Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 46

THE PRO BONO EFFEC T

BUILDING A FIRM
WITH A MISSION TO SERVE
Interview by Darryl Maxwell

W

hen Julie Hammerman and Kristin
Davis, together with partner Gary
Thompson, identified the goals of their
new law firm - focused on insurance
recovery and hospitality disputes - making pro
bono work part of its mission statement was
a no-brainer.
"We all agreed that our firm was going
to be built on a strong commitment
to pro bono," Hammerman says. The
question was not if the firm would
do pro bono work, but how much,
according to Davis. "We promised the
community at least 10 percent of our
time in any given year, but we also
agreed there would be no limit on
one attorney's time," Davis says.
Thompson Hammerman Davis LLP
(Thompson HD) exceeded that goal
in 2019, the firm's first year in business,
Kristin Davis
contributing more than $200,000 worth
of billable hours as well as donations
to local, national, and international clients and causes.
The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center recently spoke with Hammerman and Davis
to discuss their pro bono efforts and lessons learned along the way.
How did your team connect, and how did pro bono work become
such a big part of Thompson HD's practice?
JH: When you work long hours at a large firm, you gravitate toward
people who have the same interests, litigation style, and approach to
work-life balance (or at least the quest for work-life balance). People who
value pro bono work tend to take a broader view of a lawyer's role in his
or her community - not just to log hours and send out bills, but to lend
your legal skills for the greater good. Pro bono was a big part of our experience at our first law firm, Dickstein Shapiro LLP (now part of Blank Rome
LLP), and then when we linked up with Gary Thompson at Reed Smith
LLP, we felt like we had found "our people."

46 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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JUNE 2020

KD: While the three of us shared a focus on insurance recovery - that is,
suing insurance companies - it was pro bono work that really brought
our team together. Gary was a big pro bono advocate at Reed Smith, particularly during his tenure as the D.C. office's managing partner. In fact,
we got to celebrate his recognition by the D.C. Bar when he received the
Laura N. Rinaldi Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award in 2015. When we
thought about creating our own law firm and what our ideal practice
of law would look like, it necessarily included pro bono work and connecting with individual clients.
Did you draw on your former firm experiences?
KD: Yes, our shared firm experiences created a common language for
us as partners; it is the foundation for our new firm's culture. When we
started our firm, we endeavored to take the best traits of each firm
and each attorney we'd had the opportunity to work with. While we've
learned a lot from others, I think the most important lesson was one
of the application requirements at Dickstein, our first firm: "Must have
a sense of humor."
JH: Absolutely. That was imprinted on us both. It's actually one of
Thompson HD's core values as well - sense of humor required.
How does your day-to-day practice
lend itself to your pro bono work?
JH: I had fallen in love - no joke -
with insurance litigation after taking a
course in law school and was thrilled to
join Dickstein's niche policyholder-side
insurance recovery practice. Within
months of joining Dickstein, I represented a veteran of the Iraq war whose
homeowners insurance claim for water
damage in his basement had been
denied by his insurance company. The
advice I give to every policyholder is
Julie Hammerman
never take no for an answer. After a brief
letter-writing campaign, the insurance
company fully reversed its denial and paid the full loss. It was so satisfying to apply my insurance subject-matter expertise to obtain a swift
and excellent result for an individual who otherwise would not have
had the resources to push back on the denial.
KD: I wanted to be in the courtroom, and insurance cases had a reputation for going to trial. I also liked the idea of "fighting the good fight" in
a Big Law setting. Representing policyholders, often as a plaintiff-side
attorney, means you are responsible for investigating and building your

Photos: Kristin Davis, courtesy of Kristin Davis; Julie Hammerman, courtesy of Thompson HD



Washington Lawyer - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - June 2020

YOUR VOICE
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
ON FURTHER REVIEW
THE LEARNING CURVE
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
WORTH READING
ATTORNEY BRIEFS
DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
THE PRO BONO EFFECT
SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 4
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - YOUR VOICE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ON FURTHER REVIEW
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE LEARNING CURVE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - WORTH READING
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ATTORNEY BRIEFS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE PRO BONO EFFECT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 48
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover4
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