SIDEBAR Summer/Fall 2020 - 37

MONTGOMERYBAR.ORG

SIDEBAR FEATURE

RABBITS, DEER, AND ELEPHANTS
A Conversation with Lawyer Referral Service
Panelist Harold M. Goldner

R

ecently, the Montgomery Bar
Association's Lawyer Referral Service
and Modest Means Legal Access
Program received a significant contribution
in the form of an extra fee percentage from
longtime panelist Harold M. Goldner of
Kraut Harris, P.C. in Blue Bell. We sat
down with Harold to discuss the case and
his experience with the Lawyer Referral
Service.

Tell me
about the
case, without
getting into
specifics:
My client was
an executive in
the headquarters
of a large
multinational
company
who learned
about certain recruiting and employment
initiatives which she believed violated
several US and state employment laws.
She told management that she believed
these initiatives were unlawful following
which she was told her position was to
be eliminated. She was able to transfer
from headquarters to another position in a
different division at a significantly reduced
compensation package, but within a year or
so of initiating charges with the EEOC, the
employer fired her. The employer denied
that it was violating any law, or that the
actions against the client were retaliatory or
unlawful.
After the EEOC failed to take
any action with respect to either the
discrimination or retaliation claims, we
filed suit in Federal Court raising 14
counts of violation of Federal and state
employment laws with class and/or
collective action implications. After the
employer's motion to dismiss was denied
and just as class discovery was to start, the

parties met with a mediator who brought
the parties closer together, but it was not
until months later and in the middle of the
pandemic shutdown that a settlement was
actually reached.

Did you anticipate such an
outcome when you received the
referral?
I knew early on that the implications
for the employer were significant if we
prevailed, and would extend well beyond
the borders of this state and to possibly
thousands of other employees. My client's
position exposed her to all kinds of inside
information and sources, which suggested
at times that I knew more than what the
employer's lawyers were being told by their
client. Also, the client was a meticulous
note and record keeper. There were other
suits being filed against the same employer
for similar conduct and claims and my
client was likely to be a witness in some or
all of them.
I lived with this case just as the client
did for close to six years. For years, I've
been amazed at some lawyers' abilities to
'get inside' their client's cases and be so
intimately familiar that they don't even
need notes. I had always subscribed to
the Albert Einstein philosophy of 'why
remember anything you can write down,'
but in this case, the details were so fresh
and familiar, I never needed notes - it was
as if everything had happened to me. That
made a huge difference.
In fact, the client ended up referring me
several more cases, some against the same
employer, some not, most of which have
also settled favorably.

Talk about your experience with
the MBA Lawyer Referral Service:
In marketing they say there are rabbits,
deer and elephants. The rabbits are the
ones you have to run after, but there's not

that much meat on the bones. You make
do with the deer, but the elephants are what
really make your year. This case was like a
herd of elephants AND deer.

What advice would you give to a
colleague who is "on the fence"
about signing up for the Lawyer
Referral Service?
I still can't believe that the client did not
have a lawyer that they knew. After many
years of working this case, we are friends,
and just cases that have come through this
client's referrals have been worth it. Don't
assume every lay person you know already
has a lawyer.

What is your favorite benefit of
the Lawyer Referral Service?
I get to speak with lots of people about
employment problems, most of which
don't arise to the level of a genuine claim
or dispute. But every once in a while, oh,
boy.... The trick is to have a good intake
system so you can quickly screen the
tire-kickers from the real cases. I have a
single page telephone intake sheet and my
receptionist is trained to screen calls. That
way I can review the details and get back to
the client if the case looks meritorious.

Anything else?
You never know from where that next
huge case is going to come.
We are still accepting panelists for the
2020-2021 Lawyer Referral Service and
Modest Means Legal Access Program.
Please visit your Member Account Portal
on montgomerybar.org or contact LRS
Coordinator Sherry Sutton (sherry@
montgomerybar.org / 610-994-3656) for
more information.

S U M M E R / FA L L 2 0 2 0 3 7


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SIDEBAR Summer/Fall 2020

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