When defense attorney Dennis Veneziale became this year’s president of the Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel, Veneziale decided to continue the focus on young attorneys.
Veneziale said he wants the local bar for defense attorneys to provide programming and training that benefits young attorneys because they are getting less of that trial apprenticeship and experiential learning opportunity with their employers.
“It used to be defense clients expected younger attorneys to work on cases years ago and learn the process, but I don’t know if as many defense clients feel that way now,” Veneziale said.
“There are certain pressures they are experiencing in terms of keeping expenses low.”
One event will cover trying a case from beginning to end, including commentary from the local bench on the mock trial, Veneziale said.
Getting younger attorneys involved in PADC has been a goal of recent presidents, including 2010 president Michael Smith of Cozen O’Connor, who began the process of replacing executive committee members with younger attorneys, Veneziale said.
“We did make an effort to attract younger lawyers starting a couple years ago,” Veneziale said. “There’s no question we have started to pull in younger lawyers.”
PADC also is going to add more content, hopefully some of it from young attorneys, on its website, including short position papers commenting on new judicial rules, new legislation and recent cases, Veneziale said.
Veneziale said he became interested in being involved in the PADC’s leadership because when he joined the executive committee a little under 10 years ago, he thought the organization was making a lot of progress in comparison to when he was first a member starting in 1980 and the organization really only involved informal discussions about different aspects of trial work.
There were benefits to keeping PADC meetings as “casual information sessions” in which attorneys would tell stories and people would ask questions about what worked and didn’t work about trials, but now attorneys can get all of their required continuing legal education credits if they go to all of the PADC luncheons and annual meetings, Veneziale said.
Veneziale is the rare solo practitioner doing general liability defense and insurance work.
“Carriers have either opened or increased their staff counsel offices” over the last 30 years, Veneziale said.
Veneziale started practicing law with an office that represented self-insured and small insurance companies, then he spent five years in a staff counsel position with an insurance carrier and has since been in private practice for 27 years.
Veneziale was born in Philadelphia and he grew up in and around Atlantic City.
“Atlantic City was a very popular resort town and it was actually a small city that provided good restaurant and summertime entertainment on the amusement piers. The town went into the doldrums in the 1960s,” Veneziale said, recalling the period when he was a child.
Veneziale attended La Salle College before it became La Salle University. He began graduate studies in a communications program at the University of Kentucky, but switched to law school at Rutgers University.
PADC’s members “want to see the organization take part in what’s going on in the Philadelphia courts and work with plaintiffs counsel when they can to make sure the courts are accommodated, as are the parties,” Veneziale said.
While PADC is always interested in tort reform, the latest reports are that none of the legislation that would affect “us procedurally or substantively or the insurance industry seems to be moving” in Harrisburg, Veneziale said.
Veneziale also pointed out that the PADC members as well as their clients do not always agree on how legislation will affect them.
Other officers this year are Wes Payne, president-elect; Jim Scott, vice president; Dave Wolf, secretary; and John Livingood, treasurer.