A place to advance and to help others

August 2, 2008
The News Journal

When the name Fox Rothschild LLP pops up, most think of a national law firm with offices in 14 cities around the country, including one in Wilmington manned by 38 lawyers.

The firm, however, has gained a good reputation for reaching out to Delaware residents who may not have the resources to hire attorneys. In 2004, the firm received the Delaware Bar Association's Service to Children Award -- a recognition of its free work with children who needed legal representation, an award the firm still holds.

"We only give it if someone outstanding comes up," said Rina Marks, executive director of the Delaware Bar Association. Marks said Fox Rothschild, like other firms in Delaware, has an "atmosphere" that encourages people to give back to the community.

While it is common for law firms to give back to the community, Fox Rothschild partner Sheldon K. Rennie said many of the attorneys at his firm see it on a more personal level.

"We do it because we see ourselves as moms, dads, uncles, grandparents, business owners," he said. "So it is basically mandatory that we go out there and make sure we give back to the community, that we are involved in the community."

While the firm will not see money from most of these type of cases, Rennie said it gives lawyers a sense of accomplishment when they help someone who could otherwise not afford legal representation.

"When you see opportunities like this and people coming to you and saying 'Thanking you for doing X, Y and Z for me' it's all worth it," he said. "This is why I went to law school. I made a difference in someone' life."

How the firm works with others in the state seems to also be the way it works with those inside its offices.

Employee responses to this year's Best in the Business survey were strong across the board, reflecting pride in the organization, its leaders and the quality of the work environment. The firm placed second overall for large businesses.

For Rennie, the firm has been one opportunity after another that he said he might not have been able to enjoy had he not gone to work with them.

Rennie started with Fox Rothschild on Sept. 10, 2001, as an associate attorney -- one of two lawyers in the firm's Wilmington office. As the young associate attorney, Rennie found himself running to court, in trials, filing temporary restraining orders, arguing before the state Supreme Court.

"It's a place where, as a young associate, I had the opportunity to hit the ground running," he said. "It bode me well in terms of being able to get the experience that some of my counterparts, who were at the same level that I was in terms of years out of school, were not getting."

Seven years later, Rennie made partner -- and on his first try.

Rennie attributes his climb up the ladder to a firm that takes an interest in all that they are involved in, whether it be outside the firm or inside.

"You not only do your job, but you see where your job fits in the grand scheme of things in the larger picture," he said about working at Fox Rothschild. "You see real live proof that you can make it -- once you put in the time and the effort, you can definitely make it, and you can see people who have done that. It presented me with a real opportunity for success."