Articles & News 2006

From the June 26, 2006 Williamsport Sun-Gazette:

Lawyers helping business

By LAUREN McLANIE

After 13 months on the job, William Carlucci handed over the reins of the Pennsylvania Bar Association presidency. In reflecting on his presidency, he outlined the various ways in which the Pennsylvania Bar Association helps businesses.

One of the things the association considers frequently is how proposed legislation will affect businesses. “Every business has an attorney. The Chamber of Commerce has an attorney,” he said. Almost always, those attorneys are members of the PBA, for the same reason businesses become members of chambers of commerce.

Although an attorney’s membership or non-membership with the PBA is not indicative of his or her skills, Carlucci said, the PBA recommends only PBA-member attorneys, for a variety of reasons.

The first, obviously, is that the point of a membership organization is referrals and networking within the membership. The second is that with in the PBA there is an ability to evaluate an attorney’s skill level or competency.

“If an attorney is the chair of a committee, you can bet he or she is the top of their field, if they’re willing to do that,” Carlucci explained. “If they’re really active in a PBA section, they’re bound to be an expert, to be the best at what they do.”

The bar association also acts as a regulatory body, investigating complaints of both members and non-members, and maintaining a data base of attorneys with specialty areas, he added.

Another way in which the Bar Association helps businesses and ordinary citizens is through the filing of amicus briefs. Also called “friend of the courts” briefs, amicus briefs are filed by an interested party in support of either the plaintiff or the defense, who is not a participant in the on-going litigation.

“The PBA files amicus briefs. Not often, but we do file them. They’re always judicial issues pending in the appellate courts on issues of broad concern to the law. We file about one a year” Carlucci said.

“We are an apolitical organization. We’re interested in the rights and obligations of Commonwealth citizens at risk.”

 Committees could combine such normally disparate groups as district attorneys, trust and estate planning attorneys and workers’ compensation attorneys under a shared similarity such as gender or nationality. Because each group would have had different experiences, combined they would offer a unique, more complete, look at a specific problem or issue, he said.

“Because the PBA has attorneys from every field, it has a very broad view of the law, and that colors how it looks at proposed legislation,” he added.