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Awesome Attorneys
Up close and personal with some of the region's top attorneys

by Bill Donahue

Lawyers of every make and model, from those who focus their practice on adoption or zoning (or something in between), received votes for our 2012 Awesome Attorneys report. Following are insights from some of the area’s top attorneys who go above and beyond to meet clients’ needs, from the suburbs to the heart of Center City. Whether it’s to settle a family-law dispute, amend a tax situation or gain restitution and peace of mind for an injury resulting from another’s negligence, the men and women making up our 2012 Awesome Attorneys report consistently rise to the occasion.

George Martin
Martin Banks
One thing you wish you had known in law school:
That practicing law gets better as you get older.

If you could have a superpower for one week: I would want to be Superman, but he has more than one superpower.

One of your personal heroes or mentors: Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center because he has done so much to fight intolerance and hatred in the face of great personal risk.

Something most clients might not know about you: I am an avid outdoorsman.

One TV show you simply cannot miss: [“The Daily Show” with] Jon Stewart because I get the latest news and get to laugh at the same time.

I am at my best when______: I am at one with nature, getting an adrenaline rush.


Paula Munafo Borradaile
Bennett & Associates
One thing you wish you had known in law school:
The ability to negotiate is arguably a lawyer’s most important skill. There should be more law-school classes teaching effective negotiation.

One of your personal heroes or mentors: My mom. She is a wonderful example of a strong woman.

Something most clients might not know about you: I have two cats, Baxter and Raffie. Baxter predates “Anchorman,” although it is a funny movie.

If you could have a superpower for one week: I would like to have mind-reading capabilities; it would help me in my cases.

One TV show you simply cannot miss: I do not have a weekly TV show, but “Law and Order” is my go-to rerun. I have always enjoyed detective genre TV shows. When I was younger, “Matlock” was my favorite.

I am at my best when _____: I believe in what I am doing.


E. Garrett Gummer III
Elder Law Offices of E. Garrett Gummer III

One thing you wish you had known in law school: Law school did not offer any courses in the business of law. Over the years, I’ve devoted substantial time and energy learning how to properly run a law firm.

An experience that changed your life: My service as a naval officer allowed me to see the world, and gave me the leadership experience at a young age which is difficult to duplicate in civilian life.

If you could have a superpower for one week: I would like to be able to fly. This way, I could view life from a different perspective, not to mention avoid traffic jams.

One of your heroes or mentors: Alexander Hamilton, a true Renaissance man. He was learned in the arts, law, military affairs, business and government.

Something most clients might not know about you: I am very fond of animals, and seriously considered becoming a veterinarian.


David Steerman
Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP

One thing you wish you had known in law school: That I would spend the rest of my working life having to bill each minute of my time.

Something most clients might not know about you: I am extremely artistic and an avid gardener, which is one of my creative/artistic outlets.

If you could have a superpower for one week: I would want to be able to fly. I would use my week of flying time to cover the globe and determine which countries I would like to make a return visit to when I have more time.

A TV show you simply cannot miss: I would be too embarrassed to tell you the truth so I’ll go with “Parenthood.”

I am at my best when ____: I start my day with a five-mile run or longer in an outdoor natural setting, followed by some time with my wife and daughters.

 
Joseph Pozzuolo
Pozzuolo Rodden P.C.
One thing you wish you had known in law school:
Wisdom comes with age, great legal training and experience. Your legal education gives you a “commencement”—nothing more, nothing less.

If you could have a superpower for one week: I am comfortable with myself and whom I am and do not wish to be anyone other than whom I am.

Something most clients might not know about you: I am not yelling. Italian men, especially Italian attorneys, speak loud with their hands moving at all times. Many individuals mistake passion for yelling.

One TV show you simply cannot miss: “The Big Bang Theory.” It makes me laugh and most attorneys were nerds at least during eight weeks per year during law school.

I am at my best when _____: My opposing attorney is trying to pressure, manipulate or control me into doing something that’s not in my client’s best interest.


John B. Whalen Jr.
John B. Whalen Jr. Esq.

One thing you wish you had known in law school: Knowledge of the law—and its extreme depth and complexity—is a wonderful, beautiful gift to have. However, at the end of the day, it is merely just a tool. It is to be used extremely carefully due to its inherent and vast power and danger.

If you could have a superpower for one week: All of the superpowers—invisibility, strength, telepathy, speed—have a far greater downside than an upside. I would not want any; it would do more harm than good, as well as take the enjoyment out of life.

Something most clients might not know about you: I have seen the band The Psychedelic Furs live in concert 82 times since circa 1980-81, and I personally know all of them very well; I have a tattoo of a cross on my ankle to remind me of my father; I can say the alphabet backwards in 20 seconds; I can name all of the American presidents in order in less than a minute; I can juggle; I play the drums; and I drink a half-gallon of milk every day.

I am at my best when ______: I know that I have helped a client with a problem on any given day and know in my heart that a short and sweet telephone discussion—very often at 10 p.m.—will allow them to smile, relax, sleep well and know that all will be well.

 


Greg LaMonaca
Law Offices of Gregory P. LaMonaca P.C.

One thing that you wish you had known in law school: I feel that law schools are very well equipped to teach what the law is, how to apply it and legal theory. What is lacking is the very real and necessary skills in learning human development, psychology, philosophy, and how best to deal with the various emotional and practical problems that clients have. The ability to empathize, tell the client’s a story, invoke passion, energy, enthusiasm and all available senses into each legal argument is critical.

If you could have a superpower for one week: It would be to have a “magic button” that I could push that would simultaneously solve all of my clients’ problems immediately. However, this button simply does not exist. Through the use of comprehensive journals and the like, we gain a better understanding as to why the problems have arisen, and why each of the parties acts the way they do. With this knowledge, it is akin to having the superpower of X-ray vision into the client, as well as the opposing side.

An experience that changed your life: The most significant, life-changing event was my diagnosis at age 14 with a condition I am the only person in the world to have. Benign tumors have disabled me at various stages of my life, the last of which was in 2005 when I was paralyzed when a tumor was pressing on my spinal cord. This condition has empowered me to live each day to the fullest and to impart this information to my family, friends and clients. It has allowed me to develop tenacity, perseverance and the ability to put all other minor problems in perspective.


Elizabeth L. Lippy
Fairlie & Lippy P.C.

One thing you wish you had known in law school: That being yourself is the best way to present any case. There is no need to change into the “mold” of what you would think a lawyer should be like.

An experience that changed your life: Opening Fairlie & Lippy.

One of your personal heroes or mentors: My partner, Steve Fairlie. Somehow he is able to balance work, life, kids, success, honor and putting up with me as his partner.

I am at my best when ______: I am up against a huge challenge.

If you could have a superpower for one week: I would be able to be in at least five places at the same time.

One TV show you simply cannot miss: “The Good Wife.”

Something most clients might not know about you: I still get nervous when I walk into a courtroom. I will never let my clients or opponents see me sweat, but because I still care I still get nervous.


Mark B. Dischell
Dischell Bartle & Dooley P.C.

One of your personal heroes or mentors: Abraham Lincoln—sweet, compassionate, practical, and he knew when to compromise and when to stand up for what he believed in.

An experience that changed your life: I nearly drowned 10 years ago, and it made me realize that every day is a good one.

I’m at my best when _____: I am challenged to anything.

One thing you wish you had known in law school: I wish I knew then how much the practice of law would take away from my “nonworking” time, with constant thoughts about clients and resolving their problems.

If you could have a superpower for one week: The ability to see the future as to how the clients would fare in their cases and in life in general.

Something most clients might not know about you: I am loyal to a fault.

One TV show you simply cannot miss: “Boardwalk Empire.” The real “Nucky” (the show’s main character) was at my bar mitzvah.


Harry J. DiDonato
MacElree Harvey Ltd.

Something most clients might not know about you: I am colorblind. I have a tough time picking a matching tie in the morning.

One of your personal heroes or mentors: My father provided me with a moral compass and by example taught me about priorities in life. Through his example I learned to be a committed husband and parent.

One thing you wish you had known in law school: To always make sure to take time out for yourself and your family no matter how busy your academic or professional life.

An experience that changed your life: When I walked into Al E. Gators in Bryn Mawr in 1988 and met my wife Cristy.

If you could have a superpower for one week: I would like to have the superpower to accomplish everything with phenomenal speed. It would allow me to clean up my desk and knock out my “to do” list in the week’s time. I also tend to be impatient so it would fit my personality.

One TV show you simply cannot miss: I cannot miss Notre Dame football on Saturday’s in the fall. Go Irish!


Michelle A. Fioravanti
Barbieri & Associates

One thing you wish you had known in law school: Don’t sweat the small stuff. I spent much of law school making myself neurotic worrying about minutia. In the real-world practice of law you don’t have to memorize all the minor details; you just have to know where to find them when you need them.

One of your personal heroes or mentors: Anyone that is serving or has served in the United States military. I can’t imagine a more selfless act than leaving your family, friends and job to risk your life protecting our country. While waiting in line to vote last month I struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman. Turns out he was a World War II veteran, and his stories of the war were fascinating.

Something most clients might not know about you: I’m a big supporter of animal-rescue organizations and used to be a volunteer with Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue. I’m the go-to person if you’re thinking about adopting a dog or cat.

An experience that changed your life: The first time a client said to me, “I feel so much better after talking to you.” I was shocked. After hearing that I realized being an attorney isn’t just a career but a way to really make a difference in a person’s life.

One TV show you simply cannot miss: Are you kidding? I am the mother of almost 5-year-old twin girls as well as being a full-time trial lawyer, so I rarely have time for TV. And when I do watch a TV show these days it usually contains at least one princess.


Eugene A. Bonner
Eugene A. Bonner Attorney at Law

One thing you wish you had known in law school: Don’t take anything for granted, listen to your client in detail to make sure you understand their problem. Don’t assume anything and when you go to court take the law with you.

One of your personal heroes or mentors: I have always considered Thomas Jefferson as my personal hero. His abilities were beyond outstanding. He authored the Declaration of Independence and gave us the blueprint for our constitution. He had the vision of this country being the land of the people, by the people and for the people.

Something most clients might not know about you: I was a lifeguard on the Avalon Beach Patrol through high school, college and law school. I also played the trombone in grade school and high school.

An experience that changed your life: The day my father died—November 19, 1975. He was 61 and I was in my second year of law school. He was a prominent doctor in Ardmore. He gave everyone in the family—six boys and three girls—every opportunity and support to experience life and become accomplished. 

I am at my best when ______: I am under a little pressure to get the job done. I am at my best socially when I am around my friends and family.


Zachary Cooper
Levow & Associates P.C.

One thing you wish you had known in law school: The importance of one’s reputation both in and out of court and how others in the legal community view you.

If you could have a superpower for one week: The power to read people’s minds is something that would be fascinating to me. The ability to go into another’s thoughts and find out what they really think about you and also find out who are your true friends would be priceless. Of course, anytime someone has too much power can be dangerous.

Something most clients might not know about you: I was an intern for President Clinton.

An experience that changed your life: The experience that most changed my life was the birth of my children. Everything I do in my life is centered around making sure they are always safe, loved and healthy. There is nothing better than coming home from a stressful day in court and being greeted by my girls when I walk through the door.

I am at my best when _____: I am surrounded by family and friends.

 

Suburban Life Magazine