Brianna Teicher Joins the Firm as Business Law Clerk

The firm is pleased to announce the addition of Montgomery County Law Clerk Brianna Teicher to its Norristown law office.

A recent graduate of Drexel University’s Kline School of Law, Brianna Teicher will support the firm’s business practice by researching and drafting legal documents. Brianna has the fortunate opportunity to gain valuable legal experience, even before taking her bar exam this summer.

“Having the opportunity to join an established and respected law firm like High Swartz will give me important experience and insight. And working with and learning from talented business attorneys like Don Petrille, Joel Rosen, and Rich Sokorai is something many recent law grads could only hope for.”

Brianna Teicher

Brianna grew up in Glen Rock, a small town in Bergen County New Jersey, about an hour’s drive from New York City. After graduating high school, she attended the University of Florida for her business undergrad. Brianna was born in Florida, so she was lucky enough to take advantage of in-state tuition for college. For law school, she was interested in coming back up the east coast and settling in Philadelphia.

What attracted Brianna to High Swartz was its close-knit culture and synergy. “It really feels like everyone is on the same team”, says Brie. With her business concentration at law school, Brianna hopes to be an asset to the firm’s practice area.

Brianna is passionate about social justice and civil rights, and believes that every person has the right to a fair and just life. She looks forward to contributing to the meaningful non-profit work High Swartz is doing in the community. In her self-proclaimed “extremely minimal” free time, Briana likes to cook, paint, and assist with pro bono legal work at Episcopal Legal Aid. She currently lives in Philadelphia with her cat, Jimmy.

Small Business Legal Issues

 

Common Small Business Legal Issues

Small businesses face many challenges, especially in an economic climate ravaged by the pandemic—many closed shops in the last two years. Issues small businesses face today include financing, cash flow, management, credit access, and more. Many of those issues will involve the legal system. So let's look at some of the most common small business legal issues that require support from business lawyers.

Before doing so, it's worth pointing out how vital small businesses are to the economy. First, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business as an organization with fewer than 500 employees. However, most small businesses employ fewer than 100 people. For example, 88.1% of small businesses employ fewer than 20 people.

Small Businesses Help Drive the Economy

As the saying goes, they may be small, but they're mighty. These businesses, numbering some 32.5 million organizations, employ 47.3% of the American workforce. Not too long ago, that number was closer to 52%.

In addition, since 2000, small businesses have driven 65.1% of net new job creation. Plus, they create 1.5 million jobs annually on average.

Unfortunately, 20% of small businesses fail in the first year. Moreover, nearly 50% fail within the first five years of operation, mainly due to a lack of market demand.

The Threat of Legal Action

A study by the SBA found that up to 53% of small businesses deal with lawsuits annually. Still another study presented that 43% of small businesses faced the threat of being sued. As a result, for small business owners, it's essential to have expert legal representation from a business lawyer near you.

On top of that, those lawsuits are expensive. According to the SBA, litigation costs range from a low of $3,000 to a high of $150,000. As a result, as many as 95% of lawsuits get settled before trial. For many business owners, it's less painful to reach an agreement than face litigation costs and attorney fees.
Breach of contract (31.4%) represents the most common lawsuit filed. So, if you own a business, make sure you have a paper trail supporting your negotiations. Even more important, make sure a qualified business lawyer executes that paperwork.

Interestingly, depending on the size of your organization, you're more likely to face specific kinds of legal issues requiring the support of attorneys or business lawyers near you. Here's what a study by Kingston University on The Legal Needs of Small Business found:

Chart detailing Kingston University's findings on The Legal Needs of Small Business

Impacts of Legal Issues on Your Small Business

In the wake of legal actions, small businesses endure many outcomes, none good. Yet, many business owners view hiring a local lawyer as a last resort, with many owners electing to handle things themselves. Looking at the outcomes, it's likely they would have faced better results working with business lawyers.

Among those outcomes:

  • Loss of income (25.6%)
  • Loss of customer (9.2%)
  • Additional costs (8.8%)
  • Inability to complete work scheduled (8.7%)
  • Damage to reputation (8%)
  • Damage to a relationship with another business (7.4%)
  • Failure to take on new work (5.2%)

Not surprisingly, some issues resulted in a change of ownership or company structure.

6 Common Small Business Legal Issues

So let's get to it. What types of legal concerns should you expect if you're running a small business? Although contracts and taxes comprise more than half of small business legal issues, you'll encounter more. So, make sure you have a good business lawyer on speed dial.

1. Business Formation

It all starts here. Business formation significantly impacts your liabilities and profitability. Each business structure – LLC, S Corp, Partnership, or Corporation – has benefits and drawbacks. How you form your business determines your liability, tax payments, and other details for running your business.

For example, as a sole proprietor, you and your business are one. So if your company gets sued, your assets are at risk.

Sure, you can form your business using a website. But at this critical step, it pays to work with a business attorney to get the job done right. After all, you're forming your business and want to get off on the right foot. Moreover, if you do your homework, that business lawyer likely becomes your trusted advisor as you advance your business and avoid legal issues for your small business down the road.

2. Licensing

Do you know the government restrictions for licensing? If you're like most people, probably not. Costs and requirements vary based on location (a good reason to have a lawyer versed in PA laws). Plus, regulations cover stipulations for each business type. Therefore, they vary based on size, type, and business location. Moreover, they're impacted by the goods or services you provide.

However, if you fail to license your business correctly, you'll likely face some hefty fines or fees. Worse still, your business could be closed. That's why it's wise to avoid licensing concerns by consulting with a business lawyer.

3. Contracts

Contracts drive business. And there's a good reason you often hear the phrase; get it in writing. Unfortunately, too many small business owners rely on ambiguous contracts or, worse still, no contract. More than 37% of legal issues arise from contract issues.

Relying on self-serve internet contracts doesn't adequately cover potential loopholes. A business lawyer can draft contracts for your small business that keep you out of hot water and avoid legal issues.

You must tailor every contract to the condition and requirements of the agreement. Moreover, they need to be ironclad. That holds whether you're executing a real estate agreement, employee contract, or franchise agreement.

So, work with a contract or business lawyer to review any contract, draft original contracts, or address contract disputes. Never, and we mean never, enter into a contract with another party sans a legally-binding agreement, preferably drafted by an attorney or lawyer.

4. Taxes

If you're going to own and operate a business, you will pay taxes, both federal and state. But know this – tax laws get complicated. And they present an ongoing potential legal issue for any small business. So you need to retain the services of an accounting professional or tax attorney to avoid issues. They can help address what taxes you're required to pay, when to file, how to make payments, and more.

5. Employee Issues

Where to start? Employee issues present significant risks for small businesses. For instance, many companies fail to acquire appropriate documentation from employees. Still, others don't take the time to draft good handbooks and policies for employees.

Those policies prove helpful for disciplinary, overtime disputes, and termination issues. But, again, a business lawyer ensures you'll have the appropriate documentation.

In Pennsylvania, small business owners need to be concerned about Wage Payment and Collection Laws (WPCL). Otherwise, they could face liabilities leading to litigation, as PA has one of the strongest laws in the country.

For small businesses facing stiff competition or having proprietary knowledge, non-solicitation agreements are critical. For example, you need to ensure employees face the consequences of moving to another company and handing out customer lists. Or for starting their own business and using your knowledge to do so.

Talk to an employment lawyer about the ins and outs of your small business to make sure you are covered with rock-solid employee agreements that avoid legal issues.

You even face concerns about employee misclassification. For instance, classifying someone as an independent contractor may cause backlash from the Federal Department of Labor.

We haven't even mentioned legal concerns surrounding discrimination or harassment. Remote workforces bring additional challenges to these areas. Employment lawyers or business lawyers have the expertise to address them accordingly.

Again, you can elect to handle these above concerns yourself or by downloading internet documents. But you owe it to yourself and the well-being of your business to consult and work with a nearby business lawyer from a reputable law firm that understands PA laws.

6. Intellectual Property

It would help if you protected your IP, lest another party steals your name or copies your intellectual property. However, independent of safeguarding your property, you need to ensure you don't overstep IP law and accidentally infringe on a trademark by failing to conduct thorough research. A trademark or business lawyer has access to appropriate resources to handle searches and ensure you avoid legal ramifications.

We touched on how employees might pilfer proprietary knowledge and give it to a competitor. And that raises this point – too many small businesses fail to take care of their intellectual property covering copyrights, patents, and trademarks.

Ready to Hire a Business Lawyer?

Starting your own business is risky to start. Remember, 50% of startups go out of business within five years. In addition, circumstances outside your control make it even more challenging, like a pandemic. So why add more risks to your venture by not hiring an experienced business lawyer to support your company?

Our law firm serves clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the mid-Atlantic region. Our attorneys and lawyers have experience in numerous areas critical to running a successful business – employment law, IP law, workers' compensation, franchise law, and more. And if you ever need it, we're also experienced litigators.

Don't make a critical mistake launching your business. Hire a business lawyer. There's no better way to ensure your company gets off to the right start to avoid small business legal issues.

17 High Swartz Attorneys Named Main Line Today Top Lawyers for 2021

We are pleased to announce that 17 attorneys have been included in the 2021 Main Line Today Top Lawyers Around the Main Line and Western Suburbs List.

Main Line Today is a Southeastern Pennsylvania regional magazine focusing on the communities of the western suburbs of Philadelphia and surrounding Counties. The Best Lawyers of Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County are nominated through peer balloting then vetted through Main Line Today's editorial process.

2021 sees the addition of 3 High Swartz attorneys to the Top Lawyers list. New attorneys include family lawyers Chelsey A. Christiansen and Michael B. Prasad for Divorce and Family Law and Stephen M. Zaffuto for Real Estate Law. Congratulations to all winners!

Below is the full list of High Swartz Top Lawyers from Main Line Today in 2021.

  • Joel D. Rosen - Business Law
  • Kevin Cornish - Civil Litigation
  • Mark Fischer - Civil Litigation
  • Melissa Boyd - Divorce & Family
  • Mary Doherty - Divorce & Family
  • Elizabeth Early - Divorce & Family
  • Chelsey Christiansen - Divorce & Family
  • Michael Prasad - Divorce & Family
  • Thomas Rees - Employment Law
  • James B. Shrimp - Employment Law
  • David Brooman - Municipal Law
  • Gilbert High - Municipal Law
  • William Kerr - Municipal Law
  • Richard Sokorai - Personal Injury
  • Arn Heller - Real Estate Law
  • Stephen Zaffuto - Real Estate Law
  • Thomas Panzer - Workers’ Compensation

If you're looking for lawyers near you in Norristown, Doylestown, and the Greater Philadelphia area, get in touch with our law office. Our attorneys and lawyers are some of the best you'll find to handle all your legal concerns.

High Swartz Attorney Don Petrille Joins Auditor General-Elect DeFoor’s PA Transition Team

High Swartz business attorney Don Petrille has been invited to serve on PA Auditor General-elect Tim DeFoor’s transition team. Mr. Petrille will be serving on the Legal Review segment of the team which will examine the status and scope of pending litigation and the extent of the auditor general’s authority. The team will also determine a legal strategy for the office, review existing legal staff, and pending human resource issues.

“I’m anxious to apply my knowledge of state, county and municipal governments to the legal issues faced by the auditor general’s office during a time of transition. Intergovernmental relations, between governmental branches, and within our state’s political subdivisions are significant issues. My combination of courtroom and business experience will serve the team well”, stated Mr. Petrille.

The auditor general’s transition team consists of five segments which will examine audits, performance audits, legal review, communications & government relations, and personnel & administrative operations. Mr. DeFoor is the former Dauphin County Controller who will succeed the current auditor general, Eugene DePasquale, who is term limited. Auditor general-elect DeFoor is the first person of color elected to a statewide row office.

As a Doylestown attorney, Mr. Petrille represents businesses through all phases of their development, starting with initial organization, through the operational stage, eventually ending with sale, merger, acquisition or dissolution. Don also advises clients on methods of wealth preservation, business succession planning, and purchase, sale, financing, leasing and improvement of real estate.

Before returning to full-time legal practice with High Swartz in 2020, Petrille served as the President of the Pennsylvania State Association of Elected County Officials, and the President of the Registers of Wills and Clerks of the Orphans’ Court Association of Pennsylvania. He served in county government as Register of Wills for eight years.

Business Interruption Insurance in PA – Are You Really Covered During the Pandemic?

Many business owners had insurance policies that included “business interruption” coverage. If the pandemic isn’t business interruption, what is?

As the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 swept into the United States and stay at home orders and mandatory business closures rolled out of governors’ offices like water over Niagara Falls, business owners, small, medium and large, sought out help from any source possible. Unfortunately, “business interruption” insurance policies have many exclusions and what a layperson would assume would be included is actually excluded from coverage.

Business Interruption in many cases is being linked to one thing

It seems as though the insurance industry linked arms and denied all claims for business interruption caused by the pandemic. Business interruption coverage is usually found in property coverage; meaning there must be property damage that causes the business interruption. The insurance carriers have taken the position that government shut down due to a virus is not covered.

What if a virus is not excluded in my policy? Is my business covered then?

Some policies do have specific exclusions for viruses and mold, among other things. But that raises the question, if a virus rises to the level of being specifically excluded in some policies, what if it is not excluded in my policy? Wouldn’t my losses be covered then? It depends on the type of policy and the language in the policy.

Courts in some jurisdictions have found that business interruption coverage is triggered where “property” is rendered unusable or unfit for its intended purpose, including being contaminated, even where there is no physical property damage.

Don’t throw away those receipts just yet

The approach taken by the insurance industry has given rise to numerous lawsuits seeking coverage under common business interruption clauses under several different theories. More than a dozen cases have already been filed seeking to have state and federal courts in various jurisdictions determine that losses due from closure as a result of the virus actually are included in these property damage policies. Some cases rely on the theory that the property is contaminated as a result of the virus. Some argue that under an “all-risk” policy closures due to orders of civil authorities are covered by the policy’s broad language.

States vs. Insurance Carriers

Not waiting for a decision in these pending cases, Travelers Insurance has filed a declaratory judgment action seeking an order that losses from temporary closures due to governmental actions taken to slow the spread of the pandemic did not result in property damage and was not covered by the Business Income loss provisions of its policy.

And numerous states, including Pennsylvania, have pending legislation to retroactively require insurance carriers to honor these claims (especially for small business owners) with compensation to the carriers coming from other funds.

This is still an ongoing fight, with points of law from prior litigation supporting both sides of the argument. How various courts decide the issue may determine whether business owners have valid claims under the terms of their own policies. It may still come down to the language in a specific type of policy and what exclusions are spelled out. But the approach initially taken of turning down all claims may not hold up. The courts may “deny” the carriers’ claims; an irony not lost on many.

As this is still an evolving issue, you may want stay in touch with your broker or counsel if you have business interruption insurance and you have losses due to state mandated closures. If you have questions regarding your coverage and whether or not you are covered, please contact Joel D. Rosen or one of the business attorneys here at High Swartz at 610.275.0700.

A Small Business Game Plan to Follow During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Feeling sick about your business during these uncertain times? Doylestown Attorney Donald Petrille offers a to-do list for small business owners that can help position themselves for what lies ahead.

The COVID-19 virus biggest casualty so far has been our small business community. Washington is working on a number of measures to give our small businesses some form of relief while business are in a forced shutdown in the name of public health. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was initiated to help many businesses address their needs. Employment law attorney Jim Shrimp talks about it in more detail here. And if you feel the need to speak with a small business lawyer near you in Montgomery and Bucks Counties, we’re always available.

What can small businesses do right now to mitigate their issues?

We understand that small business often work on very thin margins, and they require a dynamic community to thrive. Entrepreneurs and business owners need to take action where they can. Below are several items our clients can do to mitigate the effects of the current economic environment on their businesses:

Contact you lender. Most lenders are working to create relief programs to keep their borrowers in business. Communication is always the best option when you face uncertainty.

Contact your insurance agent. Many of our clients have some form of business interruption insurance. This may be a time when it is effective. Some may even have force majeure clauses. These clauses can protect business owners from various events out of their control like a pandemic or tornado. Attorney Thomas Rees goes into fuller detail here.

Review your marketing plan. The current operating restrictions will not be in place forever. How can you position your business to grow and take advantage of pent-up demand once restrictions start to ease? Keeping your employees, clients, and customers informed should be your main priority. Take a look at your marketing expenses. A good rule of thumb is that if a marketing endeavor can’t be analyzed and reported, you never know if it’s worth your time and money. What parts of your marketing plan fall under that category?

Review your IT infrastructure. This may be an opportunity to review how you business receives and delivers services. There may be an opportunity to reduce overhead in the long term by changing your business model now.

Explore Relief Funds. The Commonwealth Financing Authority and Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority has identified new relief programs for small businesses.

Plan for the long term. See what operations and financial products you can restructure. Review and improve your staff capabilities. No one can predict what business will be like after this event. But it’s certain that this event will end and people will need certain services more than others. Successful business plans will address those needs.

Stay Informed. Go to sites such as SBA.gov and your state and federal legislators’ websites to get up to date information on the resources available to help your business through this uncertain time.

Talk to a Small Business Lawyer Near You Today

We know the future is uncertain. Together, we can get through this unique time and help each other prosper! If you are in need of legal services relating to what your small business game plan should be at this time, contact our law offices in Doylestown and Norristown. Call 610-275-0700 or email Don Petrille at dpetrille@highswartz.com.

How the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Will Affect Local Business

The Act seeks to address the impact of coronavirus in a number of areas, but how will it affect employees, employers and their businesses in PA?

On the night of Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It was passed by Congress in hopes that it will assist Americans, especially in the areas of child nutrition and health. It will go into effect no later than April 2, 2020, and below is a brief summary of what it hopes to do for businesses.

What does the Act do for businesses and its employees?

The FFCR Act applies to employers with under 500 employees. Employers with under 50 employees are entitled to seek an exemption from the Department of Labor, if providing the benefits described herein would put the employer out of business.

The Act provides two new paid benefits which expire on December 31, 2020:

  1. A two-week paid sick leave for coronavirus related illness; and
  2. Up to 12 weeks of paid Family and Medical Leave for caring for a child whose school or child care provider has closed.

Who is eligible for paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

This benefit is for employees who are unable to work (or telework) because the employee:

  1. is subject to a governmentally-mandated quarantine or isolation order
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
  3. has symptoms of being infected with coronavirus and is seeking a medical diagnosis
  4. is caring for an individual who is quarantined or self-quarantining
  5. is caring for a son or daughter if the school or place of care has been closed

If any of the circumstances above apply, the employee is eligible for two (2) weeks of full pay, based on his/her typical schedule. There is a maximum benefit of $511 per day.

What if the employee still has unused sick time or paid-time-off (PTO)?

If the employee has employer-based sick time/PTO, the employer is required to apply the government emergency leave, before applying the employer based benefit.

Who is eligible for paid family and medical leave?

This benefit is available for employees who are unable to work (or telework) because the employee must care for children (up to 18 years old) whose schools or child care facilities have closed because of the coronavirus.

The employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of two-thirds pay, with health insurance. The maximum benefit is $200 per day and $10,000 total. The first two weeks of this leave may be unpaid (that gap is filled by the Paid Sick Leave benefit).

How Does an Employer get reimbursed under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act?

Both paid leaves are reimbursable to the employer via a payroll tax credit, which will be provided by the Federal government within 3 months. If the employer pays more in paid benefits and health insurance premiums than the payroll tax, the government will send the employer an “overpayment” check for the difference.

The coronavirus pandemic means news and information is constantly-changing and evolving every minute. The business lawyers at High Swartz know how important it is to keep everyone informed with current and valid information during these trying times. If you have questions about the Family First Coronavirus Response Act, or any pandemic-related query relating to your job or business, please contact our employment law attorneys at 610-275-0700 or email jshrimp@highswartz.com.

We know how hard hit our areas have been hit during this pandemic. Our local law offices in Montgomery County and Bucks County Pennsylvania can help guide those most affected by offering guidance at any time.

Employers: Does a Force Majeure Clause in Your Contract Cover You During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

The Coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives with little notice. Public events have stopped, schools and stores have closed, the financial markets have been volatile, and people are staying at home.

Amid this chaos and uncertainty, how do contracts cover employer emergencies like the Coronavirus? The answer may depend on whether your contract has a “force majeure” clause. Consider talking with a corporate attorney near you in Bucks or Montgomery Counties to make sure.

What is Force Majeure?

“Force majeure” is a French term for “unforeseeable circumstances that prevent completion of a contract”. A force majeure clause can excuse one or both parties from fulfilling a contract’s terms when an unforeseeable event occurs. The clause may either release the parties completely from performance or allow delayed or modified performance. The clause may also allow or limit refunds to parties that have made advance payments.

Not every contract has a force majeure clause. Force majeure clauses most often arise in commercial and real estate contracts. Where a contract lacks a force majeure clause, a party may seek an excuse from performance on other grounds, such as impossibility or frustration of performance.

But it is easier to use an actual event (such as a hurricane or in this case, a pandemic such as the COVID-19 outbreak resulting in guidelines enforced to stop the spread of the coronavirus) for relief from performance than a subjective factor such as impossibility or frustration of performance.

Is the shutdown of my company due to the coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreak covered under my policy?

A typical force majeure clause MAY cover some or all the following events:

  • Fire
  • natural or man-made disturbances
  • war
  • Acts of terrorism
  • nuclear incidents
  • riots
  • Insurrections (a violent uprising against an authority or government)
  • strikes
  • boycotts
  • lockouts
  • criminal activity
  • hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, blizzards or earthquakes
  • weather emergencies such as extreme cold or heat
  • explosions
  • pandemics
  • health or environmental emergencies
  • embargoes
  • power outages
  • actions of a governmental agency
  • other cause beyond the parties’ control

This list includes several Coronavirus-related events such as pandemics, health or environmental emergencies, or actions of governmental agencies.

The types of events covered by force majeure clauses break down into human-caused events or “Acts of Man”( war, terrorism, riots, strikes); natural events or “Acts of God” (floods, hurricanes, tornadoes); events with both human and natural origins (fires, explosions, pandemics); or circumstances imposed by humans to deal with emergencies (governmental actions).

It is important that a force majeure clause is drafted precisely. The clause should focus on objective events.

For example, if a hurricane hits a community, it is easier to invoke force majeure if the clause mentions hurricanes, not just an “emergency” (which may depend on a third party’s declaration) or events beyond a party’s control. It’s always easier to point to a specific natural event, without having to argue whether events really were beyond a party’s control.

For example, if a tidal flood damages an auto dealer’s inventory, it’s far quicker to say “A flood took place” than to have to speculate on whether the dealer could have controlled the damage by moving the cars inland.

“It Can’t Happen Here”

Drafters of force majeure clauses should avoid the tendency to say, “It can’t happen here”, particularly for natural disasters. Major tornadoes have occurred in Massachusetts, disastrous floods have hit the fairly dry Dakotas, and the East Coast is among the more earthquake-prone regions in the country. It’s more prudent to assume that “Anything can happen”, and to describe a large group of events in the clause.

After the emergency occurs, the victim of the unforeseen event should give prompt notice to the other parties of the invocation of the force majeure clause. The victim should explain why the performance of the contract is totally or partly impossible. If partial performance can take place, it is advisable to work out a plan with the other party for limited performance: will delivery dates be postponed; will deliveries be smaller; will services be provided in another location? The parties should then reduce the plan to a signed written amendment to the contract.

The party invoking the force majeure clause will always need to account for its own performance. This requires a showing that every effort has been made to comply with the contract before the emergency and that the performance has truly been prevented by the unexpected event. The courts will look closely to see if the party seeking excuse from performance was performing the contract before the emergency. The courts will not favor a party who uses a force majeure clause to avoid performing a contract that the party was already handling poorly.

If your business has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or has ceased operations due to government guidelines, you may need a corporate attorney to examine your contracts. Contact the Business Law, Employment Law, or Commercial Litigation Attorneys here at High Swartz. We can help make sense of your rights under a force majeure clause. Call 610-275-0700 or fill out our contact form.

Mark R. Fischer, Jr. Elected Partner at High Swartz

High Swartz is pleased to announce that Mark R. Fischer, Jr. has been elected a partner at the law firm.

Mark R. Fischer, Jr. joined High Swartz in 2009 and has focused his practice primarily on representing businesses in breach of contract, payment collection, construction defect, and consumer protection disputes throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“We are pleased to welcome Mark as the newest partner at High Swartz” said High Swartz Managing Partner Joel D. Rosen. “ His hard work and dedication to his clients and the firm make this a well-deserved achievement. It’s my pleasure to personally congratulate Mark and look forward to his continued growth at High Swartz.”

Mark also represents local municipalities, property owners, and individuals in zoning and land development matters, local code enforcement proceedings, real estate disputes, business transactions, and general civil litigation. Mark has significant experience in both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Courts.

Mark grew up in Lower Bucks County and now lives in Montgomery County with his wife and three children. He attended college at Widener University and obtained his law degree from Villanova University. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a top-rated civil litigation attorney and serves as Chair of the Montgomery County Law Reporter Committee.

“Over the years here at High Swartz, I’ve developed great relationships with my fellow attorneys and our staff, and I really appreciate all that they have done to help me get to this point in my legal career” states Mark Fischer. “This is truly a wonderful place to practice law and I am honored to become a partner at this fine law firm.”

11 High Swartz Attorneys named to PA Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists

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
2019 High Swartz attorneys added to the Super Lawyers List

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.

list of 2019 high swartz super lawyers rising stars
2019 Rising Stars attorneys from High Swartz

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.