Implementing a Paperless Office

Many firms dream of the day their office goes paperless, but despite all the obvious benefits, there are still a few obstacles.

Join High Swartz Litigation Attorneys Jim Shrimp and Joel Rosen for an education event held by the Independence Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators.

This CLE-Approved program will be presented with Shelly Lawson, vice president of Bar Association programs at USI Affinity among others in the field.

Implementing a Paperless Office

DATE: Tuesday, June 18, 2019
LOCATION: 1912 Club (f/k/a Plymouth Country Club)
888 Plymouth Road
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
Phone: 610-272-4050
REGISTRATION: 8:00 A.M.
BREAKFAST: 8:30 A.M. (Program begins)
COST: $35 per person

High Swartz Welcomes Summer Associate from Rutgers Law School

High Swartz is pleased to announce that Tisha A. Sylvia has joined the firm as a 2019 Summer Associate. Tisha will be entering her second year of school at Rutgers Law School in Camden where she is a Juris Doctor Candidate. In May, Tisha was nominated as President of the Black Law Student Association, an impressive feat for a 1st year law student.

Ms. Sylvia was recently chosen to be a Legal Writing Fellow by one of her professors at Rutgers. Her duties include monitoring and assisting incoming 1Ls (1st year law students) in their analytical and structural development for their legal writing courses. As a 2L, Tisha is excited for the opportunity particularly because she recognizes how impactful upperclassmen were to her own academic development and wishes to pay it forward.

Tisha is passionate about dedicating her free time to important causes. She’s using her newfound legal acuity for good purposes. Says Ms. Sylvia: “I am first-generation; my parents are from St. Vincent and Guyana, so dedicating my time outside of class and work to volunteer with immigration legal aid organizations who support immigrants pursuing their passions is important to me.”

When she isn’t dedicating her time and services Tisha explains: “I also enjoy travelling to the Caribbean and South America and always bring back paintings from local artists as my souvenir. When I travel I try to do adventurous things- the latest was zip lining in Belize and horseback riding in the El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico.”

Tisha looks forward to working with High Swartz this summer as it is a general practice law firm. The knowledge she’ll receive from the diverse practice areas will give her a grasp of which areas she plans to focus on. High Swartz is excited to start working with Tisha, and guide her in real-world legal work. Welcome Tisha!

High Swartz Welcomes New Family Law Litigation Attorney

High Swartz, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown PA, is pleased to announce that Chelsey A. White Esq. has joined the firms’ family law and litigation practices.

High Swartz LLP has recently added Chelsey A. White Esq. to the firm’s family law and litigation practices. Chelsey is barred in Pennsylvania and most recently barred in New Jersey. She joins High Swartz after completing her judicial clerkship with the Honorable David R. Workman, Administrative Family Law Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County.

Prior to her clerkship, Ms. White nee Christiansen clerked at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. of Lansdale, Pennsylvania where she focused on litigation drafting and occasionally shared her legal knowledge on Legally Speaking, a local radio show. Prior to this position, Chelsey was a certified legal intern at Community Legal Services, Family Advocacy Unit where she drafted an appellate brief and the Bucks County Public Defender, Juvenile Unit where she represented juveniles in delinquency proceedings.

A graduate of the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, Ms. White was honored with the Eve Biskind Klothen Law Student Pro Bono Distinction award as well as the Marshall Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project Outstanding Student Award. She also received the CALI Excellence Best Student Performance Award in Education, Inequality and the Law and Current Events in Law. Chelsey was the founding member of the Kline School of Law Family Law Society where she also served as president.

Chelsey attended Penn State University for undergraduate studies where she majored in Psychology and minored in Human Development and Family Studies. During her time at Penn State, she co-founded Boulevard, a community service program committed to serving the local and Penn State community, particularly through participation in THON. This work in turn benefited the Four Diamonds Fund in its efforts to funding a cure for pediatric cancer.

Chelsey is committed to contributing to her community, particularly for the betterment of children. She is dedicated to children’s rights and hopes during her legal career to positively impact children and families.

Chelsey is native to the Philadelphia region and when not practicing law she is rooting for the Philly teams. An avid Penn State Football and Philadelphia Eagles fan, fall can be a particularly busy (and stressful) time. She is also a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, which she inherited from and shares with her father, a season ticket holder since 1984. Chelsey enjoys traveling and exploring National Parks.

Melissa M. Boyd appointed Chair of Montgomery County Family Justice Advisory Board

The Family Justice Advisory Board of Montgomery County has appointed High Swartz Family Law attorney Melissa M. Boyd as its next Chairperson. The FJAB works to examine and recommend ways the courts and its partners can effectively improve Montgomery County’s overall Family Court system.Norristown, PA – Referred to as FJAB by its bylaws, the Family Justice Advisory Board of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania was established by the County’s Court of Common Pleas in October of 2018. The mission of FJAB is to examine and address Family Court issues from a systemic and policy perspective and recommend ways in which the Court, public agencies and private organizations can efficiently, effectively, and collaboratively improve the process, programs and institutions.* In turn, the Board makes recommendations to the Court, public policy boards and agencies that affect family law in Montgomery County.Melissa Boyd is the Board’s second chairman and will be taking the place of the retiring Chairman Gary Kline. Her appointment to her seat was determined by the President Judge of Montgomery County, the Honorable Thomas DelRicci in consultation with the Administrative Judge of the Family Court, the Honorable Carolyn Tornetta Carluccio. The Family Justice Advisory Board of Montco is the second board of its kind in Pennsylvania, along with a similar board in Butler County, PA. Joining Ms. Boyd and President Judge DelRicci and Administrative Judge Carluccio as a Board Member is Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, Dr. Valerie Arkoosh.Ms. Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and serves on the board of governors for the Pennsylvania Chapter. She also is a member of the family law sections of the American Bar Association and previously served as chair of the FLS of the Montgomery Bar Association. Missy also holds membership in the Pennsylvania Bar Association, where she recently was nominated to become Treasurer of the Family Law Section. She is now on the leadership 5-year track to ascend to chair.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Melissa has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo. She has been nominated to her 5th consecutive Pennsylvania Super lawyer list preceded by 6 Rising Star distinctions. On top of her streak, Missy has been nominated to 3 Super Lawyers Top Lists in Pennsylvania. Those distinctions include Top 100 Lawyers in Pennsylvania, Top 100 Lawyers in Philadelphia and Top 50 Female Attorneys in Pennsylvania. She has been included on the Best Lawyer List in America since 2016 and has been named among the TEN LEADERS of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.
“I am thrilled to be a part of what I know will be a transformative initiative,” says Attorney Boyd. “Commissioner Arkoosh, President Judge DelRicci, and Judge Carluccio represent the trifecta of superb leaders looking for ways to improve our Family Court system which will have positive and lasting impact on Montgomery County and its residents.”
Per its bylaws, the FJAB is a Board that will bring together all the various stakeholders from within the county that deal with family court and family matters to facilitate an observation of a systematic policy approach to all issues relating to children and families in our county.*Montgomery County Family Justice Advisory Board Bylaws

11 High Swartz Attorneys Named Among Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

High Swartz is pleased to announce that 11 of its attorneys have been named among Pennsylvania’s 2019 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars. Among the highlights are two inclusions on the 50 Top Female Lawyers in Pennsylvania list going to Melissa M. Boyd and Mary Cushing Doherty of the High Swartz Domestic Relations practice.

2019 High Swartz Super Lawyers Melissa Boyd David Brooman Mary Cushing Doherty Mark Fischer Gilbert High, Thomas Panzer Thomas Rees Joel Rosen

What is Super Lawyers?

The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. The Super Lawyers Rising Stars list recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state. To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less. High Swartz 2019 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars are listed below in alphabetical order.

Melissa M. Boyd: Has been nominated to her 5th consecutive Super lawyer list preceded by 6 Rising Star distinctions. On top of her streak, Missy has been nominated to 3 Super Lawyers Top Lists in Pennsylvania. Those accolades are 100 Top Lawyers in Pennsylvania, 100 Top Lawyers in Philadelphia and 50 Top Female Attorneys in Pennsylvania. Missy is a partner and family law attorney with High Swartz and advocates in various areas including divorce, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, child custody and child support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoptions, protection from abuse and juvenile law.

David J. Brooman: 2019 marks the return to the Super Lawyers list for David. This is his 10th selection. As a land development and litigation attorney, David J. Brooman has more than three decades experience in zoning and land use development, as well as environmental law.

Mary Cushing Doherty: This will be Mary’s 16th consecutive selection to the Super Lawyers list. Along with her distinction, she’ll join the 50 Top Female Lawyers in Pennsylvania list. With a distinguished record of professional and community service, Mary Cushing Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience as a family law lawyer. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and is the chair of High Swartz’s Family Law practice.

Mark R. Fischer: Mark has been nominated to his second consecutive Super Lawyer designation. He focuses his practice primarily on representing businesses in breach of contract, payment collection, construction defect, and consumer protection disputes throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Gilbert P. High, Jr.: This will be Gil’s 14 section in a row. Gil’s impressive career is devoted primarily to the practice of municipal and Real Estate and Land Use Law. He regularly speaks on issues pertaining to municipal liability, particularly regarding the maintenance of the Urban Forest, a subject on which he has lectured nationally.

Thomas E. Panzer: This is Tom’s first and much-deserved selection to the Super Lawyers’ list. Thomas E. Panzer, a workers’ compensation attorney, joined High Swartz in 2016 as a result of a merger with McNamara, Bolla & Panzer, Attorneys at Law, a firm for which he served as Managing Partner. Mr. Panzer is active in his community and is currently the Bucks County, Pennsylvania Treasurer.

Thomas D. Rees: Elected to his 14th Super Lawyers list, Tom heads the firm’s Litigation and Employment Practice. He focuses his practice primarily on employment law and private education law. In the education area, Tom represents a number of independent schools in the Philadelphia area, handling employment, student discipline, contract, and governance matters.

Joel D. Rosen: As High Swartz’s Managing partner, Joel has been a Super Lawyer since 2017. With more than 30 years of legal experience as a corporate law attorney, Joel Rosen’s areas of practice include franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing.

2019 High Swartz Super Lawyers Rising Stars Kevin Cornish Elizabeth Early Brittany Yurchyk of Norrstown PA

Kevin Cornish: Recently elected as a partner at High Swartz, Kevin receives his 8th Super Lawyers Rising Star selection. Kevin focuses his practice on commercial, civil, and contract & multi-state litigation support. His clients include individuals as well as local, regional, and national businesses up and down the east coast.

Elizabeth Early: has been nominated to her third consecutive Rising Star selection. Her areas of specialization include divorce, custody, support, equitable distribution, pre and post-nuptial agreements, parenting coordination and abuse matters. Liz also serves as court-appointed counsel and guardian for minor children.

Brittany M. Yurchyk: High Swartz congratulates Brittany’s first nomination to the Super Lawyers’ list as a Rising Star. Specializing in alternative dispute resolution, Brittany concentrates her family law practice on equitable distribution, child custody, child and spousal support, abuse and domestic relations.

How were the High Swartz Super Lawyers selected to the list?

Super Lawyers nominates the best attorneys using a unique selection process. Peer evaluations and nominations are combined with independent research. Nominees are evaluated on 12 indicators from professional achievement through peer nominations. Nominations are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. The Super Lawyers objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys on a national level that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. As an aid to those selecting a lawyer, Super Lawyers only selects outstanding local lawyers who are able to be retained by the public.

High Swartz to be Presenting Sponsor at the 2019 Legal Aid Golf Classic

The 2019 Legal Aid Golf Classic is a popular annual golf event whose purpose is to raise funds for Legal Aid of Southeastern PA to be held at the 1912 in Plymouth Meeting, PA.

High Swartz Law Firm is pleased to again be the Presenting Sponsor at the 2019 Legal Aid Golf Classic on Monday June, 24, 2019 to be held at the 1912 Club, formerly Plymouth Country Club. The event is co-hosted by the Montgomery Bar Association and Montgomery Bar Foundation. The net proceeds of the Golf Classic will be matched by the MBA and donated to Legal Aid of Southeastern PA.

The purpose of the yearly golf event is to raise money for Legal Aid of Southeastern PA. LASP provides free civil legal services to low-income and vulnerable people in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester & Delaware counties.
Legal Aid empowers those to solve their problems without legal representation through legal education and increased access to the courts, and to change community practices and systems that can exacerbate poverty.

The 1912 Club, named after the year of its opening, is a private golf course designed by William S. Flynn and located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, in Plymouth Meeting. The history of the club can be attributed to a few men meeting at Norristown City Hall looking to get their families together for relaxation and enjoyment. After coming up with a plan, the men searched up and down the suburban Philadelphia countryside inspecting farm sites that fit their needs. Announced on March 20, 1912 in the Daily Herald, the Country Club was to be formed and located at what is now its current home.

Support for LASP can be done in many ways. Those looking to golf can register here and companies interesting in sponsoring can register here. Raffle tickets can be purchased that feature many local restaurants and businesses. The organizers encourage raffle ticket holders to make purchases through the MBA Section Challenge where they get attributed to practice areas such as Family Law, Probate & Tax, Trial Lawyers, or Young Lawyers.

David Brooman, Tom Panzer and Gil High Attend PA Municipal Solicitor’s Workshop

High Swartz Municipal Attorneys David J. Brooman, Thomas E. Panzer and Gilbert P. High, Jr. attended the Municipal Solicitors Workshop on May 16, 2019. The Workshop was held at Delaware Valley Trusts in Horsham, PA.

On the agenda:

The State of Qualified Immunity for Pennsylvania Public – discussed the United States Supreme Court’s including constitutional contexts like First Amendment retaliation cases and high speed police pursuits

Erosion of Municipal immunity under the PA Tort Claims Act – Broadening of property an motor vehicle exceptions to governmental immunity under the PA Tort Claims Act.

First Amendment Rights in Public Forums – A look at recent US Supreme Court and federal appellate court decisions about the First Amendment rights of people in multiple public forums, social media and otherwise.

Zoning and Civil Rights Issues of Group Homes – Discussed zoning and liability issues around the establishment of “group homes” in a municipality and the issues that several Delaware Valley Trust members have confronted in recent years.

The Firefighter Cancer Presumption Law Update – Coverage of recent cases interpreting key provisions under Act 46 of 2011.

Ongoing Legislative Developments – Discussions of the latest state legislation impacting local municipalities, like bills amending the PA Workers Compensation Act, amendments to the Intergovernmental Cooperative Law and the new Drone Law.

Delaware Valley Property & Liability Trust Coverage Overview – Significant coverage provisions in the DVPLT document.

The Delaware Valley Trusts provide custom health, worker’s comp and liability & property coverage for public entities utilizing a cost-effective, risk-sharing model. Members are stakeholders who enjoy expanded coverage, long-term stability and exclusive benefits.

Mary Cushing Doherty leads CLE Training on Helping Clients Achieve Financial Stability After Divorce

On April 17, Mary Cushing Doherty co-led with Michael Fingerman a CLE training providing practical information to those looking for financial stability after the often devastating effects of divorce. The CLE was offered by Philadelphia VIP who utilizes the powers of the community to provide quality legal services to ensure justice to low-income Philadelphians.

It is very difficult to obtain even the simplest divorce without the help of a family law attorney. Procedural hurdles, long waiting periods and pleadings make the process difficult for both sides in a divorce. The percentages don’t lie-it’s almost 90% more likely for a pro se (Latin for “for oneself, on one’s own behalf) litigant to receive a divorce settlement within 3 years if they utilize a divorce attorney. Unfortunately, close to 85% of the Philadelphia divorce population proceed it alone.

The CLE training provided important information that many low-income Philadelphians need when proceeding as pro se. The CLE also went in depth about equitable distribution and could earn attendees 2 substantive CLE credits.

High Swartz attorney Thomas D. Rees supports Main Line Art Center’s Art in Action Spring Fundraiser

Read about Mr. Rees recent CLE courses and work with the Main Line Art Center.

March 2019

High Swartz Partner and Education Law attorney Thomas D. Rees taught a CLE course for the National Business Institute’s “Human Resource Law from Start to Finish” program. Tom provided written materials and presented on an update on employment law.

April 2019

On April 9, Thomas D. Rees taught two CLE course segments for the National Business Institute’s “Human Resource Law from A to Z” program. He provided written materials and spoke on “Workplace Behavioral Issues” and “Workplace Privacy and Electronic Monitoring”.

May 2019

High Swartz was a sponsor of Main Line Art Center’s Annual “Art in Action” fundraiser, supporting the Art Center’s scholarship fund. The kickoff event for the fundraiser took place on May 4. High Swartz partner and Education Law Attorney Thomas D. Rees serves on the Art Center’s Governance Committee, and was also a Board Member from 2012 to 2018, including two years as Board President and two years as Board Secretary.

High Swartz Welcomes New Civil Litigation Attorney

Full Service Law Firm High Swartz is pleased to announce that Robert E. Gordon Esq. has joined the firms’ civil litigation practice.
robert e gordon high swartz doylestown attorney
Robert E. Gordon, Esq.

Robert E. Gordon Esq. has joined High Swartz’s civil litigation practice and possesses comprehensive experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants over a wide variety of complex commercial litigation matters. Admitted to practice in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Robert has appeared in both state and federal courts throughout Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey, and their surrounding counties. He has represented both individuals and large companies, and has helped to secure multiple six-digit judgments for his clients. Robert’s broad range of litigation experience has also involved him in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

Along with his civil and commercial litigation background, Robert is admitted to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and has previously worked as a full-time patent attorney. Robert provided clients with patentability and infringement opinions, authored and prosecuted patent applications, and assisted his clients in protecting their ideas. Robert became interested in patents and intellectual property during his undergraduate years at Penn State. After graduation, Robert worked as an engineer prior to attending Widener University School of Law (now Delaware Law School).

Along with his civil and commercial litigation background, Robert is admitted to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office…

Robert will be practicing in the civil litigation group out of High Swartz’s Doylestown office at 116 East Court Street. As a lifelong resident of the Delaware Valley, Rob is very pleased to be working in Bucks County where he resides with his wife, two beloved cats, and new puppy. When not practicing law, you can find Robert supporting (and criticizing) the Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers, as well as the Eagles, who have somehow allowed Robert and his family to remain season ticket holders for over fifteen years. High Swartz feels Robert will be a valuable addition to the firm as it looks to increase and expand its areas of practice.

Joel D. Rosen to MC Hepatitis B Foundation Crystal Ball

On Friday, April 26, Joel D. Rosen, High Swartz managing partner, Corporate Law attorney and member of the board at the Hepatitis B Foundation, will be the MC at the Crystal Ball Gala at the Blue Bell Country Club. The event benefits the Hep B Foundation and will honor Christoph Seeger of Fox Chase Cancer Center for his contributions to the Science of Hepatitis B.

The Baruch S. Blumberg Prize is the Hepatitis B Foundation’s greatest honor, given to appreciate and recognize the vast overall contributions made by someone to greatly advance the medicine and science of the disease. It’s namesake comes from Baruch S. Blumberg, the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus, and his great contributions to the Hepatitis B Foundation.

Professor Chrstoph Seeger’s studies have led to the identification of the signals required for reverse transcription of the viral DNA and provided the basis for the current model for HBV (hepatitis B virus) replication.


2nd Annual 5K Trail Run/Walk held by PERT and sponsored by High Swartz

bridge trail with pennpack ecological restoration trust logo on trail

On Saturday April 27th, The Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust will be holding its 2nd Annual 5K Trail Run/Walk in Huntingdon Valley, PA.
The race will help raise money to support PERT’s efforts to protect the 828 acres of the Pennypack Preserves open spaces.

The race will include members of the High Swartz Norristown staff and their children, who are avid runners. They look forward to spending the day outside in a wonderful display of nature for a great cause.

The funds will help to sustain the wildlife habitat, native plant communities, and spectacular views that are becoming increasingly rare in southeastern Pennsylvania. Bryn Mawr Racing Company is partnering with PERT to provide an awesome experience in the Pennypack Preserve.

PERT was founded in 1970, and is a nonprofit conservancy headquartered in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, 15 miles northeast of Philadelphia. The Trust is staffed by professionals and volunteers dedicated to the stewardship of the lands that are protected by the Trust in its 812-acre Pennypack Preserve natural area.

Gil High, Jr., a partner and Municipal and estate planning attorney here at High Swartz is the President of PERT. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 2005.

The Trust offers a variety of programs and services including, but not limited to:

  • Almost 11 miles of trails in the Preserve open free to the public to explore and enjoy the natural world all year long
  • Professionally managed natural area restoration
  • Urban deer herd management
  • Volunteer training
  • Meeting facilities for community organizations
  • Professional education and internships

High Swartz Initiates Sale of Historic Norristown Building

High Swartz Law Firm sells corner building at 425 DeKalb Street in Norristown to developer, making way for luxury apartments and restaurant café space. The developer sought to reclaim the building’s history, while keeping vintage decor intact.

The residential situation at the corner of DeKalb and East Airy Streets in Norristown was dire. The apartments were in very bad shape and the rent it brought in wasn’t enough for the current landlord to keep the property going. That’s when the partners at High Swartz Law Firm just a couple of doors down stepped in.

Approaching 117 years old, 425 DeKalb is the corner building at DeKalb and East Airy Streets which connects to High Swartz’s offices at 40 East Airy Street. This is significant, as the full-service law firm is the original tenant of their building, opening its doors in 1935. To say that High Swartz is bound to Norristown and its overall history would be an understatement. The firm partners saw the opportunity to acquire 425 DeKalb and keep it under High Swartz ownership until the right development, or developer came along.

Enter Ian Truelove, a British developer from Warminster, PA, his son Dominic Truelove and Jared Gruber of JG Real Estate in the winter of 2017. Ian states that the building had good ‘bones’ and is a Victorian architectural eye-catcher. It’s an asset worth preserving for Norristown and the Montgomery County community. The potential was there, although the space needed a lot of work. High Swartz quickly initiated the sale, confirming Ian’s sentiment of the building’s significance and its importance to the Norristown neighborhood.

To understand why Ian Truelove was in the position to develop the building you must first understand his background. While on a visit from London, Ian met his wife Jean through mutual friends in the Delaware Valley area. On top of the relationship, Truelove’s reasoning for moving to Montgomery County was his love of its suburban countryside and the convenience of the American way of life. In short, the Trueloves wanted to start a family here, and that they did. Ian and his wife are the proud parents of 10 children, ranging from 19 to 37, 9 boys and one girl.

construction work at 425 dekalb street in norristown pa | original window apertures
Left: Reinforcing the flooring. Right: Dedicated work to save the original window apertures.


After obtaining historic approval for the project, Truelove requested the assistance of local architects Seiler & Drury for the zoning and code approvals process. Building engineers were hired, consulted and plans were drawn up to solve the structural issues that had manifested over many years. The basement was in total disrepair with distinct mold issues that needed remediation. Father Time and the effects of a nasty fire and roof leaks had caused the central spine of the building to sag. Ian turned to his son Luke to find a way to support the floors during construction.

reclaimed railing, stairs and doors in victorian apartment building in norristown pa
Left: Restoration of original railings and stairsteps. Right: Reclaimed victorian doors finished in original red paint on top of newly installed solid oak floors.


The good bones that Ian stated the building had made it paramount for him to reclaim as much history as possible. On top of saving the terra cotta roof coping tiles, Ian dismantled, refurbished and reinstalled the original Victorian stair rail. Entry doors were refinished and repainted in period-correct Victorian red. Original window apertures were restored and energy-efficient full-sized sash windows were installed. It was then that the crew discovered an original short stair that had been covered up during apparent mid-century home improvements. When originally built, this stair enabled the shopkeeper and family to have direct access from the home above into the storefront and basement below.

Victorian baking oven inset into original brick wall in apartment in norristown, pa
Old and New: Quartz countertops stand next to a Victorian baking oven built into original brick wall in one of the apartments


After almost a year of repairs and rehabbing, the spaces were ready to be unveiled. The restaurant offers a prime opportunity for tenants to appreciate the history of the building. It’s equipped with an ADA-compliant bathroom and second bathroom with original fittings. There is full basement access under the restaurant space and adjoining kitchen. Areas of exposed original red brick embellish the dining area while a reclaimed Victorian enamel stove found in the basement sits as decor. The apartments similarly have a taste of the old and new. Quartz countertops sit next to a Victorian baking oven that now is simply a statement piece. Ornate columns and trimwork were rehabbed and solid oak floors were installed throughout each apartment.

victorian style trimwork and columns in apartment building at dekalb and east airy streets in norrisotwn pennsylvania | Montgomery county
Original trimwork and columns were refinished and restored.


In all, Truelove converted the space into 4 luxury apartments and restaurant space. On February 21, Truelove hosted an open house for local Norristown Zoning and Code Officials and Council members. The feedback has been tremendous and the results speak for themselves. Being able to save an important building from new construction is one of Ian’s proudest accomplishments. That of course, and the births of Jean and Ian’s 10 children.

furnished apartment at 425 dekalb and 46 east airy street in norristown pa | Montgomery county


Contact Ian Truelove at hazelnutpropertiesllc@gmail.com or call 215.740.8072 for more information on the available spaces.

What Are the Rules on Retaliation – Can I Discipline an Employee Who Has Previously Complained About Discrimination?

Being an employer requires multiple hats. Aside from day-to-day business operations and long-range planning, employers have to hire and fire employees, investigate workplace complaints, and discipline employees for improper actions. Throughout each of these tasks and others, it is critical to act consistently with state and federal labor and employment laws. Those who don’t follow the law will risk litigation.

Our lawyers are often asked about discrimination and retaliation – employers often wonder whether it is possible to can discipline an employee who has made a discrimination complaint, either formally or informally. The short answer is no – retaliation is prohibited under the law when an employee exercises a protected right.

Opposing an Act of Discrimination Complaint Is a Protected Activity

Employees have the right to a workplace that is free from discrimination. What’s more, if discrimination occurs, any employee affected by the discrimination, including an employee who merely witnesses the discrimination but is not a target of it, maintains the right to file a complaint with their employer, the state or local Human Relations Commission, or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The law protects those who file claims of discrimination against retaliation. But legal protections extend beyond those who file formal claims: even speaking out against discrimination at the workplace is a protected activity.

Employers Cannot Retaliate When Employees Exercise Protected Rights

Although continuing to employ someone who has made a discrimination complaint may be frustrating, especially if the complaint appears to be unfounded, an employer may not legally retaliate against the employee. Retaliation is prohibited under federal and state law, and includes the following actions:

  • Demoting the employee;
  • Reducing the employee’s pay;
  • Terminating the employee;
  • Increasing scrutiny of the employee;
  • Denying the employee deserved opportunities;
  • Making negative comments on an employee’s review;
  • Harassing or threatening the employee; or
  • Taking any other adverse action against the employee that is in retaliation to the employee’s filing of a discrimination complaint (or exercising another protected right).

What Happens If I Retaliate Against an Employee Who Filed a Discrimination Complaint?

If you retaliate against an employee who filed a discrimination complaint, you could be in hot water, legally speaking. If this is the case, or if you are being accused of retaliation, you should protect yourself by hiring an employment law attorney familiar with the defense of employers against employee claims. If you are found guilty of unlawful retaliation, you could face multiple consequences, including payment of compensatory and punitive damages to the employee. You may also be asked to pay the employee’s lawyers’ fees and court costs, and be required to pay a civil fine for the offense.

Building a Defense

The key to avoiding any litigation is to have a strategic plan in place, and to know the law as it pertains to discrimination and retaliation. If a complaint of discrimination is brought against you for unlawful retaliation, our lawyers can help. We can try to prove that any action taken against an employee was not related to the employee’s action of exercising a protected right. We can also help you to understand other options and defenses, and will work hard to protect your best interests.

Learn More About Retaliation and the Law

Understanding the law is the best way to address any employee disputes or litigation. If you have more questions about your rights as an employer, or what to do if an employee files a claim against you, call our employment law attorneys at the office of High Swartz LLP today for a consultation.

Is Crowdfunding Taxed?

An elderly man beaten with a brick on July 4th in Los Angeles is in critical condition. A German Shepherd is beaten and shot while protecting his young owner during a burglary. Then, there is the little girl born prematurely who needs tests, treatments, doctors and surgeries to survive. In each of these situations, the individuals received financial assistance by using the donation-based crowdfunding platform GoFundMe.


Crowdfunding isn’t a new concept

In their paper, a Brief History of Crowdfunding, David M. Freedman and Matthew R. Nutting define crowdfunding as “a method of collecting many small contributions, by means of an online platform, to finance or capitalize a popular enterprise.” The internet has allowed crowdfunding to reach an unlimited number of potential donations, but crowdfunding is not new. One famous example of pre-internet crowdfunding was the fundraising campaign for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal.

When the Statute of Liberty sailed from France in 1885, there was no pedestal for her. She remained in crates on Bedloe’s Island for over a year until Joseph Pulitzer, owner of “The World” opened up his newspaper’s editorial pages to support the effort. Similar to a GoFundMe page, Pulitzer proposed to print the name of every individual who donated to the construction of the pedestal on the front page of The World, no matter how small the amount. His idea worked. By the fall of 1885 over 120,000 people had donated over $100,000, enough funds to complete the project.


Income Tax Implications

It’s unlikely that an individual who sets up a crowdfunding page considers the income tax implications of their fundraising efforts. In fact, Section 61 of the IRS Code states that “gross income means all income from whatever source derived,” unless a specific statutory exception exists. So, based on Section 61, the general rule is revenue raised from crowdfunding is includible in income unless specifically excluded elsewhere. However, a statutory exception does exist that may exclude crowdfunding revenue from an individual’s gross income. That exception arises under IRC 102(a), which is commonly known as the gift and bequest exclusion.

If a GoFundMe page is established correctly, the amounts raised may qualify for the gift and bequest exclusion under IRC 102(a). But when does a donation qualify as a gift rather than income under IRS Code Section & Regulations? The U.S. Supreme Court has defined a gift as given from ” ‘detached and disinterested generosity,’ … ‘out of affection, respect, admiration, charity, or like impulses,’ ” and not from ” ‘any moral or legal duty,’ or from ‘the incentive of anticipated benefit,'” or “in return for services rendered” (Duberstein, 363 U.S. 278, 285 (1960)). So, generous donors who make payments to GoFundMe pages should be giving based on a “detached and disinterested generosity” and should not receive any services or goods or “quid pro quo” for their donation.


Keep a paper trail

Remember the burden is upon the GoFundMe campaigner to prove the funds received qualify for the gift and bequest exclusion under IRC 102(a). Therefore, it is important to keep a paper trail and document everything in case the IRS comes knocking upon your door.

Essential steps in the paper trail include the following:

  1. Keep a list of the donors to the GoFundMe campaign; include their name, date of donation, and amount donated, and any contact information provided by GoFundMe.
  2. Clearly identify the recipient of the funds on the GoFundMe page.
  3. If the campaign is set up by someone other than the beneficiary, be sure to clearly indicate on the GOFUNDME page that the creator is acting on behalf of the beneficiary.
  4. Be sure the campaign website clearly states that donations or gifts are solicited. If possible and appropriate, the website should also state that donors will receive nothing in return for their donations.
  5. Print and keep a copy of the campaign website to show to the IRS. By the time the IRS issues a notice of deficiency, the campaign website may no longer be available and the taxpayer (whether an agent or a beneficiary) has no way of showing the IRS the information used to solicit donations.
  6. Keep documentation of all monetary transfers of the funds to the beneficiary or spent on behalf of the beneficiary. A clear paper trail or accounting should exist showing that the funds were spent as indicated on the website. Receipts, invoices and copies of checks should be maintained as well.

In the examples used above (the premature birth, the elderly man, and the German Shepherd), the funds raised are for necessities (i.e., medical treatment and care), and the donors did not receive any services or goods in return. Once donation based crowdfunding moves to patronage-oriented endeavors such as creative or artistic endeavors, where a backer receives something in exchange for their payment, or equity-based crowdfunding, where backers received equity for their payment, the funds donated no longer qualify for the IRC 102(a) gift and bequest exclusion. Instead, the crowdfunding campaign has clearly moved into the realm of generating revenue that is reportable income to the IRS.

If you have any questions about the legalities of crowdfunding, please contact us at main@highswartz.com or call (215) 345-8888. Or contact any of our estate attorneys in Bucks or Montgomery Counties. Our Wills, Trusts & Estates attorneys provide comprehensive legal services to assist in all of these matters.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation. 

Today, Marlyn Smith is celebrating 90 years of life and 63 years with High Swartz

Happy 90th Birthday, Marlyn!

Loyal, dedicated, and hard working are only a few ways to describe Marlyn Smith.Marlyn joined the High Swartz law firm as an associate in 1956 when he began his work in estate planning, probate, and real estate law. In 1978, he bravely took on the responsibility as the first Managing Partner, a title which he held for fifteen years until 1993. After 1993, Marlyn served as a Senior Partner until 2004, after which he transitioned to Of Counsel—his current status with the firm.During his time as Managing Partner, the Firm grew significantly. From 1989 to 1991, Marlyn supervised a total renovation of the two existing buildings, a newly acquired building, and upgrades to the Airy Street properties as well. The result is the office plan we have today, which has been instrumental in allowing the Firm to grow.Marlyn has served the Firm and his community with skill and dedication. He has been counsel to and a board member of many organizations, particularly those connected with the Swedenborg Foundation and the Bryn Athyn Church. Marlyn has been an active member and usher of the Bryn Athyn Church for 50 years and was also an active singer in the church choir. He served 19 years on the Board of Directors of the Swedenborg Foundation and four years as President of the Foundation Board.Marlyn and his late wife, Barbara, raised 5 wonderful children who presented them with 19 grand children, and 30 great grand children. Family pride extends to his very core, as well it should.Marlyn’s character, forged by loyalty, dedication, and hard work is fully displayed in a life of commitment to his family, his faith, and his firm. High Swartz has been greatly enriched by him, our colleague and our friend.Marlyn Smith timeline:

1954—Marlyn graduates from Penn Law School

1955—Marlyn was admitted to the Bar

1954-1956—Marlyn clerked with Judge George Corson of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas

1956 (January)—Marlyn joined the High Swartz law firm as an Associate

1967—Marlyn was made Partner at High Swartz law firm

1978—Marlyn becomes the firm’s first Managing Partner

1989-1991—Marlyn supervises renovations, making High Swartz a competitor for years to come

1993—Marlyn steps down as Managing Partner and continues work as a Senior Partner in the Firm

2004—Marlyn says, “I’ll retire, but I won’t stop working.” Marlyn’s work continues as Of Counsel.

2018—Marlyn Smith turns 90. Happy Birthday, Marlyn!

High Swartz sponsors Montgomery Child Advocacy Project with a “Salute to Heroes”

High Swartz, a law firm located in the Greater Philadelphia Area, proudly sponsors a local Montgomery County organization—Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP).On Saturday, November, 17, 2018, MCAP held its’ 8th annual Salute to Heroes Dinner Dance & Silent Auction, which honored Sarah Klein, the first known gymnast victim of former Olympics Women’s Gymnastics Team doctor Larry Nassar.MCAP fights to end and prevent child abuse and neglect in Montgomery County through legal services, advocacy, and education. Volunteer attorneys, called “MCAPs”, represent children and are trained by the organization to meet with them, investigate their case, explain the process, and so much more, but most importantly, making sure their voices are heard.One of these attorneys is our very own, Melissa Boyd, who has been a child advocate for MCAP since 2011 and currently serves on the MCAP Board of Directors after her 2015 nomination.Boyd is a family law attorney in our Norristown, PA office that focus on multiple areas of practice within family law, but has dedicated much of her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.

Melissa Boyd discussed family law at the Montgomery County Bar Association

November 13, 2018Melissa Boyd, a family law lawyer at High Swartz in Norristown, Pennsylvania.Melissa Boyd (Norristown, PA), a family law Partner at High Swartz, was a speaker at the 11th annual Montgomery Bar Association Family Law Section Toby L. Dickman Seminar on November, 9, 2018.The seminar, entitled “Family Law 2.0: A Child Centered and User Friendly Approach,” focused on divorces and separations that may lead to child custody battles. The seminar focused on the legal steps to make it through the custody battle process as efficiently as possible, with the main goal being the relief of any unnecessary suffering for the child involved.Melissa Boyd spoke with Judge Daniel J. Clifford and Gary Kline, the head of the Montgomery County Domestic Relations Section.Boyd concentrates her practice on family law with a focus on, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and child support, equitable distribution, alimony and adoptions. She has dedicated much of her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.Boyd has been certified as a Family Law Arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and was named among the 10 Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.The Toby L. Dickman Seminar is held each year in honor of the late Toby L. Dickman, a former family law attorney and family court judge who passed away in 2007. 

High Swartz named among 2019 ‘Best Law Firms’ by U.S. News – Best Lawyers

Full-service law firm in Bucks and Montgomery counties recognized for prowess in Family Law, Municipal Law, Real Estate Law and Litigation – Real Estate, Land Use and ZoningHigh Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that it has been named a “Best Law Firm” for 2019 by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®, achieving a Tier 1 ranking in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area in the practice areas of Family Law, Municipal Law, Real Estate Law and Litigation – Real Estate, Land Use and Zoning and National Tier 2 ranking for Land Use and Zoning Law.To be eligible for a Best Law Firm ranking, a firm must have at least one lawyer included in The Best Lawyers in America©. Attorneys are neither required nor allowed to pay a fee to be listed. For 2019, 9 High Swartz attorneys were named among Best Lawyers: Best Law Firm rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.The highest honor, a Tier 1 ranking, is based on a firm’s overall evaluation, which is derived from a combination of its clients’ impressive feedback, the regard that lawyers in other firms in the same practice areas have for the firm, and information that the firm provided to Best Lawyers via a survey.

Thomas Rees moderates child custody disputes and education law seminar

Thomas Rees | Employment and Education Law | High SwartzOn Monday, October 29, 2018, Thomas Rees moderated a Montgomery Bar Association (MBA) seminar entitled, “The Intersection of Child Custody and School Law,” in Norristown, PA, a city located in the Greater Philadelphia Area. The seminar discussed a list of issues related to education law that may be of concern during child custody disputes.A panel of family attorneys and education law attorneys, including Thomas Rees—a High Swartz attorney—addressed issues directly related to children, parents or guardians, and schools, during child custody disputes. Some of these issues included custodial rights and educational decision-making, student residency, access to the child or student, student records, the subpoena of school employees, and the implications of dealing with difficult or disruptive parents.Thomas Rees is the head of the litigation and employment law practice at High Swartz, a full-service Greater Philadelphia Area law firm. The primary focus of his practice is litigation and non-litigation matters in employment law and private education law.His experience in education law is extensive and includes the representation of several independent schools in the Philadelphia area on employment, student discipline, contract, governance and tax exemption matters. The High Swartz education law practice provides a full range of legal services to educational institutions in the Greater Philadelphia Area.

William Kerr among 2018 Best of the Bar Honorees for Real Estate

William Kerr, a Partner in High Swartz’s Norristown, PA office, has been recognized by the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of the 2018 Best of the Bar Honorees for his work in Real Estate.The Best of the Bar Awards annually recognizes a lawyer’s professional work, with this year’s awards focused from June, 30 2017 to present.  Attorneys are judged based on the quality of achievement, which includes the business and/or legal significance, size of the result, and the impact of their work.Mr. Kerr is a real estate lawyer in Norristown, PA—a Philadelphia suburb—with more than 23 years of experience in real estate law.  Mr. Kerr’s real estate practice focuses on zoning, land use and land development, real estate taxation, real estate transactions, title issues, code compliance, and eminent domain.  He has particular expertise in the affordable housing industry, including tax assessment issues related to affordable housing properties.Mr. Kerr was part of the affordable housing industry group that effectively pursued an amendment to Pennsylvania’s assessment law as it affects affordable housing.Mr. Kerr’s clients consist of developers, property managers and property owners of properties ranging from a single or multi-family residential home to hotels, shopping centers, commercial and airport properties, and much more.A 2018 Best of the Bar Awards ceremony will be held to recognize all honorees. The event will be hosted by the Philadelphia Business Journal on October 25, 2018 and held at the SugarHouse Casino Events Space.

Teen driver safety in Pennsylvania

Having recently represented a teen driver who had received a traffic citation, I was presented with a letter she had received from the Secretary of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania covering traffic laws and driver safety.In that thoughtful letter, the Secretary of Transportation reminded her that “personal responsibility and knowledge of our traffic laws are major parts of [being] a safe driver.”It was further noted that:
  • a traffic violation doubles your risk for being involved in a car crash
  • at highway speeds, your car travels the length of a football field in a couple of seconds
  • a moment of carelessness or distraction can quickly become a tragedy
  • not paying attention to the road or careless decisions while driving can cause serious injuries or death to you and to those around you
  • car crashes are the leading cause of death among 16 to 20 year olds
My client’s parents were asked to encourage their teenage driver to improve her driving performance in the future and were also reminded that they had the right to withdraw consent of their young driver’s license until the age of 18!The letter also directed us to additional traffic and driver safety information which can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) website. There, one can find a great deal of interesting, although often quite disturbing, details. I would encourage you to visit that site when you have some free time on your hands, but I will share some of those statistics with you now.However, before we focus on traffic crash figures, I have one question, the answer to which you will find at the end of this blog. In Pennsylvania, there are approximately 2,500 municipalities throughout the 67 counties, but which is the only official “town?”

Traffic and driver safety statistics in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s website reported that, in 2015, there were traffic-related deaths in Pennsylvania arising from various circumstances, including:
  • 459 fatalities involving hitting a fixed object
  • 413 fatalities involving unrestrained occupants of a motor vehicle
  • 306 fatalities involving drinking drivers
  • 179 motorcycle fatalities
  • 153 pedestrian fatalities
  • 119 fatalities involving aggressive drivers
  • 66 fatalities involving distracted drivers
  • 23 fatalities in work zones
PennDOT has also published a booklet of 2017 Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics which contains the following information:
  • Pennsylvania has over 120,000 miles of roads and highways
  • In 2016, there were approximately 101.1 billion vehicle miles of travel on those roads and highways
In its “Overview,” the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation notes that (based on 2017 data), on average, each day:
  • 351 reportable traffic crashes occur (about 15 per hour)
  • 3 persons are fatally injured in traffic crashes (one every 8 hours)
  • 221 persons are injured in reportable crashes (about 9 per hour)
Based upon Pennsylvania’s population in 2017 (12,805,537), this would mean that:
  • 1 out of every 44 people was involved in a reportable traffic crash
  • 1 out of every 11,263 people was fatally injured in a crash
  • 1 out of every 159 people was injured in a crash

Teen and young driver safety statistics in Pennsylvania

PennDOT reports that, in most age groups, male drivers are involved in more crashes than female drivers. In fact, male drivers aged 21 to 25 were involved in more crashes than drivers in any other age group—male or female. Regrettably, in that age group, 31% of all driver fatalities were drivers who had been drinking.It was also noted that, although adverse weather and road conditions negatively affect vehicle handling and driver sight, the vast majority (80.2%) of all crashes occurred under no adverse conditions. This has been attributed to:
  1. the fact that weather and roads are clear and dry most of the time; and
  2. the reality that drivers fail to use caution under even optimal road conditions. It is also reported that more crashes occur during daylight (probably because there are more vehicles on the road at this time).
As the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation points out, every traffic crash involves 3 different elements:  the driver, the roadway, and the vehicle. It is reported nationally that 85-90% of all traffic crashes involve some sort of driver error which contributes to the crash. Of all the different age groups represented, the teen driver is one that stands out most. Teen drivers (age 16 to 21) are not only the least experienced drivers, but they are also prone to what has been described as “overzealous” driving. Again, 18% of the driver fatalities in the 16 to 20 age group were drinking drivers.We are now in and approaching that time of year when most traffic crashes occur—October, November, December, and January. More crashes occur on Friday and Saturday and the number of fatalities which occur on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday) is proportionately greater than the number of crashes (which could be attributed to alcohol use).So, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves—and also our teen drivers—of the importance of being safe in order to avoid being sorry.Toward that end, PennDOT offers the following tips for teen drivers:
  • always wear your seat belt
  • do not eat or drink while driving
  • do not talk or text on your cellphone while driving
  • obey the speed limit—driving too fast gives one less time to react
  • adjust radio and climate controls before beginning your trip
  • leave early—give yourself plenty of time to get there
  • expect the unexpected—you never know what might happen
  • and many others
We certainly hope you never face a traffic crash or a situation involving serious injury as a result of a motor vehicle collision or otherwise.However, if this does occur, please be sure to contact myself, Eric Marttila, or one of our experienced personal injury attorneys—located in the greater Philadelphia area—to fully explore your legal options and to seek all available remedies to be made whole.By the way, the Town of Bloomsburg in Columbia County is the only official “town” in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Melissa Boyd supports fight against gender discrimination with MCCWF

Melissa Boyd (Norristown, PA), a family law Partner at High Swartz, recently moderated a panel at the annual Montgomery County Commission on Women and Families (MCCWF) Awareness Event, an event held in Norristown, Pennsylvania (a Philadelphia suburb), that is focused on discrimination against women.The MCCWF—created by the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners—is a diverse group of women volunteers who serve Montgomery County communities and help aspiring women achieve their educational goals.Their mission is to foster leadership, provide awareness of existing services, promote the development of resources, and advocate equal access to such resources in order to enhance the lives of women and families.Each year, an event theme is drawn from the National Women’s History Project, with this years’ theme being, “Nevertheless She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”Honoring this year’s theme, the MCCWF celebrated women fighting not only against sexism, but also against the many intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women. Some of these include discrimination based on race and ethnicity, class, disability, sexual orientation, non-binary and/or non-conforming gender express, veteran status, and many other categoriesBoyd, a devoted family law lawyer, moderated a panel discussion with the Women’s Law Project, who was also honored for its devotion to protecting and advancing the rights of women and girls.The panelists discussed recent trends, legislative action, and strategies to combat unequal pay, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual harassment in the workplace. They also identified national and local resources to help women fighting all forms of discrimination.Learn more about the Montgomery County Commission on Women and Families (MCCWF).

Kevin Cornish Elected Partner at High Swartz

High Swartz is pleased to announce that Kevin Cornish has become a partner effective October 1st.

“We are pleased to welcome Kevin as High Swartz’s newest partner. Kevin has been with the firm for over 5 years and has shown great leadership and experience in his practice areas,” said Joel D. Rosen, Managing Partner.

“High Swartz has provided me with opportunities to grow and develop as an attorney.  I am grateful to High Swartz and look forward to serving my clients in this new role,” said Kevin Cornish.

Kevin focuses his practice on commercial, civil, and contract & business litigation. His clients include individuals as well as local, regional, and national businesses.  Kevin has handled cases involving contract disputes, the Mechanic’s Lien Law, the Contractor Subcontractor Payment Act, the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law, and the Landlord Tenant Act.  Kevin’s experience includes resolving cases through trial, arbitration, and negotiation.

About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

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Kathleen M. Thomas Speaks at the 2018 PBPMTCA Conference

High Swartz Special Counsel, Kathleen M. Thomas recently spoke at the PBPMTCA (Pennsylvania Business Privilege and Mercantile Tax Collectors Association) Conference on September 27th. Kathleen participated in two sessions during the 2 day conference. The first session was a round-table discussion with, Jan Kowalski of Pine Township, Nicholas Grimes of McKeesport and Tricia Dickert of Allentown on “SB653, Everything You Ever Wanted To Know and What’s Next” which dealt with current proposed amendments to collection methods to the Local Tax Enabling Act. The second session, Kathleen led was “How to Approach Penalty and Interest Abatement and Settlement Offers”, which dealt how to negotiate settlement offers and approach requests from taxpayers for abatement and reduction of penalty and interest when collecting business taxes for municipalities.Kathleen brings more than twenty-five years of legal experience, and concentrates her practice in the areas of municipal law, small business and non-profit law, and civil litigation. She is recognized as an expert in the areas of Pennsylvania Act 511 taxation, Kathleen serves as Special Act 511 Tax Counsel to the Townships of, Lower Merion and Abington, among others.  She also serves as the Act 511 Hearing Officer to multiple municipalities in Montgomery and Delaware Counties.  She also serves as Special Tax Consultant for ordinance and Regulation Revision and litigation for many townships in Pennsylvania.  Kathleen is also experienced in other areas of Municipal Law, including, Right to Know, Land Development, Zoning, Code Enforcement and Litigation.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Don Petrille, Jr. Speaks on “The Exploding World of Guardianships”

Norristown, PA, September 26, 2018–High Swartz Of Counsel Attorney Donald Petrille Jr. presented at the Bucks County Bar Association Bench Bar on Friday September 21st. Don presented on “The Exploding World of Guardianships” at the Orphans’ Court section with Judge Gary Gilman and Judge Theodore Fritsch.The panel discussed implementation of the new Guardianship Tracking System, which is designed to allow court personnel to ensure court appointed guardians are taking proper care of incapacitated persons, especially their financial assets. Don, along with court administrators, judges and other persons interested in vulnerable incapacitated persons across the state helped the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, (AOPC), design the system in his capacity as Clerk of the Orphans’ Court of Bucks County.Donald Petrille, Jr. represents businesses and their shareholders as they wrestle with complex issues in today’s ever-changing legal environment. Don has helped businesses through all phases of their development, starting with initial organization, through the operational stage, eventually ending with sale, acquisition or dissolution.  Addressing corporate governance, contracts, procurement, compliance, human resource issues and creditors’ rights, Don has spent his career helping small-business owners succeed. His client base  includes companies in diverse industries such as real estate management, alternative energy, market research, pharmaceutical services, telecommunications, construction and software development. Currently, Don is serving Bucks County as its Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphan’s Court.  He is a past President of the Registers of Wills and Clerks of the Orphans’ Court Association of Pennsylvania, where he serves as its Legislative Liaison to the General Assembly.  He is also serving as the Vice President of the Pennsylvania State Association of Elected County Officials.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Right to Know

The Municipal Attorneys of High Swartz are experienced in guiding municipalities, school boards, zoning hearing boards and other governmental agencies and boards in all areas related to compliance with the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law and Sunshine Act.We work with municipalities, school boards and agencies to ensure that their regulations and Right to Know Officers are up to date in the latest changes in the law and Office of Open Records’ rulings. To accomplish this the attorneys of High Swartz, provide:
  • Training for elected officials, administration and employees in maintenance of public records;
  • Review of regulations and revision if necessary;
  • Assistance with review and response to citizen requests for records;
  • Assistance with appeals to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records and Court of Common Pleas; and,
  • Appellate actions
The attorneys of High Swartz will also work with selected private clients who require assistance with Right to Know Requests from municipal and state agencies.  They will guide their clients in the proper requests and the proper procedure for requesting the records which will meet their specific needs. Requests can be made not only from Townships and Boroughs, but from most public county and state agencies and departments.  The attorneys at High Swartz can guide clients through the procedures for filing requests with the proper agencies.High Swartz Municipal Attorneys also have a depth of experience in advising municipalities regarding the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, also referred to as the Open Meeting Act. 

Commercial Real Estate Transactions

Construction Litigation and Contract NegotiationWe assist clients with construction law issues, including resolution of construction disputes through mediation, arbitration and litigation in state and federal courts. Clients in our construction litigation practice include contractors, homeowners, business owners, builders, subcontractors, developers, suppliers (including a major home improvement retail chain) and financial institutions. It is our goal in every case to resolve our client’s matter in the most effective, economical and efficient manner.The attorneys in our construction law practice work closely with other practices in our firm to provide our clients with comprehensive services. Issues we handle include those involving the following:
  • Commercial litigation
  • Construction defect and delay claims
  • Contract and business litigation
  • Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act
  • Mechanics’ liens
  • Real estate disputes
  • Warranties
In addition to construction litigation, we draft and negotiate construction contracts for developers of many different types of properties, including major high rise multifamily developments and smaller, affordable housing developments.. Not long ago, we drafted the contract for the major expansion of a well-known museum. Our contracts include stipulated sum, cost plus fee, and cost plus fee with guaranteed maximum price contracts   Financing and Deal StructuringThe firm’s real estate attorneys have deep experience representing developers of all types of real estate, including retail projects, mixed-use housing and commercial developments, and office buildings, including medical office buildings, among others. Our experience extends beyond Pennsylvania, as we have been involved in transactions in various states throughout the United States.Within Pennsylvania, our representations of developers have included negotiations: (a) with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development with respect to loans and grants from the Commonwealth; (b) with investors in low income housing tax credit transactions; (c) with not-for-profit and for-profit entities participating as members of general partners in affordable housing transactions; (d) with local redevelopment authorities and local economic development authorities throughout the Commonwealth with respect to land purchases and “soft loans”; (e) with banks and other conventional lenders with respect to construction and HUD-insured loans; (f) with the Philadelphia regional office of HUD in connection with HUD-insured loans; (g) with private sellers of properties scheduled for new development or rehabilitation; (h) with contractors and architects providing design and construction services; and (i) with community organizations in community benefit agreements.We have engaged in numerous complex real estate transactions. Our experience includes the drafting and negotiation of partnership arrangements, ground leases, and sale/leaseback documentation in connection with the financing, refinancing, or development of healthcare facilities and affordable housing developments, among others.During the course of our representations, we have been called upon to draft and negotiate a full range of agreements relating to the development and financing of all types of real estate. In addition to those mentioned above, these have included:
  • Architects and construction contracts
  • Development agreements
  • Office and retail leases
  • Ground leases
  • Agreements of purchase and sale
  • Regulatory and operating agreements
  • Conservation easements and restrictive covenants
  • Access, utility, and construction easements
  • Property management agreements
  • Real estate brokerage and leasing agreements
  • Loan documentation, including loan agreements, promissory notes, mortgages, and related security instruments, such as assignments of project documents
  • Intercreditor agreements
  • Partnership and limited liability company operating agreements
Our attorneys also use their extensive environmental and real estate due diligence experience to structure, outline, and monitor all due diligence necessary to assure compliance with environmental laws and local permitting requirements for our clients who are purchasing or developing real estate.LeasingOur leasing activity covers the spectrum from ground leases to leases of commercial office facilities. We have extensive experience with respect to leases of medical office facilities, including master leases and “hotel” style leases for short term, periodic use of medical office facilities by multiple physicians. In this regard, we have aided major medical systems and individual physicians in meeting their office needs.Purchase and Sale AgreementsWe have drafted and negotiated agreements of purchase and sale for multiple types of properties, from high and mid-rise office buildings, to multifamily apartment developments, to bulk condominium units, to vacant land. In drafting and negotiating the agreements for sellers, we pay particular attention to due diligence matters, including possible environmental problems, title issues, zoning and use issues, leasing activity, and outstanding litigation or claims, among other conditions. We confer with local officials to determine whether there are violations of building or safety codes, and to insure that the property conforms to zoning requirements.  Oft times a purchaser will require that development approvals be obtained before the purchase is consummated, and we can assist in that regard as well. 

Non-Profit Law

The attorneys of High Swartz are active both as representatives of non-profits and in service on non-profits and recognize the crucial role that these organizations play in our community.Forming a non-profit corporation can be complicated.  The attorneys at High Swartz recognize that proper legal counsel is essential during the formation of any startup, especially a nonprofit. It’s at this point when careful documentation and strategic efficiencies are crucial to support a nonprofit’s success for years to come. During this process, the attorneys at High Swartz use their expertise to address potential issues and craft long-term strategies.  From organization, including, board set up, bylaws, preparation of all governing documents, including Document Retention Policies, Conflict of Interest Policy and Whistleblower Policies, etc.  we will guide you at each stage.  Our attorneys also assist with structuring fiscal sponsorship arrangements and applying for non-profit recognition by the Internal Revenue Service and state.  The attorneys of High Swartz will work with you at each step of the journey.Once a non-profit is formed our attorneys will continue to work with your organization and its financial and tax professionals to insure ongoing compliance with federal and state non-profit laws.  The attorneys of High Swartz provide a full range of services to assist with the continued success of each non-profit it serves including:
  •  Organization
  •  IRS 1023-1024 Submission and representation
  •  Formation documentation drafting (policy guidance)
  •  Board meetings
  •  Tax assessment advice and appeals
  •  Litigation
  •  Maintenance of non-profit 501(c)(3) status
  •  Planned giving and tax-exempt financing
  •  Zoning, land use, sale, and acquisition and leasing of real estate

Mary Cushing Doherty Named to Top 50: 2018 Women Pennsylvania Super Lawyers

High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, is pleased to announce that partner, Mary Cushing Doherty, was included in the Top 50: 2018 Women Pennsylvania Super Lawyers. Attorneys receiving this designation have undergone a peer-review and research-based selection process. The Super Lawyers organization identifies those outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.A program of Thomson Reuters, Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who, through a peer review and independent research process, have been identified as attaining a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only the top 5 percent of Pennsylvania’s 50,000 lawyers and the top 2.5 percent of up-and-coming Pennsylvania lawyers are named to the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists, respectively.Throughout her more than 35 years of practice, Doherty has been invested in the advancement of family law practice and mentoring women and men to be confident and skilled practitioners. An active member of the legal community, Doherty has held numerous leadership positions in the PBA, including chair, officer and council member of the Family Law Section and chair of the Review and Certifying Board tasked with developing and implementing a certification process for various practice areas. Last year, she was recognized with a Special Achievement Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association for her service in navigating a divorce reform bill through the General Assembly — one of the many contributions she has made since joining the Family Law Section in 1979. Doherty is currently a member at-large of the Commission on Women in the Profession Executive Council.During the course of her career, Doherty’s work and service have been recognized with several awards, including the 2018 PBA Eric Turner Award, the 2018 LLS Woman of the Year Award, the PBA Commission on Women in Profession 2012 Lynette Norton Award, 2012 Women of the Year list by The Legal Intelligencer, 2009 Woman of Distinction list by Philadelphia Business Journal, 2008 Frederick Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching and 2006 Margaret Richardson Award.Ms. Doherty has been a Course Planner and Lecturer for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1990 and for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute since 1985. She also has been a Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section and Montgomery Bar Association.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Eminent Domain and Condemnation

Municipalities, cities and other political subdivisions often determine that acquiring private property is necessary for the public good.  Sometimes the actions of the municipality so affect a property that it will be determined to have been effectively taken by the municipality.  Whether your municipality is considering exercising eminent domain to acquire a property, is in a dispute over the value of a property taken by eminent domain, is in a dispute over whether the relevant circumstances empower the municipality to exercise eminent domain in a particular case, or is in a dispute over whether the municipality has effectively, if not expressly, condemned a property, High Swartz has experienced attorneys to help.  High Swartz attorneys have assisted political subdivisions in multiple condemnation and inverse condemnation proceedings related to construction easements, road widenings, public facilities and park land, as well as airports and other public uses.  High Swartz attorneys have provided representation in these matters before boards of view, courts of common pleas and appellate courts.

Municipal Litigation

Municipalities and other governmental units are frequently involved in a wide array of lawsuits and other litigation matters.  As solicitors, conflict counsel and special counsel, High Swartz attorneys have extensive experience handling arbitrations, hearings, trials and appeals for municipalities, cities and other political subdivisions.  These disputes are litigated in numerous forums and before judicial or quasi-judicial bodies such as arbitration panels, local hearing boards, boards of view, state administrative law judges, state hearing boards, courts of common pleas, trial courts and appeals courts.  Municipal litigation matters handled by High Swartz attorneys include, but are not limited to disputes regarding the following:
  • Assessment of liens
  • Award of public contracts and public bidding process disputes
  • Civil rights and discrimination claims
  • Code enforcement proceedings, including but not limited to maintenance, nuisance, zoning matters
  • Construction defect, delay and Prompt Payment Act claims
  • Eminent domain and condemnation proceedings
  • Enforcement of liens
  • Environmental law and environmental hearing board appeals
  • Independent investigations derived from employment or other complaints
  • Injunctions
  • Ordinance challenges
  • Public utility commission matters
  • Real estate, deed covenant and easement disputes
  • Road vacation cases
  • Zoning and land use appeals
  • Tax assessment appeals and immunity disputes
  • Tort claims

Melissa M. Boyd Moderates PBI Meeting

Norristown, PA, September 4, 2018– High Swartz partner, Melissa M. Boyd recently moderated the Pennsylvania Bar Institute course held on August 2 in Philadelphia. The topic of the program was “The Lawyers Guide to Appraisals and Appraisers.” The panelists discussed everything you need to know about residential and commercial appraisals and gave an overview of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).Melissa M. Boyd is a partner with High Swartz LLP. She concentrates her practice on family law including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoptions, protection from abuse and juvenile law. She has dedicated much of her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.Ms. Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Board member of the Pennsylvania Chapter of AAML and member of the family law sections of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association. In 2018 she was awarded the Special Achievement Award by the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She is former Chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association. Ms. Boyd has been certified as a Family Law Arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Boyd has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell, has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for 8 years, Best Lawyer in America since 2016 and named among the 10 Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.The Pennsylvania Bar Institute is the continuing legal education arm of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. PBI’s mission is to provide the Pennsylvania legal community with high-quality, comprehensive and accessible continuing education that enhances legal practice. For more information visit http://www.pbi.org/.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Awards Scholarship to Two High School Graduates

Full-service law firm funds $5,000 scholarship in memory of partner Mary Cushing Doherty’s late husband, James DohertyNorristown, PA, August 27, 2018High Swartz LLP, is pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of its James F. Doherty Scholarship, awarded to the child or grandchild of a full-time High Swartz employee. This year’s co-winners are Sophia Dantzic, daughter of attorney Douglas Wayne, and Megan Sellers, daughter of office manager Darlene Sellers.Both students will use the $2,500 scholarship towards tuition at a 4-year college. Megan, originally from Warminster is attending Cedar Crest College majoring in Biology. Sophia, originally from Doylestown, is attending Bennington College in Vermont.The scholarship honors the memory of law firm partner Mary Cushing Doherty’s late husband, James F. Doherty. An employee with Penn Color for 30 years, Jim was a proud chemist and a man of many passions. He loved the study of history, literature, language and more, and was avid bicyclist, competitive trivia master, and a natural humorist. For 30 years, the Dohertys served their church as pre-cana counselors, preparing couples for marriage.“It’s special that our scholarship winners, Sophia and Megan, each worked for our firm and are pursing their college degrees” said Doherty. “I’m glad to know Sophia qualified for a second scholarship, and Megan supports LLS at the Light the Night Walk in memory of her grandfather (as I do in memory of Jim).”Each year, High Swartz offers a scholarship of $5,000 in Jim’s name. It is awarded to one recipient or split evenly between two recipients. Recipients must be either a senior in high school or an older student in college or graduate school, who is planning on attending a trade school, college, or graduate school full-time at the beginning of the current school year.Applicants are required to write an essay related to one of Jim’s passions. The essays are submitted to the judge’s panel anonymously. The applicants also are evaluated based on their community and volunteer activities. For more information about the scholarship, visit the firm’s website.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Limited Tort! = Limited Recovery?

Pennsylvania drivers, when presented with car insurance coverage choices, are given the “Limited Tort Option” – at a discount of some 15% to 20% on annual premiums.  While such savings may be appealing at first glance, such a decision can have far reaching adverse consequences – and our firm strongly recommends that our clients select the “Full Tort Option” whenever possible.Not coincidentally, the word “Limited” has been defined as “restricted in size, amount, or extent” — and various synonyms have been offered, such as “restricted, finite, little, slight.”  All of these appropriately describe the impact on your potential recovery of selecting the “Limited Tort Option” . . . should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having been injured in a motor vehicle collision which is not your fault.As a general rule, choosing Limited Tort restricts your right to make a claim for non-economic harms and losses which arise from personal injuries sustained as a result of a car collision – damages most often referred to as “pain and suffering.”  Regrettably, too many fail to appreciate what they have given up in this regard until it’s too late.  Even one lost opportunity to be fully compensated for all harms and losses will normally far outweigh any short-term savings by choosing the Limited Tort Option.  Therefore, we highly recommend Full Tort coverage to “fully” protect you and your loved ones.Even if you have selected the Limited Tort Option, though, all is not necessarily lost.  Although many insurance companies will attempt to convince persons who have made such an election — and who then suffer physical injuries in a motor vehicle collision — that they are not entitled to any compensation for their pain and suffering, there are exceptions to the general rule precluding such recovery.  Therefore, it is very important that you seek counsel before agreeing to be bound by any “limited” recovery.What exceptions might apply?  A few, have nothing to do with the nature and extent of physical injuries which were caused by the collision, include the following . . .
  • The driver at fault is determined to have been driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
  • The driver at fault is driving a car registered in another state
  • The driver at fault has not maintained proper car insurance
  • The injured party is the occupant of a motor vehicle other than a private motor vehicle
However, there are also exceptions which relate to how “serious” an injury was suffered.Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility law provides as follows:Each person who elects the limited tort alternative remains eligible to seek compensation for economic loss sustained in a motor vehicle accident as the consequence of the fault of another person pursuant to applicable tort law. Unless the injury sustained is a serious injury, each person who is bound by the limited tort election shall be precluded from maintaining an action for any noneconomic loss . . .75 Pa.C.S. § 1705 [Emphases added]A “serious injury” is therein defined as a “personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” 75 Pa.C.S. § 1702 [Emphases added]  Therefore, one who has selected the “Limited Tort Option” may still make a claim for pain and suffering where he or she has sustained a “serious injury.” Whether or not a personal injury has resulted in “serious impairment of body function” is most often the hotly contested question.The first case in which the issue of “serious injury” was addressed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was that of Washington v. Baxter in 1998.  There, the Court stated:The “serious impairment of body function” threshold contains two inquiries:
  1. a) What body function, if any, was impaired because of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident?
  2. b) Was the impairment of the body function serious? The focus of these inquiries is not on the injuries themselves, but on how the injuries affected a particular body function. Generally, medical testimony will be needed to establish the existence, extent, and permanency of the impairment . . . In determining whether the impairment was serious, several factors should be considered: the extent of the impairment, the length of time the impairment lasted, the treatment required to correct the impairment, and any other relevant factors. An impairment need not be permanent to be serious.
Washington v. Baxter, 553 Pa. 434, 447–48, 719 A.2d 733, 740 (1998).Since then, parties have focused less on the physical injuries suffered and more on the effect which those injuries have had on a particular body function or functions.  For example, where physical injuries limit walking, lifting, working, sleeping – and even cognitive function – courts have decided that it is for a finder of fact to ultimately determine whether or not a “serious injury” has been sustained.  Factors to be considered include how the injury affected the actual functioning of certain injured areas; the extent of the impairment; the duration of the impairment; treatment required to address the impairment; and any and all other factors.  Indeed, it has been determined that subjective complaints of pain alone may constitute a “serious impairment of body function”—and that an impairment need not be permanent in order to be serious.Accordingly, even where you have selected the Limited Tort Option, please seek counsel in order to determine whether or not it may reasonably be contended that you have suffered a “serious injury.”  To be safe and secure, however, you should always select the Full Tort Option when possible so that you and your family are fully protected – and are unquestionably permitted to make claims for all harms and losses sustained as the result of a motor vehicle collision which is not your fault.We certainly hope that you are never faced with a situation involving serious injury as a result of a motor vehicle collision or otherwise.  If this does occur, though, please be sure to contact an attorney experienced in this area to fully explore your legal options and to seek all available remedies to be made whole.If you have any questions about Limited Tort, please contact Eric G. Marttila at 215-345-8888 or emarttila@highswartz.com. At High Swartz, we advocate for the rights of injured people. With offices in Doylestown, Bucks County and Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, our personal injury attorneys work with people who have been injured by the negligence of others throughout Pennsylvania.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

10 High Swartz Attorneys Named Among U.S. News and World Report 2019 ‘Best Lawyers in America’

Montgomery County and Bucks County Lawyers Listed Among Best in U.S., Mary Cushing Doherty is Listed as 2019 Lawyer of the Year in Family Law Mediation

Norristown, PA, August 15, 2018– High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that 10 of its attorneys have been named U.S. News and World Report 2019 ‘Best Lawyers in America.’The High Swartz attorneys 2019 Best Lawyers in America, and the practice areas for which they have been recognized, are: Since it was first published in 1983, The Best Lawyers in America has become widely regarded as a respected reference guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on detailed peer-review evaluations, and lawyers are neither required nor allowed to pay a fee to be listed. Votes were solicited from nearly 83,000 attorneys worldwide; 7.4 million votes were analyzed for the 2018 edition. The standalone Best Lawyers magazine will be distributed in more than 30 leading publications around the country, including The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. A digital edition also will be available.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Elizabeth C. Early Elected to the Council of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section

High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with officesin Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that Elizabeth C. Early has been elected to the Council of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section for a term expiring in 2021.The PBA was established in 1895; its FLS is comprised of approximately 1,400 attorneys, and is committed to the development and practical working of the law relating to marriage, divorce, child support and domestic relations matters. The council is the executive arm of the PBA Family Law Section and it oversees and manages the programs, activities and initiatives. More information about the PBA and the FLS may be found at https://www.pabar.org/.Elizabeth C. Early focuses her practice at High Swartz on family law, her areas of specialization include divorce, custody, support, equitable distribution, pre and post-nuptial agreements and abuse matters. Liz also serves as court-appointed counsel and guardian for minor children. Ms. Early is adept in reaching amicable resolutions whenever possible and has served as a court mediator in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. When litigation is required, she is prepared to argue skillfully for her client’s rights.Ms. Early is an active member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery County Bar Association and a frequent speaker and writer on family law issues at the local and state levels. Liz has been recognized as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer “Rising Star” by Philadelphia Magazine as well as a “Top Attorney” by both Montco Happening Magazine and Bucks Happening Magazine.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Death, Debts and Taxes: What happens to a decedent’s debts?

A common concern of clients during the initial estate administration process is the debts of the decedent.  Clients often wonder, who is responsible for paying the debts?  Can the debt be forgiven? What happens if the estate does not have enough money to pay the debts?These questions are all valid  The answers to these questions can be found in case law, the Internal Revenue Code & Regulations and Pennsylvania statutory laws.To make it easier, let’s answer the questions through the lens of a hypothetical estate – Ester’s estate.  Ester, a Pennsylvania resident, died with $50,000 in credit card debt, medical expenses from her final illness, and various utility expenses associated with her West Chester Borough home.  Ester’s assets are her home, and funds of $25,000 held in her checking and savings accounts.  Ester’s children are the beneficiaries of her residuary estate per her Will.Pennsylvania law, 20 Pa.C.S.A. Section 3381, states that Ester’s debts don’t just disappear at her death.  If the debts don’t disappear, who pays? Only Ester’s Estate is responsible for payment of her debts unless a third-party (family member, neighbor, etc.) co-signed a loan or credit card with Ester.  For now, let’s assume no one co-signed any loans with Ester.  Ester’s credit card debt, her final medical expenses and her various utility expenses will be paid by her estate from the assets that pass pursuant to the terms of her Will.  These assets are Ester’s home and the $25,000 funds from her checking and savings accounts. Ester’s Executor will need to sell the home and use the proceeds from the sale to pay off the credit card debt, final medical expenses and utility bills.But what happens if Ester’s estate either fails to pay her credit card debts or cannot pay her credit card debt due to insolvency or the Executor attempts to have the credit card discharged?If you recall, Ester has used her credit cards to purchase items worth $50,000.  The borrowed funds used to purchase items are not included in Ester’s gross income because at the time Ester borrowed the funds she also created a corresponding liability to pay back the funds to the credit card companies.  Ester’s overall net worth has not increased.  Courts have consistently held that borrowed funds are not included in taxpayer’s income.  The IRS has consistently agreed with this treatment.  So, it would be logical to think that if the credit card companies forgive the debt, the debt should disappear, right?  WRONG!!!!!The general rule under the IRS Rules & Regulations states that the cancellation of a debt for less than adequate consideration causes the debtor to recognize ordinary income in the amount of debt that was forgiven. Section 61(a)(12) of the Internal Revenue Code states that gross income includes “[i]ncome from the discharge of indebtedness.”  No matter how you slice it or dice it… “cancellation of indebtedness”, “cancellation of debt”, “discharge of debt”, and “forgiveness of debt” converts to ordinary income!  The credit card companies report the forgiveness of debt to the IRS by using a 1099-C – Cancellation of Debt form.  Even if the credit card company fails to issue a 1099-C form, the cancellation of debt income is still reportable on the estate fiduciary income tax return.The $50,000 of credit card debt has been converted into income, which must be reported on the estate’s federal fiduciary income tax return, Form 1041 – US Income Tax Return for Estate and Trusts.  Here, at the very least, Ester’s estate has $50,000 in reportable income to the IRS.  If an estate has reportable income, it likely has income tax to pay unless the estate’s deductions wipe out income.Below is a chart that shows the income tax rates for 2018 for an estate and trust:A review of the chart above clearly shows that the income tax rates are much higher for an estate and trust.  Using Ester’s estate as example, the cancellation of Ester’s credit card debt would result in federal income tax liability of $16,886.50 = $3,011.50 + (37% *(50,000-12,500)).But what if Ester’s estate is insolvent?Section 108 of the IRS Code provides exceptions for which Ester’s estate may be eligible.  Section 108(a)(1)(B) excludes from gross income the cancellation of indebtedness of an insolvent debtor, but only to the extent of the amount of the debtor’s insolvency immediately before the debt was forgiven.  Section 108(a)(3).  So if Ester’s estate is insolvent prior to the debt being forgiven, the estate may exclude the cancellation of debt using IRS Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of IndebtednessIt’s important to note that only assets that pass through probate are considered for determining insolvency. Recall probate assets are those assets that pass pursuant to the terms of a decedent’s Will.  Here, probate assets would be Ester’s West Chester Borough home and the funds held in the checking and savings accounts.  An estate with cancellation of debt income and very few probate assets will be insolvent if all assets pass directly to beneficiaries through beneficiary designations (life insurance, IRAs, 401(k)). Designated beneficiaries who receive these kinds of assets are not liable for paying a decedent’s debts.To recap, an estate is responsible for paying the decedent’s debt. If the debt is forgiven it becomes ordinary income reportable on the estate’s fiduciary income return regardless if a Form 1099-C was issued by the creditor.  If the estate is insolvent, it may be able to exclude the cancellation of debt under Section 108(a)(3) of the IRC.Before undertaking an estate administration without an attorney, remember the law is complex because (1) there are usually exception to the rules, (2) the law changes frequently, and (3) multiple areas of law can impact an estate, such as IRS Rules & Regulations, Pennsylvania statutory and case law .If you have questions regarding debts and estate administration, please contact Mary R. LaSota at 215-345-8888 or mlasota@highswartz.com. Our Wills, Trusts & Estates attorneys have a thorough understanding of the tax laws and provide comprehensive legal services to assist you in all estate administration matters.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

8 High Swartz Attorneys Named ‘Top Lawyer’ for 2018 by Main Line Today

High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that 8 of  its attorneys have been named among the “Top Lawyers” for 2018 by Main Line Today magazine.

David J. Brooman – Environmental Law

Arnold Heller – Real Estate Law

William F. Kerr, Jr. – Real Estate Law

Mary R. LaSota – Trusts & Wills

Thomas D. Rees – Labor Law

Joel D. Rosen – Business Law

James B. Shrimp – Labor Law

Richard C. Sokorai – Civil Litigation

The annual list of Top Lawyers in Main Line Today highlights top attorneys in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties. The attorneys are nominated via peer balloting and then vetted through Main Line Today’s editorial process.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Employee Handbook & Policies

For over 30 years, High Swartz has worked with business owners, executives and human resource professionals to draft and update our clients’ employee handbooks and policies.  Understanding the foundational importance of a skillfully drafted and fully compliant handbook, High Swartz will assist you in preparing and/or revising your employee handbooks and policies.A comprehensive handbook with clear and well-drafted policies is critical to litigation avoidance or victory.  Ensuring that your employees have access to the standards on which they will be disciplined prevents needless confusion and resultant dissatisfaction.  Furthermore, clear cut rules on disciplinary procedures, leave and attendance policies and reporting/complaint procedures create certainty for both the employer and employees if/when difficulties may arise.Because employment laws are frequently evolving, it is important to audit your employee handbook and policies regularly to ensure continued compliance with all federal, state and local laws.  Additionally, a comprehensive review of your handbook may locate holes that could make your company vulnerable.  With years of experience in the field, High Swartz attorneys are adept at locating potential areas of concern and revising relevant policies to conform to the requirements of all relevant laws.

Mary Cushing Doherty Receives the Eric Turner Memorial Award from the PBA

High Swartz partner, Mary Cushing Doherty was honored last week at the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section Summer with the prestigious Eric Turner Memorial Award.The Eric Turner Memorial Award honors a lawyer who is dedicated to the practice of family law and who serves as a mentor and teacher to fellow lawyers. As part of the award, a $1,000 donation will be made to the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a charity selected by Doherty.Throughout her more than 35 years of practice, Doherty has been invested in the advancement of family law practice and women’s issues in the practice of law. An active member of the legal community, Doherty has held numerous leadership positions in the PBA, including chair, officer and council member of the Family Law Section and chair of the Review and Certifying Board tasked with developing and implementing a certification process for various practice areas. Last year, she was recognized with a Special Achievement Award for her service in navigating a divorce reform bill through the General Assembly — one of the many contributions she has made since joining the section in 1979. Doherty is currently a member at-large of the Commission on Women in the Profession Executive Council.Throughout her career, Doherty’s work and service have been recognized with several awards, including the PBA Commission on Women in Profession 2012 Lynette Norton Award, 2012 Women of the Year list by The Legal Intelligencer, 2009 Woman of Distinction list by Philadelphia Business Journal, 2008 Frederick Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching and 2006 Margaret Richardson Award.Ms. Doherty has been a Course Planner and Lecturer for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1990 and for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute since 1985. She also has been a Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section and Montgomery Bar Association.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Wage Payment and Collection Law

Pennsylvania has one of the strongest Wage Payment and Collection laws (WPCL) in the country.  Pennsylvania’s WPCL can be a powerful tool for employees who are due unpaid or underpaid wages and benefits.  Employers must be aware of the requirements of the WPCL to avoid costly litigation and potentially substantial liability for their businesses.   Whether you are paying wages or earning them, the attorneys of High Swartz stand ready to assist you use or stay within the requirements of the WPCL.EmployeesThe WPCL requires that wages and other earned fringe benefits be paid on a regular basis as designated in advance by the employer.  For departing employees, earned wages and benefits must be paid by the next regular payday upon which said wages would be due and payable.   These are just a few of the rights bestowed on employees by the WPCL.   An employee who brings a successful claim or lawsuit under the WPCL can collect not only the wages due but a penalty of up to 25% of the unpaid amount.  The WPCL also provides for mandatory payment of counsel fees by the employer for a successful employee.  If you believe your employer has underpaid or unreasonably delayed in paying you, the attorneys of High Swartz will provide you with a full description of your WPCL rights and can take action to assist you in recovering what you have earned.EmployersIt is in every Pennsylvania employer’s best interest to make sure that their operations are conducted within the requirements of the WPCL.  Violations of the WPCL can subject a business to possible criminal penalties as well as civil liability.  Moreover, if wages and benefits are not timely paid, officers and agents of the employing corporation can be held personally liable.   It therefore behooves both businesses and the people who run them to make sure that employees are properly paid in accordance with the requirements of the WPCL.   Wage payment records must be properly kept, and all deductions from paychecks must be allowable under the WPCL and appropriately  documented.   It is recommended that employers not wait to be sued to consult with High Swartz to make all reasonable efforts to make sure that your practices are in compliance with the WPCL.  And should an employee bring suit, High Swartz’s attorneys will fight to protect you and your business within the requirements of the WPCL.

Mary Cushing Doherty and Melissa M. Boyd lead sessions at the Pennsylvania Bar Association

High Swartz partners from the firm’s Family Law practice, Mary Cushing Doherty and Melissa M. Boyd led sessions at the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Summer Meeting held July 12th through the 15th in Hershey.Mrs. Doherty was a speaker on the panel “Drafting Agreements in the Year 2018.” The panel presented on the do’s and don’ts of agreement drafting and the importance of contemplating all potential legal consequences into Separation, Custody and Settlement Agreements.Mrs. Boyd was the moderator for the panel “The Evolution of Family Law: Past, Present and Future.” The panel was a discussion of trends in family law practice over the past few decades and a prospective view of what lies ahead.  Topics covered how changes in procedure, technology, evidence, legislation and substantive law involving divorce, support, custody and reproductive advancements are developing and suggest practice strategies for all practitioners. The panel addressed practical ways to accommodate clients who want a fair result without lengthy, expensive litigation.With a distinguished record of professional and community service, Mary Cushing Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and more. Ms. Doherty is an experienced and certified Arbitrator and Mediator. She strives for the amicable resolution of divorce when possible; however, she is a zealous litigator when it serves the best interests of her clients.Ms. Doherty has been a Course Planner and Lecturer for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1990 and for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute since 1985. She also has been a Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section and Montgomery Bar Association. A highly sought-after speaker in family law, Doherty received the Lynette Norton Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Women in the Profession Committee in 2012 and also was one of the Legal Intelligencer’s Women of the Year. She has been named a Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction, and, in 2006, she received the Margaret Richardson Award from the Montgomery Bar Association, which is presented to a trailblazer who has promoted the role of women in the legal profession.Ms. Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Board member of the Pennsylvania Chapter of AAML and member of the family law sections of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association. She is former Chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association. Ms. Boyd has been certified as a Family Law Arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Boyd has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell, has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for 8 years, Best Lawyer in America since 2016 and named among the 10 Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Employment Discrimination, Advice, Litigation & Discrimination Compliance

For over 30 years, High Swartz has represented employers, ranging from main street businesses to businesses trading on the NASDAQ exchange.  Our attorneys partner with business owners, executives and human resource professionals to navigate the ever changing landscape of employment law and employment relations, including:
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”)
    • Includes Race, Color, Sex, National Origin, Religion
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”)
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”)
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963 (“EPA”)
  • Additional state anti-discrimination statutes such as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”)
Advice to EmployersThe key to eliminating the risk of employment discrimination claims by employees is to discuss and analyze impending disciplinary action beforehand, especially suspensions and terminations, to determine whether the disciplinary action is warranted, supported by sufficient documentation and is not born of any other circumstance (e.g., retaliation).  High Swartz and its attorneys believe this part of the process of invaluable.  High Swartz will be with you, the business owner, in working through disciplinary actions to reduce future risk.In addition, High Swartz will assist you in preparing, revising and advising on human resource policies, employee handbooks, performance improvement plans, etc…  Having an employee policy that permits the employer to impose the discipline on the employee is critical in reducing the risk of lawsuits.Representation Before Administrative AgenciesShould an employee/former employee take the initial step of filing a claim/charge of discrimination with an administrative agency, High Swartz will provide you with knowledgeable and vigorous representation before the agency.  Whether Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”), or another state or federal agency, High Swartz will be there to guide and advise you through the process, which typically includes the preparation of a factual position statement and the production of some information/documents.Representation in CourtHigh Swartz attorneys are experienced litigators that will advocate for your business if a discrimination claim is brought in Federal or state court.  Our job is to defend the claim so you can continue to operate your business.  In addition, throughout the litigation process we will keep you advised of any risk in the case and the cost-benefit of resolving the matter short of a jury trial.

Code Enforcement

Attorneys at High Swartz, in both Doylestown and Norristown, represent municipal clients, like Boroughs and Townships, in matters related to general code enforcement.  The advice and counsel provided by our attorneys includes:
  • assisting the zoning officer or code enforcement officer in interpreting and applying the building code and other general code of ordinance provisions
  • advising the municipality on enforcement options for violations of those ordinances
  • representing the municipality in the enforcement action
High Swartz attorneys are also prepared to defend the municipality when applicants appeal the interpretation of the zoning officer through hearings governed by the Local Agency Act and the Uniform Construction Code. 

Stephanie A. Henrick Named a 2018 Lawyer on the Fast Track

High Swartz attorney, Stephanie A. Henrick, was recently awarded the prestigious honor of being one of The Legal Intelligencer’s 2018 Lawyers on the Fast Track.Ms. Henrick was awarded the honor after a panel of five members judged legal professionals across the state. A total of 30 attorneys were selected. The formal event recognizing the winners was held of June 27th.Stephanie A. Henrick is a member of the Wills, Trusts & Estates group. She focuses her legal practice on estate planning, estate administration, tax law, and Social Security Disability. She earned a Masters of Law (LL.M.) in Taxation and a Certificate in Estate Planning from Villanova University School of Law.Stephanie’s passion for civic service drives her personal and professional life. She was recently elected Mayor of Pottstown, in addition, she is an active member in Pottstown Rotary. She endeavors to work with integrity and contribute her expertise to the problems and needs of society in order to improve the quality of life for people in her community.To read more about the 2018 Legal Intelligencer Lawyers on the Fast Track, visit https://www.law.com/thelegalintelligencer/2018/06/12/2018-lawyers-on-the-fast-track/About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Partner Mary Cushing Doherty Named LLS Woman of the Year

High Swartz partner and chair of the firm’s Family Law practice, Mary Cushing Doherty, was recently awarded the prestigious honor of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year for the Philadelphia area.Mary’s team, “For the Love of Jim – Hope for a Cure,” was in memory of her husband of 34 years, Jim Doherty, father to their 4 children: Colleen, Maggie, John and deceased son, Tommy. Her team raised over $120,000 for LLS. Jim succumbed to Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, double-hit (or twice mutated) in 2012, 13 months after his diagnosis.  He was a chemist who believed science would find a cure, and Mary has taken up this cause in his honor.The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year campaign is a 10-week philanthropic competition for leaders in local communities across the United States. Candidates and their teammates also raise funds for LLS in honor of local blood cancer survivors, the Boy & Girl of the Year. The title “Man or Woman of the Year” is awarded to the candidate whose team raises the most funds during the 10-week competition. The top Man and Woman honorees in the country are awarded with the national titles.With a distinguished record of professional and community service, Mary Cushing Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and more. Ms. Doherty is an experienced and certified Arbitrator and Mediator. She strives for the amicable resolution of divorce when possible; however, she is a zealous litigator when it serves the best interests of her clients.Ms. Doherty has been a Course Planner and Lecturer for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1990 and for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute since 1985. She also has been a Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section and Montgomery Bar Association. A highly sought-after speaker in family law, Doherty received the Lynette Norton Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Women in the Profession Committee in 2012 and also was one of the Legal Intelligencer’s Women of the Year. She has been named a Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction, and, in 2006, she received the Margaret Richardson Award from the Montgomery Bar Association, which is presented to a trailblazer who has promoted the role of women in the legal profession.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Franchisee’s Struggle: Creating a Viable Business When Someone Else Calls the Shots on Your Social Media Presence

Social media has changed the way we see the world. From its modest beginnings as a way to connect people, social media has grown into an ever present force that cannot be ignored.  We get the news (fake and otherwise), learn about new products,  and keep in touch through social media.  I’d imagine you’d be hard pressed to find someone without a profile on at least one form of social media.  Business are learning how to handle the nuances of social media on a daily basis.Unlike many businesses, however, franchises face additional and unique obstacles in navigating the already challenging field of social media marketing.  Specifically, when you purchase a franchise, you are buying rights to a business that already has a unique brand.  To that end, franchisors have an understandable interest in maintaining control over what messages you can and cannot transmit to the public at large.Social media’s ability to disperse negative news with unparalleled speed is well documented.  What might in the past have been a minor PR snafu, easily swept under the rug, may become a viral sensation that brings unwanted attention.   Accordingly, franchisors are reluctant to hand franchisees free rein over social media if that would leave the brand open to attack from careless keystrokes of a franchisee’s employees.That being said, a franchisee also has an important interest in its own social media presence.  The ability to interact with its local market is a vital component to gaining a strong and engaged customer base.  So social media cannot be ignored when trying to grow a successful and enduring business.Unfortunately, the franchisor’s and franchisee’s competing interests in the area of social media may limit the franchisee’s ability to use this powerful tool as he/she would like.  Fortunately, before agreeing to franchise a business there is an all important document that will provide you with the information on this topic (along with many other vital topics) that will allow you to make an informed decision prior to setting up shop.  Specifically, a good franchise agreement will contain information on who will be controlling social media sites, if the franchisee can even open accounts for their particular franchise, what policies will control any social media account that is opened, use of trademark information, how to deal with the inevitable dissatisfied customer, and much more. Understanding what the implications of this section will be as to the practical realities of running your business is crucial.Social media may not be the section of the franchise agreement that concerns you the most, but it certainly cannot be overlooked.  To that end, as you plan to embark on exciting business venture, the importance of consulting with an skilled franchise attorney cannot be overstated.  Having someone to guide you through the process and make sure that you are paying attention to and aware of the potential issues in running your business will help to set you up for long-term success.If you have any questions about Franchise Agreements, please contact us at 610-275-0700 or main@highswartz.com. Our franchise, business and commercial law practice group at High Swartz LLP in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, provides companies throughout the area with creative solutions based on extensive experience and legal knowledge and familiarity with the courts and the business environments of The Greater Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Attorneys in our business and commercial law group work closely with members of our other practice groups to provide our business clients with comprehensive, efficient legal solutions.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

Environmental Issues

Environmental law is a complex and constantly evolving grouping of laws and regulations designed to balance the rights and interests of private property owners with the environmental concerns of the public.  Municipal government is often thrust into the center of this balance struggle to protect its natural resources including parks, floodplains, streams, wetlands, riparian buffers, open space, and water supply.The Municipal Law Team at High Swartz is at the forefront of environmental issues facing Pennsylvania municipalities and provides preemptive practical and technical legal advice in drafting legislation and regulations and guiding compliance with environmental laws that impact local governments.  The Municipal Law Team at High Swartz also is often called upon to serve as special counsel to represent municipalities in complex litigation involving clean water, clean air, pipeline siting and construction, floodplain management, stormwater management and controversial land uses.High Swartz takes a collaborative approach when facing these issues and works closely with its Environmental Law Group.  Together they are a formidable team of lawyers who have an intimate working knowledge of federal and state laws governing clean air, clean water, natural resource management, floodplain regulation, sewage facilities planning, storm water management, municipal waste management, recycling, brownfields and contaminated sites.This specialized team at High Swartz has ongoing relationships with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, and the Department of Environmental Protection to assist the municipalities it represents maintain compliance, and partners with these agencies in land planning, preservation of open space, greenways and trails, floodplain management, recycling, and innovative stormwater management solutions.The knowledge base and expertise of the Municipal Law Team coupled with our collaborative approach results in innovative solutions, balancing private property rights, municipal interests, and the interest of the general public.

Family Law Attorney, Melissa M. Boyd moderates MBA Family Law Section Meeting

High Swartz partner, Melissa M. Boyd recently moderated the Montgomery Bar Association Family Law Section Meeting held on June 6. The topic of the program was “Avoiding the Pitfalls of QDRO’s and the Valuation and Division of Retirement Benefits.” The panelists discussed the appropriate drafting of retirement provisions within Property Settlement Agreements in divorce matters. Also discussed were terms for Orders which ultimately result in the creation of a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) which is the mechanism for distributing certain retirement assets among divorcing couples.Melissa M. Boyd is a partner with High Swartz LLP. She concentrates her practice on family law including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoptions, protection from abuse and juvenile law. She has dedicated much of her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.Ms. Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Board member of the Pennsylvania Chapter of AAML and member of the family law sections of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association. She is former Chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association. Ms. Boyd has been certified as a Family Law Arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Boyd has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell, has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for 8 years, Best Lawyer in America since 2016 and named among the 10 Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.The Montgomery Bar Association offers it’s members an important arena for networking, professional development and education. It also serves the community as a legal resource offering education, legal assistance and funds and resources for individuals and agencies in need. The Association is actively engaged in public service through community outreach, free educational events offered throughout the year, programs like the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project, the Mock Trial Competitions for high-school students, and more. To learn more about the Montgomery Bar Association, visit their website at https://www.montgomerybar.org/index.php.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Home Rule Charter Law

The Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law allows local governments, such as counties, townships, boroughs and cities, to tailor-make their own form of government.   Think of a Home Rule Charter as a “constitution” for a local government.  Indeed, the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees municipalities the “right and power to frame and adopt home rule charters.”First, however, a decision must be made whether or not to study the current local government and to consider a change in the form of the government.  This decision is made by the electors, who, will also elect a group of citizens to conduct the study and to report to the voters so that a final decision may be made.  There are two methods to begin this study process.  The question may be placed on the ballot either by an ordinance of the local government or by petition of the municipality’s voters.The Government Study Commission undertakes serious and significant work in studying the municipality’s government and options under the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law for governmental improvement.  If it concludes that a Charter should be adopted, the Commission then must write the Home Rule Charter.   The Commission may select the date for the referendum to put that question to the municipal voters, that is, whether or not to adopt the Home Rule Charter drafted by the Commission.While all of Pennsylvania’s Home Rule municipalities have a legislative body, such as a council or commission, wide variations exist as to the form, or existence at all, of an elected executive.  Because governance under Home Rule can be a clean slate and new opportunity, the new form of government may choose a weak-mayor form of government, when the original form had a strong mayor, or, no mayor at all, as an example.  Further, there is often an appointed professional municipal administrator  or manager, to manage and operate the day to day affairs of the municipality.Absent the adoption of a Home Rule Charter, or Optional Plan, the local government must follow the form of government mandated by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth, such as the applicable County, City, or Township Code that is “cookie-cutter” and applies to all municipalities of a particular class (such as, for example, cities of the Third Class must follow the Third Class City Code).  Home Rule law, or an Optional Plan, is direct democracy in action, and is adopted by a referendum of the electors of the local government.  The law recognizes a properly adopted Home Rule Charter or Optional Plan as having the same force and effect as a statute enacted by the Commonwealth.  This, then, of course, means, that a Charter may be amended only as provided by the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law, and not by a mere local ordinance, resolution or code provision adopted by the local governing body or executive.Although Charters and Optional Plans allow wide flexibility in the form of local government, the statute places limitations on local governments in certain areas, such as taxation, firearms, education, employment, municipal planning and elections.  Further, generally, all other statewide legislation, Federal Law, the Pennsylvania Constitution and the U.S. Constitution may not be violated by a Home Rule Charter or Optional Plan.A Home Rule Charter may be repealed by the same process, that is, the question of whether a Government Study Commission should be formed, the study, and then a recommendation of repeal or not, and if so, the new form of government which the municipality should take.  There appears to be no legal or constitutional prohibition on the municipality returning to the pre-Charter form of government, such as, for example, the Third Class City Code, or applicable Township or County Code.

Local Taxation, Enforcement and Collections

High Swartz has represented municipal taxing authorities for more than 25 years.  Our attorneys assist municipal tax collectors, finance departments, auditors, and outside collectors with the interpretation, application, enforcement and collection of Business Privilege Taxes, Mercantile License Taxes, Local Services Taxes, and other Act 511 taxes. We ensure that taxes are collected uniformly and fairly.  Our work ranges from serving as special tax counsel on discrete tax matters, to creating and implementing entirely new tax collection and enforcement programs. We also consult with municipalities on updating existing collection and enforcement programs, updating regulations to comply with current changes to the Local Tax Enabling Act.High Swartz attorneys have drafted and amended Business Tax Regulations for numerous local taxing authorities to help municipalities and school districts stay current with changes in the Local Tax Enabling Act and Local Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.Our attorneys also serve as Local Tax Hearing Officers and counsel to Local Tax Hearing Boards under the Local Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  In that capacity they hear appeals and draft or render decisions on petitions, on assessments and requests for refunds relating to Business Privilege and Mercantile License Taxes.While the Firm’s attorneys primarily serve taxing authorities, they will also represent select business taxpayers when those businesses are not being treated correctly by the taxing jurisdictions to which they are subject.  Because of their vast experience representing municipal taxing authorities, our attorneys have the knowledge and skill to represent these taxpayers, where the issues involve:
  • Local Tax Assessment
  • Allocation of business activity based on location
  • Interstate commerce and apportionment
  • Manufacturing classification
  • Wholesale/retail rate disputes
  • Attribution of gross receipts to taxable business activity
  • Representation in administrative appeal proceedings
  • Representation in litigation in the Common Pleas Court
  • Appellate Level Proceedings
  • Ordinance and Regulation Revisions

Joel D. Rosen Speaks at the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony

High Swartz partner, Joel D. Rosen recently spoke at Pennsylvania Biotechnology  Center of Bucks County – Public Service Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony honoring Senator Joe Scarnati. The Public Service Wall of Fame recognizes legislators who have made extraordinary contributions to the success of the Biotech Center. Senator Scarnati is a great proponent of business and economic development in PA, and has helped the biotech center since its inception.Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is currently serving his 5th term in the Pennsylvania Senate. As President Pro Tempore of the Senate, he holds the third-highest constitutional office in the State. He was born and raised in Brockway, Pennsylvania and represents the 25th Senatorial District, which includes Cameron, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, Potter and Tioga Counties and portions of Clearfield County.The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County is a nonprofit life sciences incubator dedicated to the creation of a world-class biotechnology center; to the promotion of regional economic development and job creation; and to the education and training of tomorrow’s researchers.Joel D. Rosen is Managing Partner of High Swartz LLP. With more than 30 years of legal experience, his areas of practice include franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing. Mr. Rosen has counseled numerous businesses with regard to general corporate and commercial transactions, including, formation, mergers & acquisitions, licensing, sales, and financing projects. Mr. Rosen’s corporate client base spans a broad spectrum of industries, including: biotechnology, franchise, weight loss, food and restaurant, consumer products, media and entertainment, software and technology and nonprofit organizations.About the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center: The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County seeks to advance biotechnology in Bucks County and the surrounding region, maximize synergies between nonprofit scientists and their commercial colleagues, and launch new ideas and discoveries that will make a difference. To learn more, go to www.pabiotechbc.org.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Be Prepared for Motorcycle Season

As the long cold and rainy spring of 2018 fades into memory, motorcycle riders across the Commonwealth are taking out their bikes and getting ready for a glorious season of riding.  However, the unfortunate truth is that motorcycle accidents can and do happen. Here are some thoughts about how to increase your chance to have a safe and happy motorcycle season.
  1. Make sure your ride is ready. Like any vehicle, motorcycles need maintenance.   Before taking your motorcycle on the road, check your oil, brakes and tires to make sure that they are in proper condition.  Worn brake pads and tires can make an accident more likely and make it more difficult to avoid an accident in the first place.  A small investment now may avoid large problems later.
  2. Make sure you are ready. Are your skills polished and up to date?   If you have not ridden in a while, your skills and reflexes may have diminished.  Your first rides of the year are no time to challenge yourself.   Please consider taking your initial 2018 rides in good weather, on uncrowded roads, and when you are rested and alert.  Consider a class or professional training if it’s been a while since you’ve been on the road.
  3. Proper gear is essential. While the wind in your hair may seem appealing, remember that you’ve only been issued the one head, and you’d best take good care of it.  Similarly, long sleeves and long pants made of proper materials may literally save your skin.  Your chances of surviving an accident with minimal injury increase dramatically with proper clothing and gear.
  4. Remember that you may see automobiles before they see you. Don’t assume that an automobile driver has you and your bike in their field of vision.  A brightly colored helmet or jacket may increase your visibility.  Beware of blind spots and try to avoid them, or spend as little time in them as possible.
  5. Check your insurance. Is your motorcycle properly covered?   Unlike car insurance in Pennsylvania, motorcycle insurance does not include payment of medical expenses.   Your personal medical insurance will have to cover your motorcycle-related injuries, so make sure you have medical insurance that is adequate to the task.
  6. Remember that a collision that is a fender-bender to a car can result in serious injury or death to a motorcycle rider. There is no metal box around a motorcyclist to absorb impact and no seat belt to keep the ride from being thrown.  Even a minor motorcycle accident can result in serious injuries such as broken bones, internal injuries, and brain damage.
  7. Don’t Assume What Other Drivers Will Do. It is far better to avoid an accident than to have to play the “blame game” afterwards.   It is therefore recommended that motorcyclists  assume that drivers of other vehicles may be distracted or inattentive.   Be wary of cars making or that may unexpectedly make left turns, for such turns are a frequent cause of accidents.   Don’t assume that a car is turning just because its turn signal is on, or that a car is stopping because it is approaching a red light or stop sign.   Watch the other drivers; if another driver’s body language does not indicate that they driver has seen you and your motorcycle, be ready to move or take evasive action.
If an accident happens, keep your cool.   Don’t play into the stereotype of the “reckless motorcyclist.”   Remain at the scene, check yourself for injuries, and call 911.  If you are able, take photographs at the scene to establish the position of the vehicles.  Exchange insurance information and get medical attention if necessary.  When the police arrive, do not accept any blame for the accident.   Even if you believe you are unhurt, it is not in your best interest to tell that to the police.  Many injuries only become apparent later, and that statement you made to the police officer that you are “all right” or “unhurt” may be difficult to overcome at a later date.After a motorcycle accident, you may be contacted by insurance adjusters seeking a statement from you.  Be wary, as the insurance adjuster may not have your best interests in mind.  It is wise to talk to an attorney before you talk to any adjuster to make sure that your rights are protected.   Similarly, seek counsel before signing any documents that an insurance adjuster may place in front of you, such as a blanket authorization to obtain medical records.Enjoy your ride, but be careful out there.    And should you be in an accident, remember that the attorneys of High Swartz stand ready to help with any questions or problems you might encounter.  If you have any questions or need assistance with Personal Injury, please contact a High Swartz attorney.  At High Swartz, we advocate for the rights of injured people. With offices in Doylestown, Bucks County and Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, our personal injury attorneys work with people who have been injured by the negligence of others throughout Pennsylvania.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

High Swartz Partner Mary Cushing Doherty speaks at Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE

High Swartz partner and chair of the firm’s Family Law practice, Mary Cushing Doherty, was recently a speaker at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE seminar on June 4 in Philadelphia.Mrs. Doherty was part of a panel for the CLE “Family Lawyers: Don’t Be Overtaxed by the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act.” The panel presented an advanced analysis of what tax reform means in family law matters including the impact of changes to individual income tax provisions and  changes to business taxes that affect income available for support and certain business valuations.With a distinguished record of professional and community service, Mary Cushing Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and more. Ms. Doherty is an experienced and certified Arbitrator and Mediator. She strives for the amicable resolution of divorce when possible; however, she is a zealous litigator when it serves the best interests of her clients.Ms. Doherty has been a Course Planner and Lecturer for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1990 and for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute since 1985. She also has been a Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section and Montgomery Bar Association. A highly sought-after speaker in family law, Doherty received the Lynette Norton Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Women in the Profession Committee in 2012 and also was one of the Legal Intelligencer’s Women of the Year. She has been named a Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction, and, in 2006, she received the Margaret Richardson Award from the Montgomery Bar Association, which is presented to a trailblazer who has promoted the role of women in the legal profession.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Employment and Labor Law

All government entities have complex personnel and employment issues.  High Swartz attorneys have extensive experience in advising and representing local and state government agencies in employment matters.  We provide advice to local municipalities on hiring, evaluation, discipline, and firing employees.  We also do audits, review hiring documents and employee handbooks, and create and apply hiring and disciplinary policies and procedures.  We provide training sessions on employee interviewing and  hiring, discipline, and harassment prevention.  Where necessary, we investigate claims of  misconduct, harassment, and discrimination.  We represent government agencies in equal employment agency investigations, court proceedings, administrative hearings, mediations, and arbitrations.  The firm also handles more traditional labor law matters, including representation of employers in labor contract negotiations, grievances by unionized employees, pension and retirement fund matters, and labor litigation.Three partners in the firm- Tom Rees, Rich Sokorai, and Jim Shrimp– have extensive experience in employment and labor law.  Tom Rees has served as both a township solicitor and special counsel for municipalities on a variety of employment issues, ranging from general employment advice and contract negotiation to litigation over hiring and termination and police tenure issues.  Rich Sokorai serves as solicitor for a large suburban township where he handles hiring, discipline, and discharge matters.  Jim Shrimp has extensive employment litigation experience for both public and private sector employers.  Jim and Rich currently handle labor matters for a suburban School Board.

Joel D. Rosen Appointed to the Montgomery Bar Foundation Board of Trustees

High Swartz managing partner, Joel D. Rosen has been appointed to the Board of the Trustees for the Montgomery Bar Foundation. Mr. Rosen has been reappointed for a 3-year term.The Montgomery Bar Foundation is the charitable affiliate of the Montgomery Bar Association. Since 1987, the Bar Foundation has supported law-related educational, charitable, and humanitarian projects throughout Montgomery County. Grants awarded by the Foundation have been used to help the elderly, homeless, victims of domestic violence, troubled and underprivileged youth, and many other individuals and families in need. Visit their website at http://www.montgomerybarfoundation.org/index.html.Joel D. Rosen is Managing Partner of High Swartz LLP. With more than 30 years of legal experience, his areas of practice include franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing. Mr. Rosen has counseled numerous businesses with regard to general corporate and commercial transactions, including, formation, mergers & acquisitions, licensing, sales, and financing projects. Mr. Rosen’s corporate client base spans a broad spectrum of industries, including: biotechnology, franchise, weight loss, food and restaurant, consumer products, media and entertainment, software and technology and nonprofit organizations.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Thomas D. Rees Speaks on Navigating Student Discipline in 2018

High Swartz partner Thomas D. Rees recently presented a Continuing Education talk for Bryn Mawr Trust titled “Navigating Student Discipline in 2018”. The session focused on how educational institutions are and should be handling student discipline issues in 2018.  Mr. Rees discussed the most serious rule violations at schools and colleges, the stakeholders in the discipline process, and the key legal and procedural issues in a discipline case.  He closed his talk with two case studies, one where the court upheld the school’s discipline and one where the court reinstated the student to the school.Thomas D. Rees heads High Swartz’s Litigation and Employment Practice. He focuses his practice primarily on education law, where he represents independent schools, and employment law, where he represents employers in matters related to employment terminations; restrictive covenants, trade secrets, and other employee mobility issues; discrimination and sexual harassment cases; contract disputes; and defamation and privacy related matters.  Tom also serves his education and employment clients employers in a wide variety of non-litigation matters, including contract negotiation and preparation of policies and procedures.  He serves as an employment arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.  Tom also handles complex litigation and dispute resolution in the areas of land use and zoning law and government regulation.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Attorneys Named Among PA Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that a number of its attorneys have been named among Pennsylvania’s 2018 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars.The High Swartz attorneys named Super Lawyers, and the practice areas for which they have been recognized, are: The High Swartz attorneys named 2018 Pennsylvania Rising Stars are: A program of Thomson Reuters, Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who, through a peer review and independent research process, have been identified as attaining a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only the top 5 percent of Pennsylvania’s 50,000 lawyers and the top 2.5 percent of up-and-coming Pennsylvania lawyers are named to the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists, respectively.Candidates are evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, including verdicts and settlements; honors and awards; special licenses and certifications; pro bono and community service efforts; and scholarly lectures and writings. The ultimate objective of Super Lawyers is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse list of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for other practitioners and consumers searching for legal counsel.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Melissa M. Boyd Honored with PBA Special Achievement Award

Pennsylvania Bar Association recognizes High Swartz family law attorney’s dedication and commitmentThe full-service law firm High Swartz LLP is proud to announce that family law attorney Melissa M. Boyd has been honored with the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Special Achievement Award, in recognition of her dedication and commitment to the Family Law Section. Ms. Boyd was presented this award in recognition of her tireless efforts as co-chair of the PBA Family Law Section Membership Committee to  coordinate and promote the Section’s scholarship program to nine law schools and members practicing in under-represented counties.    She also led a successful effort to contact former section members who had dropped their membership.Melissa M. Boyd concentrates her practice on family law.  She advocates in various areas including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoptions, protection from abuse and juvenile law. She has dedicated much of her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.She is a frequent presenter on family law topics for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association.Ms. Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and she serves on the board of governors for the Pennsylvania Chapter . She also is a member of the family law sections of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association. She previously served as the chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association.Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association and its more than 27,000 members continue the association’s tradition of service to the profession and the public, while keeping current with changing legal standards and societal practices, quality of life issues, and evolving technology. The PBA’s Special Achievement Award is given annually to recognize those who have given their time and resources to advance the association and the practice of law in Pennsylvania.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

3 High Swartz Family Law Attorneys Coordinate/Present at the PBI Family Law Institute

Mary Cushing Doherty planned the course and Melissa M. Boyd and Elizabeth Early were presenters.High Swartz partner, Mary Cushing Doherty, helped coordinate the course for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Family Law Institute, held at the CLE Conference Center at the Wanamaker Building in Philadelphia. Melissa M. Boyd, also a partner at High Swartz, acted as faculty for the Family Law Institute. Boyd spoke on “Secret of Support Remedies,” the session offered 1.5 substantive CLE credits and focused on what goes on behind the walls of Domestic Relations offices in Pennsylvania. Topics included federal and state regulations, the ways in which arrearages are handled, and whether bank accounts can be seized or licenses suspended as part of support enforcement. Attorney, Elizabeth C. Early, presented case law updates on divorce.The 13th Annual Family Law Institute has become a respected tradition for family law practitioners in Pennsylvania. The conference presented live in Philadelphia, was also simulcast to numerous locations across the state, provided the latest legal developments and domestic relations practice hints.   Mary Cushing Doherty has served as a co-Course Planner for all 13 Family Law Institute programs, and the three years of the Family Law Potpourri predecessor program.A former member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute,  and former Chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division and more. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware and the Villanova University School of Law.Melissa M. Boyd is a partner with High Swartz LLP. She concentrates her practice on family law including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoptions, protection from abuse and juvenile law. She has dedicated much of her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.Elizabeth C. Early focuses her practice at High Swartz on family law, including divorce, child custody, support, equitable distribution, pre and post-nuptial agreements and abuse matters. She is known for handling each of her client’s cases efficiently and with empathy and attention to detail.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

William F. Kerr Appointed to the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors

High Swartz partner, William F. Kerr, Jr. has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware Counties, Inc.“We are very much looking forward to working with Bill, and are very impressed with the skill set he brings to the Habitat Board,” said William McEwan, Vice President.Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware Counties, Inc. partners with local residents to help them build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build or repair their own homes alongside volunteers, resulting in an affordable mortgage. Habitat also provides low cost home repairs, financial literacy and empowerment education, and revitalizes neighborhoods. With community support, homeowners achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and for their families., visit the Habitat for Humanity website at http://www.habitatmontdelco.org.William F. Kerr, Jr. has more than 22 years of experience in the area of real estate law, focusing on land use, land development and zoning; real estate taxation; real estate transactions; real estate title issues; eminent domain; real estate valuation; and real estate code compliance.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # # 

Revocable Living Trust: Not the Magic Bullet

So what is a revocable living trust?  A trust is a legal written agreement between various individuals:  The individuals involved include the trustmaker, who is the person that creates the trust agreement (also commonly referred to as the grantor, trustor or settlor); the trustee, who is the person that manages the trust assets; and the beneficiary(ies), who are the individuals or entities that receive the benefits or assets held by the trust.In a revocable living trust, the trustmaker serves as the initial sole trustee and is the sole beneficiary of the trust during his or her lifetime.  The trust is considered revocable because it may be amended or revoked by the trustmaker until death.  At death, the trust becomes irrevocable and the successor trustee then manages and disposes of the trust assets according to the provisions of the trust agreement.For some reason, revocable living trusts have become extremely popular in recent years.  Often, they are marketed as a way to avoid probate and shorten the administration process.  Perhaps in New York, California or Florida they may be a good idea, but in Pennsylvania the situation is different.  Often the associated costs and the process in preparing a revocable living trust may not justify its creation.  So, before you insist on including a revocable living trust as part of your estate plan, it’s important to understand what a revocable living trust can and cannot do.Do not fear Probate.  In Pennsylvania, probate is not the costly, time consuming nightmare that everyone fears.  Probate is the process by which a Will is proven to be a valid.  The process begins when the person appointed as Executor in a Will appears before the Clerk of the Register of Wills and files the original Will, the death certificate, and a Petition for Grant of Letters Testamentary.  The clerk will examine the documents, confirm the person’s identity and request the soon to be Executor to take an oath of office.  If the paperwork is in order, the process is smooth and can take less than 15 minutes.Cost of Probate.  Pennsylvania probate fees are based on the size of the probate estate.  The probate estate includes those assets that pass pursuant to the terms of a Will.  Probate assets do not include assets with beneficiary designations such as life insurance policies, 401(k) funds, and IRAs, assets titled jointly, or assets with payable on death or transfer on death designations.  The assets that do pass pursuant to a Will and, therefore, are subject to probate include household personal property, vehicles, non-joint bank accounts, and property titled solely in the name of the decedent.   Once non-probate assets are removed from the calculation, the cost of probate is actually not that expensive.  So, for example, a probate estate ranging in value between $300,001 to $400,000 results in a probate fee of $375.00 as of 2015, which is significantly lower than the cost of preparing a revocable living trust.Administration Process.  Whether a decedent’s assets pass pursuant to the terms of a Will or a revocable living trust, the administration process takes time and costs money.  The personal representative (trustee or executor) will need to consider the liquidity of the estate, management of the assets, and tax consequences from the sale and distribution of the assets.  As part of an estate administration, whether a revocable living trust or a Will is involved, the representative will likely need to consider:
  • Payment funeral and burial costs
  • Selling or leasing real or personal property
  • Payment for the preparation for the sale of real party, such as cleaning or painting
  • Filing estate and inheritance tax returns
  • Paying creditors
  • Keeping detailed and accurate records
  • Providing notice to the beneficiaries
All these tasks take time.  The administration process cannot be shortened or avoided just by creating a revocable living trust.Estate, Inheritance and Income Taxes.  A person does not avoid the payment of federal estate taxes, Pennsylvania inheritance taxes, income taxes or any other taxes simply by creating a revocable living trust.  The trustee of the Trust is still responsible for filing the estate and inheritance tax returns and payment of the death taxes associated with those returns.  Planning techniques designed to minimize those taxes are available regardless of whether a revocable living trust or Will is used.No Asset Protection.  A revocable living trust does not provide protection against creditors or shelter assets from legal claims such as bankruptcy or divorce.  As long as the trustmaker maintains control over the trust property, the law still considers the trustmaker the owner of the trust property.  Examples of control include the ability to amend or terminate the trust at any time.  Control also includes the ability to put property in the trust, take it out, sell it, or give it away at any time with no restrictions.  Since the trustmaker is still considered the legal owner of the trust property, a court can force the termination of the trust and distribution of the trust assets to creditors.A Living Trust cannot hold all Assets. A living trust cannot hold all asset types.  For example, accounts such as 401(k)s, IRAs or Roth IRA’s cannot be transferred into a living trust.  These assets can only be owned by an individual, not a business, trust or other entity.  Nor can a revocable living trust own life insurance (the settlor will be deemed the owner at death).  Instead, retirement accounts and life insurance proceeds should be allowed to pass pursuant to their beneficiary designations.  At death, perhaps, the proceeds of these assets can be transferred into a trust, if proper planning techniques are used, but these same techniques are available under a properly drafted Will.Last Will & Testament.  Even if you have a revocable living trust, a Last Will and Testament is still needed to ensure that all assets are distributed pursuant to the provisions of a living trust.  Unlike a Will, the ownership of assets of a trust are determined by title.  For example, a bank account owned by a trust would be titled under the trust’s name.  An often-overlooked step is assigning tangible personal property (i.e., jewelry, paintings, household furnishings) to a trust.  Since this type of property does not have a written title associated with it, title cannot be transferred to a trust; rather, the property must be assigned.  Another overlooked step is making sure all assets are transferred to the Revocable Living Trust.  If an asset is missed and there is no Will, then Pennsylvania intestate laws are triggered, and that asset will pass pursuant to those laws.When is a Revocable Living Trust a Good Idea? A revocable living trust may be a good idea in certain situations.  The first situation arises where an individual owns real estate in another state.  By holding the real estate under a revocable living trust, ancillary probate may be avoided.  But other ramifications should be considered before a transfer is made.  Does the real estate contain a mortgage with a “due on sale” clause?  If so, the transfer of the real estate to a revocable living trust may accelerate the mortgage.  The Garn-St. Germain Act, a federal law, prohibits mortgage acceleration in several situations, including the transfer of residential property containing less than five dwelling units into a revocable living trust.  In addition, keep in mind that once the real estate is transferred into the trust, lenders may not provide new financing while the real estate is held by the trust.  Instead, a person may need to jump through several hurdles to secure new financing, including the transfer of the property out of trust to secure the financing and then the transfer back into the trust once financing is secured.The second situation arises when a person already has a properly funded revocable living trust.  Usually these individuals are moving from states that have time consuming and expensive probate, such as Florida, California or New York to Pennsylvania.  At that point, it would likely be costlier to unwind the trust rather than amend it.If you have any questions about living trusts, please contact Mary R. LaSota at (215) 345-8888 or mlasota@highswartz.com. Or contact any of our estate attorneys in Bucks or Montgomery Counties. Our Wills, Trusts & Estates attorneys provide comprehensive legal services to assist in all of these matters.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

High Swartz Welcomes New Municipal Law Attorney

Full-service law firm High Swartz LLP is pleased to announce that Kathleen M. Thomas has joined the firm’s Municipal Law practice.Kathleen brings more than twenty-five years of legal experience, and concentrates her practice in the areas of municipal law, small business and non-profit law, and civil litigation.Recognized as an expert in the areas of Pennsylvania Act 511 taxation, Kathleen serves as Special Act 511 Tax Counsel to the Townships of, Lower Merion and Abington, among others.  She also serves as the Act 511 Hearing Officer to multiple municipalities in Montgomery and Delaware Counties.  She is a regular speaker at the meetings of the Pennsylvania Business Privilege and Mercantile Tax Collectors Association.Kathleen’s expertise extends to issues of corporate governance and other matters related to non-profit organizations, churches and other religious entities, including the Philadelphia Baptist Association.“We feel very fortunate to have someone with Kathleen’s breadth of municipal experience join our firm.  Her reputation for dealing with issues involving municipal taxation, particularly in the area of Business Privilege Tax, is outstanding.  Her expertise in representing non-profit entities also meshes well with the extensive work our firm already does in that area”, said partner Gilbert P. High, Jr.Thomas  earned her law degree from Temple University Beasley School of Law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from West Chester University in Business Administration. She lives in Warminster, Pennsylvania.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Non-compete 101

Over the course of your professional career, you may have been required to sign a non-compete agreement, and if you haven’t yet, then now is a good time to learn about these somewhat common and important documents.  Oftentimes you will be presented with a non-compete agreement when you are starting a new job or have gotten the  raise you’ve been waiting for.  Because these are highly exciting times the temptation may be there to just skim the pages without  really paying attention to the details or restrictions. After all, the non-compete only applies after you leave this job, and at the moment of signing you are likely perfectly happy with where you are professionally.  It is only later on, when you are contacted by a headhunter or just ready for a change, that you begin to worry about the implications of having signed that agreement.As an initial matter, a non-compete agreement—not to be confused with a garden leave agreement—is an agreement you sign that proactively limits your ability to work in an particular field or industry for a specific period of time in a certain geographic region after you leave your current employment.  Pennsylvania does not have any general statue or regulation governing non-compete agreements.  That being said, there is plenty of case law that guides interpreting, understanding, and enforcing non-competes.  Because Pennsylvania courts disfavor tools used to restrain trade, non-compete agreements tend to be strictly construed against an employer who is seeking enforcement.  Accordingly the courts will only enforce a  non-compete agreement that is 1) incidental to an employment relationship between the parties; 2) reasonably necessary to protect the employer; and 3) reasonably limited in duration and geographic extent.Just like any other contract, a non-compete agreement must be supported by sufficient consideration.  This is often accomplished by having an employee sign such an agreement before or at the time they commence employment.  Accordingly, make sure you look for a non-compete in the packet of papers you get on your first day.  After you begin work, the consideration required can take the shape of either an increase in pay  or some beneficial change in the employee’s status (Telling a current employee to “sign or get out” is not sufficient consideration in Pennsylvania).Once you satisfy yourself that consideration exists, you will next want to look at the actual terms of the agreement. Since every non-compete agreement is unique, the analysis of terms will be highly fact specific, but  there are some rules of thumb to keep in mind.  Pennsylvania courts have usually upheld restrictions that are for durations of one to three years.  As far as geographic scope, Pennsylvania courts look to the scope of the employee’s duties in defining a reasonable territorial limitation.  For example if your position is sales related in a relatively defined territory, a non-compete  would likely be held to be reasonable if it prohibited you from selling a competitor’s product or service in that territory.A Pennsylvania court may, in its discretion, modify the terms of the agreement to a more reasonable scope or duration if it determines that is the more appropriate course of action. But some non-competes are so overbroad and improper that a court may nullify the non-compete entirely if an employee challenges the agreement.Ultimately, because each non-compete agreement is specific to the employer and its business as well as the employee’s position, interpreting and determining their enforceability can be a daunting task.  If you are concerned about a non-compete agreement that you have signed or have been asked to sign, it is wise to seek advice from an experienced attorney who can help you to most effectively navigate this issue.If you have any questions about employee agreements or employment issues, please contact us at 610-275-0700 or main@highswartz.com.  Our employment law attorneys provide clients throughout the Pennsylvania region, including Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Philadelphia and Chester County with sound advice and excellent representation. Our employment law attorneys deal with workplace issues in an ever-changing environment, we counsel and serve employers on general employment policies, we also handle individual employment matters.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation. 

Philadelphia Media Network Names High Swartz a Winner of the Delaware Valley 2018 Top Workplaces Award

High Swartz has been awarded a 2018 Top Workplaces honor by Philadelphia Media Network. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner Energage, LLC (formerly WorkplaceDynamics), a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.“Top Workplaces is more than just recognition,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage. “Our research shows organizations that earn the award attract better talent, experience lower turnover, and are better equipped to deliver bottom-line results. Their leaders prioritize and carefully craft a healthy workplace culture that supports employee engagement.”“We are pleased to be named a Top Workplace for the second year in a row,” said Joel D. Rosen, Managing Partner. “We believe that our firm’s success is because of our employees, our culture and our ability to attract and maintain talented professionals with a healthy work/life balance and a strong sense of giving back to our communities.”“Becoming a Top Workplace isn’t something organizations can buy,” Claffey said. “It’s an achievement organizations have worked for and a distinction that gives them a competitive advantage. It’s a big deal.”About High Swartz LLP High Swartz is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.About Energage, LLC Headquartered in Exton, Pa., Energage (formerly known as WorkplaceDynamics) is a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools that help leaders to unlock potential, inspire performance, and achieve amazing results within their organizations. The research partner behind the Top Workplaces program, Energage has surveyed more than 47,000 organizations representing well over 16 million employees in the United States.

William F. Kerr, Jr. presented at the Lehigh Valley Regional Housing Summit

William F. Kerr, Jr. presented at the Regional Housing Summit on Housing Challenges and Opportunities held on February 8th.He was part of a panel discussion that focused on housing affordability and how national and state models can be applicable in the Lehigh Valley. The discussion included various approaches being used to increase the availability of affordable housing locally and nationally.  Mr. Kerr discussed the use of inclusionary and incentive zoning as tools for municipalities and developers interested in expanding affordable housing opportunities in specific communities.William F. Kerr, Jr. has more than 22 years of experience in the area of real estate law, focusing on land use, land development and zoning; real estate taxation, real estate transactions; real estate title issues, eminent domain; real estate valuation, realty transfer tax  and real estate code compliance. Mr. Kerr represents developers, property managers and property owners of single and multi-family residential, hotel, shopping center, commercial, industrial, golf course, day-care, prison, utility, cell tower and airport properties. He has successfully represented these clients, in Philadelphia and throughout eastern Pennsylvania, in obtaining various development, subdivision, zoning, and related approvals. Mr. Kerr also has extensive experience in successfully pursuing real estate tax assessment appeals, nonprofit real estate tax exemptions, preferential Agricultural Assessments and real estate tax abatements in various counties throughout eastern Pennsylvania. He has significant expertise in real estate tax assessment, land development and zoning, and related  issues for affordable housing properties.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Private Short and Long Term Disability Benefits: Use Them If You Have Them

A person who is disabled may be able to avail themselves of private short or long term disability benefits.   Not everyone has access to short or long term disability benefits.  Unlike Social Security benefits, short and long term disability benefits are based on a private contract of insurance.  Usually, short and long term disability benefits are obtained either as a group benefit of employment or are individually purchased from an insurer on the open market in a manner similar to obtaining a life insurance policy.   Policies obtained through an employer are often paid for by the employer, while private policies are paid for by the individual.  If you do not have this coverage through your job or a private insurance policy, then short or long term disability benefits may not be available to you.Disability benefits are designed to provide some wage replacement during the time period a person is disabled due to illness, injury, or a combination of these factors.  Generally, any type of disability is covered, regardless of cause.  Unlike Workers’ Compensation benefits, a short or long term disability claimant does not generally have to prove that her or his disability stems from a work-related cause.Short and long term disability benefits can be provided separately or in conjunction with one another.  The usual practice is that disability that lasts less than six months is considered to be short term, while disability lasting longer than six months is long term.  Often, these coverages are provided together, so that disability that lasts longer than the short-term period becomes a claim for long term disability after the short term period expires.As these coverages are governed by contracts, it is highly recommended that a potential claimant for short or long term disability insurance obtain a copy of that contract, or at least a copy of the Summary Plan Description, from their employer or insurer.  Each policy can be different, and these policies often have short filing deadlines or brief appeal periods which must be timely complied with or valuable rights can be lost.   Know what you are dealing with and take steps to protect your rights by getting a copy of that insurance contract.Most policies that combine short and long term disability benefits pay a percentage of your wages lost to disability based on the number of weeks the claimant is out of work.  Usually, short term disability benefits begin as a high percentage of your income, sometimes as high as 90%.  As time goes on, and generally by the time long term disability benefits commence, the percentage of pre-disability income provided can drop, sometimes to 50% of pre-disability earnings.  How your pre-disability income is calculated and the percentage of it you would receive is governed by the specific policy of insurance.The definition of disability can vary from contract to contract.   Some insurance policies require the claimant to be disabled just from their pre-injury employment, and others may require that the claimant be disabled from any employment.   Again, the insurance contract controls.It must be kept in mind that short and long term disability benefits only cover lost wages.  Private disability benefits generally do not cover medical expenses, whether related to the disabling condition or not.   If the policy is provided through your employer, the employer may choose to keep you covered by their medical plan, or you may be able to continue your medical coverage via COBRA.  Medical coverage for you and your family can be a significant issue.Many times, obtaining and keeping short and long term disability coverage is as simple as filling out the required forms and providing medical information from your doctors that support the claim that you are unable to work.  However, sometimes insurers may unjustly deny or prematurely terminate benefits.  Insurers have been known to improperly delay investigation of a claim, delay deciding a claim or payments that are due, or pay only part of the benefit owed.  There may be inappropriate multiple requests for medical information, or it may become difficult to get a response from your claim representative.If you are facing or having difficulty with a claim for short or long term disability benefits, please contact a High Swartz attorney.  Our Bucks County and Montgomery County disability attorneys have knowledge and experience in all facets of disability issues. Let us help you get the Social Security disability benefits you have earned.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

High Swartz Welcomes New Real Estate Law Attorney

Full-service law firm High Swartz LLP is pleased to announce that Stephen M. Zaffuto has joined the firm’s real estate law practice. Zaffuto concentrates his practice on real estate law, environmental law, and business and commercial law. He has extensive experience with commercial and residential tax assessment appeals, real estate title opinions, easement agreements, and environmental compliance issues. Stephen has also counseled small businesses and start-ups on various matters, including business formation, trademark issues, and fundraising.Prior to joining High Swartz in 2018, Stephen was an associate at Tucker Arensberg in Pittsburgh. He has an interest in entrepreneurship and startup culture, and is himself a cofounder of a custom menswear brand, ModaMatters, based out of Philadelphia.“We look forward to having Stephen on board as part of the High Swartz real estate and business practice groups. His interest and experience in general real estate, real estate tax assessment, and general business matters will be  a welcome addition, and deepen our pool of attorneys available to provide real estate and business related services,” said partner William Kerr.Zaffuto earned his law degree from Temple University Beasley School of Law. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Pennsylvania State University in English and Italian Language and Literature. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Estate Administration & Probate

Probate is the legal process of appointing a representative to administer an individual’s estate.  If the decedent died with a Will, the Will usually nominates an individual to serve as Executor.  That individual then takes the original Will, a death certificate, and a Petition for Grant of Letters to the Register of Wills in the County the decedent resided in.  At that time, the Will is examined to confirm its valid and the person nominated as Executor is sworn in.  If an individual died without a Will, the process is almost the same except the person sworn in to administer the estate is called an Administrator.  Usually, the individuals that have standing to serve as Administrator are the surviving spouse and/or those entitled to take under the intestate laws: such as adult children, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles.Probate is required if the decedent owned assets individually, including personal property and business interests.  Probate assets are those assets that pass pursuant to the decedent’s Will or by the laws of intestacy.  If all assets are titled jointly with another living person or if all assets pass pursuant to operation of law, probate may not be required.  Examples of probate assets include:  Bank accounts and security accounts in the decedent’s name, real estate titled solely in decedent’s name or as tenants in common, tangible personal property, and un-cashed checks payable to the decedent.After probate, the personal representative begins the process of Estate Administration.Estate Administration involves the management and distribution of the gross estate. The Executor or Administration can be held liable for any mismanagement of the estate.Administration includes the following tasks:
  • Notify the beneficiaries and potential heirs.
  • Notify banks, credit card companies and government agencies of the decedent’s death.
  • Find all of the decedent’s assets, estimate the value and file an inventory of assets with the court.
  • Close individual checking or savings accounts and open an estate account.
  • Manage property until it is sold or distributed.
  • Pay the estate’s debts and taxes.
  • Pay funeral expenses.
  • Distribute assets.
  • File final lifetime tax returns, inheritance tax returns, possible federal estate tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns.
  • Formal (through the Court) or informal (through Family Settlement Agreement) settlement of the Estate.
Sometimes administration includes representing the estate in court in a will contest or other legal proceeding and filing a final accounting with the court.   

Advanced Healthcare Directives

Whether known as Health Care Directives, Advanced Directives, health care power of attorney,  or Living Wills, these documents should provide for the following:  (1) the nomination of an agent to make health care decisions on behalf of the individual; and (2)  health instructions the agent should take on the individual’s behalf when its determined that the individual no longer has the capacity to make their own health care decisions in regards to day-to-day living or in an end-stage medical event.Without a valid health care directive, Pennsylvania law provides a descending order of priority of those  who can make health care decisions.  Those individuals are as follows:
  • The individual’s spouse (unless a divorce action is spending)
  • The individual’s adult child
  • The individual’s parent
  • The individual’s adult brother or sister
  • The individuals adult grandchild
  • An adult who has knowledge of the individual’s preferences and values.
  • Medical Facility Director
In addition, without a valid health care directive any decision to withdraw treatment or life-sustaining care for a person who is not competent and who has an end-stage medical condition or is permanently unconscious must be authorized by a Court. Pennsylvania law does not allow a presumption to arise regarding an individual’s intent to consent to or refuse the initiation, continuation, withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment.  This is why its vital to include a health care directive in your estate plan.The “living will” section of a health care directive provides for the withdrawal of treatment or life-sustaining care.  In order for this section to be triggered, two determinations must be made by an individual’s attending physicians.  The first, the individual must be considered incompetent.  In other words,  he is unable to understand the potential material benefits, risks and alternatives involved in a specific proposed health care decisions, cannot make the decision on his own behalf, and cannot communicate that decision to any other person.  Second, it  must be determined that the individual has either an “end-stage medical condition” or is  “permanently unconsciousness.”   These terms are statutory defined as follows:An “end-stage medical condition” is an incurable and irreversible medical condition in an advanced state caused by injury, disease or physical illness that will, in the opinion of the attending physician to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, results in death, despite the introduction or continuation of medical treatment.“Permanently unconscious” is a medical condition that has been diagnosed in accordance with currently accepted medical standards and with reasonable medical certainty as total and irreversible loss of consciousness and capacity for interaction with the environment. The term includes, without limitation, an irreversible vegetative state or irreversible coma.

Wills

A well-crafted estate plan should include a Will.  A Will directs the distribution of assets to beneficiaries on death.  Without a Will, assets are distributed to beneficiaries according to the intestate law of Pennsylvania.  The laws of intestate succession are there to protect the surviving spouse and decedent’s children. But the laws of intestate succession do not take into consideration advanced estate planning needed in families that may be faced with special circumstances, such as drug and alcohol issues, a pending divorce of a child, special needs of a child or spouse, or creditor/bankruptcy issues.  Nor do the intestate laws provide a choice to you on who you want to receive your assets.  For example, if you do not have a spouse or children, then your assets are distributed to your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and their children and grandchildren. Sometimes this order matches a person’s wishes, often times it does not.A Will may also provide for the nominations of fiduciaries (Executors, Trustees, Custodians, Guardians for Minors and Incapacitated Adults).  The powers of an Executor to administer a Will are derived from three sources:  Pennsylvania Code, the decedent’s Will, and by order of the Orphans’ Court. Because the Pennsylvania statutory law  granting Executors the power to administer an estate is limited, a well-drafted Will should set forth additional provisions to administer a decedent’s Will otherwise, the Executor will need to seek permission through the Orphans’ Court.Creating a WillTo be valid in Pennsylvania, a Will must meet the following statutory requirements:
  • It must be in writing
  • Be executed by an individual 18 years of age or older (the “testator”)
  • The individual must be of sound mind
  • Be signed by the testator, or by another person in the presence of the testator at the direction of the testator
  • Be dated
  • Be signed in the presence of 2 or more credible witnesses. Under a best practices policy, the witnesses should subscribe to the Will by stating that they saw the testator execute the Will willingly and without duress, the witnesses signed in the hearing and sight of the testator, and the testator was 18 years of age, of sound mind, and not under any undue influence.

High Swartz Partner Mary Cushing Doherty speaks at North Carolina Bar Association

High Swartz partner and chair of the firm’s Family Law practice, Mary Cushing Doherty, was recently a speaker at the North Carolina Bar Association Family Law Intensive CLE seminar on February 1-2 in Wrightsville Beach.Mrs. Doherty presented “Marriage & Divorce in the Golden Years” which discussed the benefits of prenuptial agreements and other financial considerations for adults marrying later in life. She also addressed the impact of recent dramatic changes in federal tax law. The Family Law Section seminar is a 12-hour, program designed for attendees who are family lawyers with significant experience.With a distinguished record of professional and community service, Mary Cushing Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and more. Ms. Doherty is an experienced and certified Arbitrator and Mediator. She strives for the amicable resolution of divorce when possible; however, she is a zealous litigator when it serves the best interests of her clients.Ms. Doherty has been a Course Planner and Lecturer for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1990 and for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute since 1985. She also has been a Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section and Montgomery Bar Association. A highly sought-after speaker in family law, Doherty received the Lynette Norton Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Women in the Profession Committee in 2012 and also was one of the Legal Intelligencer’s Women of the Year. She has been named a Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction, and, in 2006, she received the Margaret Richardson Award from the Montgomery Bar Association, which is presented to a trailblazer who has promoted the role of women in the legal profession.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Melissa M. Boyd Appointed to the MCAP Board of Directors

High Swartz partner, Melissa M. Boyd has been re-appointed Board of the Directors for the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP) for a 3 year term.The mission of the MCAP is to end and prevent child abuse and neglect in Montgomery County through legal services, advocacy and education.. To learn more about MCAP, visit their website at www.mcapkids.comMelissa M. Boyd is a partner with High Swartz LLP. She concentrates her practice on family law including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoptions, protection from abuse and juvenile law. She has dedicated much of her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.Ms. Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Board member of the Pennsylvania Chapter of AAML and member of the family law sections of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association. She is former Chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association. Ms. Boyd has been certified as a Family Law Arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Boyd has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell, has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for 8 years, Best Lawyer in America since 2016 and named among the 10 Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

James B. Shrimp presented at the Philadelphia Society of People & Strategy Meeting

James B. Shrimp presented at the Philadelphia Society of People & Strategy, Bucks-Mont LAN Meeting on Human Resources in the new era of social media and #metoo.His presentation focused on the challenges of Human Resource professionals in the ever evolving world of ever-present social media and post-#metoo.  During the seminar, attendees examined and discussed strategies to address and appropriately investigate these new challenges, which include  “political” hostile environment, general loss of decorum, and investigating aged but only recently raised complaints of discrimination and harassment.James B. Shrimp counsels and represents businesses in employment and commercial disputes, including employment discrimination, wage and hour, and restrictive covenants.  Mr. Shrimp also counsels and represents business in Franchise Law and Trademark issues.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Mary Cushing Doherty Named ‘Top Family Law Attorney’ by Suburban Life Magazine

The annual list of Top Family Law Attorneys in Suburban Life highlights the best family law attorneys representing anything from divorce and prenuptial agreements to child support and adoption.Mary Cushing Doherty was spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Bar Association to the Pennsylvania legislature to pass no fault divorce reform in December 2016. She served as the Chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association and is the former president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial  Lawyers (AAML). Mary has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law, she concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division and more. About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Joel D. Rosen Appointed to the Hepatitis B Foundation Board of Directors

High Swartz partner, Joel D. Rosen has been re-appointed Board of the Directors for the Hepatitis B Foundation for a 3 year term. Joel is also Chairman of the Board.The Hepatitis B Foundation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure and improving the quality of life for those affected by hepatitis B worldwide. Their commitment includes funding focused research, promoting disease awareness, supporting immunization and treatment initiatives, and serving as the primary source of information for patients and their families, the medical and scientific community, and the general public. To learn more about the Hepatitis B Foundation, visit their website at http://www.hepb.org/.Joel D. Rosen is  Managing Partner of High Swartz LLP. With more than 30 years of legal experience, his areas of practice include franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing. Mr. Rosen has counseled numerous businesses with regard to general corporate and commercial transactions, including, formation, mergers & acquisitions, licensing, sales, and financing projects. Mr. Rosen’s corporate client base spans a broad spectrum of industries, including: biotechnology, franchise, weight loss, food and restaurant, consumer products, media and entertainment, software and technology and nonprofit organizations.About the Hepatitis B Foundation: The Hepatitis B Foundation is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for hepatitis B and improving the quality of life for those affected worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy. To learn more, go to www.hepb.org, read our blog at http://hepb.org/blog, follow us on Twitter @HepBFoundation, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hepbfoundation or call 215-489-4900.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Attorneys Lead Committees within the Montgomery Bar Association

High Swartz attorneys affirm their commitment to take on leadership positions in the community. High Swartz attorneys are taking positions within the Montgomery Bar Association in 2018.

Richard C. Sokorai – Chair – Fee Dispute Committee

Melissa M. Boyd – Co-Chair – Community Network Committee

Mark R. Fischer, Jr. – Vice-Chair – Law Reporter Committee

David J. Brooman – Vice-Chair – Environmental and Energy Law Committee

Elizabeth C. Early –Chair – Family Law Section Motions Court

High Swartz attorneys have been recognized for their contributions to the legal profession, including taking leadership roles in bar association groups, in client representation, in teaching and in service to the legal community and civic organizations. Throughout our history, members of the firm also have been active in our nation’s military and in public service at the local, state and national levels.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Thomas E. Panzer Elected to the Bucks County Bar Association Board of Directors

High Swartz partner, Thomas E. Panzer has been elected to the Bucks County Bar Association Board of Directors. The Bucks County Board of Director Position is a three (3) year term following an election of the general membership of the Bucks County Bar Association. The Board meets monthly to transact the general business of the Bar Association.In addition, Douglas M. Wayne, long standing member of the BCBA, has been elected to Co-Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Section.Thomas E. Panzer represents both claimants and defendants in workers’ compensation matters, which has made him a sought-after and frequent lecturer on Pennsylvania workers’ compensation topics. Mr. Panzer’s practice also focuses on the areas of administrative litigation, including zoning. He has represented multiple zoning hearing boards over the past 20 years.Douglas M. Wayne practices workers’ compensation defense, personal injury, contract, real estate, employment law and general civil litigation. Prior to his time at High Swartz, Doug was a workers’ compensation claimants’ counsel, Social Security advocate, and civil litigator in Pennsylvania since 1993 and in Bucks County since 1995.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Thomas D. Rees and James B. Shrimp presented at MBA Employment Law CLE Seminar

Two High Swartz partners presented at the Montgomery Bar Association Employment Law CLE.Thomas D. Rees presented on employment contracts and employee non-compete agreements. He spoke about recent case developments arising from both employer enforcement of non-competes and employee challenges to non-compete agreements. The talk provided both management and key employee perspectives on drafting and negotiating employment contracts and non-compete agreements.James B. Shrimp presented on the Trump Effect, focusing on policy changes in the new administration, including the reconsideration of Obama-era NLRB decisions on concerted activities, micro-unions, joint-employer liability, and union election rules and the rollback of regulations on overtime pay, prevailing wage, and OSHA enforcement.Thomas D. Rees focuses his employment practice on advice, negotiations, and litigation over employment terminations; restrictive covenants, trade secrets, and confidential information; employment discrimination and sexual harassment issues; and employment contracts.James B. Shrimp counsels and represents businesses in employment and commercial disputes, including employment discrimination, wage and hour, and restrictive covenants.  Mr. Shrimp also counsels and represents business in Franchise Law and Trademark issues.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Attorney Thomas E. Panzer Talks Workers’ Compensation at Bucks County Bar Association

Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney Thomas E. Panzer presents at bar association CLE.Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney and High Swartz partner, Thomas E. Panzer, presented at the Bucks County Bar Association’s December Marathon Day on Dec. 20, 2017.Panzer presented “Interplay between Workers’ Compensation and Heart & Lung Claims” along with Glenn C. Neiman of Brilliant & Neiman LLC and Ryan J. Cassidy of Eckert Seamans. The biannual event offers six CLE programs for the region’s attorneys.Panzer represents both claimants and defendants in workers’ compensation matters, which has made him a sought-after and frequent lecturer on Pennsylvania workers’ compensation topics. His practice also focuses on the areas of administrative litigation, including zoning. He has represented multiple zoning hearing boards over the past 20 years.In addition to his law practice, Panzer is currently the elected Treasurer of Bucks County. He served two terms as an elected supervisor for Warminster Township, Bucks County, and a full five-year term as an appointed member of the Warminster Municipal Authority Board of Directors.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

Elizabeth Early Talks Family Law at Montgomery County Bar Association

High Swartz Family Law attorney Elizabeth Early discusses family law topics at seminar focused on the intersection of family law and mental health issues.Pennsylvania family law attorney Elizabeth C. Early, a family law  attorney at High Swartz LLP, served as a speaker at the annual Montgomery Bar Association Family Law Section Toby L. Dickman Seminar held on Dec. 8.The 10th annual seminar focused on “The Intersection Between Mental Health and Family Law.” The program provided a thorough overview of mental health issues affecting the practice of family law, with in depth discussions regarding mental health issues in custody matters, support matters, equitable distribution matters and protection from abuse matters.Early presented on the topics of spousal support and equitable distribution. The seminar also featured presentations from Montgomery County judges and experienced family law practitioners, as well as doctors and other mental health professionals.Early focuses her practice at High Swartz on family law, including divorce, child custody, support, equitable distribution, pre and post-nuptial agreements and abuse matters. She is known for handling each of her client’s cases efficiently and with empathy and attention to detail.Held each year, the Dickman Seminar honors the late Toby L. Dickman, a former family law attorney and family court judge who passed away in 2007. It offered 3.5 substantive credits for attendees.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

When Unexpected Income Loss Strikes Home: What Are Your Options?

Few people are adequately prepared for a sudden or unexpected loss of income due to no fault of their own.  The cause for the loss of income can take many forms.  Perhaps a negligent driver runs a stop sign and strikes your vehicle, leaving you in pain and unable to work.  A work-related accident can stop or reduce your earnings.  A chronic medical condition can worsen to the point where you can no longer work.   A long-term job can be lost due to no fault of your own.  A common denominator of these circumstances is that income has stopped or been reduced while expenses remain the same or can increase.There are a number of potential sources for disability or wage benefits, depending on the circumstances of the individual.  Among the most common sources of disability and wage replacement benefits include:
  1. Short or long term disability benefits, often provided either through an employer or via an independently purchased short or long term disability insurance policy;
  2. Unemployment benefits, for people who have worked for the amount of time required and who have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own;
  3. Social Security Disability benefits, for people who have worked for the amount of time required and who are disabled and unable to work due to a condition or conditions that have lasted or are medically expected to last for more than a year;
  4. A lawsuit against the negligent party that caused the loss of income;
  5. Workers’ Compensation benefits; and/or
  6. Supplemental benefits though your collective bargaining unit or employer.
It may, at first, seem like a good idea to promptly apply for each and every benefit to which you may be entitled.  However, this approach can be a trap for the unwary.  This is because the factors needed to qualify for disability and wage benefits from one source may disqualify or reduce the amount of benefits the individual might receive from  another possible benefit source.  You need an individualized plan that addresses these issues.Please check back here periodically for more of our ongoing series on obtaining and coordinating disability benefits.There are many qualified attorneys who specialize in one area of disability and wage benefit law.  However, we suggest that your long-term interests may be better served to consult with High Swartz attorneys who will work together to coordinate a strategy designed to maximize your recovery among all available sources of wage replacement income and avoid possible pitfalls that can cost you money.If you have sustained a loss of income, we suggest that your long-term interests may be best served by  consulting with High Swartz attorneys who will work together to coordinate a strategy designed to maximize your recovery among all available sources of wage replacement income and avoid possible pitfalls that can cost you money.High Swartz workers’ compensation attorneys have decades of experience handling Pennsylvania claims. Our Bucks County and Montgomery County workers’ compensation attorneys have knowledge and experience in all facets of workers’ compensation issues. If you are considering filing a workers’ compensation claim, or have questions regarding a short or long-term disability or unemployment claim, please contact a High Swartz attorney.If you have questions regarding Social Security Disability benefits, please contact Linay Haubert, Esq. at (215) 345-8888 or lhaubert@highswartz.com.If you have questions regarding a personal injury claim, please contact Eric Marttila, Esq. at (215) 345-8888 or emarttila@highswartz.comOur attorneys in Bucks County and Montgomery County are here to assist you.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

High Swartz Lawyer Elected Pottstown Mayor

Stephanie A. Henrick wins position in Montgomery County borough governmentNORRISTOWN, Pa. (November 14, 2017) – Full-service law firm High Swartz LLP is pleased to announce that associate Stephanie A. Henrick has been elected as the Mayor of Pottstown.Henrick ran on a platform of revitalizing the economy of the city, promoting civic engagement, and improving the local government’s communication with residents. Her goal is to create a thriving, self-sustaining and environmentally friendly Pottstown community.“Pottstown is my home. I have planted my roots here, and I want to support this diverse, engaging community that has such an incredible amount of potential,” said Henrick. “I am honored to serve the residents of Pottstown and I look forward to improving our community together.”Henrick’s passion for civic service drives her personal and professional life. In addition to her elected position, she serves on the board of Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority and is active in Pottstown Rotary. She endeavors to work with integrity and contribute her expertise to the problems and needs of society in order to improve the quality of life for people in her community.At High Swartz, Henrick focuses her legal practice on estate planning, estate administration, tax law, and Social Security Disability. She earned a Masters of Law (LL.M.) in Taxation and a Certificate in Estate Planning from Villanova University School of Law.High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Family Law Attorney Speaks at North Carolina Bar Association

high swartzMary Cushing Doherty discusses prenuptial planning for older couples NORRISTOWN, Pa. (November 7, 2017) – Pennsylvania family law attorney Mary Cushing Doherty, a partner at High Swartz LLP and the chair of the firm’s family law practice, was recently a speaker at the North Carolina Bar Association Family Law Section CLE seminar on Nov. 2-3 in Greensboro.Doherty presented “Marriage & Divorce in the Golden Years” which discussed the benefits of prenuptial agreements and other financial considerations for adults marrying later in life. The Family Law Section seminar is a 12-hour, intensive program. Attendants must be family law specialists or have five years of legal experience in family law.A former member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and former Chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division and more.A highly sought-after speaker in family law, Doherty received the Lynette Norton Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Women in the Profession Committee in 2012 and also was one of the Legal Intelligencer’s Women of the Year. She has been named a Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction, and, in 2006, she received the Margaret Richardson Award from the Montgomery Bar Association, which is presented to a trailblazer who has promoted the role of women in the legal profession.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Residential Lease: More Than an Annoying Formality

November 1, 2017Picture this: you’ve been scouring Craigslist for weeks trying to find the perfect house or apartment to rent.  You finally discover one that hits all of your criteria. You contact the landlord, tour the property, fill out the application, and you think you’re ready to go to enjoy your new digs.  But the next step in the process is truly critical and too often overlooked by eager tenants…. negotiating the lease.Leases are binding legal contracts. Because it is a legally enforceable document, if you breach a provision of the lease your landlord may be able to legally evict you and seek damages.Reviewing your lease before signing it may seem like a hassle you may as well skip – please be advised, however, that there is a lot that can be learned from the document. The rights and obligations set forth in this document control every aspect of the relationship between you and your landlord: from the seemingly trivial things like the name of the bank where your landlord will hold your security deposit, to the ever important amount of rent and when its due. There will be the terms about which utilities you are responsible for, who takes care of snow removal, if pets are permitted, and many others that may become important at some later date.  Additionally, if the lease is wholly lopsided in favor of the landlord, sloppily drafted, unclear, illegible, or otherwise problematic this might be reason enough not to go ahead with the property.  A landlord who hasn’t taken the time to draft or have drafted a comprehensive and fair lease, may not be someone you want to have a legal relationship with. Paying attention and negotiating before you sign the lease will allow you some control over the terms you will be bound by.Certainly no one signs a lease intending to break the agreement.  But the simple fact is that life happens in ways that you cannot necessarily anticipate. You may need to move unexpectedly or the relationship with your landlord may sour to the point of being unbearable.  At those times specifically, it will be crucial that you already understand what you can and cannot doUltimately, it is important that you read and fully understand your lease PRIOR to signing so that know your rights for the duration of your tenancy.  If you have any questions or concerns about the lease you’ve been presented, seek legal guidance. It is far better to know what you must do to comply with a lease beforehand, rather than to realize when it is too late that you have locked yourself into an awful agreement. If, however, you realize too late that you have signed a bad lease, and you need to get out, seek out an attorney knowledgeable in landlord tenant law and they may be able to guide you to your desired outcome.If you have any questions about residential leases, please contact one of our experienced Real Estate attorneys in Bucks County or Montgomery Countyat 610-275-0700 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation. 

High Swartz Named a ‘Best Law Firm’ for 2018 by U.S. News – Best Lawyers

Full-service law firm in Bucks and Montgomery counties recognized for prowess in family law, municipal law, and land use and zoning litigationNORRISTOWN, Pa. (November 1, 2017) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that it has been named a “Best Law Firm” for 2018 by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®, achieving a Tier 1 ranking in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area in the practice areas of family law and municipal law, and a Tier 2 ranking for land use and zoning litigation.To be eligible for a Best Law Firm ranking, a firm must have at least one lawyer included in The Best Lawyers in America©. Attorneys are neither required nor allowed to pay a fee to be listed. For 2018, 10 High Swartz attorneys were named among Best Lawyers: Best Law Firm rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.The highest honor, a Tier 1 ranking, is based on a firm’s overall evaluation, which is derived from a combination of its clients’ impressive feedback, the regard that lawyers in other firms in the same practice areas have for the firm, and information that the firm provided to Best Lawyers via a survey. High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #     

Melissa M. Boyd Named to Board of Pennsylvania Chapter of AAML

High Swartz divorce attorney to serve 3-year term leading the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial LawyersNORRISTOWN, Pa. (October 18, 2017) – High Swartz LLP is proud to announce that partner Melissa M. Boyd has been named to the board of governors of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and will serve a 3-year term that expires in 2020.Founded in 1962, the AAML is a national group of leaders in the practice area of domestic relations law. With 50 chapters and 1,600 Fellows nationally, the AAML attracts pre-eminent family law practitioners across the country.To become a Fellow of the AAML, an attorney must have more than 10 years of experience in the practice area of family law. Fellows must demonstrate a focus on and leadership within the practice area and must pass exams demonstrating their deep knowledge and skill in such complex family law matters as divorce, child custody and support, alimony, marital property valuation and division, and the drafting of marital settlement agreements.A frequent presenter on family law topics for professional associations, Boyd has dedicated her legal career to preserving the rights of children and their families. She is a fierce advocate for her clients in various areas including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoption, protection from abuse, and juvenile law.In addition to being a Fellow of the AAML, Boyd is a member of the family law sections of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association. She also served as the chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Boyd has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been named one of the Ten Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Welcomes New Family Law Attorney

Attorney Brittany Yurchyk brings alternative dispute resolution (ADR) expertise to full-service law firm NORRISTOWN, Pa. (October 9, 2017) – Full-service law firm High Swartz LLP is pleased to announce that Brittany Yurchyk has joined the firm’s thriving family law practice. With experience in alternative dispute resolution (ADR), Yurchyk also focuses her practice on equitable distribution, child custody, child and spousal support, abuse and domestic relations.After achieving a certificate in alternative dispute resolution from the renowned Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law, Yurchyk called upon that training in focusing her practice on building effective solutions that meet her clients’ needs during a divorce or other family law matter.“We are excited to welcome Brittany to the family law team at High Swartz,” said High Swartz partner and family law practice chair Mary Cushing Doherty. “Her experience in alternative dispute resolution enables us to continue to create positive solutions for our family law clients.”Most recently, Yurchyk practiced family law at a firm in Pittsburgh. She previously served as a law clerk to The Honorable William F. Ward in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Family Division. She assisted with cases related to divorce, child custody, protection from abuse, juvenile delinquency, and other family law matters.After earning her law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, Yurchyk began her legal career in Los Angeles, representing homeless and indigent clients and serving as editor of the Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal.Yurchyk is an active member of the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Ohio State University. She lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Welcomes New Estate Planning Attorney

Full-service law firm grows estate planning practice with experienced attorney Mary R. LaSotaNORRISTOWN, Pa. (September 2017) – Full-service law firm High Swartz is pleased to announce that Mary R. LaSota has joined the firm. LaSota concentrates her practice on estate and business planning.With more than 10 years’ experience, LaSota has built a reputation for providing estate planning for families and offering legal solutions for startups and entrepreneurs across Chester, Montgomery, Delaware and Philadelphia counties.“She continually strives to provide cost-effective, practical and timely services beyond the typical expectations of a law firm through innovation, communication and entrepreneurship – traits she will bring to High Swartz,” said Joel Rosen, the Managing Partner of High Swartz.LaSota holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kutztown University. She began her legal career as a paralegal, a job she held while attending Widener School of Law. She also holds an LLM in Taxation from Villanova Charles Widger School of Law.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

High Swartz Awards Scholarship to High School Graduates

Full-service law firm funds $5,000 scholarship in memory of law firm partner’s late spouse NORRISTOWN, Pa. (September 9, 2017) – Full-service law firm High Swartz is pleased to announce the 2017 recipients of its James F. Doherty Scholarship, awarded to the child or grandchild of a full-time High Swartz employee. This year’s co-winners are Sophia Dantzic, daughter of attorney Douglas Wayne, and Jennifer Keyser, daughter of legal assistant Patty O’ Donnell. Both students will use the $2,500 scholarship towards tuition at a 4-year college. Keyser, originally from Lower Providence Township, is attending West Chester University majoring in Public Health. Dantzic, originally from Doylestown, is attending Bennington College in Vermont.The scholarship honors the memory of law firm partner Mary Cushing Doherty’s late husband, James F. Doherty. An employee with Penn Color for 30 years, Jim was a proud chemist and a man of many passions. He loved the study of history, literature, language and more, and was avid bicyclist, competitive trivia master, and a natural humorist. For 30 years, the Dohertys served their church as pre-cana counselors, preparing couples for marriage.“I am happy to see my husband’s passions celebrated each year with this scholarship,” said Doherty. “Jim valued learning and knowledge. He would be happy to know that Jennifer and Sophia are using this money to help further their educations and follow their dreams.”Each year, High Swartz offers a scholarship of $5,000 in Jim’s name. It is awarded to one recipient or split evenly between two recipients. Recipients must be either a senior in high school or an older student in college or graduate school, who is planning on attending a trade school, college, or graduate school full-time at the beginning of the current school year.Applicants are required to write an essay related to one of Jim’s passions. The essays are submitted to the judge’s panel anonymously. The applicants also are evaluated based on their community and volunteer activities. For more information about the scholarship, visit the firm’s website.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

10 High Swartz Attorneys Named Among ‘Best Lawyers in America’

Montgomery County and Bucks County Lawyers Listed Among Best in U.S., Two Listed as 2018 Attorneys of the Year in Real Estate and Municipal LawNORRISTOWN, Pa. (August 15, 2017) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that 10 of its attorneys have been named 2018 ‘Best Lawyers in America,’ and two have been named attorney of the year in real estate and municipal law.The High Swartz attorneys 2018 Best Lawyers in America, and the practice areas for which they have been recognized, are: Since it was first published in 1983, The Best Lawyers in America has become widely regarded as a respected reference guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on detailed peer-review evaluations, and lawyers are neither required nor allowed to pay a fee to be listed. Votes were solicited from nearly 83,000 attorneys worldwide; 7.4 million votes were analyzed for the 2018 edition. The standalone Best Lawyers magazine will be distributed in more than 30 leading publications around the country, including The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. A digital edition also will be available.High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Named ‘Top Attorneys’ for 2017 by Suburban Life Magazine

Attorneys named among best in greater Philadelphia area for family law, workers’ compensation and business law.NORRISTOWN, Pa. (July 31, 2017) –   High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that its attorneys have been named among the “Top Attorneys” for 2017 by Suburban Life magazine.The attorneys receiving the honors include Mary Cushing Doherty, who was recognized for her excellence in the practice area of family law and divorce, Thomas E. Panzer for workers’ compensation, and Joel D. Rosen who was recognized in the practice area of business law.A former member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and former Chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law.Active in local politics in Bucks County, Panzer serves as the county’s elected Treasurer. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, handling both claimant and defense matters, which has made him a sought-after and frequent lecturer on Pennsylvania workers’ compensation topics.The managing partner of High Swartz, Rosen focuses his practice on franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing. He serves on the board of directors for several area nonprofits, including the Hepatitis B Foundation, Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center and Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, and the Montgomery Bar Foundation.The annual list of Top Attorneys in Suburban Life highlights the best legal practitioners from the greater Philadelphia area who focus their legal practices in a wide range of practice areas, from business law to criminal defense, medical malpractice and more.High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Family Law Attorneys Speak at Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section Summer Meeting

Mary Cushing Doherty and Elizabeth Early talk executive compensation and custody case law updates at annual meetingNORRISTOWN, Pa. (July 24, 2017) – Pennsylvania family law attorney Mary Cushing Doherty, a partner at High Swartz LLP and the chair of the firm’s family law practice, and Elizabeth C. Early, an associate with the firm, recently acted as speakers during the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section’s Summer Meeting, held July 13 to July 16 at the Omni Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.Many of the sessions at the conference focused on the financial implications of divorce, including financial issues that affect the baby boomer generation. Doherty participated in a program entitled “Conquering Executive Compensation,” which explored the compensation packages being offered by the most financially sophisticated companies and discussed ways to identify, value, and distribute these complex assets during a divorce or custody action. Doherty was joined on the panel by family law attorney Mary Vidas and financial experts Sandra R. Klevan, CPA, and John Petrancosta, CPA.Early helped close out the conference weekend with a case law update on custody during her program. In her practice at High Swartz, Early focuses her practice on divorce, custody, support, equitable distribution, pre and post-nuptial agreements and abuse matters.A former member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and former Chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division and more.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Why do you need a Power of Attorney for your Child in College?

July 18, 2017Do you have a child going off to college this fall?  Then you know it is time to start shopping for all of the dorm room essentials.  But perhaps more importantly, it is also time for them to consider a Power of Attorney.  Doctors, hospitals and even the college they are attending are limited in what information can be shared with parents or other adults.  Without a Power of Attorney, a parent, even one paying their tuition, covering their health insurance and claiming them as a dependent on their tax return, could be helpless to aid their adult child if an emergency arises.  A Power of Attorney for medical and financial matters allows your college-bound child to appoint someone to handle these matters for them if they are unable or unavailable to handle it themselves.Proper planning can allow your young adult to appoint the person or persons they trust to handle financial and medical matters for them.  If they have a serious illness or accident, having these documents in place can save the family time and significant costs by avoiding the immediate need to seek a court appointed guardian.  If they are traveling abroad and need assistance with matters at home, the Power of Attorney will allow their agent to handle banking transactions, sign tax returns and many other types of matters for them.A young adult, or any adult for that matter, should take the time to be sure these documents are in place before they become necessary.  Please call one of our estate planning attorneys for more information.If you have any questions about a Power of Attorney, please contact us at 215-345-8888 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

High Swartz Family Law Chair Co-Authors PA Practice Guide

Mary Cushing Doherty has co-authored the LexisNexis Practice Guide to Pennsylvania Family LawNORRISTOWN, Pa. (July 12, 2017) – Pennsylvania family law attorney Mary Cushing Doherty, a partner at High Swartz LLP and the chair of the firm’s family law practice, has authored the 2017 edition of “LexisNexis Practice Guide: Pennsylvania Family Law” along with West Chester divorce attorney Carla Marino.The book provides practical and insightful guidance on all aspects of handling a family law case for new and seasoned family law practitioners and  general practice attorneys who handle family law matters in Pennsylvania.The guide also offers commentary, organizational suggestions, case summaries, and many forms. Each chapter identifies the key provisions of the relevant Pennsylvania statutes and the rules discussed in the chapter, so the attorney is well prepared for settlement or litigation.The softbound book, which is updated annually, also is available in eBook form.A former member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and former chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She recently was honored with the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Special Achievement Award, in recognition of her tireless work to encourage passage of 2016 state legislation to reduce the waiting time for a no-fault, unilateral divorce from two years to one year.Doherty concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division and more. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware and the Villanova University School of Law.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Can a Potential Employer ask about Salary History?

July 11, 2017Searching for a job is often a stressful and exhausting process. Applicants often find themselves filling out application after application and crossing their fingers for a call back.  Perhaps one of the most daunting questions, despite its relatively straight forward nature, is the dreaded question requesting salary at the applicants last job. Applicants justifiably fret over if their response to this seemingly simple question will lock them into a salary less than what they truly want or in the alternative price them out of the position, thus prolonging their search.Interestingly, there is a growing trend in employment law forbidding exactly this type of inquiry. Proponents of such bans suggest that because women and minorities have historically been paid less than men, the practice of asking for a salary history can help perpetuate a cycle of lower salaries, continuing throughout their careers.  Accordingly, it is advocated that eliminating inquiry into past salaries will aid in closing the infamous wage gap.  It is suggested that by not asking what an individual made in the past, employers will be offering salaries appropriate with the position, not  the individual’s past earnings, which may not be an altogether helpful metric.In December 2016, Philadelphia became the first major city to pass such legislation when City Council unanimously passed the wage equity ordinance which was then signed by Mayor Kenney in January 2017.  The Philadelphia law also provides that if the employer somehow come across the information, they cannot use it as the basis for salary decisions unless the applicant knowingly and willingly disclosed it.  Due to a legal challenge by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, however, the city has delayed enforcement of the ordinance.  Despite the fact that the law is not currently being enforced, however, people living and working in Philadelphia will want to pay attention to how this lawsuit is decided.The trend continues across the country.  Massachusetts passed a similar law last summer and on May 4, 2017 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a ban on salary history questions, which is set to take effect October 31, 2017.  Additionally, on June 14, 2017,  Delaware Governor, John Carney signed House Bill 1 into law.  This law, is set to take effect in December 2017, and similarly prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history before making an employment offer.  The prohibition extends to asking both applicant for the information as well as the applicant’s former employer. It is important to note, however, that employers can discuss and negotiate salary expectations during the interview process, provided they avoiding asking about compensation history. Along the same lines, California law prohibits employers from justifying a compensation disparity by pointing to the employee’s prior salary on its own.The practical take away from this trend, for both employees and employers, is to pay attention to the law where you live.  Keeping informed is certainly the best way to know what can and cannot be asked in an interview.If you have any questions, please contact us at 610-275-0700 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

High Swartz Partner Named President of Central Chester County Rotary Club

James B. Shrimp to lead local chapter of Rotary InternationalJames ShrimpNORRISTOWN, Pa. (June 20, 2017) – Full-service law firm High Swartz is pleased to announce that partner James B. Shrimp has been installed as president of the Rotary Club of Central Chester County, located in Lionville/Exton, Pennsylvania.  He is the chapter’s 29th president since its founding in 1988.The club is a chapter of Rotary International, the mission of which is to bring together business and professional leaders at the community level to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace around the world.In keeping with the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self,” Shrimp and the Central Chester County Rotary Club provide financial and volunteer support to nonprofits in Pennsylvania and around the world, including Habitat for Humanity of Chester County and the Chester County Food Bank, as well as Project CURE, the largest provider of donated medical equipment and supplies to developing countries worldwide, Operation Honduras, which builds schools and provides cataract surgeries in Honduras, and Rotaplast International,  which provides corrective cleft palate and lip surgeries throughout the world.Shrimp’s passion for helping others also finds expression in his legal practice, which he focuses on employment and commercial disputes, including employment discrimination, wage and hour issues, and restrictive covenants.“It is a critical aspect of being an officer of the court and citizen to give back to the community, and Rotary allows me to give back both locally and internationally,” said Shrimp.He earned a bachelor’s degree at Misericordia University before going on to earn his law degree from Villanova University School of Law.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Mary Cushing Doherty Honored with PBA Special Achievement Award

Pennsylvania Bar Association recognizes High Swartz family law attorney’s tireless leadership in improving PA divorce law to reduce the harmful impacts on childrenhigh swartzNORRISTOWN, Pa. (June 19, 2017) – The full-service law firm High Swartz LLP is proud to announce that family law attorney Mary Cushing Doherty has been honored with the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Special Achievement Award, in recognition of her tireless assistance with meeting legislators to address reducing the harmful impact of divorce waiting periods on children.As co-chair of the PBA’s Family Law Section special committee, Doherty worked toward passage of state legislation that would reduce the waiting time for no-fault, unilateral divorce in Pennsylvania from two years to one year. The effort, which took more than four years, culminated in the adoption of Act 102, which went into effect in December 2016.The movement to shorten the waiting period to one year was rooted in studies on child development that found that the longer a family was in legal limbo, the more stress the children endured and the more their development was suspended. Reducing the amount of legal waiting time similarly reduces the amount of parental conflict and allows parents and children to focus on creating their new family dynamic.“During my 35 years practicing family law, I have seen firsthand how the two-year waiting period for unilateral, no-fault divorces harmed families,” said Doherty, who leads High Swartz’s family law practice group. “The extended waiting period produced more tension between parents and forced the children to witness destructive emotional battles. A shorter waiting period enables children to begin the healing process earlier, which is healthier for everyone.”Doherty focuses her practice on all aspects of family law, including divorce, child support and child custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and more. She earned a bachelor’s degree at University of Delaware and her law degree from Villanova University School of Law.Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association and its more than 27,000 members continue the association’s tradition of service to the profession and the public, while keeping current with changing legal standards and societal practices, quality of life issues, and evolving technology. The PBA’s Special Achievement Award is given annually to recognize those who have given their time and resources to advance the association and the practice of law in Pennsylvania. High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney lets you appoint someone you trust to manage your financial or medical affairs should you be unable or unavailable to handle your own affairs.

Durable Power of Attorney (Financial)

Whenever you discuss your estate plan or your Will with your attorney, you should be sure that you discuss the preparation of a Durable Power of Attorney. In general, a Power of Attorney is a document that allows someone to act on your behalf when you are not present. For example, it is common in real estate transactions to use a Power of Attorney. You may have already moved to your new location, perhaps a different state, before settlement on your home takes place. The use of a Power of Attorney would allow you to appoint a third party, such as your real estate broker or your lawyer, to handle the real estate settlement for you. This would eliminate the need for you to fly back for a settlement.By using the Power of Attorney, the person you designate could appear for you at the settlement table, could sign the settlement sheets, and could arrange to wire transfer the proceeds of the sale directly to your bank account, all without your having to be present.One immediate difference between a Durable Power of Attorney and another Power of Attorney is that a Durable Power of Attorney is effective immediately and continues (and in most cases is never even used until) after you become disabled and have lost the ability to manage your own affairs. Ordinarily, a Power of Attorney would automatically be revoked should you later become disabled or lose the ability to revoke or recall the Power of Attorney; however, a Durable Power of Attorney contains language that specifically exempts it from this requirement. A Durable Power of Attorney is designed to deal specifically with the situation where you are unable to handle your affairs. Therefore, it becomes most important should illness, the ravages of age, or a devastating accident deprive you of the ability to act on your own behalf.However, illness and incapacity are not the only situations where a Durable POA is useful. For instance, should you lose your passport while traveling abroad, a Durable POA will allow your agent to deal with the appropriate agencies to obtain replacement identification papers for you. Or, you may simply be too busy to handle the never-ending pile of mail at home. Your agent under your Durable POA is authorized to handle this task for you, should you so choose.A Durable Power of Attorney does not transfer assets to your agent or attorney-in-fact, but allows that person to act for you in most circumstances. The alternative to a Durable Power of Attorney is the appointment by the Court of the County in which you live of a guardian to act for you. Should you choose to rely on the procedure for appointment of a guardian, you may be putting your family through an expensive process that would take a considerable time to accomplish. In the meantime, bills can go unpaid, it can be impossible to sell a house or a car, and it can lead to major disruption for you and your family.Many people believe that if they have a spouse, they don’t need a POA. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Your spouse cannot handle assets in your name alone. This misconception can lead to expensive guardianship proceedings as stated above.A Durable Power of Attorney, together with your Will, and perhaps a Living Will or Healthcare Power of Attorney, are documents that you should discuss with your attorney when you are planning for your future.Watch our video about a Financial Power of Attorney.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A Health Care Power of Attorney gives your agent the ability to obtain medical records for you,  assist you in making health care decisions, and speak with your health care providers. If you are unable to understand, make or communicate a health care decision, this document gives your agent the authority to do so for you.Watch our video about a Healthcare Power of Attorney.

Bucks Happening Names High Swartz LLP to 2017 Bucks Happening List

Digital lifestyle magazine includes firm in annual list of most popular service providersNORRISTOWN, Pa. (May 25, 2017) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that it has been named a finalist in the 2017 Bucks Happening List.The firm was honored in the category of “people,” which recognizes influential individuals across Bucks County, from artists and attorneys to photographers, teachers, and volunteers.Produced by digital lifestyle magazine Bucks Happening, the Happening List is a popular people’s choice competition in Bucks County. More than 150,000 people voted in recent contents to determine the best and most happening people, places, businesses and events in Bucks County.To learn more, and to see the full 2017 Happening List, click here.High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

11 High Swartz Attorneys Named Among PA Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (May 12, 2017) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that 11 of its attorneys have been named among Pennsylvania’s 2017 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars.The High Swartz attorneys named Super Lawyers, and the practice areas for which they have been recognized, are: The High Swartz attorneys named 2017 Pennsylvania Rising Stars are: A program of Thomson Reuters, Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who, through a peer review and independent research process, have been identified as attaining a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only the top 5 percent of Pennsylvania’s 50,000 lawyers and the top 2.5 percent of up-and-coming Pennsylvania lawyers are named to the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists, respectively.Candidates are evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, including verdicts and settlements; honors and awards; special licenses and certifications; pro bono and community service efforts; and scholarly lectures and writings. The ultimate objective of Super Lawyers is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse list of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for other practitioners and consumers searching for legal counsel.High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Sponsors Spring Gala Event and Fundraiser for Main Line Art Center

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (May 10, 2017) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to partner with the Main Line Art Center. High Swartz was a sponsor of the Main Line Meets Monte Carlo gala and fundraiser for the Main Line Art Center on April 29.Inspired by the Golden Age of Grand Prix racing and the glamourous atmosphere that surrounds it, the party kicked off the Spring Gala Exhibition, which opened to the public April 30 and runs through June 3. The Grand Prix Gala and art sales from the Spring Gala Exhibition support Main Line Art Center’s programs, including its award-winning Accessible Art programs for children and adults with disabilities.During the Grand Prix Gala, guests enjoyed an exclusive first look at the Spring Gala Exhibition featuring a wide range of stunning 2- and 3-D artwork in a variety of styles and price points. Juried by Ekaterina Popova, international artist and publisher of Create! Magazine, the exhibition features works by more than 100 professional artists from the region. Committed to making art accessible and the art-buying process easy and fun, the Spring Gala Exhibition invites everyone – from the next-generation collector or art-buying novice to the seasoned collector – to fall in love with a work of art and make it their own.The Spring Gala Exhibition and Grand Prix Gala: Main Line Meets Monte Carlo are supported by Lead Partner, RDS Automotive Group; Pioneer Partner, Joshua’s Catering; as well as Catalyst Partners, The Bryn Mawr Trust Company, Conservest Capital Advisors Inc., High Swartz LLP, The Shipley School, All Around Entertainment, Beautiful Blooms, Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors, and Wendy and Mort Branzburg. Main Line Today is the official Media Partner.The Spring Gala Exhibition is free and open to the public. Main Line Art Center’s galleries are open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A free public Artist Reception and Sensory Garden Party will be held on Saturday, June 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. and features family-friendly art activities, theater performances, a children’s book reading, live art experiences, and more. For details visit www.mainlineart.org.Main Line Art Center is the community’s home to discover, create, and experience visual art. The mission of Main Line Art Center is to inspire and engage people of all ages, abilities, and economic means in visual art through education, exhibitions, and experiences. Committed to increasing the visibility and accessibility of art, the Art Center presents innovative exhibitions and events in the community, including Panorama: Image-Based Art in the 21st Century, a Greater Philadelphia-wide celebration of the photographic image and digital media. Main Line Art Center’s educational offerings for all ages, abilities, and economic means span from traditional to contemporary, and are all held to the highest level of excellence. In 2015, Main Line Art Center received the Commitment to Cultural Access Award from Art-Reach for the Center’s Accessible Art Programs for children and adults with disabilities, now in their 52nd year. Additionally, the Art Center grants over $12,000 in need-based scholarships annually. Last year, Main Line Art Center engaged 21,000 people through classes, exhibitions, and Summer Art Camp, and touched the lives of over 78,000 through Exhibitions in the Community and festivals across the Philadelphia area.High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Family Law Attorney Acts as Faculty for PBI Family Law Institute

Melissa Boyd presented as part of ‘Ethics and Civility in Family Law’ discussionNORRISTOWN, Pa. (April 27, 2017) – Pennsylvania family law attorney Melissa Boyd, a partner at High Swartz LLP, recently acted as faculty for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Family Law Institute, held April 19 and 20 at the CLE Conference Center at the Wanamaker Building in Philadelphia.The Family Law Institute has become an annual tradition for family law practitioners in the Philadelphia area. The conference, which also was simulcast to numerous locations across the state, provided the latest practical information and domestic relations practice hints.Boyd spoke on “Ethics and Civility in Family Law.” Mary Cushing Doherty, also a partner at High Swartz and the chair of the firm’s family law practice, acted as a course planner for the Family Law Institute.A frequent presenter on family law topics for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Boyd concentrates her practice on domestic relations. She is a fierce advocate for her clients in various areas including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoption, protection from abuse, and juvenile law. She has dedicated her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a member of the family law sections of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association. She serves as the chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Boyd has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been named one of the Ten Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law and concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division and more. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware and the Villanova University School of Law.# # #About High SwartzHigh Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com

About High Swartz

High Swartz Law Firm provides general practice counsel and legal services from its headquarters located in Norristown, PA. Near the county seat and heart of Montgomery County, our location is convenient to all parts of Metropolitan Philadelphia and Eastern and Central Pennsylvania. In 2016, we merged with McNamara, Bolla & Panzer of Doylestown, a well-respected firm in Bucks County, PA, expanding our reach to suburban Philadelphia counties.The firm is committed to providing efficient and responsive full-service representation to businesses, public and privately-held entities, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, municipalities and individuals throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the mid-Atlantic region.The firm’s practice is divided into the following primary practice areas:Alternate Dispute Resolution: including mediation, facilitation and arbitration services.Business Law: including counseling and representing private and public for-profit corporations and non-profit organizations; mergers and acquisitions; preparation of complex commercial agreements; technology and internet; taxation; and government regulation.Domestic Relations and Family Law: including divorce, equitable distribution, alimony, child support, custody, prenuptial agreements, protection from abuse, tax considerations, mediation and arbitration matters. Equitable distribution matters involve valuation and division of real estate, closely-held corporations, stock options, retirement assets, collectibles, and trust issues, as well as more routine assets.Employment Law: including counseling employers on personnel matters; litigation over employee discharges and discipline; handling employment discrimination and sexual harassment matters; drafting and negotiating employment and severance contracts; trade secret, confidentiality, and non-competition issues; drafting and reviewing of employee handbooks; representation in unemployment compensation hearings; and labor negotiations, arbitrations, and injunctions.Environmental Law Regulation and Defense: including advising clients on proactive strategies to limit risk; developing Act 2 brownfields and other site restoration projects; prosecuting (or opposing) permit applications in state, interstate, and federal jurisdictions; and defending clients threatened with enforcement before state and federal agencies or courts.Estate, Elder Care, Trust and Probate Law: including wills and trusts; estate planning; probate and estate administration; income, estate, and inheritance taxation; elder care and long-term care financing issues.Litigation in state and federal courts: including trials for both plaintiffs and defendants; business, commercial, professional and personal injury litigation; construction and bankruptcy claims; domestic relations matters; administrative proceedings and appeals to both state and federal courts.Municipal Law: including service as Solicitors to townships and boroughs, zoning hearing boards, municipal authorities and other government agencies; bond counsel to government agencies and authorities; contract negotiation and advice on public contract and bidding matters; representation of government agencies on organizational and regulatory matters; drafting of municipal ordinances; land use and zoning matters; and litigation.Real Estate Law: including commercial and residential real estate financing, construction, and development; syndications; land use and zoning matters; eminent domain (condemnation); environmental matters; commercial leases; and real estate settlements.

portraits of high swartz law firm founders

History of High Swartz

Evans, High, Dettra, and Swartz were announced to the community with a proclamation of sorts in the newspaper of record. The following announcement appeared in the Norristown Times Herald, Nov. 30, 1914:

New Law Firm Formed

Composed of Montgomery Evans, Samuel H. High, John M. Dettra and Aaron S. Swartz, Jr.

“This announcement is made in the advertising columns of the Herald, where also is announced the dissolution of the partnership heretofore existing between John Faber Miller and Mr. High.

The dissolution became necessary when Mr. Miller yesterday assumed the office of Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County.

“Messrs. Evans and Dettra have long been associated in the law business and Mr. Swartz who is the son of Aaron S. Swartz, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, has had an office with this firm but until now was not a member thereof.

“The new law firm will have its offices in the Miller Building, Nos. 329-333 DeKalb Street.”

The history of High Swartz is told through the names of those who founded the firm and those who have passed through its doors during the past century.

Samuel H. High Sr., Montgomery Evans, John M. Dettra and Aaron Swartz Jr. were the patriarchs of the firm. They formed a bond 100 years ago, and that bond is still strong today.

“My grandfather, Samuel H. High, as a relatively young attorney was practicing with John Faber Miller, in 1914,” recalls Gilbert High Jr. “Miller was appointed to the bench that year and Montgomery Evans, John Dettra and my grandfather joined in a partnership, Evans, High, Dettra and Aaron Swartz, Jr. a young lawyer who came into the firm, and became  named partner.

“From the beginning the firm was quite successful. Granddad was a generalist. He was a litigator. He did municipal work. He represented bank; the old Jenkintown Trust Company. He did their estate work.”

“My grandfather would have been about 36 when the firm was formed,” Gilbert High Jr. continued. “He died in 1945. He was 67. He had a farm in Horsham. His regular house was in Jenkintown. He worked five nights a week in an evening office in Jenkintown. He was in Norristown during the day. He did entirely civil work. John Dettra did almost entirely estate work.”

High Swartz Offices: Relocation and Expansion

The offices of High Swartz have evolved over the years along with the firm. Evans, High, Dettra & Swartz started out on DeKalb Street in what was known as the Miller Building at the turn of the century, and moving on into the 21st Century High Swartz can be found a short walk away on East Airy Street.An announcement appeared in The Norristown Times Herald on July 1, 1935 when the firm moved into what is now its home at 40 E. Airy St.

New Building Opened Today By Legal Firmold picture of high swartz law firm being constructed in 1920s norristown pa

Air Conditioning Among Features of Offices Occupied By High, Dettra and Swartz One of the most modern buildings in Montgomery County was opened this morning at 40 East Airy Street by the law firm of  High, Dettra and Swartz.

Air conditioning is one of the features of the new building. The two story building is styled after colonial architecture with draperies, pictures and furniture carrying out the theme.

The front door opens into a large and spacious reception lobby in which stands an antique grandfather’s clock. The corridors are covered with a black and white rubberized linoleum.

There are three offices on the first floor and three on the second. Each office is exquisitely furnished with a brown color scheme. The walls are finished with knotty pine wood.

In the front of the building on the second floor is a large, rectangular law library with more than 2,000 legal volumes. The library is furnished with overstuffed chairs and a long conference table.

The offices are occupied by Attorney Samuel H. High Sr., Attorney Aaron S. Swartz (Jr.), Attorney John M. Dettra, Attorney Louis M. Childs, and Attorney Samuel H. High Jr.

 

antique grandfather clock with door open to expose dials

Selected Key Cases

Set forth below, in chronological order, are a few of the principal reported cases in which High Swartz Firm lawyers have been counsel of record. These cases either were precedential or addressed broad or recurring issues.Real Estate Tax Exemption Rules for Private Schools– To qualify for exemption from real estate taxes, an independent school must be a “purely public charity”. To be a purely public charity, the school must relieve government of some of the burden of providing a free education. In 1949, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied public charity status to a private school whose revenue covered its expenses and which provided financial aid to only 10% of its student body. The court’s decision discusses many earlier Pennsylvania private college and school tax exemption cases. In re Ogontz School (Gilbert High, Sr.)Barnes Foundation Cases– Access to the Barnes Foundation galleries has long been a controversial issue. The Firm represented the Barnes in 1953, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a newspaper reporter’s challenge to limits on gallery access in Wiegand v. Barnes Foundation. In 1960, in Commonwealth v. Barnes Foundation, the state Supreme Court allowed the Pennsylvania Attorney General to seek greater access. Victor Roberts handled both cases. Gilbert High, Jr. served as Lower Merion Township Solicitor during the 1990s zoning and litigation battles to increase gallery access.Standards for Zoning Special Exceptions– A special exception use is permitted under local zoning laws, so long as specific conditions are met. In 1957, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court outlined the burden of proof for opponents of a special exception on health and safety grounds, and limited a zoning board’s ability to deny a special exception on grounds such as traffic. Archbishop O’Hara’s Appeal (Samuel High, Jr.)Death Penalty Case– In 1962, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the jury’s imposition of the death penalty in Commonwealth v. Smith. Gilbert High, Sr. was appointed by the Court to represent the accused. Trial was held in Gettysburg, because of the public knowledge in the Philadelphia area of the murder committed by Elmo Smith.Injunctions Against Mass Labor Picketing– The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld an injunction against mass picketing, in one of the many decisions that differentiated between peaceful labor picketing (which cannot be prevented) and mass picketing with blockage of plant entrances, threats, and violence. Link Belt Co. v. Local #118 of American Federation of Technical Engineers (1964; Victor Roberts).Fight over the Word “Quality” in Company Name– The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that using the word “Quality” in a company’s name was not an unfair competitive use, rejecting another business’ attempt to prevent use of the word. The court’s rationale was that “quality” was a descriptive term and did not denote any particular business or owner. Quality Weaving Co. v. Regan (1976; Victor Roberts).Attorney’s State Payments Do Not Bar Local Business Taxation– In 1983, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court allowed a township to impose business taxes on an attorney who had claimed that his state disciplinary board payments were a state license fee precluding local taxation. Meitner v. Township of Cheltenham (Gilbert High, Jr.)Prohibition of Temporary Signs on Street Rights-of-Way– The Third Circuit affirmed a municipality’s power to ban temporary signs on utility poles, street signs, or other public right of way structures. The court rejected the contention that the ban deprived citizens of free speech rights. The court held that the ban served important esthetic and traffic safety interests; regulated the time, place, and manner of speech, not the content of speech; and left the public with ample other ways to communicate. Frumer v. Cheltenham Township (1983; Gilbert High, Jr.).Off-Campus Student Housing- In a series of decisions, the United States District Court rejected challenges to a Lower Merion Township ordinance requiring zoning approval for housing for college students in residential areas. Smith v. Lower Merion Township (1991-92; Gilbert High, Jr.).Challenges to Congressional and Legislative Redistricting– In 1992 and 2002, several clients of the Firm challenged congressional and state legislative redistricting that divided townships and voting precincts rather than keep these areas in one district. These challenges were not successful but the cases anticipated the growing nationwide concern about gerrymandering rather than creating compact, contiguous districts. Mellow v. Mitchell (1992; Thomas Rees); Albert v. 2001 Legislative Reapportionment Commission (2002; Gilbert High and Thomas Rees).Tax Exemption for Single Gender Independent Schools– In the 1990s the Pottstown School District challenged the real estate tax exemption of The Hill School, which was then a boys’ school. (The school became co-educational in 1998.) The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that state laws do not prohibit single gender schools from status as tax exempt purely public charities. Pottstown School District v. Hill School (2001; Thomas Rees).Challenges to Contracts to Manage Municipal Facilities– The law generally bars governments from making contracts for governmental functions that last into the term of officials who have not yet taken office. The law allows contracts of this sort for proprietary functions. In several New York cases that the Firm handled, courts including New York’s highest court held that multi-year contracts to manage a town golf course and its restaurant were permissible proprietary contracts. Karedes v. Colella and Karedes v. Village of Endicott (2001-2003; John Gallagher). The cases attracted significant media attention and led to a case in which the Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal of one contractor’s libel claim. Karedes v. Ackerley Group (2005; John Gallagher).Bridgeport Fire Class Action– The Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas upheld the establishment of a class of plaintiffs whose businesses or property were destroyed in the Bridgeport fire. Professional Flooring Corp. v. Bushar Corp. (2003; Paul Bartle and John Gallagher).Bar on Suing Private Organizations for Constitutional Violations Federal civil rights laws prohibit state and local governments from firing employees in retaliation for exercising constitutional rights such as speaking on public issues. These laws do not bar the same actions by private employers. The line between public and private is not always clear; many private bodies are closely aligned with the government. In 2007, the United States District Court dismissed a civil rights claim by a private social service organization’s ex-employee, who alleged wrongful firing after she objected to her employer’s actions in building new offices. The court held that neither use of public funds nor provision of services to the disabled turned the organization into a state actor. Schneider v. The Arc of Montgomery County (2007; James Shrimp and Thomas Rees).Immunity of Arbitration Associations and Arbitrators from Suit– The New Jersey Appellate Division held that arbitration associations and arbitrators were immune from suit by a party who alleged that he was injured in an altercation during a break in the arbitration. The decision reinforced the doctrine of arbitral immunity as a form of judicial immunity from suit and from liability. Malik v. Ruttenberg (2008: Thomas Rees, James Shrimp, Richard Sokorai).Bar on Re-Packaging Contract Claims as Fraud Claims– In two ways, Pennsylvania courts prohibit plaintiffs from re-casting claims for breach of contract as tort claims. These are the “gist of the action” doctrine, preventing parties from bringing tort suits where the essential claim is a commercial claim, and the “economic loss doctrine”, preventing parties from filing tort claims where the only losses are economic losses from the alleged violation of a contract. The Federal District Court applied both doctrines in dismissing tort and commercial fraud claims against a national retailer in Febo v. Anderson Windows and The Home Depot (2009; Eric Smith).Injunction against Franchise Termination– The Federal District Court enjoined a franchisor from terminating a pizza franchise for alleged failures to comply with the certain terms of the franchise relationship. The franchisor had used a mass e-mail rather than an individual notice to  inform its franchisees of new franchise requirements and of the franchisee’s non-compliance. The Court thus ruled that the termination was premature and defective and would irreparably harm the business that had operated the franchise for the business owner’s entire adult life. Grosso Enterprises, Inc. v. Domino’s Pizza LLC (2011; James Shrimp).No Duty to Disclose Internal Township Communications– Although the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law requires disclosure of public records, the Commonwealth Court held that the law does not mandate disclosure of  communications between members of an elected municipal board before a zoning hearing. The law excludes from disclosure the internal, pre-decisional communications between board members and township officials on the zoning application. Kaplin v. Lower Merion Township (2011; Gilbert High, Jr.).

High Swartz Family Law Attorney Plans Course for PBI Family Law Institute

Mary Cushing Doherty helps organize annual conference for Philadelphia-area family law attorneysNORRISTOWN, Pa. (April 25, 2017) – Pennsylvania family law attorney Mary Cushing Doherty, a partner at High Swartz LLP and the chair of the firm’s family law practice, recently acted as one of the Course Planners for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Family Law Institute, held April 19 and 20 at the CLE Conference Center at the Wanamaker Building in Philadelphia.high swartzThe 12th Annual Family Law Institute has become a respected tradition for family law practitioners in Pennsylvania. The conference presented live in Philadelphia, was also simulcast to numerous locations across the state, provided the latest legal developments and domestic relations practice hints.   Mary has served as a co-Course Planner for all 12 Family Law Institute programs, and the three years of the Family Law Potpourri predecessor program.Melissa M. Boyd, also a partner at High Swartz, acted as faculty for the Family Law Institute. Boyd spoke on “Ethics and Civility in Family Law.”A former member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute,  and former Chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division and more. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware and the Villanova University School of Law.

###About High SwartzHigh Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com

When Counseling Perpetuates Abuse

April 18, 2017As family law attorneys we often take for granted that the paperwork required by the Court in order to begin a divorce action is simply administrative “filler.” We often tell clients that the counseling notice we are required to file with a divorce complaint is a formality and is never utilized.  But what if it were, and it were being used by an abusive spouse in an attempt to maintain contact with and continue to abuse the other party?The consent section of the Divorce Code, 3301 (c), states that 90 days after the divorce is served on the defendant, both parties can sign consents to move the case forward toward its conclusion. In a non consensual divorce, which is outlined in section 3301(d) the case can proceed once the parties have lived separately for one year, regardless of the defendant agreeing.Counseling in divorce was mandated, without allowing exceptions, under 23 Pa. C.S.A. section 3302. For a consent divorce, that  if one of the parties requested counseling in the 90 days leading up to signing consents, the Court had to mandate up to three counseling sessions.The court also had to mandate counseling if, as stated in section 3301(d)(2), after a hearing, the Court determines there is a “reasonable prospect” of reconciliation. In those cases the parties shall be required to attend up to a maximum of three counseling sessions in a 90 day time period. This occurs when either of the parties requests it, or the Court may require counseling where the parties have at least one child under 16 years of age.That meant that in a divorce someone could be forced into counseling whether they want it or not.  For a person in a domestic abuse situation that is a nightmare. Imagine you finally get the courage to leave an abusive relationship, you file for divorce from a person you fear, and then you are forced to sit in three counseling sessions with your abuser.  Often times abusers use any excuse to maintain contact with their victim and forcing series of counseling sessions is a perfect example of this behavior. Luckily the Pennsylvania Legislature and Governor Wolf address this exact issue last year.On April 21, 2016 Governor Wolf signed into law an amendment to section 3302 that provides an exception to the counseling requirement:  Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, in no case may the court require counseling over the objection of a party that has a protection from abuse order, enforceable under Chapter 61 (relating to protection from abuse) against the other party, or where that party was convicted or has entered into an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program as a result of conduct for which the other party was a victim.As a result of this amendment abusers can no longer hold their spouse hostage and use the court system to delay a divorce and have additional unwanted contact.  This is another important step toward removing the stigma of domestic violence, keeping victims safe, and allowing them to move forward with their lives without fear.If you have any questions, please contact us at 610-275-0700 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.  

Tax Assessment Appeals in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties

April 11, 2017Unfortunately, it is that time of year again…tax season. However, I’m not talking about personal income tax, but real estate tax appeals.The deadline for filing a real estate tax assessment appeal for property owners in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties is August 1, 2017 and October 2, 2017 for property owners in Philadelphia. In addition, residents of the surrounding counties may have limitations on how early they can file their tax assessment appeals. More importantly, deadlines in  all counties is absolute, which means that missing the deadline can result in you losing your appeal rights until 2019. While this may seem like a minor issue, filing your assessment appeal too early in certain counties can be as detrimental as missing the deadline. For example, in Chester County, appeals may only be filed from May 1st until the first business day in August (this year, August 1, 2017); while Delaware County residents are permitted to file their assessment appeals as early as March (this year, March 15, 2017). However, regardless of when your deadline is, now is the time to start considering whether you want to appeal your real estate tax assessment for 2018.For property owners throughout Pennsylvania, your property’s assessed value is the value used  in calculating your real estate tax liability for your county, school district and municipality. Keep in mind that your property’s assessed value is typically some percentage of your property’s fair market value.  When reviewing your tax bill, the simplified method of determining your property’s total assessed value is by adding the value assigned to your land to the value of the improvements on the parcel you own. The total assessed can the be used in calculating your property’s fair market values and should be closely reviewed.Philadelphia County is the most recent county to have assessment changes, as most other surrounding counties have not completed county-wide reassessments in over 10 years. For example, Delaware County has not had a county-wide reassessment since as far back as 2000, but due to a recent court order, the county is now required to complete a county-wide reassessment to become effective January 1, 2021. As a result of this recent court decision it is anticipated that other counties will follow Delaware County and complete a county-wide assessment. Therefore, property owner’s in counties that have not had county-wide reassessments in the last decade should not become complacent with their properties’ assessed value and should take notice of any changes in their tax assessments every year. Delaware County residents may also want to consider if they want to appeal their 2018 assessment or wait until the county-wide assessment becomes effective in 2021.However, a county reassessment is not the only thing that may trigger the reassessment of your property. If you make any improvements to your home or a piece of undeveloped land that you own,  your property may be reassessed.In general, it is a good idea for property owners to always check and compare your property’s assessment annually to make sure that your tax assessment appropriately reflects what your property is worth. Staying on top of your property’s assessment will ensure that if the property is overvalued, you will be able to take the necessary action to make sure you are paying the appropriate amount of real estate taxes.to summarize, when considering whether to appeal your property’s assessment for 2018, you should take the following into consideration: (1) how your property’s  fair market value compares with its current value and recent property sales in your area; (2) if your recently purchased your property, whether your purchase price  is consistent with your most recent assessment; and (3) if your property was recently appraised, whether the appraised value is consistent with the fair market value as determined by your assessed value.If you need help deciding if an appeal is worthwhile or with the process in general, consulting a knowledgeable real estate attorney can make all the difference in the successful lowering of your property tax liability.  For more information on the assessment changes that have impacted Philadelphia property owners‘ taxes for 2017, please see our blog about Philadelphia Tax Assessment Appeals.If you have any questions about tax assessment appeals, please contact us at 610-275-0700 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

Philly.com Names High Swartz LLP a Winner of the Delaware Valley 2017 Top Workplaces Award

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (March 26, 2017)  – High Swartz LLP has been awarded a 2017 Top Workplaces honor by Philly.com. The Top Workplaces lists are based solely on the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a leading research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. Several aspects of workplace culture were measured, including Alignment, Execution, and Connection, just to name a few.“The Top Workplaces award is not a popularity contest. And oftentimes, people assume it’s all about fancy perks and benefits.” says Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics. “But to be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees. Time and time again, our research has proven that what’s most important to them is a strong belief in where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and the feeling that everyone is in it together. Claffey adds, “Without this sense of connection, an organization doesn’t have a shot at being named a Top Workplace.”“We are honored to be named a Top Workplace” said Joel D. Rosen, Managing Partner. “ We would like to thank all our employees for making High Swartz the best place to work. We recognize that our firm’s success relies on its ability to attract and maintain talented professionals by creating a workplace where they can flourish in their careers, their family lives, and their communities.”###About High Swartz LLPHigh Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.About WorkplaceDynamics, LLCHeadquartered in Exton, PA, WorkplaceDynamics specializes in employee feedback surveys and workplace improvement. This year alone, more than two million employees in over 6,000 organizations will participate in the Top Workplaces™ campaign—a program it conducts in partnership with more than 40 prestigious media partners across the United States. Workplace Dynamics also provides consulting services to improve employee engagement and organizational health. WorkplaceDynamics is a founding B Corporation member, a coalition of organizations that are leading a global movement to redefine success in business by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business.

Melissa Boyd Acts as Faculty for Family Law ‘Flipped Classroom’ Event

Leading Pennsylvania family law attorney mentors colleagues on topics related to child custody NORRISTOWN, Pa. (March 7, 2017) – Melissa Boyd, a family law attorney at High Swartz LLP, recently volunteered her skills to act as faculty for a program entitled “Child Custody: Practice Ready Skills in a Flipped Classroom.”Held on Feb. 27 at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute in Philadelphia, the “Flipped Classroom” concept is meant to provide young or struggling attorneys with a mentor and a hands-on learning experience. The participants view video lessons prior to the classroom experience, and the program includes extensive exercises and skits while the faculty share their talents. Boyd participated in two sessions, “Assessing the Pros and Cons of What the Other Party Wants” and “Negotiating with Opposing Counsel.”  During her sessions, Boyd presented best practices for being a strong advocate for clients.A key member of the High Swartz family law practice team, Boyd concentrates her practice on Pennsylvania domestic relations law. She is a fierce advocate for her clients in various areas including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoption, protection from abuse, and juvenile law. She has dedicated her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a member of the Family Law Sections of the American Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She frequently presents on family law topics, and is past chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Boyd has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been named among the 10 Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

Mediation: Protect What you Bargain For

February 28, 2017Strengths and Weaknesses of Non-Attorney Guided MediationDivorce mediation is an out-of-court dispute resolution tool that helps separating couples who want to amicably settle their issues with minimal involvement of the legal system. A good mediator is one who will guide the spouses during their negotiations, facilitate meaningful dialogue and point the parties away from potential litigation hazards. Many attorneys will encourage their clients to engage in mediation in order to narrow issues or to get an independent view point in areas where there is disagreement. It is recommended that a divorcing spouse look for an experienced mediator and check the mediator’s references before agreeing to use a particular mediator.Keep in mind that it is not the job of the mediator to look out for each spouses’ interests. Rather, the mediator’s job is to act as a neutral party to facilitate the spouses in reaching their own agreement- even if it is unfair or inequitable in the eyes of his or her lawyer. A mediator is trained to be neutral. He or she usually will not alert or advise if an agreement may be unfair to either party. A lack of knowledge about your spouse’s financial assets, ignorance of the law, and poor negotiating skills can easily cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars when you end getting less than you otherwise would have gotten had retained a divorce attorney. Not only is it advisable to retain an attorney to guide you in the mediation process, it is often times critical so that you don’t end up accepting an inequitable marital settlement agreement or find yourself unable to enforce the terms of your agreement.The Role of a Mediator and the Benefits of Attorney Guided MediationLet us assume that the divorcing spouses have gone though non-attorney guided mediation and have reached a formal memorandum of understanding. Now what? How do the spouses protect that agreement? What if one spouse realizes the terms of the agreement looked good on paper, but are not exactly practical in their application? Under these circumstances, a spouse can find him or herself  in the very situation she or she didn’t want to be in: the spouse now needs to hire a lawyer to help retrace and possibly redo all the steps he or she just took!In some (but not all) cases, settlement agreements reached at non-attorney guided divorce mediations are poorly drafted with vague terms which make them difficult to enforce. If such an agreement is reached at mediation, the spouses will need to file it with the court in order to enforce the document via Court order. Sometimes, mediators will simply file the agreement as a “Divorce” matter. However, there may be many additional issues addressed in the agreement that should be filed separate and apart from just simply a “divorce” action. If an agreement reached at mediation speaks to a host of issues, but is incorrectly docketed or poorly drafted, there is often little recourse to re-open an executed marital settlement agreement to address the individual terms.Having an attorney review or draft the document will not only allow the spouses have a clear understanding of the agreed upon terms, but will also ensure that the court is equipped with a well-written, concise set of directions in order to protect and enforce the rights and obligations outlined in the agreement. Spending a little money for an attorney review of any divorce mediation agreement before the mediation agreement is filed with the Court can be a wise investment,Protecting Your Agreement Marital Property settlement agreements are contracts. Generally, modification of marital property settlement agreements by the court will only happen if there has been fraud, duress, coercion, or a mutual mistake in the drafting of the order or agreement.  Accordingly, agreements regarding spousal support, alimony pendente lite and alimony are rarely modified by the courts absent a written agreement by the former spouses to modify the documents. This is different than child support or custody arrangements, which remain under the purview of the court and can be altered at nearly any time due to changed circumstances.Re-opening or seeking to modify a marital property settlement agreement is legally complex and may be rather expensive. In the end, attorney-guided mediation may allow the parties to have their cake and eat it too. Although divorce mediation without attorney involvement can be an effective and less expensive means to foster agreement between divorcing spouses, having an attorney shepherd you though the process to ensure a fair and equitable result can avoid unnecessary expense and heartache down the road.If you have any questions about mediation, please contact High Swartz at 610-275-0700 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation. 

Breaking Down “BYOD” Policies

February 14, 2017The explosion of smartphones, tablets and technology generally, has inevitably resulted in employees performing work tasks on their personal devices.  In the age of the ever present smartphone, and for many, the accompanying compulsion to stay constantly connected, employers and employees find themselves balancing the benefits and pitfalls of employees using their personal phones to conduct their employer’s business.  This has resulted in increased productivity and flexibility and oftentimes resulted in lowering a companies technology costs.  With these benefits, however, come certain risks that a prudent employer should consider and provide for.  The most popular means of addressing these issues is in the implementation of a Bring Your Own Device (“BYOD”) Policy.While there are many concerns an employer must consider in crafting the most appropriate BYOD policy, some of the most common include: data security, employee privacy, theft or loss of device, non-exempt employee usage, and employer liability for employee misconduct.Data SecurityData security is a huge concern for employers and as such this element is crucial to alleviate company concerns that an employee could potentially compromise company data through lax or nonexistent device security.  Similarly, employers justifiably have concerns regarding employees connecting to unsecured Wi-FI hotspots or sharing their devices with other individuals leading to compromised data. Accordingly, employers should consider requiring password protection, automatic locking after a certain period of inactivity, mandating regular backups, restricting access to especially sensitive company information or even using software to create a virtual partition in devices to keep personal data separate from work data.Employee PrivacyA good BYOD policy will clearly set forth the employees expectation of privacy on their personal device that is being used for business purposes.  It is important that after signing the agreement the employee understands what their rights are as to the device and information thereon.Theft/LossBecause phones are lost or stolen with unfortunate frequency, it is important that there be a policy in place that requires employees to immediately report a lost or stolen device. This section of the agreement may also contain a provision regarding the company’s decision to install software that would allow the company to remotely wipe the device in the event it is lost or stolen. Ultimately, all parties should be aware of what will happen to the device in the event it is lost or stolen.Non-exempt employeesBecause the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that non exempt employees be paid for all hours worked, a comprehensive BYOD policy will include a prohibition against off-the-clock email access/work by non exempt employees unless specifically authorized  This ensures that all work performed on the company’s behalf is compensated.  Accordingly, deciding what classifications of employees will be able to use their personal devices for business is crucial. A company must proactively determine how it will handle such situations to avoid exposure under federal and state labor laws.Employee misconductFinally, an employer wants to consider its potential liability if an employee uses his or her personal device to send harassing emails, even outside of work hours.  Because the device is the employee’s personal property, employees may feel more comfortable engaging in inappropriate conduct than they would on company owned property.  This could potentially lead to an employee using social media, texting, or phone calls to defame, harass or otherwise inappropriately treat the company, co-workers, or other related parties.  To address such concerns a policy should reaffirm that the company’s policies prohibiting such conduct apply with equal force to all devices covered under the BYOD policy.There is no one size fits all BYOD policy.  What a Company needs by way of a BYOD policy will be controlled by the type of business,  type of information contained on employee’s device and the availability of IT support to the employer.  Additionally, due to the number of laws that intersect and impact BYOD policies, consulting an attorney to draft such a policy is crucial to the its success.If you have any questions about BYOD policies, please contact us at 610-275-0700 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation. 

Storage Wars – Laws Governing Self-Storage Facilities

February 2, 2017By Kevin CornishHave you ever seen an episode of Storage Wars and wondered, can someone legally sell property in a storage facility?  Or, how can they legally do that?  Storage Wars takes place in California, and I am not here to discuss  California law.  However, Pennsylvania does have a law governing self-storage facilities and the short answer, in Pennsylvania, is Yes, they can do that.In Pennsylvania, the Self-Service Storage Facilities Act, 73 P.S. § 1901 et seq. (“Act”), governs these self storage facilities.  Importantly, the Act provides that the owner has a lien on all personal property stored in the facility.  The lien is superior to all other liens except those that existed prior to the placement of the personal property in the facility.  The rental agreement must inform the occupant of this lien.In the event that occupant fails to pay rent for a period of 30 days, the owner can begin proceedings to sell the contents.  The owner must provide notice to the occupant of the default.  The notice must be delivered in accordance with the Act and contain  items such as the amount due, a demand for payment, a lien statement, a designated person for the occupant to contact, and that the contents will be advertised and sold if the delinquent rent is not paid.  The owner also has the right to deny the occupant access to the space until the delinquency is paid.If the occupant still fails to make payment, the owner can proceed with advertising a sale of the contents.  The owner must advertise the sale two times in a newspaper of general circulation.  There are various requirements for the contents of the advertisement.  Additionally, the sale must occur at least 10 days after the first advertisement.If the delinquent amount remains unpaid, the owner is free sell the contents of the storage facility to satisfy the owner’s lien.  Third parties can bid on, and purchase, the contents of the storage unit.If you are a self-storage facility owner or renter, it is vital to assure that your rental agreements comply with the Act and all legal procedures are followed to sell personal property to enforce the lien.If you have any questions, contact Kevin Cornish at 610-275-07000 or via email at kcornish@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

Trusts

A trust is a device to enable the holding of the legal title of assets. Trust provisions are tailored to the grantor’s needs, providing instructions to the Trustee regarding investment, management, and distribution of the assets within the trust.Trusts can serve a variety of purposes, including:
  •  conserving assets for beneficiaries;
  •  designation of a third party to management investments;
  •  avoidance of guardianship proceedings for property transfers to minors and incapacitated persons; and
  •  tax savings (depending on the type of trust).
There are two categories of Trusts:
  1.  inter vivos, (created during lifetime of grantor), and
  2. Testamentary (created under the Will).
Inter vivos trusts can be revocable or irrevocable.Testamentary trusts come into existence and become irrevocable at the time of the decedent’s death.There are a variety of specialized trusts including:
  • credit-shelter trust;
  • qualified personal residence trust (QPRT);
  • QTIP or qualified terminable interest property trust;
  • irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT);
  • charitable remainder/lead trust (CRAT, CRUT, CLAT, CLUT);
  • dynasty trust (DAPT);
  • special needs/supplemental needs trust (SNT); and
  • pet trust.

Credit-Shelter Trusts

This type of trust is used for married couples and typically holds an amount up to the federal estate tax exemption amount (which for 2018 is $10 million (to be adjusted for inflation from a base year of 2010), and the rest of the estate passes to the spouse tax-free. Once the assets are placed in the credit-shelter trust, it shields appreciation from federal estate tax.

QPRT

This type of trust can remove the value of the grantor’s residence or vacation home from his estate. The grantor can continue to live in the dwelling and maintain full control, during the period of time specified in the trust. The “period of time” is key, as the grantor must outlive the term of the trust-otherwise the full value of the home is included in the grantor’s estate. Planned correctly, the grantor can gift the dwelling to his heirs (valued significantly less than present-day value- longer trust term equates to less value of the gift for tax purposes), outlive the trust term, and continue to live in the residence if desired, paying fair-market value rent to the beneficiaries, thus removing more assets from the grantor’s estate.

QTIP

This trust is useful for families with children from different marriages, and is typically combined with a credit-shelter trust. The surviving spouse will receive income from the QTIP, and the remainder will pass to the grantor’s heirs at the death of the surviving spouse. The assets in the QTIP will be treated as part of the surviving spouse’s estate, and pass estate-tax free to the grantor’s heirs. This trust can ensure that the grantor’s wealth passes to his own children.

ILIT

This trust removes life insurance from the grantor’s taxable estate, can help pay estate costs and provide heirs with liquid assets. This is particularly useful if the grantor owns business. The heirs can use the life insurance proceeds for the operating costs of the business after the grantor’s death, until the business is sold or distributed.

Charitable Remainder Trust

This is an irrevocable trust that pays income to non-charity beneficiaries for life (or fixed term) and the remainder interest is paid to charities. The trust will pay no income tax and the grantor receives estate, gift and income tax deductions.

Charitable Lead Trust

This is similar to the Charitable Remainder Trust, except the charity receives payments for a set term, and the remainder interest is passed either to the grantor or his heirs. Income tax depends on the structure of the trust.

Dynasty Trust/Domestic Asset Trust Protection

This type of trust keeps assets in trust for an extended period of time, possibly in perpetuity. The basic structure of a Domestic Asset Protection Trust (DAPT) allows the grantor to receive income and discretionary principal distributions, provides asset protection from creditors, spouses and lawsuits and gives the grantor some control over the investment management through the directed trust structure.South Dakota has one of the most progressive DAPT statutes in US. There is short look back period (2 years) under fraudulent conveyance statute. There is a total privacy seal that forbids the release of trust information to the public. The fear of placing property in an irrevocable trust is removed with flexible modification/reformation provisions. In a Dynasty Trust (a trust that lives on forever), the trust assets avoid federal taxation. South Dakota does not have income tax therefore undistributed trust income can grow free of state income tax. Pennsylvania cannot tax the grantor or beneficiaries on any undistributed trust income retained in South Dakota trust.Benefits individuals/businesses that hold assets with significant appreciation (i.e. low cost basis closely held stock) by avoiding state capital gains; individuals with a net worth of over $5.49 million; and individuals who need creditor protection (professionals, athletes, businesses, and families).

SNT

A special needs/supplemental needs trust can be stand-alone or testamentary. The purpose of this trust is to provide for a beneficiary’s needs not covered by government benefits (i.e. Medicaid/Medical Assistance).

First-Party SNT

This trust is typically created by a parent/guardian or court, funded with the disabled beneficiary’s assets, used solely for the beneficiary, and the beneficiary must be under age 65. The trust assets are used to supplement (not take the place of) public benefits and at the beneficiary’s death, the remainder is distributed to the state to repay the public benefits given to the beneficiary.

Third-Party SNT

This trust must be created with funds from someone other than the disabled beneficiary. Typically parents of disabled adult children will create this kind of trust. No payback provision to the state is required.

Melissa Boyd Moderates Panel at PBA Family Law Section Winter Meeting

CLE program discussed ‘Secret of Support Remedies’ at meeting of leading family law attorneys in Philadelphia areaNORRISTOWN, Pa. (January 24, 2017) – Melissa Boyd, a family law attorney at High Swartz LLP, recently moderated a panel discussion at the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Family Law Section Winter Meeting in Philadelphia.Boyd led a discussion on the “Secret of Support Remedies” at the meeting, which was held Jan. 13 to 15 in Philadelphia. The session offered 1.5 substantive CLE credits, and focused on what goes on behind the walls of Domestic Relations offices in Pennsylvania. Topics included federal and state regulations, the ways in which arrearages are handled, and whether bank accounts can be seized or licenses suspended as part of support enforcement.A key member of the High Swartz family law practice team, Boyd concentrates her practice on family law and is an advocate in various areas including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoption, protection from abuse, and juvenile law. She has dedicated much of her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a member of the Family Law Sections of the American Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She frequently presents on family law topics, and she is past chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Boyd has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been named among the 10 Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

5 Tips for a Successful Estate Planning Meeting

November 3, 2016While it is a matter often ignored for many years, preparing a Will, Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directive is  very important for any adult. In order to have a successful initial estate planning meeting, here are some questions to think about:
  1. Why do I need an estate plan? An estate plan is more than just a Will; it is a process that you undertake, with the assistance of an attorney, to be sure that all of your assets are directed in a way that you choose. It also allows you to plan for the tax consequences your heirs may encounter upon your death. It is a way to assist your family at a difficult time by planning ahead to make things easier for them.
  2. What do I have? In order to best be able to plan, your attorney will need to know what types of assets you have – real estate, retirement accounts, life insurance, investments and other personal items. Knowing the value of these accounts and collections or other personal items is also helpful. Sharing this information will allow your attorney to evaluate the whole picture and make recommendations.
  3. Who are the key people? It is important to think about who your beneficiaries will be – this could be a spouse, children, siblings, charities or others. Deciding who will handle the necessary paperwork upon your death or during your lifetime is also important. Who will you name as executor? Who will your medical agent be? Who will you name as your agent under your Power of Attorney?
  4. How will my estate be distributed? Will you leave your assets to a spouse? Will you leave your assets to children? Are there others who depend on you for financial support that you should consider in your Will? How will assets such as retirement accounts and life insurance, that are not directed by your Will, be distributed? These are questions to consider and discuss at your initial meeting with one of our estate planning attorneys.
  5. When will my children, or other beneficiaries, receive their inheritance? If your beneficiaries are minors, it may be wise to consider a testamentary trust . This allows you to retain some control over how the assets are spent and the time the assets are fully distributed, even after your death. For parents, this is especially important to ensure someone is available to guide your children and manage the proper spending of their inheritance.
When you meet with one of the attorneys at High Swartz LLP about your Estate Plan, these are questions that will be discussed and answered. If you don’t have a Will or Power of Attorney, or you haven’t updated your estate plan recently, now would be a good time to schedule an estate planning meeting to discuss these questions. For more information, contact us at 610-275-0700 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.  

U.S. News – Best Lawyers Names High Swartz 2017 ‘Best Law Firm’

Full-service law firm honored for family, municipal and environmental lawblf-badge-2017NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Nov. 1, 2016) – Full-service law firm High Swartz has been named a “Best Law Firm” for 2017 by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®, achieving a Philadelphia-area Metropolitan Tier 1 ranking for family and municipal law and additional rankings for environmental law and litigation.To be eligible for a Best Law Firm ranking, a firm must have at least one lawyer included in The Best Lawyers in America®. Attorneys are neither required nor allowed to pay a fee to be listed. Four attorneys from High Swartz have been named Best Lawyers for 2017: Melissa M. Boyd and Mary Cushing Doherty, in family law; Eric B. Smith in litigation; and Gilbert P. High in municipal law.With offices in Norristown and Doylestown, High Swartz represents individuals, companies, and municipalities throughout the Philadelphia region. The firm offers a broad range of legal services including business and corporate law, employment law, environmental law, family law / domestic relations, franchise law, intellectual property, litigation, municipal and government law, personal injury, real estate law, education law, Social Security disability, wills, trusts and estate law, and workers’ compensation.The Best Law Firms rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.The highest honor, a Tier 1 ranking, is based on a firm’s overall evaluation, which is derived from a combination of its clients’ impressive feedback, the regard that lawyers in other firms in the same practice area have for the firm, and information that the firm provided to Best Lawyers via a survey. 

High Swartz Partner Plays Important Role in Reduction of PA Divorce Waiting Period

Mary Cushing Doherty, spokesperson for new divorce legislation –NORRISTOWN, Pa. (October 6, 2016)High Swartz partner, Mary Cushing Doherty, has led the way as a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Bar Association in supporting PA House Bill 380. The bill, which reduces the waiting period for a unilateral, no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania from two years to one year, was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on Oct. 4, 2016. Now known as Act 102, the new law goes into effect in early December.“Reducing the waiting period for a no-fault divorce reduces the stress and emotional strain on families in Pennsylvania,” said Doherty. “Because it is uncommon for parties to reunite once the divorce process has started, requiring them to wait for two years only prolonged the inevitable and resulted in increased legal fees, intensified turmoil between the parties, and extended stress on the family.”As Task Force Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Family Law Section, Doherty met with Rep. Tarah Toohill, who became the prime sponsor of HB 380, and with Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This legislation makes the divorce process more efficient, removes the prolonged battles, and reduces a family’s stress. However, it is important to note that the bill does not allow for a quick or hasty divorce. The Pennsylvania waiting period remains longer than neighboring states such as New York and New Jersey, which both have a waiting period of six months.Doherty has exhibited excellence in her 35 years practicing family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and more. Doherty currently is Ex Officio on Council of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section, and serves as a Co-Chair of the Legislation Committee of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

High Swartz Lawyer Named to Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority

Stephanie A. Henrick joins civic volunteer board NORRISTOWN, Pa. (October 4, 2016) – Full-service law firm High Swartz is pleased to announce that associate Stephanie A. Henrick has been appointed to the board of the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority, which is dedicated to keeping downtown Pottstown clean, safe, and inviting.The authority works to revitalize the town’s business district and increase foot traffic to local businesses. It also hosts special events to attract new visitors, new businesses, and organizations to the area. PDIDA relies on a board of volunteers to execute its objectives.“Public service is important to me, and I strive to live my life in a manner that reflects that commitment,” said Henrick. “I am excited about my work with the authority and look forward to making a difference in the quality of life in Pottstown.”Stephanie HenrickHenrick’s passion for civic service drives her personal and professional life. In addition to her service in PDIDA, she also is active in Pottstown Rotary and works to exemplify the club’s motto “Service Above Self.” She endeavors to work with integrity and contribute her expertise to the problems and needs of society in order to improve the quality of life for people in her community.At High Swartz, Henrick focuses her legal practice on estate planning, estate administration, tax law, and Social Security Disability. She earned a Masters of Law (LL.M.) in Taxation and a Certificate in Estate Planning from Villanova University School of Law. 

James B. Shrimp Presenting NLRB in the Non-Union Workplace

James B. Shrimp, Esq. will be presenting an education workshop to the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association on Oct. 3, 2016. The workshop at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown will address the National Labor Relations Board’s Impact in the Non-Union Workplace, including discussing Employee Handbook Provisions – Risks and Best Practices. 

As Fall Approaches, It Is Time to Think About a Philadelphia Tax Assessment Appeal

September 26, 2016As the summer starts to wind down, it’s that unfortunate time of year when we have to start thinking about some of the less fun things that come with the approach of fall.  You know, back to school, the end of weekends down the shore, and Philadelphia tax assessment appeals. The deadline for filing an appeal on your tax assessment for owners of properties in Philadelphia is Oct. 3, 2016.  Accordingly, now is the time to start considering whether you want to appeal your Philadelphia tax assessment.Continue reading “As Fall Approaches, It Is Time to Think About a Philadelphia Tax Assessment Appeal”

4 High Swartz Attorneys Named Among The Best Lawyers in America© 2017

August 16, 2016NORRISTOWN, Pa. (August 16, 2016) — High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that four of its attorneys have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017 list, one of the legal profession’s oldest and most-respected peer-review publications.The following High Swartz attorneys listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017 and the practice areas for which they have been recognized are: Continue reading “4 High Swartz Attorneys Named Among The Best Lawyers in America© 2017”

High Swartz Attorney Mary Cushing Doherty Speaks at Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section Summer Meeting

NORRISTOWN, Pa (July 20, 2016) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is proud to announce that domestic relations law partner, Mary Cushing Doherty, recently presented a CLE at the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section Summer Meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia. Continue reading “High Swartz Attorney Mary Cushing Doherty Speaks at Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section Summer Meeting”

Moving Forward in the New Normal: Navigating Custody with Teenagers

July 8, 2016high swartz, family lawMany times after a divorce is final and custody is negotiated, families may experience challenges once their children become teenagers. Teens have busy social lives and activity calendars which can make it tricky for them to follow a schedule that was previously put in place. When  issues with visitation schedules begin, it can be a source of tension for parents. There are ways to adapt to their ever changing social, school, sports and activities calendars and still maintain civility. Continue reading “Moving Forward in the New Normal: Navigating Custody with Teenagers”

High Swartz Attorney Mary Cushing Doherty is a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Advocate

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society AdvocateNORRISTOWN, Pa (June 29, 2016) – High Swartz attorney Mary Cushing Doherty recently attended  a  2-day Advocacy Leadership Development Training  hosted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Washington, DC. Continue reading “High Swartz Attorney Mary Cushing Doherty is a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Advocate”

High Swartz Attorney James Shrimp Speaks at Exude, Inc.

NORRISTOWN, Pa (June 28, 2016) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is proud to announce that employment law partner, James Shrimp, recently presented a CLE at Exude, Inc. on June 27, 2016. Continue reading “High Swartz Attorney James Shrimp Speaks at Exude, Inc.”

High Swartz Supports Montgomery Bar Foundation Legal Aid Golf Classic

golf 2NORRISTOWN, Pa. (June 27, 2016) — High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is proud to have served as the presenting sponsor for the Montgomery Bar Foundation Legal Aid Classic Golf Outing on June 24, 2016 at the Meadowlands. Funds raised at the event support Legal Aid of Southeastern PA (LASP). Continue reading “High Swartz Supports Montgomery Bar Foundation Legal Aid Golf Classic”

Understanding Real Estate Transfer Tax in Montgomery County

June 17, 2016real estateWhether you’re dealing with commercial or residential real estate purchases or real estate development in Montgomery County, you will inevitably be faced with having to consider whether you are obligated to pay a real estate transfer tax. Here’s what you need to know. Continue reading “Understanding Real Estate Transfer Tax in Montgomery County”

High Swartz to Sponsor Family Service Association of Bucks County

June 6, 2016high swartz, family service associationHigh Swartz is proud to sponsor the Family Service Association of Bucks County’s, Drive for Youth Golf Outing on June 6, 2016 at Jericho National Golf Club.High Swartz’s donation will go towards Parent Education & Support programs, including: Continue reading “High Swartz to Sponsor Family Service Association of Bucks County”

High Swartz Partners with Upper Merion Middle School’s Community of Caring Club with Cradles to Crayons.

May 23, 2016Upper Merion Middle SchoolHigh Swartz is pleased to announce its partnership with Upper Merion Middle School’s Community of Caring Club with Cradles to Crayons. Throughout the month of May, High Swartz attorneys and staff members donated a wide range of new/gently used clothes, books, toys, and arts & crafts that are used by children of all ages. Continue reading “High Swartz Partners with Upper Merion Middle School’s Community of Caring Club with Cradles to Crayons.”

Eminent Domain and Real Estate Valuation Basics in Pennsylvania

May 20, 2016eminent domain and real estate

Most people have a general understanding of the concept of Eminent Domain. However, the knowledge that the government can take your land isn’t all that helpful when you are faced with an imminent taking of your property. Knowing the requirements for a government entity to follow in order to legally condemn property may help you to navigate your real estate issue, and ultimately result in you making the most of an unpleasant situation.

Continue reading “Eminent Domain and Real Estate Valuation Basics in Pennsylvania”

8 High Swartz Attorneys Named Among PA Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (May 19, 2016) — High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that 8 of its attorneys have been named among Pennsylvania’s 2016 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars.The High Swartz attorneys named Super Lawyers, and the practice areas for which they have been recognized are: Meanwhile, the High Swartz attorneys named 2016 Pennsylvania Rising Stars are: Part of Thomson Reuters, Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who, through a peer review and independent research process, have been identified as attaining a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only the top 5 percent of Pennsylvania’s 50,000 lawyers and the top 2.5 percent of up-and-coming Pennsylvania lawyers are named to the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists, respectively.Candidates are evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, including verdicts and settlements; honors and awards; special licenses and certifications; pro bono and community service efforts; and scholarly lectures and writings. The ultimate objective of Super Lawyers is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse list of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for other practitioners and consumers searching for legal counsel.

Stephanie Henrick Presented on Insights for Your Parent Care Conversation and Your Own Future Well-Being

May 18, 2016

High Swartz attorney, Stephanie Henrick was one of three local elder law and estates attorneys that presented on Insights for Your Parent Care Conversation and Your Own Future Well-Being hosted by The Dunn Group.

Stephanie Henrick’s presentation provided insight on:
  • What you need to know
  • What resources for strategies and conversations are available
  • When you should start thinking about implementing them
  • What happens next
 Stephanie HenrickStephanie A. Henrick concentrates her practice in Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Tax Law and Social Security Disability.  Stephanie’s customized approach to estate planning provides her clients with personalized attention to address their unique circumstances.  Stephanie reviews all elements of her clients’ financial and personal situations with attention to detail, which enables her to plan accordingly so her clients’ wishes are fulfilled.  She works closely with her clients to create a seamless process of passing down their legacies and protecting their heirs.  

James Shrimp Appointed to the Upper Uwchlan Township Planning Commission

May 17, 2016High Swartz is pleased to announce attorney James Shrimp’s, attorney, appointment to the Upper Uwchlan Township’s Planning Commission in Chester County.  The responsibilities of the Planning Commission include:
  • Reviewing and evaluating land development subdivision applications
  • Providing guidance and issuing recommendations to the Board of Supervisors
  • Ensuring that all development occurring within the township adheres to the community zoning and land development ordinances
  • Meeting the spirit of its Comprehensive Plan
Continue reading “James Shrimp Appointed to the Upper Uwchlan Township Planning Commission”

Is Your Real Estate Transaction Subject to Philadelphia Real Estate Transfer Tax?

May 6, 2016high swartz; real estate transaction; real estate transfer taxAlthough parties to both commercial and residential real estate transactions may find themselves burdened with yet another expense associated with the purchasing or selling of real estate in Pennsylvania, there may be relief for some. Continue reading “Is Your Real Estate Transaction Subject to Philadelphia Real Estate Transfer Tax?”

High Swartz to Sponsor Spring Gala Preview Party for Main Line Art Center

Montgomery County and Bucks County law firm helps support Bauhaus to Bowie fundraiser on April 29

tom-rees-high-swartz-main-line-art-center-galaNORRISTOWN, Pa. (April 2016) — Full-service law firm High Swartz LLP is proud to partner with Main Line Art Center to present Bauhaus to Bowie, the center’s 2016 Spring Gala Exhibition and Fundraiser Preview Party, on April 29 at the center in Haverford.

Inspired by musician and art collector David Bowie, the party kicks off the art center’s main fundraiser, the Spring Gala Exhibition, which opens to the public April 30 and runs through June 5.

While a David Bowie-inspired gala theme might first seem like a surprising choice, Bowie was an avid art collector and a visual artist himself. He once told a reporter, “Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It can change the way that I feel….”

Bauhaus to Bowie will offer an exclusive preview of the Spring Gala Exhibition in a party atmosphere that will include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by Peachtree & Ward, face painting by Peanutbutter, and Bowie-inspired music by EBE Events & Entertainment. The School of Rock Main Line will put on special performances, and the Bowie Booth will beckon party-goers to take their best Bowie-inspired selfies.

“Art should be accessible for everyone, and we at High Swartz are excited to be able to help make this evening possible,” said High Swartz partner Thomas D. Rees, who serves as secretary of the board of directors for Main Line Art Center. “The funds raised through the gala and exhibition help support the center’s important programs, including the award-winning Accessible Art Programs for children and adults with disabilities and at-risk youth.”

Beginning April 30, the Spring Gala Exhibition is free and open to the public. Juried by Sharon Ewing, director of Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia, it features works by more than 100 professional artists from around the region.

Tickets for Bauhaus to Bowie are available online at www.mainlineart.org or by phone by calling 610.525.0272 ext. 112 to RSVP before April 22.

Photo Caption: Tom Rees, of High Swartz LLP, and wife Josephine enjoy the Main Line Art Center’s 2014 Jewels and Treasures Spring Gala Preview Party. High Swartz is a sponsor of the 2016 Bauhaus to Bowie 2016 Spring Gala Exhibition and Fundraiser Preview Party on April 29 at the center in Haverford, Pa. Photo by Howard Pitkow.

About High Swartz LLP – High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

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High Swartz and McNamara, Bolla & Panzer Law Firms Merge

Bucks County and Montgomery County law firms merge to create one of the largest law firms in the Bucks-Mont region

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Apr. 1, 2016) – Montgomery County law firm High Swartz LLP is pleased to announce a major expansion that will significantly increase its presence in Bucks County. Effective April 1, 2016, High Swartz and McNamara, Bolla, & Panzer in Doylestown, Pennsylvania have merged. The combined firms will maintain the name High Swartz LLP.
Photo caption: (L to R) Joel Rosen, managing partner of High Swartz and Thomas Panzer, managing partner of McNamara, Bolla & Panzer.
Photo caption: (L to R) Joel Rosen, managing partner of High Swartz and Thomas Panzer, managing partner of McNamara, Bolla & Panzer.
The move adds all nine attorneys and five staff members from McNamara, Bolla & Panzer to High Swartz. The new law firm will have 28 attorneys and 18 support staff, positioning it among the largest in the Bucks-Mont region. The attorneys and staff joining High Swartz will continue to work from their existing Doylestown office while the firm will remain headquartered in Norristown.Joel Rosen, managing partner of High Swartz, said the combined experience and resources of the newly expanded firm underscore its standing as a go-to law firm in the Philadelphia suburbs.“High Swartz and McNamara, Bolla & Panzer attorneys look forward to offering our clients additional experience and an expanded range of legal services,” said Rosen. “After more than a century of practicing law, during which High Swartz and McNamara, Bolla & Panzer have become woven into the fabric of the greater Philadelphia community, this is a truly historic day for all of us.”The law firms shared practice areas in common, including business law, municipal and government law, wills, trusts and estates, and real estate law such as zoning, corporate real estate transactions and affordable housing matters. In addition, High Swartz handles education law, employment law, environmental law, family law / domestic relations, franchise law, intellectual property law, and litigation. With the addition of nine attorneys from McNamara, Bolla & Panzer, the firm has added personal injury, Social Security disability, and workers’ compensation claimant and defense work to its legal service offerings.“When we discovered that our attorneys and practice areas were so complementary, uniting our firms made sense,” said Thomas Panzer, managing partner of McNamara, Bolla & Panzer. “Together, we offer legal counsel to meet a wide range of needs for clients across Bucks and Montgomery counties, and we look forward to working in unison to meet those needs.”About High Swartz LLP – High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # # 

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability

The Bucks County and Montgomery County Social Security Disability lawyers at High Swartz are here to help you get the benefits you deserve.Our SSD lawyers understand that Social Security Disability is not a hand-out. These are benefits that have been earned. If you are unable to work and applied for Social Security disability benefits and were denied, do not be discouraged. In fact, as many as 65 percent of all first-time claims are not approved. By law, you are eligible for disability benefits if you have worked the minimum number of years based on your age and:
  • You can no longer perform the work you had been doing for medical reasons.
  • Your condition prevents you from doing other types of work.
  • You suffer total disability resulting from a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year.
Being denied SSD benefits is frustrating and can cause extreme economic hardships for you and your family. High Swartz Social Security Disability lawyers file accurate first-time claims and routinely represent clients in Bucks County, Montgomery County and throughout southeastern Pennsylvania in appeals. You have earned the right to benefits. We help you get them.

Tips for Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits

While having all your documentation in good order does not guarantee a first-time approval, being prepared improves your chances and also helps in the event that your initial claim is denied. Here are good tips for claimants:Determine your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits — Eligibility is based on your work history and your medical condition. If you are not yet of full retirement age and you have a total disability that keeps you out of work for at least one year, you may qualify. Disabilities may be physical, cognitive, psychiatric or psychological, but they must be on the list of impairments and conditions recognized by the Social Security Administration.Do not delay in filing a claim — At the very minimum, there is a five-month waiting period before you are owed disability benefits. However, since the start date is not the date on which you filed but rather the established onset date, you may have to wait even longer. The sooner you file the sooner you may be able to receive benefits.Get your disability confirmation in writing from your physician — The Social Security Administration requires confirmation of the medical condition that caused your disability. It is imperative that you get records from your doctor to support your claim. You should gather comprehensive medical records to help satisfy the government’s requirements.Document your work history — Generally, you need to have worked for at least five of the last 10 years to qualify for disability benefits. Your work history is also important in determining if you have any residual functioning capacity (RFC) and what job activities you may or may not be able to accomplish. Your work history should not be just a list of places you have worked — it should include a detailed job description.Get experienced legal assistance — Similar to workers’ compensation, filing a claim for Social Security Disability is seldom as simple and straightforward as you would hope. Missed deadlines or inaccuracies in documentation can lead to delays or denials of benefits. When you and your family are depending on the money from Social Security disability, waiting even a few more days can be critical. With four decades of experience helping people get the benefits to which they are entitled, we know how to move your claim along as quickly as possible.Even if you have been denied initially, do not give up — As disheartening as it may be, remember that it is not unusual for a claim to be denied. You can appeal your claim within 60 days — and with help from our lawyers, you have a better chance of prevailing. The appeals process in Pennsylvania starts with a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) during which you and a vocational expert are questioned and any new medical evidence is examined. If the ALJ still denies your claim, we can take your case to the Appeals Council, which has the option to reverse the judge’s decision, order a second hearing or issue another denial.If necessary, we continue your appeal by filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court.Let us help you get the Social Security disability benefits you have earned.

Workers’ Compensation Settlements

Workers’ Compensation Settlements

Our Bucks County and Montgomery County Attorneys Help You Get All the Workers’ Compensation Benefits to Which You Are Entitled

Helping you determine if a lump-sum settlement is in your best interest

If you have been injured on the job and have a successful workers’ compensation claim, it can be tempting to accept a big chunk of money all at once instead of getting paid over time. The question is: Are you sure that the settlement offer is adequate, and are you comfortable with waiving your rights to future benefits should you have medical needs down the road? At High Swartz, our workers’ compensation lawyers know there are many factors to consider before you decide to take a lump-sum settlement or opt for weekly benefits.Our workers’ compensation lawyers have helped people in Bucks County, Montgomery County and surrounding areas weigh their options to make the decision that is right for themselves and their family.

How lump-sum workers’ compensation settlements work

In Pennsylvania, you and your employer’s insurance company can agree to “compromise and release,” which means that you agree to settle for a lump sum in exchange for releasing your employer — more specifically, your employer’s insurance company — from any additional liability. Once you and the insurance company sign a petition for compromise and release, a judge reviews the petition and renders a decision.According to the statute, the agreement must be “explicit with regard to payment, if any, of reasonable, necessary and related medical expenses.” Judges are concerned that you understand the significance of this agreement. As your workers’ compensation attorneys, so are we — which is why we make sure that any agreement you choose to sign is in your best interest.

Why a lump-sum workers’ compensation settlement might be right for you

Of course, the main advantage to taking the money all at once is just that: You have it all at once. Other advantages include:
  • You can go back to work if you want and are able, and your compensation is still yours to keep.
  • You won’t be investigated for faked disabilities.
  • You do not have to keep going in for employer- or insurance-mandated medical exams.
  • Benefits do not cease if you die, and nobody can take back your settlement award.

Why a lump-sum settlement might not be your best choice

If there is one thing you need to understand about insurance companies, it is this: They are in the business of making profits, not paying out more money than they absolutely must. In many cases, while the settlement amount may seem like a great deal, insurers know that a lump-sum distribution is usually in their best interest, not yours. Your medical expenses may soon outrun the amount of your settlement, and once you have signed on the dotted line, there is no going back for additional monies.

Our workers’ compensation lawyers can help you make an informed choice

We provide the know-how and experience you can rely on when making a decision regarding workers’ compensation settlements. Talk to us. We are glad to help you look at your options and make a decision that is right for you. 

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in PA

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Pennsylvania

Our Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyers help you avoid costly errors when filing

If you were injured on the job, or if you are suffering the effects of an occupational illness or medical condition, then by law, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Getting those benefits, however, is not automatic. Filing for workers’ compensation successfully is all in the details and includes completing forms accurately and meeting strict deadlines. Are you required to retain an attorney to help you file your claim? Not by law — but to help you get all the benefits to which you are entitled, it is a good idea to have a knowledgeable attorney at your side.At High Swartz, LLP, we understand the worry and insecurity that goes with waiting for help with medical expenses and lost wages. Our lawyers assist injured workers from Doylestown to Norristown with getting full and fair workers’ compensation benefits. We protect you by helping you file right the first time and representing you if you are denied.

What you are entitled to as an injured worker?

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act became a statute in 1915. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of workers in industries from manufacturing to hospitality and from office workers to retail employees have enjoyed the protection of this important act. The type of benefits you receive, including the amount and duration of payments for lost wages, depends largely on the extent of your injury or illness and your pre-injury earnings. In general, you are entitled to receive:Payment for lost wages — In most cases, compensation for lost wages is approximately two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to the maximum weekly benefit.Medical care — By law, you are entitled to reasonable physician services, medicine, supplies, hospital treatment and certain medical appliances and prosthetic devices for as long as required.Death benefits — As dependent survivors, family members may file for benefits in cases of fatal work-related injuries.

A simple guide to filing a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim

Reduce your risk of denied benefits and speed up the compensation process by following several steps. Remember that your employer and its insurance company also have the right to a workers’ compensation defense, which they are likely to assert if they feel you are not playing by the rules. To help your case:Report any on-the-job injury or work-related illness to your employer immediately. Include information regarding the date, time and place of injury. You have only 120 days to inform your employer of your injury. Failure to do so in a timely manner may result in a denied claim.Fill out a First Report Form. Be as accurate as possible and do not forget to sign the form.Seek immediate medical attention: Even if you do not feel that your injury is serious, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms that initially seem to be only slight to moderate may worsen over a period of just a few days or weeks. Any significant delay in seeing a doctor cannot only be dangerous to your health, but it can cause a delay in benefits or cause your claim to be denied.Consult an attorney to protect your rights. Whether you want to ensure that your claim is accurate or, especially, if you feel you are being victimized by your employer, your lawyer is your advocate. You should also note that if you need to appeal a denied claim, you are well advised to get experienced representation.

Our Bucks County and Montgomery County workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help you.

If you have been injured on the job or are suffering from an occupational illness, you have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits. If you need help getting those benefits, you owe it to yourself and your family to get experienced legal guidance.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation

High Swartz LLP workers’ compensation attorneys have decades of experience representing both employees and employers in Pennsylvania. Our Bucks County and Montgomery County attorneys have knowledge and experience in all facets of workers’ compensation issues. If you have been injured on the job and are seeking workers’ compensation counsel in Bucks County or Montgomery County, our lawyers are here to assist you.We can help you with filing a workers’ compensation claim and with workers’ compensation settlements in Bucks County and Montgomery County.Find out how four decades of experience in workers’ compensation law can make a difference for you. At High Swartz, we have provided insightful guidance and aggressive representation to individuals and businesses in the area of workers’ compensation for many years.We invite you to learn more about how we can help you with your workers’ compensation legal needs in Bucks County and Montgomery County.To schedule a time to speak with one of our attorneys, please contact us online or give us a call.

Social Media Policies: Employer Beware

March 31, 2016social media polices; high swartz; employmentSocial media has changed the way people handle every day situations and as its popularity continues to grow, employers are having to adapt to the unique challenges it presents in the employment context.  Employees, frustrated by perceived or actual wrongs, may air their grievances online. Continue reading “Social Media Policies: Employer Beware”

Copyright Law

At High Swartz, our intellectual property attorneys work hard to protect our clients’ copyrights. Understanding how copyrights impact your rights is important. Here is what you need to know:What is a Copyright?Copyright protects original literary, dramatic, musical and other artistic works.If you obtain copyright protection for a particular piece of work, you then have the right to reproduce it, prepare derivative works based on it, distribute it, perform it publicly, and display it publicly.In the growing field of Internet copyright law, it pays to hire a copyright attorney who is familiar with the peculiarities of Internet copy, images and sounds.Sometimes, a copyright is not the best way to protect your intellectual property. If you want to protect an invention or the goodwill associated with your product, a patent or a trademark is a better option.

Workers’ Compensation Defense

We Represent Employers in Cases of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Defense

Effective management of your workers’ compensation claims is as important to us as it is to you

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, the average weekly compensation for injuries occurring after January 1, 2013 is $917 per week — a 3.3 percent increase over 2012. As an employer, you have the responsibility to provide workers’ compensation coverage to your employees. You also have the right to protect your business against claims that are fraudulent, unwarranted or unrelated to work activities, or for injuries caused by your employee’s drug or alcohol use. Given the increase in weekly benefits, medical costs, settlements and number of claims, employers and their insurers have an interest in assessing and mitigating risks. And as Pennsylvania workers’ compensation defense lawyers, so do we.At High Swartz, LLP, we recognize the effect even one significant workers’ compensation claim can have on your profitability and insurance premiums. We develop sound strategies for self-insured, commercially insured and uninsured employers and their third-party administrators — and have since 1974. As workers’ compensation defense lawyers who also help the injured to file for workers’ compensation, we understand the laws as they apply to both employers and employees, and we use this knowledge to advance an employer’s case.

What is an employer’s workers’ compensation responsibility?

Under Pennsylvania law, you are required to have workers’ compensation coverage if:
  • You have at least one employee who could suffer an injury or work-related disease in Pennsylvania.
  • Employment is localized in Pennsylvania, but your employee could be injured in a state other than Pennsylvania.
  • Your employee is under a contract of hire made in Pennsylvania but could be injured outside the state of Pennsylvania, the employment is not localized in the state, the workers’ compensation laws in the state in which employment is localized do not apply, or employment is not within the United States or Canada.

Common reasons for claims denial

Eligibility for any workers’ compensation claim must include these elements:
  • The injured party must be an employee, not an independent contractor.
  • An injury must have occurred within the “course and scope of employment.”
  • In cases of occupational diseases, there must be a connection between the medical condition or disease and the work performed.
Claims may be denied because a worker was intoxicated, assuming that the injury happened because of the drug or alcohol use and was not an injury that would have occurred whether the employee was intoxicated or not.Willful misconduct is another common reason for denial and includes violations of work or safety rules that lead to an injury. Horseplay or goofing off during work may be a defense against a workers’ compensation claim, but under Pennsylvania law, it must be proven that this behavior is not considered to be unacceptable in the scope of the employee’s duties.No employee is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for a self-inflicted injury.

Areas in which our workers’ compensation defense attorneys can help

Our focus is on providing advice and counsel for employers in every aspect of risk assessment, claims mitigation strategy, negotiation, mediation and litigation. Our goal is to effectively reduce your organization’s claims liability. To that end, we are proactive and also offer in-service seminars and consultations to our clients about a range of workers’ compensation topics.Our experience is a key ingredient in successful workers’ compensation defense matters. Our workers’ compensation lawyers help employers throughout southeastern Pennsylvania defend against fraudulent or unwarranted workers’ compensation claims.

Trademark Law

At High Swartz, our intellectual property attorneys work hard to protect our clients’ brands. Understanding how trademarks impact your business is important. Here is what you need to know:What is a Trademark?A trademark is a word, a name, a symbol, or any combination of words, numbers or symbols, used to identify the goods of a company. Merely using a trademark to identify and distinguish a company’s goods (or using a service mark to distinguish services) from other companies’ goods and services, creates trademark rights.In order to receive protection under federal trademark law (the Lanham Act), you must register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.A trademark must be distinctly different from the generic name of the product it represents. For example, Kleenex® is a trademark for facial tissue, while White Out® is a trademark for correction fluid.A trademark must not be confused with a trade name. The trade name identifies the company. “The Coca-Cola Company” is a trade name while COKE® is a trademark.

Workers’ Compensation for Injured Workers

We Protect the Rights of Employees and Employers in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Matters

Since the passing of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act of 1915, employees throughout Pennsylvania have been protected when injured on the job. A century later, this important piece of legislation provides rights and responsibilities for employers and employees alike. Our respected workers’ compensation lawyers at our Doylestown and Norristown offices have experience working on both sides of the issue. The advantage to our clients is that we have a unique perspective on the issues as seen by claimants and defendants, which allows us to build a strategically sound case on your behalf. We counsel and represent employees and employers in Bucks County, Montgomery County and throughout southeastern Pennsylvania with vigor and with the goal of a successful outcome.

Protecting injured workers’ rights: help with filing a workers’ compensation claim

Employees who suffer work-related injuries, illnesses or diseases may be entitled to workers’ compensation. How do you get benefits? According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, it is especially important that you report your condition promptly. The next step is to file your claim for workers’ compensation.When filing for workers’ compensation, you should:
  • Fill out a First Report form.
  • Get medical attention.
  • Seek legal assistance to protect your rights.

Protecting an employer’s best interests: workers’ compensation defense

Self-insured, commercially insured and uninsured employers, and their third-party administrators, often find themselves at risk when defending against unwarranted workers’ compensation claims, fraudulent claims and complex issues, such as federal black lung claims. Our workers’ compensation defense attorneys help employers in Doylestown and the surrounding communities in Bucks County and Montgomery County. We take into account collective bargaining agreement rights and obligations and coordinate other contractual and public benefits to effectively reduce your claims liability.

Making the choice that is right for you: workers’ compensation settlements

As an employee who has been injured or became ill on the job, you may have choices regarding a settlement for your worker’s compensation claim. To understand what option is right for you, take into consideration what the insurance company considers is full and fair. Our attorneys explain your options and work toward a workers’ compensation settlement that covers not just your current needs but your future needs as well.

James Shrimp to Present HR Series: Compliant Hiring Procedures

March 28, 2016This seminar will cover topics on…
  • Criminal Checks and the EEOC’s View
  • The Equal Employment for All Act and it’s Influence on State/Local Goverments
  • To Check Social Media or Not? What are the Risks?
  • Educational/Vocational Checks
  • Audit Application/Hiring Procedures to Eliminate Unnecessary Check
Continue reading “James Shrimp to Present HR Series: Compliant Hiring Procedures”

Mary Cushing Doherty Attended the AAML and Global Financial Summit both held in Nassau, Bahamas

March 25, 2016During the week of March 14th, Mary Cushing Doherty attended and participated in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Global Financial Summit conferences held in Nassau, Bahamas.  Topics included hidden assets, asset protection trusts, and business valuation.Ask Mary Cushing Doherty about the Global Financial Summit at the Bahamas and the AAML meeting where she learned more about South Dakota Trusts, Asset Protection issues, and trust busting legislation.  Contact Mary Cushing Doherty at (610)275-0700 or by email at mdoherty@highswartz.com