Playing rugby is a lot like the practice of law, according to the incoming president of the bar association in the third largest judicial district in Pennsylvania.
You “compete and slam each other playing rugby and then you have these parties,” said Paul C. Troy, of Kane, Pugh, Knoell, Troy & Kramer in Norristown, Pa. “There is no reason in the practice of law that opponents can’t treat each other better than what we see or hear about.”
Troy said the most important thing to him in his year of presidency is to promote collegiality. While attorneys talk about civility in the practice of law, civility is too low of a bar, Troy said.
Throughout his 22-year career, Troy said that he has always heard older lawyers complain that it is younger lawyers who are not as courteous. But younger lawyers are getting their direction from older lawyers, Troy said.
Troy said the solution to incivility is bringing lawyers together in mutual professional activities.
Troy is a defense attorney for physicians in medical malpractice cases and lawyers and law firms in professional liability cases, yet he said some of “my best friends in the practice of law” are plaintiffs lawyers. He further notes that the Montgomery County Trial Lawyers Association section is a group to which both plaintiffs and defense lawyers belong.
“These days everyone is so busy that people aren’t taking the time to communicate with each other informally,” said Troy, adding that “someone is a lot less likely to be less than civil if they know they’re going to see a person at an event in the next month.”
The bar association has 2,100 members, but there are lawyers registered to practice in Montgomery County who haven’t joined the association, Troy said.
This year will shepherd in a two-year membership drive in which lawyers who are not registered members will be contacted directly by other lawyers, including Troy, he said.
When Troy was a young lawyer he ended up at the bar association because that’s where his bosses were going, he said.
“If they were skydiving I would have been packing a chute,” Troy said.
But the association has paid dividends for him, Troy said.
Troy gestured to the paintings on the walls in the bar association’s handsome dining room and said that some might remember the building’s appointments best, but what he remembers is the experiences he has had within those walls: whether it was the opportunities as a young lawyer to learn law not just from books but from hearing stories or the older attorney who shared with Troy that he was donating 10 percent of his income to charity and inspired Troy to develop his own annual practice of donating a percentage of his income to charity.
“I want the tent of the bar association to be as big and inviting as possible. I feel bad for those lawyers, frankly, that they haven’t the opportunity to come here and enjoy the collegiality of other lawyers,” Troy said.
Troy said the global membership drive will be a key part of the association’s multiyear effort to bring more diversity to the lawyers practicing law in Montgomery County.
Not only will the association continue its program in which rising 2L law students get internships in Montgomery County, but everyone will get a personal invitation from a lawyer to become a member of the association, Troy said.
There is no more effective form of diversity than including everyone, Troy told TheLegal.
Troy also said that he is very concerned about what young lawyers are facing and he views the bar association as a place in which younger lawyers can meet older lawyers and perhaps create job opportunities.
“We can’t fix the job market but in reaching out I want to make this association a place where young lawyers would want to get involved to give them an opportunity to meet” older lawyers, Troy said.
Troy’s firm has always had medical malpractice defense among its focuses. It has also developed a thriving practice defending lawyers in professional negligence cases, Troy said.
When a rule was adopted requiring medical malpractice cases to be brought in the county where the cause of action arose, Troy said, that helped spur Kane Pugh’s growth in that area of practice. Under the rule, instituted roughly 10 years ago, many cases once filed in Philadelphia County are now brought in Montgomery County.
Troy observed that overall, fewer medical malpractice lawsuits are being brought, although there are still many significant cases.
In contrast, professional liability lawsuits against lawyers are increasing, Troy said.
“No one is immune from these cases,” Troy said.
There are more pro se filings as some plaintiffs perceive that they can pursue legal malpractice claims just by cribbing from the Internet, and many more lawyers are bringing wrongful use of civil proceedings actions, Troy said.
When Troy became president Friday, he became the third lawyer of the firm to become president. The firm has grown from seven to 30 lawyers from 1991, when Troy was hired, to today. William Pugh IV and his son, William Pugh V, have been the other two Kane Pugh lawyers to serve as president.
Troy entered Montgomery County as a law clerk for Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Albert R. Subers.
Troylives in Blue Bell, Montgomery County, and has two twin 17-year-old girls and a 13-year-old daughter.