Candidate's Pledge to the Philadelphia Bar Association

Bar Association Chancellor Jane Leslie Dalton has sent each of the current candidates for Philadelphia mayor a letter asking for their commitment to several goals outlined below.


April 3, 2007

To All Mayoral Candidates:

Philadelphia lawyers play an essential role in our City's economy. In 2005, there were more than 1200 legal services firms in Philadelphia with 19,200 employees.1 These firms pay annual wages in excess of $1.6 billion and annual city wage taxes in excess of $68 million.


Law firms constitute half of the professional service firms in Philadelphia — a growing sector in our economy representing 10 percent of the City's total employment. Law firms pay about $56 million in business privilege taxes each year which constitutes about 72 percent of the business privilege taxes paid by professional service firms in the City.

The larger law firms occupy about 20 percent of the prime office space in Center City, and many more medium-sized and small firms occupy space in other buildings. All of these law firms pay city real estate taxes indirectly through their rent payments. And about 45 percent of the lawyers who work in Philadelphia live in Philadelphia where they own or rent homes, buy goods and services, and send their children to school.

Philadelphia lawyers are deeply concerned about the future of our City's economy, the quality of our judicial system, and the integrity of our local government officials. We and our firms are adversely impacted by the tax burdens on businesses, the increase in violent crime, an impoverished school system, and a growing uneducated workforce.

For these reasons, the Philadelphia Bar Association asks the candidates for Mayor and City Council to commit to take the actions set forth in the attached Candidate's Pledge to promote economic growth, improve the judicial system and the quality of life in our City.

Sincerely yours,
Jane Leslie Dalton
Chancellor

1 Statistical information regarding Philadelphia law firms found in Paul R. Levy, "Economic Impact of City’s Legal Profession Formidable," Phila. Bus. J., Dec. 29, 2006, at 5.


CANDIDATE'S PLEDGE TO THE PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION


I agree to support the priorities identified by the Philadelphia Bar Association. As Mayor, I commit that I will:

  • Implement the recommendations of the Philadelphia Tax Reform Commission, including the gradual elimination of the Business Privilege Tax.1

  • Support only judicial candidates for election to and retention on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and the Municipal Court who are recommended by the Philadelphia Bar Association's Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention.

  • Construct a new, "state of the art," courthouse for the Family Division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, which will house the Domestic Relations Branch and the Juvenile Branch in a single, Center City location. 2

  • Increase local funding and find other sources for funding of the School District of Philadelphia, including preschool and adult education programs.

  • Support legislation amending the City Charter to create a permanent Police Advisory Commission.

1 See “Philadelphia Tax Reform Commission Final Report,” vol. 1, Nov. 15, 2003 at philadelphiataxreform.org.

2 See Women’s Law Project, “Justice in Domestic Relations Division of Philadelphia Family Court: A Report to the Community,” Apr. 2003, at womenslawproject.org.