More Inspiration from 11-Year-Old Sarah Murnaghan

Former client Sarah Murnaghan continues to inspire not just children and adults fighting disease but anyone facing difficulty. In June 2013, Steve Harvey filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Sarah asking that she not be discriminated against based on her age in the national system for allocating organs. A federal judge agreed and granted a TRO. A few days later, Sarah received transplanted lungs. Those lungs failed, and Sarah then underwent a second lung transplant surgery. Remarkably, Sarah lived. Since then she has returned home and continues to recover. On Friday, February 14, 2014, Sarah received The “Shining Star” award from the Delaware Valley chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at the annual Wishes and Dreams Winter Ball. Here is a news report on Sarah and the award.

Sarah’s amazing and inspirational speech ended with these words:

So my advice, whatever you are dealing with, young or old, is to be yourself. Look deep inside yourself for your bravery and the reason to fight. For me it was my family. It may not seem to be there at first but I promise it’s there and it will take you to the impossible if you just believe in yourself.

Main Issues That Will Be In the News in 2014 for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The New York Times on January 10 published an excellent overview of the most important agenda items in 2014 for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the still relatively new and very powerful federal regulator and enforcer for the consumer financial services industry. The Bureau will focus this year on the use of arbitration clauses in contracts with consumers, overdraft fees, student loans, debt collection, credit report disputes, and prepaid cards. The first item — use of arbitration clauses — could be a blockbuster. A decision to ban arbitration clauses would force changes in the practices of many banks and financial services companies and could mean more lawsuits in general and more class action lawsuits in particular. Stay tuned for reports throughout the coming year on all the issues under the Bureau’s scrutiny.

Does Size Matter When Hiring a Law Firm?

Today is the first day of month two of my law firm.  I founded this firm based on the idea that changes in the economy and legal market have opened up room for boutique firms that offer high quality legal services, personalized attention, and flexible financial terms.  Reaction in month one from clients, prospective clients, and many lawyer friends has been overwhelmingly positive.

An article published on January 3 in Corporate Counsel provides further support for my hypothesis. Here is an excerpt:

There is no doubt that clients are under greater pressure today to protect and grow their bottom lines; the business environment is tough for everyone. Given the environment, businesses are both more focused on keeping their legal fees in check and more open-minded as to how that can be most effectively accomplished. The search for quality lawyering does not start and stop with the largest and most recognizable law firms anymore. There is a growing willingness to look to both middle-market, full-service law firms that are modeled to provide more senior-level practitioners at more rational billing rates, and smaller boutiques that offer more focused practice areas.

I don’t think for one minute this means the demise of the large law firm; there will always be large litigation and corporate matters that clients bring to large law firms. But sophisticated clients recognize that medium, small, and boutique firms can deliver real value on many types of legal matters.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts on this subject.

Inquirer Prints My Letter About Global Warming Concern

It’s no secret that I am concerned about global warming.  Why?  Because of the steady drumbeat of reports from the legitimate scientific community warning that this is a very real and serious danger for us, our children, and future generations.  The scientific community also reminds us that we possess the means to avert or substantially ameliorate the danger if only we can muster the will to do so.

Pennsylvania has a new head of the Department of Environmental Protection who has no education or background in environmental protection and who recently expressed skepticism about global warming. Today the Philadelphia Inquirer printed a letter from me on the subject.  My letter reads as follows:

Ill-suited to DEP job

Christopher Abruzzo, Gov. Corbett’s new head of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said at his confirmation hearing that he had “not read any scientific studies that would lead me to conclude that there are adverse impacts to human beings or to animals or to plant life at this small level of climate change.” In fact, there is a scientific consensus that the polar ice caps are melting and that global warming is causing global climate change with significant adverse impacts on humans and animals. That Abruzzo did not know this amply demonstrates that he is not qualified to run the DEP.

Stephen G. Harvey, Philadelphia

You may wonder why I choose to use this blog, which serves my for-profit law firm, to promote a message seemingly unrelated to the firm or its practice areas and, indeed, on an issue some find controversial.  Because I believe that lawyers owe a duty to the public to speak out on important issues.

Thank you for listening.

Law360’s Dan Packel Interviews Steve Harvey About Firm Opening

Last week, Dan Packel interviewed me about my new firm. I like the whole article, but I am particularly fond of two parts of it.

First, he quotes me as saying “It’s a counterintuitive bet. A lot of people see economic dislocation and unemployed younger lawyers, along with a shrinking legal budget for general counsels. But this creates an opportunity for a small firm that provides high-quality, personalized services and attractive financial arrangements.”

I like this because it captures my value proposition.

Second, he says that “Harvey also routinely handles business disputes and banking issues, and while he expects these to be the bread and butter of his practice, he intends to keep up his civil rights work, and press for causes including homelessness, organ donation and climate change.”

I like this because it reflect how business and banking work will fit with my public service and advocacy objectives.

Legal Intelligencer Covers Opening of Steve Harvey Law LLC

Over the years my more noteworthy cases have been the subject of excellent articles written by Gina Pasarella, reporter with The Legal Intelligencer. Today in The Legal Gina reports on the opening of my law firm, Steve Harvey Law LLC. Check it out and tell me what you think. I have also included Gina’s tweet, which has already been re-tweeted several times. It’s a good day.

Litigation Boutique Opens in Philadelphia

Today in Philadelphia veteran lawyer Steve Harvey announced the opening of his law firm, Steve Harvey Law LLC, a litigation and trial boutique specializing in business disputes, banking and financial services, and government claims.

“I had many great years as a partner at Pepper Hamilton, but starting my own law practice marks the fulfillment of a dream,” Steve said.

Steve brings a high level of passion and energy to all his cases.  “I love representing clients in business and banking disputes and helping resolve knotty legal and factual issues.  It really drives me.”

Steve has a significant reputation in Philadelphia and nationally, not just for his work on business disputes and banking matters, but also for his civil rights work.

In 2013, he represented the parents of 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan and 11-year-old Javier Acosta, two children who needed new lungs to live.  The children were disadvantaged by a rule of the national organ transplants system that prevented them from receiving new lungs.  Steve led a team of lawyers from Pepper Hamilton that filed lawsuits challenging the rule, obtained TROs on behalf of the children, and ultimately resulted in a change to the rule.  The case received national media attention.

In 2005, Steve was co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the intelligent design case, in which a federal judge ruled at the end of a 40-day trial that intelligent design is a religious proposition that cannot be presented in public school science class as an alternative to evolution.  The case received national and even international media attention, and resulted in four books about the case as well as a NOVA special entitled “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial.”

Steve intends to continue working on civil rights case.  “Helping others is the most important thing we can do as lawyers.”

After graduating magna cum laude from Villanova Law School in 1989, Steve clerked for a federal appellate judge and then entered the Honors Program of the U.S. Department of Justice as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Division. He joined Pepper Hamilton in 1995. He worked as a partner in the commercial litigation group for the last 13 years.

“It’s been a great adventure the whole time, but the newest chapter, with me as the leader of my own law firm, really excites me.”