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When Denny Shupe left for the Persian Gulf in 1991 to serve his country as a C-141 pilot, he was only a second-year associate at Philadelphia-based Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. A graduate of a prestigious law school in a major Center City firm, Shupe might have feared losing valuable ground in his career. But Shupe said he had bigger concerns. “My duty to my country was my primary responsibility,” he said. At the end of January about 80,000 Reserve troops were on active duty to support the United States in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. The number of reservists being called is rising regularly. Some of these men and women are Philadelphia attorneys, and while they share the same anxieties as anyone called to military service, they share amongst themselves some unique worries about their careers. In a highly competitive field where many feel compelled to work faster, harder, longer, the thought of taking yourself out of the game for an indefinite amount of time may be hard to swallow. “I think about what it will be like to go into a situation like that for a year or two and come back and worry about things like career advancement and on-the-job training,” said Jim Kennedy, an associate at Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen and a Marine sergeant. Another associate at the firm, Dori Mansur, voiced similar worries. Mansur’s parents both served in the Air Force; Mansur is an Air Force captain. Mansur said she believes everyone should enlist in the armed forces as a form of “national public service.” Yet, she acknowledges that duty could affect her legal career. “I have the same genuine concerns as any associate. If you’re out for too long, you get your job back, but you might not get your work back. It could be a spiral effect,” Mansur said. “Right now I have established a number of clients whose deals I do and get first dibs on. I do worry about people who are just a year behind me or senior to me … It depends how long I’m gone.” Both Kennedy and Mansur enlisted in the mid-’90s, serving in the Reserve through law school, balancing schoolwork and service. So if Shupe is any indication, they should have little trouble getting back into the swing of firm life. He started law school after 10 years of active duty and had been in the military in some capacity for 23 years when he was called away from Schnader Harrison. “Reacclimation was not difficult for me because I had a substantial military career already,” Shupe said. “I was already used to making the switch, so it was a very smooth transition.” William T. Wilson, of MacElree Harvey in West Chester also has a hopeful story to tell. A lieutenant colonel in the Army, Wilson served three months in Kosovo as part of the initial ground intervention by NATO. Wilson said he was distressed about his career when he left. “One of the biggest challenges was leaving my practice behind and worrying if it would still be there when I came back.” Wilson said. At the time, he was a partner with one other lawyer in a small firm. However, Wilson said both the courts and his clients were cooperative with suspending cases until his return. In fact, Wilson is ready to do it all again. He was called to active duty in Southwest Asia as of March 15. Other attorneys, especially those with well-established careers, said they are more worried about their families than their jobs. “My concerns are for my wife, my children in grade school, my practice, my health,” said Platte Moring of White & Williams. Managing partner of the firm’s Allentown office, Moring said he has already worked out a plan of action with other partners at the firm should he be called. “I have two partners here in the office who will share responsibilities with the file load along with partners in the Philadelphia office who have some subject matter expertise,” Moring said. Support from a firm can have a huge impact on how an attorney feels about having to put his or her practice on hold. Shupe was married with two children when he left for the Gulf. He said Schnader Harrison made up the difference in his pay while he served and continued the firm’s health insurance for his children. Meanwhile, several people from the firm maintained contact with his family. “It gave me great comfort to know they were doing that,” he said. Timothy Bulman, who does workers’ compensation work for Del Collo & Mazzanti in Paoli, said it would be tough to “just pack up and leave” the six-attorney firm on short notice. One of his partners, Mark Mazzanti, agreed but said the firm will accommodate. “It’s more burdensome for a small shop like this,” Mazzanti said. “If he’s called up, we’d look around to someone and be frank. There’s work for a new candidate, but when Tim’s done his hitch he’s coming back. The new hire would have to understand that going in.” And Mazzonti said he understood something like this might happen going in to hiring Bulman. “Tim was very up front with us. We knew his background,” Mazzanti said. “But we liked his background because it was so varied.” Of course, a person serving in the military is also protected from losing his or her job by statute. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protects all members of the uniformed services. It provides that those members are entitled to return to their civilian employment when their service is complete at the seniority, status and rate of pay they would have been at if they had been continuously employed by the employer. Mazzonti said he is clearly aware of the statute but “that is not what drives us.” According to Mansur, Wolf Block views military service the same way she does: as an asset. “That’s why I chose Wolf Block,” Mansur said. Mansur nominated the firm to be named a “Patriotic Employer” by the National Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve on behalf of the Department of Defense, an honor it was awarded just last month. Kennedy said he has not been disappointed with the firm’s support either, although he is a bit frustrated at the thought of missing out on certain work. “There are several things I’m working on that I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get to follow through with,” Kennedy said. “There are a couple matters that I enjoy and brought in myself to do.” As far as serving itself, there is an interesting dichotomy between lawyers who want to be lawyers in the military and those who want to do anything but. Kennedy and Mansur both chose to enlist, rather than go straight on the officer track. “People ask me ‘Why not go into JAG?’” Mansur said. “I do that five days a week, at least. I like being a totally different person on the weekends.” Kennedy said he has “a little more fun” than he would if he had gone to officer school and will get to do more hands-on work should he be sent to war. “I’m probably one of the most highly educated men in the Marines,” Kennedy said. “I thought about JAG but when I first enlisted, I was told that if you’re an enlisted man first and an officer second, the men will respect you more.” The two disagree, however, as to whether their law experience will help them in the field of battle. “Other than being good on your feet and multi-tasking, it does not affect my job skills [in the military],” Mansur said. But Kennedy said his superiors appreciate his education. “I can analyze a situation under pressure better than most, organize thoughts clearly and decide how to attack a situation without making snap decisions,” he said. “Lawyers have analytical capabilities that can help.” Moring, however, took a different route, acting on advice from his father. “My father was a WWII vet,” Moring, a JAG officer, said. “He was a college-educated person who was drafted and put in the enlisted ranks. He felt it was difficult for a college person to enter the military as an enlisted person and thought it was important that I had officer training.” Moring’s unit has been put on alert, meaning they could be called in 0 to 90 days. “I’m very proud to serve at what I thought would be the tail end of my career,” said the 45-year-old. “I’m three months away from getting 20-year pension benefits.” Bulman said he knew he wanted to be a military lawyer from a young age. “When I found out I could be a Marine and a lawyer, that appealed to me,” he said. Bulman surmises that right now the military is looking to call attorneys with operational law experience dealing with the laws of war and international law, areas in which he specialized in getting his LL.M. “If I’m sent to Iraq, I probably won’t be doing contracts,” Bulman said. No matter if they’re in the trenches or working behind the scenes, each of these is attorneys said he or she is ready to do the job they signed up said. “You don’t work and train for all these years and then just want to stay home,” Mansur said. “Anyone who does this with any seriousness would want to be part of the group when everyone goes.”

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