Competing for a Cause


By Thomas A. Brophy, president and CEO at Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C., and president of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.

Sports have a wonderful way of bringing people together in the spirit of community and competition. Whether we play in a lawyers’ softball league or spend Sunday afternoons rooting for the Eagles, sports tap into our competitive nature in a way that also emphasizes team unity and good sportsmanship. In a broader sense, the practice of law could benefit by incorporating more of this sense of collegiality to balance out our more adversarial tendencies.

I have a special affection for the game of golf. The sport does not always love me back, but at least I enjoy being outdoors for a few hours with good friends and colleagues.
On June 12, I had the great pleasure of hosting the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s 29th Annual Golf & Tennis Classic. We played at Green Valley Country Club, and it was a wonderful day.

The Golf & Tennis Classic is a truly fun event for a great cause. It provides a unique opportunity for the members and leaders of the legal community to raise the profile of our mutual philanthropic efforts benefiting the Foundation’s mission for access to justice.

This year we successfully raised more than $85,000 in net revenue to support Foundation grants to non-profit legal aid organizations, thanks to the involvement of approximately 50 law firms and businesses and 130 participants. These firms and individuals sponsored the event, purchased tickets to play, attended the reception and dinner, and contributed through the online auction. Please see our event webpage for the full list of sponsors.

What impresses me the most is how the Classic brings together the legal community. Our event planning committee, co-chaired by Bob Hart of Bernstein Private Wealth Management and Nick LePore of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, involves exceptionally committed individuals who organize the whole enterprise. The Foundation’s board of trustees also work overtime to solicit sponsors and auction items. Approximately 20 students and professionals volunteer at the club on the day of the event.

Several local businesses go above and beyond to make this a rewarding occasion. The Legal Intelligencer publishes in-kind advertisements to encourage participation and recognize sponsors. Reliable prints in-kind all the materials and signage for the event. Wilkie Lexus donates entry to a Pebble Beach tournament for an auction item and offers a luxury vehicle as a hole-in-one prize. Sam Zolten and PhotoFacts document the day through beautiful photography.

Even more importantly, the spirit and enthusiasm shown throughout the event demonstrate the potential of our legal community to work together to accomplish big goals. Playing golf and tennis can serve as models for translating zealous competition into generous philanthropy benefiting people struggling with poverty, abuse and discrimination.

As Philadelphia’s philanthropic hub for access to justice, the Foundation will need to draw on this same kind of commitment and collaboration to develop the Equal Justice Center and to significantly increase the overall level of regional support for legal aid. As I stood amid my colleagues at the closing reception of the 29th Annual Golf & Tennis Classic, I was struck by the excitement and energy in support of the Foundation. Many who participated have achieved professional and economic success, but haven’t forgotten those individuals and families in need. Our sponsors and donors have a sincere interest in helping others and see the Foundation as an effective vehicle to provide crucial assistance.

We asked a few of the participants to share their thoughts about the Foundation’s crucial mission, the future of access to justice in our region, and the more philosophical aspects of playing sports. Here are their thoughts:

“We are all here on this beautiful day because we are committed to the basic principle of equal access to justice for all. That’s what we are all about,” said Nicholas J. LePore III, Foundation trustee and managing partner, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP.

“Non-profit legal aid organizations depend on the funding generated through event sponsorships and ticket sales, and the publicity surrounding the event is important to keep the Philadelphia Bar Foundation and its grantees in the minds of the legal community,” said Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Deborah R. Gross.

“It is a fun way to bring everyone together to do something truly good for people facing poverty and discrimination.” William P. Fedullo, Former Association Chancellor. “The event is a great opportunity to raise awareness and increase support for the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s access to justice mission and its programs benefiting legal aid in Philadelphia.” Matthew S. Olesh, Chair of the Association’s Young Lawyers Division.

On behalf of the board and staff of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, thank you for getting involved and ensuring access to justice for all people in the community.