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A recent Of Counsel article named the Philadelphia-based firm of Pepper Hamilton as one of the top 25 collegial, gracious and humane law firms in the country. In the report titled “Consultants and Headhunters Name the Best U.S. Law Firms to Work At” by Phil Harris, roughly a dozen legal consultants and recruiters identified mutually respectful, compassionate law firms. The report also found a ripple effect in the benevolent working environments: employees who are treated with care will, in turn, pass that care along to the clients. The article discussed how law firms are becoming humanized, emphasizing quality of life in the firm rather than the quantity of 24-hour workdays and high billable hours. The consultants and recruiters in the report praised pro bono work and public service in law firms. According to the article, a number of the listed firms ask individuals to participate in annual work commitments beyond billable hours, such as political service, speaking engagements or community involvement. Pepper Hamilton is no exception. The firm encourages its employees to participate in service activities and stay involved with the community. At least once a month, the halls of Pepper Hamilton are filled with 6- and 7-year-olds from the Philadelphia school systems. Pepper Hamilton works with the Philadelphia Reads program, matching up secretaries, attorneys and other employees to read one-on-one with the students. “It’s good for the students, and it’s really good for us,” said Jim Murray, executive partner at Pepper Hamilton. “We’re doing something together to help the community.” The firm also regularly wins awards for its pro bono service, according to Murray. Associates are given credit for pro bono hours toward their billable hour requirements. Pepper Hamilton’s collegial style of doing business was also featured in the article. Murray has a sign in his office that reads, “Attitude is everything.” The attitude that resounds in Pepper Hamilton is that everyone is important and teamwork is valued, according to Murray. “We make people feel like they’re part of something bigger — that it’s not just their corner of the building or their office,” Murray said. “Everyone feels they have something to add, and that makes them feel good about what they’re doing.” Murray described the firm’s non-hierarchical atmosphere and team-based work environment as contributing factors in both recruitment and retention of employees. He gave an example in the article: Precisely two women have held the position of senior receptionist in the Philadelphia office — for 50 years each. He pointed to the firm’s vision statement as a reason the firm is so successful. The first part of the statement focuses on the client, but the second part emphasizes the firm’s employees. “Our most valued resource is our people,” says the firm’s vision statement. “We recognize that each individual’s success depends on the individual and collective efforts of our colleagues — past, present and future. Accordingly, we value service, trust, interdependence and collegiality.” Other evaluating factors in the report included different perks the evaluators thought made law firms more humane. These criteria included part-time policies, maternity/paternity leave, retreats, paid sabbaticals, weekly social gatherings and meetings with associates. Use of technology and educational training institutes were also seen as perks. Pepper Hamilton remains flexible with its employees, allowing associates and even partners to go part time. The firm holds yearly retreats for all associates, partners and paralegals. Pepper Hamilton also places a huge emphasis on internal training and education. Janet Perry, director of professionalism for the firm, is one example of Pepper Hamilton’s commitment to education and service. Perry works in the areas of direct training and education, pro bono coordination and professional responsibility and ethics. Murray said this commitment is just one more way Pepper Hamilton is distinguishable from its competition.

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