August 14, 2007

Last Day to Register for Bench-Bar Early Bird Discount!

Association members and non-members have until the end of today to take advantage of the early bird discount and save on registration for the 2007 Bench-Bar Conference at Bally's Atlantic City on Sept. 28 and 29.

This year's conference, "Saddle Up to a Bench-Bar Bonanza," has a Wild West theme and includes a black tie and blue jeans reception on Friday evening, Sept. 28. A total of 7 CLE credits and 14 different courses are available. Sponsors for the 2007 Bench-Bar Conference include USI Colburn Insurance Service, LexisNexis, PNC Wealth Management, JAMS, Veritext and Kroll.

Additionally, Bally's Atlantic City is now accepting reservations for attendees. Book early for the best rates: rooms Thursday night, Sept. 27 are just $99; rooms Friday night are $144, and Saturday night rooms are $189. Call 1-800-345-7253 for reservations and mention you are attending the Philadelphia Bar Association Bench-Bar Conference to get these special rates.

For more information on the 2007 Bench-Bar Conference go to: Bench-Bar 2007


Calling All Clerks: Growing Trend Toward Practicing First, Clerking Later by Rachel Heron

As competition for judicial clerkships and salaries for associates both rise, getting private practice experience before clerking is an increasingly attractive option for young lawyers. According to Stephanie Nash, senior search consultant at Attorney Career Catalysts, more litigators are choosing to work in private practice for a year or two before pursuing judicial clerkships.

"It seems to be a pretty recent trend," Nash said, "and I don't think it's unique to the Philadelphia market."

Philadelphia courts currently employ almost 100 clerks. Although law students have traditionally tried to line up clerkships for their first year out of law school, these clerks &mdash and those employed by Philadelphia's more than 40 federal judges &mdash aren't all freshly graduated juris doctors anymore.

For Jocelyn Gabrynowicz Hill, 28, her clerkship with Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein would have been impossible right after law school. "My husband had a clerkship right after we graduated," said Hill, who dreamed of clerking as a law student. "I really just couldn't afford to clerk at the same time."

Instead, Hill began working insurance coverage cases at Anderson Kill & Olick, leaving when Judge Bernstein contacted her during her second year.

To read more of this article from the latest edition of YL, please click here.


Program on Success for Women Sept. 18

The Women in the Profession Committee and Flex-Time Lawyers LLC will host "Successful Interviewing And Beyond: Learning to Effectively Navigate Your Way as a Woman Lawyer to Ensure Success" on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. at The CLE Conference Center on the 10th floor of the Wanamaker Building.

This program will offer in-depth discussions of how women law students and practitioners can develop the necessary skills to succeed and how employers can achieve more diversity in the legal profession. The first panel will discuss how women law students can select a woman-friendly employer and how practitioners and employers can create and ensure more gender diversity. The second panel will share interview tips and information about what employers want. It will also uncover how women practitioners successfully conduct themselves professionally and navigate their way in the profession. A cocktail reception will follow.

The first panel, "The Cheat Sheet: Strategies to Select, Create & Ensure a Woman-Friendly Employer," which is available for one ethics credit of CLE, includes panelists Deborah Epstein Henry (moderator), founder and president, of Flex-Time Lawyers LLC, and of counsel, Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis; Heather Harrington, an associate with Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP; Linda Dale Hoffa, assistant U.S. attorney, assistant chief, Criminal Division, Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Roberta D. Liebenberg, co-chair of the Women in the Profession Committee and a partner with Fine, Kaplan and Black, R.P.C.; Elaine Petrossian, assistant dean for career strategy and advancement, Villanova University School of Law.

The second panel, "Interviewing Tips to Learn What Employers Want and Proven Methods on How to Conduct Yourself Professionally," includes Kathleen D. Wilkinson, a partner with Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP; Sarah E. Davies, hiring partner with Cozen O'Connor; Katherine Hatton, vice president, general counsel and secretary, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Sunah Park, a partner with Thorp Reed & Armstrong, LLP; Molly Peckman, special counsel and director of professional development at Pepper Hamilton LLP; and Peggy Simoncini Pasquay, manager of attorney recruitment and relations, Duane Morris LLP.

Sponsors include the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Abelson Legal Search, Coleman/Nourian, Oxford Legal Associates, Sacks Legal Search, Temple University School of Law and Villanova University School of Law. Contact the Pennsylvania Bar Institute at 800-247-4724 or to register.


To Disclose or Not To Disclose &mdash That is the Question by Lisa Getson

When selling a house today every seller must fill out a Seller's Property Disclosure Statement and every buyer must read and acknowledge it prior to signing an Agreement of Sale, as their offer is based on the contents of that statement. That is the law. What exactly is a Seller's Property Disclosure Statement? It is a document which is approximately five pages long and which asks several questions pertaining to the property which is being sold. It is the seller's legal obligation to answer all of the questions honestly and to the best of his or her ability.

Essentially, the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement asks questions about the conditions of the house. For example, there are questions about the roof, heat, air, plumbing, electric and structure, all of which need to be answered. How do you answer the questions? What needs to be disclosed? The law states that a seller needs to disclose any and all material defects. A material defect is something which adversely impacts the value of the home.

While it is the seller's obligation, not the realtor's, to answer all of the questions, a realtor should be able to provide guidance as to what constitutes a material defect.

Most of the questions are straightforward. How long have you owned and lived in your home? Have you done any remodeling to your home? What type of roof do you have? Do you have a fireplace and does it work? Do you have working smoke detectors? List all appliances in the kitchen. Is your cooking gas or electric? What type of heat do you have? Do you have central air? Did you ever have pets in your home? Do you have termites? Is your home currently under contract for any pests? Do you have radon? Have you ever done a radon test?

Other questions ask about the age of certain items in the house. How old is your roof? Your heat? Your air? If you do know, I suggest listing the exact age. If you don't know, simply state that you don't know. However, I do not suggest merely writing "new" or "newer" as there is a gray area as to when a heater, for example, goes from being new to newer to not new anymore. I once was involved in a case where I represented the buyer as their realtor, and the seller and the seller's agent disclosed and advertised the windows in the home as new. My buyer relied on that information when making an offer on the home. In actuality, the windows in the house were 21 years old. In defense, the agent stated that the windows were "new" to the seller when they purchased the home several years before. They were obviously no longer "new." It is for this reason that I always recommend writing the exact age of things such as windows, a roof, and heating and cooling systems. And if you don't know the exact age then I suggest stating so, but do not attempt to guess as to whether something is "new" or "newer."

The proper age of the windows on that property should have been disclosed since it affected the value of the property. Hypothetically, had the windows in the house been old and leaked, that would have had to be disclosed since that would have been a material defect that impacted the value of the property. Even if the old windows had been replaced, it would still have to be disclosed that the old ones leaked due to the possibility that the leak could have caused damage to the property, thus affecting its value.

There are some things, however, which do not need to be disclosed. For example, if you had a leaking showerhead or faucet and it was fixed, there is no need to disclose that fact as something so minor would not adversely affect the overall value of the property.

There are also few exceptions in which the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement does not apply. Where the seller is an administrator or executor of an estate, the seller is exempt from answering any questions about the subject property, as an administrator or executor is presumed to not know anything about a property in which they did not live. Second, the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement does not apply to new construction since the owner of the property is a builder who is passing on a not yet lived in new home in which everything is brand new and supposedly under warranty. Third, it could be argued that someone who owns a house but rents it out does not have to fill out a Seller's Property Disclosure Statement since they do not live there. This argument could be rebutted, however, with the fact that a person who acts as a landlord and cares for a property has enough knowledge about its inner workings to answer the questions.

I always advise my clients to err on the side of disclosing. My motto is simple: "Disclose! Disclose! Disclose!" Tell all, be truthful and you can never go wrong!

Send your real estate-related questions to Lisa Getson at

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