the D&S culture
There are numerous aspects to the Firm's culture. People immediately realize that things are different - very different - from other law firms, when they arrive at the firm.
We have an annual firm outing.
At many law firms this consists of being dragged to a nearby softball field to have hotdogs and play, well, softball. At D&S it is a bit different. Instead, we take all the lawyers and their significant others, and the administrative personnel who have been at the Firm for at least five years to a three-day weekend of eating and lying in the sun at one of the best hotels in Florida. In recent years it has been at the Breakers Hotel in the Palm Beach area. The outing is one of the highlights of the year. The reason is not the food – although that is good – it is because we really like each other and this is a fun time to just be together and enjoy each other’s company. With few exceptions, we have had one every single year since the Firm was formed, including after 9/11 and during our two down years when business was poor.
We have an unusual business goal – to have a good time with our clients and ourselves. To recognize that none of us is getting younger and we are all working very hard with our colleagues – both internally and externally – and our lives will be much much better if we try to have fun as we service our clients.
Unlike many law firms, associates are strongly encouraged to market and build client and business relationships. In this regard, our Associate Marketers Program is open to all associates. With this marketing training, associates have (perhaps to their own surprise) achieved recent and strong success in their marketing efforts. Sometimes just showing people how to do it and giving them a little push, is all it takes.
A recent addition – and the brainchild of the Innovation Committee – are our Firm “Clubs”.
Given that we have employees with very diverse hobbies and interests, we started our D&S Firm Club program to allow any employee to apply for the formation of a club based on their interests. The only requirements are (i) that the club must have a reasonable number of D&S persons commit to joining the club in order for it to be formally established and (ii) the club must be open to all Firm employees. The Firm then provides monetary support and resources for the club. Some of the clubs include:
The LBGTQ Club, run by Chair of the Leasing Group Eric Menkes, is a forum for the firm’s lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender attorneys and staff to share interests of common concern, and to develop recruitment and business development strategies for our firm.
The Pure Play in Snow Sports (PPISS) Club, led by Real Estate Partner Sam Lee, was founded with only one goal in mind…To play and enjoy with pure, unadulterated passion, the cold, snowy and dreary winter months in the Northeast. We openly pray (as far as our labor law and First Amendment lawyers will allow) for lots and lots of snow. And when it arrives, you may find us having a spontaneous snowball fight in Central Park, ice skating in Bryant Park, or Swooshing* down the slopes of Hunter Mountain. * “Swooshing” means waiting on a 45 minute lift line only to inch your way down the slopes at 2 mph dodging 1,997,017 people along the way; provided, however that, notwithstanding the foregoing and except as otherwise expressly set forth in the immediately preceding definition or in this proviso and as the context may require, “Swooshing” also means the sound made by novice members of the club giving out free face plant lessons as they scrape down the slopes.
The Jewelry Making Club, led by Billing Manager Janet Lupoli, meets to work together on various techniques of beading, chainmaille jewelry and wire wrapping. Depending upon the interests of the members in the club, we may have guest speakers come join some of the meetings.
We have close to 20 different committees. In addition to the usual committees of Management, Business Development, Recruiting, Pro Bono, Technology, etc., we have less usual committees:
Our Hedgehog Committee, which pervades the Firm in many ways.
Our Innovation Committee, which was formed (of course) to innovate and come up with new ideas and to make innovation an important part of every day life for all employees of the Firm.
Our Financial Oversight Committee, which is dedicated to improving the Firm’s profitability, consistent with the Firm’s values and culture.
DS Gourmet. This is because we are really “into food” at D&S. We try to make every Firm lunch and every client invitation to the Firm an exercise in great food. Perhaps it is an outgrowth of our hedgehog principle in that “food is love”.
Committee On Associate Affairs. This committee is responsible for the promotion, evaluation and welfare of associates at the Firm.
Special Events Committee. This committee is responsible for parties and other special events, including our annual firm outing.
Taste Committee. This unusual committee was formed early in the Firm’s existence and, yes, it is devoted to trying to enhance our good taste in all applicable aspects.
Values Committee: This committee was formed to spotlight and enhance our awareness of our Firm's Core Values.