2 min read June 2022 — George Pallas, managing partner at law firm Cohen Seglias, views Philadelphia as a fantastic marketplace and acknowledges the great work that the city has done to make it an attractive place to reside and do business. Pallas spoke with Invest: Philadelphia to discuss how the firm has adjusted the work-life balance of its employees and how technology has benefited its client interactions.
What are some milestones that stand out for the firm over the past 12 months?
Over the past year, we have grown from 75 to 82 attorneys, which is attributable to a couple of things. We provide professional development and support them with mentorship programs at all levels. To attract talent, we have a more robust work-life balance. That is a hot trend and we do our very best to respect that. We allow remote working at a certain level for all of our employees. After COVID-19, we were spending four days in the office and that has been reduced to three days. But the most significant milestone this past year is that we got back into the office with this work-life balance and invested heavily in infrastructure and technology, which allows us to work remotely while serving our clients.
In 2021, we moved into a new space at 1600 Market Street and built out that space with a focus on mobility. We provide all attorneys with Surface Pros that allow them to unplug and take the world with them everywhere they go. We also enhanced our platforms in terms of virtual meetings, which allows us to integrate seamlessly with all of our clients and the platforms they use. Productivity and all of our metrics have gone up as we’ve given our employees the chance to get things done at their convenience and to the satisfaction of our clients.
What does the balance between in-person and remote work and client interactions look like at Cohen Seglias?
I think the concern for client relations is legitimate but we are not substituting remote work for relationships. We are using digital platforms at the convenience of the client. We offer clients a plethora of options to communicate and they have reacted very positively to that flexibility.
What makes Philly a great place to work and live?
Philadelphia is a fantastic marketplace. I’m a New Jersey native but Philadelphia and the market area provide reasonably priced housing, competitive salaries and an art culture and restaurant scene that rivals New York. It’s a robust city. Even coming out of the pandemic, there are cranes going up and residential units being built, from Northern Liberties to Fishtown down to the arts area in Western Philadelphia. There’s an influx of people and the region offers tremendous opportunities, especially with all the universities and young talent. I think there is no limit to where it can go.
It’s a great location, and you have access to a state-of-the-art international airport. I think that any business that is looking for high-quality talent should consider moving here.
What is the city doing to make it more attractive for workers? Are there any new laws in the city that impact employers?
The city has passed several ordinances that directly impact how employers conduct business. For example, at the beginning of 2022, the city enacted an ordinance prohibiting businesses and employment agencies from testing for marijuana use during the hiring process. With states and municipalities around the country passing different rules for recreational and medical marijuana use, this is an issue that every employer with a drug testing program needs to follow closely.
Another Philadelphia ordinance prevents businesses from asking job applicants about their salary history during the hiring process. That’s critically important because female employees have historically been underpaid for the same services as their male counterparts. The city has been forward-thinking and is making strides in balancing out gender equality on wages. The city also enacted a new COVID-19 paid leave ordinance that will remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2023. The legislation covers employers with 25 or more employees and provides 40 hours of paid COVID leave to most full-time employees. These are all pro-employee measures created by the city that are not terribly burdensome on employers and make it more attractive for workers to come here.
What have been some strategies Cohen Seglias has used to retain employees?
We have a foundational principle that we can disagree without being disagreeable. There’s zero tolerance for any type of behavior that is not constructive. We have 135 employees that are all nice, good, smart people who enjoy interacting with one another without fear of being disrespected because at the very top, we have a commitment to being a healthy, respectful and professional environment. This year, our office in Washington, D.C., was designated as a best place to work for small businesses. The culture that we instill at a management level helps us attract and keep talent.
How is the demand for the firm’s services today compared to 2019 levels?
We have enjoyed the benefit of increasing our number of clients and our revenue every year for the past 34 years. We’ve never had a dip. I’ve been the managing partner for the firm for six years, which will end this year. I’m Greek and my family owned a diner here, so I brought that mindset to my management, which is providing quality service at a reasonable price. If you do that, customers will keep coming back. We provide a well-balanced, sophisticated legal service at a reasonable cost. By continuing to do that, there will be no end to the green pastures we are experiencing.
For more information, visit: