Alan Hoffman, Melissa Fundora Murphy, and Lauren O’Donnell Receive 2018 Professional Excellence Awards
As part of The Legal Intelligencer’s 2018 Professional Excellence Awards, Blank Rome Chairman and Managing Partner Alan Hoffman has been named a "Lifetime Achievement Award Winner" and Associates Melissa Fundora Murphy and Lauren O’Donnell have been named "Lawyers on the Fast Track."
Alan is one of six attorneys who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes attorneys who have left an imprint on the legal history of the state of Pennsylvania during their career. This year, 30 attorneys were named Lawyers on the Fast Track, an award that honors the next generation of legal leaders who are under the age of 40.
An awards dinner for this year’s honorees will be held on June 27 at the Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia.
2018 Professional Excellence Awards profiles, as published in The Legal Intelligencer.
ALAN J. HOFFMAN
Hoffman joined Blank Rome in 1992 and rose from litigation department head (‘96-‘08), to firm co-chairman (‘08-‘13), to managing partner (‘11), to chairman and managing partner (‘14-present; the first in the firm’s history to be elected to both roles). When he became co-chair in 2008, the legal industry was reeling from the recession. However, Alan grew the firm’s client base and made strategic decisions to remain on solid financial footing, setting the stage for 10 years of steady progress.
The legal profession is constantly evolving and that evolution only seems to have accelerated in recent years. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the profession during your career?
Advances in technology and its impact on eliminating certain jobs and creating more efficiency in the time it takes to complete work. For instance, the roles and responsibilities of young associates has changed dramatically, particularly in litigation when document reviews, legal research, and other tasks can be performed by artificial intelligence and alternative service providers. On the transactional side, the speed of transmitting documents and due diligence on deals has also changed dramatically.
What is one thing about the profession that has remained unchanged over the years?
Our entire profession is based on providing excellent legal advice to clients and remaining relevant to their needs. Client demand for excellence, responsiveness, and results has remained consistent throughout many years of change in the industry.
Name one thing you’ve learned over the course of your career that you wish you knew as a young lawyer.
Business Development. I don’t think I fully appreciated the need to make contacts to develop client business, whether through referrals or otherwise, until I became a junior partner. The earlier you can join organizations, bar associations, and commit time to charitable endeavors, the easier it will be to become known in the profession and be a business developer.
MELISSA FUNDORA MURPHY
Practice Profile: Murphy concentrates her practice on business litigation. She advises and counsels clients at all stages of litigation, from risk management and litigation prevention to trial and appeal. She represents clients in a diverse range of complex litigation matters, including breach of contract, fraud, business torts, class actions, personal injury/wrongful death, negligence and white collar government investigations.
“Melissa is already developing a varied and accomplished practice, concentrating in the areas including class actions, telecommunications and business disputes,” said Daniel E. Rhynhart, vice chair of the firm’s litigation department.
Major clients include Chiquita Brands International, T-Mobile USA and Saxby’s Coffee.
Leadership Activity: Murphy was appointed to the associates committee by firm leadership in 2017. She is currently serving a second-year term on the committee. As a member of the committee, she serves as a liaison between associates and firm management on a broad range of initiatives.
She is also actively involved in recruitment and hiring efforts for the firm, and represents the firm at interview days for the Philadelphia Area Diversity Job Fair and the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group. Murphy is an active member of the firm’s pro bono initiatives and has received the firm’s pro bono award for her service. She also mentors first-year associates at the firm.
Pro Bono and Civic Work: Murphy logged nearly 56 hours of pro bono work in 2017. She currently represents an individual who was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a crime committed as a juvenile. He is in the process of being resentenced in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that life without parole sentences are unconstitutional for juveniles.
She successfully represented a veteran who was uninsured during a car accident. She has drafted wills and estate planning documents for low-income seniors through the Senior Law Project. And she recently helped a young woman secure guardianship of her disabled sister after their parents passed away.
Experience: Current employer, 2013-present.
Education: Temple University Beasley School of Law, J.D., 2013; Duke University, B.A., 2008.
Practice Profile: O’Donnell’s practice focuses on products liability defense, white collar defense and investigations and commercial litigation.
She regularly counsels clients in white collar criminal defense matters, internal investigations, and health care fraud and abuse. She also handles products liability cases, defending companies that design and manufacture medical devices and pharmaceuticals, as well as chemical companies, in federal and state litigation.
Leadership Activity: O’Donnell serves on the firm’s recruiting and retention committee and she served as co-chair of the summer associate program in 2015.
Pro Bono and Civic Work: O’Donnell has logged nearly 50 hours of service to pro bono activities. Among her accomplishments, she currently represents a juvenile sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in resentencing. Prior representations include a parole revocation matter, a Social Security appeal, and the successful dismissal of a property owner in a personal injury matter.
Experience: Current employer, 2003-present.
Education: Temple University Beasley School of Law, J.D., 2009; Boston University, B.A., 2006.