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Chancellor Announces Enhanced Diversity Commitment, Support for Pro Bono Legal Services Programs
Rudolph Garcia, a shareholder at the law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC and the first Hispanic Chancellor of the 13,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association, announced a new structure for advancing diversity in the legal profession, enhanced support for legal services for disadvantaged citizens, and a new membership value initiative as part of his 2011 agenda, unveiled on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at the Association’s Annual Meeting Luncheon at the Hyatt at The Bellevue.
Garcia, who as a student traveled cross-country with just ten dollars in his pocket and worked a number of jobs to pay his own way through college and law school, will officially become Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association on Jan. 1, 2011.
Garcia’s service with the Bar Association includes three multi-year terms on its Board of Governors and as a founding co-chair of its State Civil Litigation Section. He also chaired the Federal Courts Committee and serves on the Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention. He was elected Vice Chancellor in 2008, served in that role in 2009, and this year is completing a one-year term as Chancellor-Elect.
A graduate of Temple University (B.A., 1974) and Temple University Beasley School of Law (J.D., 1977), Garcia began his legal career at a 10-lawyer firm before joining Saul Ewing in 1978. After 27 years at Saul Ewing, he moved with a group of colleagues to Buchanan Ingersoll in 2005, where he now concentrates his practice in commercial litigation.
Among his 2011 initiatives, Garcia will convert the Bar Association’s Minorities in the Profession Committee into a forum for collaboration with and among the various minority bar associations in Philadelphia. Working with the Bar Association’s Office of Diversity, the group will address common goals – including providing diversity and inclusion resources to the legal profession – as well as share ideas and develop best practices.
Garcia will increase support for Philadelphia’s dynamic public interest community through enhanced promotion of the more than 30 agencies and 3,000-plus attorneys who provide free legal services to the city’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens. Philadelphia lawyers handle about 6,000 pro bono cases each year.
To help the Bar Association plan for the future, Garcia is also creating a Long-Range Advisory Council that will examine long-term opportunities and challenges. Garcia has already begun to address such issues with the creation of a Membership Task Force to develop new programs designed to enhance the value of Bar Association membership. He announced two programs that will be unveiled early next year. An online Legal Classifieds section will be added to the Bar Association’s website at philadelphiabar.org to assist lawyers who are struggling to find work in an extraordinarily difficult job market. Lawyers can post notices for jobs, office space and similar items at a significantly reduced cost.
Also being unveiled early next year is free access to Fastcase, an innovative legal research service that law firms with full attorney-membership in the Bar Association can utilize at no cost. Fastcase offers enhanced legal research features including an interactive map of search results, so the most important cases can be seen at a glance. Garcia noted that if the 25 largest law firms in Philadelphia use the service for as little as 30 percent of their research, each will save an average of $35,000 a year.
Additionally, Garcia announced the creation of a new Philadelphia Bar Association Leadership Institute that will provide the Association’s section and committee chairs with guidance and training to help them improve their leadership skills, expand active participation in the Bar and develop even more dynamic education programs that will in turn benefit clients.
Garcia will also continue the Association’s outspoken support for an independent judiciary and for improvements to Pennsylvania’s judicial selection process, as well as the work of the Bar Association’s Civil Gideon Task Force, which promotes the right to counsel in civil proceedings where basic human needs are at stake. He will maintain and expand programs created by Immediate Past-Chancellor Scott F. Cooper, including the Bar Association’s Historical Society and its Bar Academy, which provides civic and cultural education experiences to Bar Association members to help create business and personal development opportunities. He will also ensure the Bar Association continues to serve as a resource to city officials on common goals.
click here for Chancellor-Elect Rudolph Garcia's inaugural address