Brach Eichler of Roseland announced that Susan Dromsky-Reed, a partner in the trusts and estates, tax and family law practice areas, has been elected to its five–member executive committee—the first woman in the firm’s 50-year history to join the committee.
Managing partner John D. Fanburg said on Tuesday that the decision to name Dromsky-Reed to the committee was unanimous among its members.
“Susan has been with the firm over 20 years,” he said during a interview with him and Dromsky-Reed. “She understands the firm and watched as we grew. Few can speak up in a constructive way at partner meetings like she can. She has never shied from doing that and is always asking questions to enhance her understanding of the decisions we make and offers suggestions to achieve results.”
“I’m certainly honored they selected me to join the executive committee and the confidence they have in me,” Dromsky-Reed said. “I have grown as an attorney with the firm and impressed by the passion the attorneys bring to the job day in day out.”
Fanburg praised Dromsky-Reed’s many years and hours spent involved in the community on legal and business issues.
He said she’s also very invested in the firm, serving on several committees to enhance its future by finding growth and recruitment opportunities.
One example: Dromsky-Reed is a member of the associate compensation committee that Fanburg described as “a very important and time-consuming committee.”
“She has brought that level of seriousness, but also she steps back and thinks before offering her opinion,” he said. “She is very thoughtful and calm. Having a thoughtful personality is a good attribute to bring to the executive committee as we continue to make our strategic decisions for the firm.”
Dromsky-Reed, who lives in Kinnelon, joined Brach Eichler as an associate in 1997. She said setting an example and grooming the next generation of attorneys has always been a priority.
“I enjoy being a mentor to the younger attorneys to try to elevate their practice so we can provide the best client service, because we are in a service industry,” she said. “We have younger attorneys bringing in business. I support them to build their practice each and every day, and to focus on their individual practice areas to grow revenue.”
With her focus on estate planning for families and individuals, she said her clients more than ever need legal expertise to make sound family-planning decisions because of the evolving tax codes.
“With the changes in the tax code that are constantly happening, we want to make sure clients stay up to date with the current codes—be it the inheritance code or the federal tax code,” she said. “It allows clients to plan for their families in a more progressive way, in terms of the transfer of their assets.
“With the changes in the tax code, these decisions no longer have to be tax-based, but more on what is best for their children without worrying about the tax code,” she said.
When asked about the new fiduciary duty standard proposed by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office on Monday, to make all financial services professionals more accountable to investors, Dromsky-Reed said she was all for the stricter requirements.
“Transparency is important to our clients, and it’s important they understand who is working on their assets and the filing fees they are being charged,” she said. “I don’t think you can take for granted the importance that fiduciaries have with respect to clients and the services they provide.”
She was admitted as a fellow to the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel in 2015. She’s also a member of the board and chair of the Scholarship Committee for Executive Women of New Jersey (EWNJ), whose mission is to ensure that women have equal opportunity and representation in senior corporate leadership.
Those who work under Dromsky-Reed’s attest to her nurturing skills.
“She’s very caring and very invested in my learning over the last six years,” said Cheryl Ritter, 31, an associate in the firm’s trust and estates and tax departments, among those Dromsky-Reed has mentored. “She encouraged me to get my LL.M. and to go to events that she’s hosting, as well as attend ACTEC [American College of Trust and Estate Counsel].
“She is very detail-oriented and encouraged me to always make sure that with any document, where just one word can make all the difference, to always say what we mean,” Ritter said. “At the same time, she is very welcoming and listens to various opinions and encourages discussion.”
Fanburg, as managing partner and executive committee member, is joined at meetings by four committee members elected each year to a one-year term. The new committee year commenced on April 1, and Dromsky-Reed attended her first executive committee meeting the following week. The committee year’s first partner meeting is Thursday. As an LLC, Fanburg said, the firm’s partners each have an ownership stake.
“With the five people on the committee, it’s an interesting dynamic,” Fanburg said. “Each of us is very different in our approach. We rarely have a vote. Everybody brings a different perspective to the discussion.”
Fanburg said the full-service law firm was originally founded in 1967. It celebrated its 50th anniversary with 50 charitable acts in 2017.
In 2003, it merged with Philadelphia-based Wolf Block, Schorr, Solis-Cohen, which at the time had 350 lawyers. Six years later in 2009, Wolf Block was dismantled, and Brach Eichler 2.0 was formed. It now has about 70 lawyers, according to Fanburg.
On April 1, the firm celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its relaunch.
Brach Eichler is known for its real estate, health-care, corporate tax, trusts and estates, and litigation practices. It also has a substantial personal injury practice.
“When we’re doing expansion, we’re looking for things that are complementary to what we already do,” Fanburg said. “We are good at what we do. We have been able to assist clients with the evolution of our business. Our growth has been steady over the 10 years in this iteration. Our metrics are always better than the year before so I am cautiously optimistic.”
Fanburg, who’s been with the firm for 35 years, said the breakup with Wolf Block a decade ago formed the glue that keeps the current firm strong—and Dromsky-Reed was very much a part of the rebuilding period.
“It made us a better law firm business and created a lot of glue that we would not otherwise have if we had not gone through the challenging time,” Fanburg said. “To go on our own, every member had each other’s back, and we formed a new law firm in less than a week through a lot of hard work.
“Putting this together was Herculean. We were fortunate our clients stayed with us, with their issues and concerns. We earn their trust every single day,” he said.
Dromsky-Reed, who earned her J.D. with honors from George Washington University School of Law and an LL.M. in taxation from New York University, said that tumultuous time taught her something about perseverance and not settling.
“It’s important to stay on top of your craft—to continue to work hard for each and every one of our clients,” Dromsky-Reed said. “Continue to educate yourself and keep clients satisfied. That’s how we are able to succeed with this wonderful law firm.”