into the scope of the community impacted by these efforts. We host a number of networking events. Included among them was a cooking class at La Cucina. The photo at the top is from that class.
The bottom three photos were taken at TLAA Admission Ceremonies. Each Fall, we host an Admission Ceremony and reception for the Temple Law graduates who have passed the Bar Exam. Each graduate is invited to attend with their guests for free. We invite a distinguished panel of judges who are graduates of the Law School to preside over the event, and invite the graduates and their guests to take pictures with the judges afterwards. The third photo down shows how large an audience comes.
Pictured at the second photo from the top, from the 2012 Admission Ceremony, are, from left to right: Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Annette Rizzo and President Judge Pamela Dembe, Temple Law Dean JoAnne Epps, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judges Glynnis Hill and Sandra Mazer Moss, and me.
The third photo down was taken at the 2012 Admission Ceremony. President Judge Pamela Dembe (standing) presided with (to her left) Judges Moss (retired), Hill, and (although not captured in the frame) Rizzo (retired).
The bottom photo is from the 2009 Admission Ceremony. Pictured, from left to right, are: now Provost JoAnne Epps standing next to me and to my right, former Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Justice Seamus McCaffrey, and Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judges Jaqueline Allen, Ann Butchart, and Sandra Mazer Moss (retired).
Judge Moss is now President of TLAA.
From Firm Founder Sheryl Axelrod:
I volunteer quite a bit of time to improving the legal profession, and have since I was a young lawyer.
A. The YLD
I served three years on the Executive Committee of the Young Lawyers Division of the Bar Association (the YLD), an elected, volunteer post. I primarily dedicated my time to children including by co-chairing the Michael K. Smith Oratorical Contest for students in grades 4 through 8, and the Doctor and Lawyer in the Classroom events for young people. At the Oratorical Contest, my fellow lawyers and I sat as judges, listening to young students deliver arguments on mock appellate issues. It gave the students the chance to begin to develop oral advocacy skills, have fun answering questions, and get positive feedback. Those of us who volunteered as judges had a wonderful time. Many lawyers came back to participate in the event year after year. Doctor and Lawyer in the Classroom events, where members from the two professions talked to students about their careers, were great, too. The students would invariably pepper us with questions, full of enthusiasm and curiosity about their futures. It was a joy spending time with them.
In the Spring of 2010, the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association appointed me to two posts: (1) to a three-year term on the Commission on Judicial Selection’s Investigative Division; and (2) to Co-Chair the Bar’s Law Practice Management Committee.
B. The Investigative Division
Those of us on the Investigative Division vet the people seeking to be elected as judges in Pennsylvania. Our investigations begin with a review of the candidates’ written submissions. From there, we go to the candidates’ offices, meet with them, speak with their references, and in every case, identify and talk to a minimum of four additional people whose names the candidate did not supply. We use defined standards to assess each candidate including the candidate’s legal ability, experience, integrity, temperament, community involvement, and judgment.
The Investigative Division is an arm of the Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, an independent, non-partisan body. The Investigative Division, like the entire Commission, includes lawyers and non-lawyers alike. Commission members are community leaders, officials including the Chief Public Defender, the City Solicitor, the President Judges of the Municipal and Common Pleas Courts, and representatives of minority legal groups and sections of the Bar.
After a team from the Investigative Division has examined a candidate, the Commission will hear from the individual who led the candidate’s investigation, and from the candidate. Afterwards, the Commission will rate the candidate. The Bar Association then publishes the ratings so voters can bring the information to the polls. As prior Chancellor Rudy Garcia put it, “The [Bar] Association wants voters to know not just who to vote for but why the judicial elections are so important and why we invest so much time and energy in reviewing and rating [the] candidates. This is the one place for voters to find a thorough, non-partisan, objective rating of … candidates.”
It is an honor to serve on the Investigative Division, to lead investigative teams, and to report our findings to the Commission. What is perhaps most satisfying is the great trust the public has demonstrated in the Commission’s work. Individuals who are not recommended by the Commission generally do not get elected.
C. The LPMC
When Harper Dimmerman, James Elam, and I co-chaired the Law Practice Management Committee (the LPMC) in 2010, the country was in the midst of a financial crisis. Scott Cooper was the Chancellor of the Bar Association at the time. When he appointed us, he gave us each the following directive: provide programming aimed at helping lawyers starting small and solo practices. Explain how you get a firm off the ground, and how you make a practice successful. “Teach folks,” he told us, “what you know about firm management.”
Harper, James, and I approached the LPMC with the same vigor we brought to our practices. Each of us had started a law firm and seized upon the economic climate to grow our business. We did so by viewing the economic downturn not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity. It presented new challenges and if we could meet them, we could leapfrog ahead. We figured we could look at Scott’s directive for us in the same way. Reinvigorating the LPMC in a recession was a challenge, but it presented an opportunity to reach out and make a difference for members of the profession.
We resolved to produce 12 programs a year and hit the ground running, brainstorming about the topics and speakers who could most benefit our colleagues. We chose to design programs to answer the same questions we had before we learned how to run our law firms:
• How do I go about forming a practice?
• What can I do to brand and distinguish my firm from the competition?
• How do I generate business?
• What leadership skills would help me move my firm forward?
• Are there web-based legal research tools that won’t cost me a fortune?
• Where should I bank?
• How do I get a website off the ground?
• What should I do to manage my bookkeeping, and track my costs?
• How do I find an office location and lease that suit my needs?
• Should I use social media and if so, how?
• Is there a way to use technology to streamline my operations?
• What kinds of software could help my practice run smoothly? and
• How do I manage employees without a human resources director?
Once we knew the questions we wanted to address, we set up one program per month through to the end of the year, and locked speakers in place to provide our colleagues with answers.
In our August 2010 meeting, May Mon Post, Harper Dimmerman, and I provided tips on how to start a solo or small practice and thrive. We engaged in a roundtable, interactive discussion providing lessons we learned from running our firms. We covered everything from cost-cutting to bill tracking to marketing. We told folks how to jump through the hoops necessary to start a practice and come out ahead of the curve. You can read more about our programs in our Bar Reporter article on the subject, Also check out our Webinars and Events page, where we describe our additional Bar Association related community engagements.
D. The American Bar Association
I serve as a Diversity Fellow in the American Bar Association.