December 10, 2014
Inaugural Address of Albert S. Dandridge III, 88th Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar AssociationBill, thank you for your service to the Bar Association. What a phenomenal term you had as Chancellor. You made this Association very proud.
To the bench, the bar, our guests, and to my family and friends - greetings.
Congratulations, to both Mark and Judge Lerner. Well deserved.
And, thank you again, Bill, for that wonderful introduction of me and my legal accomplishments, but, actually, most people around town know me because I am habitually wearing my Marine Corps Veterans baseball cap. I am constantly stopped by people on the street who thank me for my service. That is what I am most proud of.
As some of you may have calculated, I am the fifth Schnader lawyer who will serve as Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association: Bernard G. Segal, Arlin M. Adams, Harold Cramer and Laurence E. Baccini have preceded me. What an honor! What shoes to try to fill!
If I may, please allow me to talk about two lawyers: one a great statesman and ground breaker; the other a great statesman and a ground breaker who was also a Marine.
On approximately the 150th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 1952, Bernard G. Segal was the first Jewish person to serve as its Chancellor and Cecil Bassett Moore was admitted to the bar, a year later. I believe that both of them today would be concerned about several on-going phenomena: our treatment as a society of the poor amongst us, our struggles to become more diverse and inclusive, and the treatment of our veterans.
Bernie Segal was of Russian ancestry born in New York City. Cecil Moore was a "Montford Point Marine," born and raised in West Virginia. His father a doctor; his grandfather a minister.
Both of these attorneys helped to usher in a new sense of what it was to be a "Philadelphia Lawyer."
In his speech on March 13, 1952, commemorating that 150th Anniversary, Bernie Segal stated: "the lawyer working alone is a man who deals with the problems of men; the lawyer in the organized bar is a man who deals with the problems of mankind."
Granted, this was 1952; I am sure that today Bernie’s remarks would be more gender appropriate. More on that later.
I first met Cecil B. Moore as a young sergeant in my Marine dress blues, having recently come home from overseas. I was visiting my uncle, Judge Paul A. Dandridge, who was then an Assistant District Attorney, in City Hall. Cecil was standing in the hallway talking with a group of people surrounding him. When he saw me approaching, he stopped talking and came up to me. He asked me who I was and gave me words of encouragement. I asked my uncle who he was, for I did not know. Uncle Paul told me who he was.
Cecil was a "Montford Point Marine," having served 9 years in the Marine Corps, including service during World War II. Montford Point was the segregated training base for African-American Marines during that war, sort of like Tuskegee was for the heroic African-American airman of World War II. Montford Point was located several miles from Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina, but just outside of the then segregated city of Jacksonville. You can walk from Montford Point to Jacksonville. The races in Jacksonville were literally separated by railroad tracks. Those Marines had to walk through the streets of Jacksonville to get to the other side of the tracks. The base is now called “Camp Hashmark Johnson” for the renowned African-American Marine Drill Instructor at Montford Point.
After my encounter with Cecil and returning to my unit in Camp Lejeune, the Montford Point Marines - all senior enlisted men - who were still on active duty in an integrated Marine Corps - adopted me as an up and coming sergeant. They were a fiercely proud and extremely patriotic group of men. Most of them had seen combat in three wars.
They would take me into their homes and school me in the ways of being successful. These were the so-called "lifers," those who made the Marine Corps a career after World War II. These were some of the smartest, most talented people I have ever met. They were dedicated to the Marines, God, their families, their country and their community. They constantly reminded me of how important these things were.
I was groomed by these heroes over the next few years, especially after returning home from combat in Vietnam with a chest full of medals, and one of the youngest Marine staff sergeants in Vietnam.
I was selected to go to Drill Instructor School - which for a Marine is the ultimate accolade. I was in line to rise to the rank of Sergeant Major.
However, I was also going to college at night. After talking to my wife, my uncle and thinking about Cecil Moore, I made a decision - I wanted to be a lawyer. So I left the Marine Corps. After college, law schools, and a stint at the Securities and Exchange Commission, I came home to the law firm of Mesirov Gelman Jaffe Cramer & Jamison. There, Harold Cramer, my very good friend Bob Krauss, and others, welcomed me, took me into their homes and taught me how to be a lawyer. I was the first attorney of color in the firm.
Like the "Montford Point Marines," these lawyers took me under their wings. I am reminded of when Attorney General William A. Schnader was joined in private practice by his Deputy Attorney General Bernie Segal, Bernie made a point of telling General Schnader that he was a Jew, saying that: "in eminent Philadelphia law firms there are no Jews, and … the firm with which you were connected is one of them." General Schnader changed that. He started his own firm with Bernie Segal - a more diverse and inclusive firm. Hopefully, that type of tradition lives on.
The struggles and challenges of women in this profession are well chronicled. Some of those struggles continue, especially for women of color. In our law firms particularly, the results have been extremely disappointing. Knowing this history, I do not think that Bernie Segal would be proud of where we are today.
Another person who I believe would not be proud is Cecil Moore. Cecil would never let his "Montford Point Marine" attitude get too far away from him. He led the charge as president of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP and led the protest against the exclusionary policies at Girard College. Cecil was a community leader who challenged major corporations and institutions in efforts to increase black participation and employment.
Today, I believe that both Bernie Segal and Cecil Moore would speak out loudly about Philadelphia being the major United States city with the highest poverty rate. One as an advocate for mankind, and the other, as an advocate for the downtrodden - they would speak out. They would also speak out about veterans having substandard health care and living in cardboard boxes under highway overpasses. They would both speak out about women and persons of color having limited opportunities to succeed.
I believe that these icons of the legal profession would support my proposal of the following:
I want you, and us as a Bar Association, to commit to enhance our service to our community. In this regard, I will ask every leader of our Association not only to undertake pro-bono service, which we all have committed to do, but also commit to other service to our community which is not of a pro-bono nature. I have asked several of our community service organizations, as well as the School District of Philadelphia, to join us here today to help emphasize that need. Please let me introduce them to you:
Mr., Marcus Allen, Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern PA
Mr. Mark Bender, Philabundance
Mr. Mark Boyd, Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia
Ms. Sue Daugherty RD, LDN, MANNA
Major Robert W. Dixon, The Salvation Army
Mr. John Ducoff, Covenant House
Mr. David Griffith, Episcopal Community Services
Mr. Christopher Jacobs, SFP/Solutions for Progress
Mr. Lawrence Jacobson, Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House
Ms. Adrienne Jacoby Ed. D, PHILADELPHIA READS
Mr. Brian, Jenkins, Chosen 300
Ms. Regan Kelly, NorthEast Treatment Centers
Ms. Yael Lehmann, The Food Trust
Ms. Mary Kate Meeks-Hanks, Face to Face, Inc.
Mr. Rick Ramsey, City Year Philadelphia
Ms. Siobhan Reardon, Free Library of Philadelphia
Rev. Domenic Rossi, Bethesda Project
Ms. Kira Strong, People's Emergency Center
Mr. Michael Vogel, Turning Points For Children
Ms. Kymberly Truman Graves, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
Ms. Steveanna Wynn The SHARE Food Program, Inc.
Of course, we all know Dr. William Hite.
I will also be asking for your help in promoting programs to help our veterans. We will commit to strengthening our outreach to the veterans’ community, including seeking legislative solutions for that community, to participate in military assistance programs, such as, among other things, counseling military personnel about predatory lending practices, and, to join in the outreach to the Veterans Administration to explain to and assist veterans in receiving the benefits that they are entitled to. The high rate of suicide in the veterans’ community is unacceptable. In conjunction with service to our community, I have asked the following to also join us:
Mr. Joe Brooks, USO of Pennsylvania and Southern NJ
Hon. Renee Caldwell Hughes, American Red Cross
Sister Mary Scullion, Project H.O.M.E
I would like to thank the Reed Smith firm and the Ballard Sphar firm for sponsoring the tables for our guests.
I have also asked my partner, Denny Shupe and Patrick Murphy at Fox Rothschild, both of whom are veterans of the Iraq Wars and who are very active in the veterans’ community, to co-chair the Association’s Military Affairs Committee.
Finally, I will ask that we do all that we can to enhance the opportunities for all attorneys. We, as a Bar Association, will propose the adoption of diversity action plans, in which the bar leadership will be asked to individually take on diversity and inclusion initiatives and responsibilities.
We, the bar leadership and others, will meet in January to map out a strategy to accomplish all of these goals.
In my church, as in many others, we ask our parishioners to contribute their time, talent and treasure for the betterment of mankind. I believe that no matter what your faith, each of us knows at least one person who, without question, puts service to their community as their top priority. As scripture says: "To whom much has been given, much is required." We, as attorneys, and as leaders in our communities, are very good at contributing our talent, such as pro-bono matters, and contributing our treasure, we write checks - lots of checks. We as a group are very generous with our talent and our treasure, but perhaps not so much with our time. Time is our least expensive, but most precious commodity. This reminds me of a quote from the late poet, Maya Angelou:
"I may not remember what you said to me, I may not remember what you did to me, but I will always remember how you made me feel." I believe that spending time with someone does that.
At the end of the day, it is my hope that when each of you tell people that you are a “Philadelphia Lawyer,” their response might be “thank you for your service.”