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Our motivation starts with helping others.

The lawyers at Greater Good are passionate about supporting our community. We’re motivated to help our clients make the world a better place.

Mark's Motivation

Mark Aurand

I’ve always wanted to use my law degree, knowledge, and experience to help others—especially those in need. I’ve worked for two well-known Lehigh Valley law firms for almost 30 years combined. But I always struggled with the feeling that while my work has been of benefit to some, I haven’t contributed to the greater good as often as I would have liked.

As I wrestled with these feelings, I often recalled a running conversation I used to have while I was in law school. Back then I had an older friend named Leonard. He and I, along with our wives, Sheila and Teresa, were co-leaders of the youth group at the church we attended in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia.

Leonard was a U.S. postal worker, and he and Sheila were always helping people in the neighborhoods along his mail route. They would buy Christmas presents for the children. They took people in who didn’t have a place to live. Leonard and Sheila even saved enough money to send one of the girls in the neighborhood to dental school. They were that couple who would do anything for anyone. (They were also modest and would hate me talking about them this way!)

From time to time, Leonard and I would talk about what I would do after I finished my law degree.

He would insist: “You’re going to be a corporate lawyer.”

I would respond: “No, I want to use my knowledge and skills to do good.”

Well, as often happens, one decision led to another, and almost before I knew it, nearly 30 years had passed. Until I started this practice, I felt I had not achieved my original goal that motivated me to go to law school.

Sadly, Leonard died some years ago. But I have always remembered those conversations and held on to the notion that, someday, I would do a better job of following his example.

My goal now is to use my legal knowledge and experience to revamp the practice of law to more directly help you. I want to make legal services accessible, affordable, and collaborative. I believe if we can bring people of all skills and experience together to work on problems collaboratively, we can build our communities and contribute to a greater good.

My wife recently drew my attention to the following quote by William Jones:

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

I intend to do the best I can from this day forward to make a difference. Join me.

Anne's Motivation

Anne Millham

I have always enjoyed practicing law, but I have not always been fond of the way law firms operate. Greater Good inspires me because it is a modern and affordable practice representing what I view as some of the best and most important members of our society: non-profits, small businesses and entrepreneurs. This is the kind of law I enjoy practicing, the way it should be practiced today, with the opportunity to provide legal services at lower costs for clients.

I come from a long line of lawyers with a social conscience stretching back five generations. When my father retired a few years ago and I asked him what he would miss the most about practicing law, he replied, “I’m going to miss my clients; I’m going to miss helping people.” Helping people is the essence of lawyering. Most students enter law school thinking the same thing.

However, once you begin practicing in the typical law firm business model, sometimes this essential element gets lost in billable hours, rainmaking and file churning. At my prior firm, I was lucky enough to represent a number of wonderful non-profits and small businesses. It was a firm where I could focus on and help my clients rather than worry about my billable hours. When my family moved here, I couldn’t find anything like that – until now.

My affinity for small businesses and non-profits didn’t happen in a vacuum either. I remember evenings around the dinner table discussing how changes in Medicare and Medicaid affected my mother’s home health agency’s bottom line, how difficult and stressful it was dealing with employee issues, and how she was managing a merger or a move.  These all affected her ability to bring necessary health services to her clients. In my world view, non-profits, small businesses and entrepreneurs are the foundations of our communities. That is why I love to represent them.

My mother taught me another important lesson, too. She was a nurse, then a stay at home mother, then a graduate student, then the executive director of a non-profit home health agency, and later a state legislator in New Hampshire. She taught me that second acts and reinvention are not only possible, they can be the best thing you have ever done.

With the advent of powerful legal resources online, novel business models, and changes in the economy, the traditional law firm model has become antiquated, often off-putting, and expensive.  This has made legal services daunting and unaffordable for many individuals, small businesses and non-profits.

Greater Good, by harnessing these new resources and models, is ahead of the curve. We can represent business clients who most need affordable services and operate in a way beneficial to our clients’ bottom line. I am so pleased and excited to be a part of this venture which is so perfectly aligned with who I am, where I came from and where I want to go.

Robin's Motivation

Robin Cunconan-Lahr

I thank my Dad for motivating me to pursue the practice of law as an instrument for social justice. I grew up during the tumultuous 1960s. My Dad took the opportunity to talk about the injustices experienced by people of color and the poor. I recall violence unfolding before my eyes on television and wondered if my community would be next. This opened the door for my dad to give me a lesson on African-American history, challenges in our inner cities, and the civil rights movement. I remember hearing about the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy while listening to the radio in our car and on television. I recall my Dad’s solemn mood.

Despite all that was happening at that time, he was filled with hope. He would talk about civil rights as a national movement but always brought it back home to our local community to point out how positive change can and must start in our own backyards. In high school I engaged in community service opportunities around homelessness and individuals with disabilities. My perspective on civil rights began to expand and I was drawn toward disability rights advocacy.

Fast forward to law school, I decided to start my career in public interest law. My first job was representing individuals who had limited access to legal services. Many could not afford an attorney. Others needed an attorney to defend, protect, or advocate for rights that were an issue simply because of circumstances in their lives over which they had no control, such as race, culture, socioeconomics, or disability. That experience re-enforced my view that a person’s color, limited income, or their physical or intellectual abilities, can never justify unequal treatment under the law. I am forever grateful to my parents for teaching me through the lens of equity and inclusion for all.

Later, I entered private law practice. Although I was able to continue practicing special education law, I was frustrated that traditional legal practice did not place greater emphasis on changing systems and supporting collaboration as part of resolution-seeking approaches. I also observed many unmet needs of children and families who could not access affordable legal services.

Then came Greater Good Legal. Now I am back to where my heart is rooted: in matters of social justice. I can practice in areas of the law that are most important to me and with more flexibility in my approach to reaching resolutions on behalf of our clients. Greater Good’s nontraditional views toward the practice of law offers flexible and affordable options for meeting many unmet legal needs that currently exist. We can also broaden our approaches to include using the law to educate and empower so that we can impact the changing of systems for the betterment of our individual clients and for our communities at large.

From my youngest of days, I was greatly influenced by words found in the Declaration of Independence, that ALL of us have “certain unalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It soon became clear to me that for many, these rights were denied because of societal and attitudinal barriers. To break these barriers and afford rights, it was not individuals who needed to change but our systems and ways of thinking that needed to change. This remains true today. The practice of law can be an effective tool to impact change. As an attorney with Greater Good, I will continue to seek out opportunities to use the law to educate and empower individuals and communities to change the systems that have perpetuated longstanding and historical barriers and injustices.

Michele's Motivation

Michele S. Perlstein

“Are you planning to follow a career in Magical Law, Miss Granger?” asked Scrimgeour.
“No, I’m not,” retorted Hermione. “I’m hoping to do some good in the world!”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This quote so perfectly describes my love-hate relationship with legal practice.  The reason I became a lawyer was because I have always felt compelled to do work that would help people.  I chose the field of health and hospital law in particular because in law school I became very interested in the issues concerning access to health care.

However, I became disillusioned with the practice of law very quickly after starting my first job. While I enjoyed working with my health care clients, and I had the privilege of working with some fantastic, dedicated lawyers as well, I did not like the business side of practicing law. There is an entrenched corporate culture that focuses too nearsightedly on the bottom line. The primary concern is not how you can help your clients, but how much business you can bring in and how many hours you must bill. The climate this kind of pressure creates was too mercenary for my taste. After a few years, I got burnt out and decided to take time off from practicing law.

In fact, for many years I thought I would leave the practice of law for good. By this time I had children and I was keeping my professional skills sharp by volunteering with various nonprofit organizations. When I began looking for paying work again, I did not even consider finding a legal job or joining a law group. But when I became acquainted with Greater Good Legal recently, I was intrigued. I loved the concept of modeling the practice in a way that truly supports small entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations. I am excited by the idea of a legal practice that keeps the spotlight on social action and collaboration, and truly being able to partner with people who are making a meaningful change in the communities they serve.

I think my desire for this kind of work comes from my father’s example. He passed away recently and this has had me thinking a lot lately about the impact one individual can have on society. My father did not achieve great fame or amass great wealth that he could use to influence the world. He had humble beginnings as an immigrant who was forced to flee his homeland due to religious persecution. He embraced his new country, became a citizen, and built a life with my mother, also an immigrant from the same homeland, for my sisters and me through sheer hard work.

My father was not a man of words or a great speaker but he lived a life of service and action. He was in the Army in his early twenties and later joined the police force in New York City where he served for 20 years. During this time he also worked other side jobs like valet parking and delivering flowers so that he could provide for our family and we never wanted for anything while we were growing up. After his retirement from the police force, my father found other ways to help people. He loved to drive and became a driver for a good family friend who has a vision impairment. He also became an active member of his synagogue, often helping in the office or wherever needed without hesitation. Like so many others who work on a grassroots level or with small nonprofit organizations, in so many ways he exemplified the saying, “action speaks louder than words.”

Given my background and interests, when I learned about Greater Good Legal I knew this was a perfect fit because I can go back to practicing law in a manner that I can get behind. The focus is on providing legal support to non-profits, small businesses, and entrepreneurs “so that [they] can be more successful in building [their] communities,” and they even pledge to give back to local charities. This exactly describes the kind of work I want to do.

Diane's Motivation

Diane V. Elliott

From the time I was a young child, I was faced with bigotry and prejudice. Fortunately, my parents taught me to see each person as an individual and sent me to an integrated and very culturally diverse school, where we learned from each other and were taught tolerance and understanding. I was very shy growing up except when I saw an injustice and then you couldn’t keep me quiet. I am first generation born in the United States. When we heard the bigotry from some of our leaders, my dad would say “I fought for this country and yet I am frequently made to feel like I do not belong here.” Hearing this hurt me, angered me and scared me.

So what motivates me? In a word EQUITY. Fairness. Everyone deserves to get what they need to level the playing field — to provide equal opportunities. We all deserve to walk down the street and feel safe, and feel confident that our children are safe. Wealth, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation or identity: none of these should define a person’s chance to fulfill their potential or to access healthy food, or safe, clean shelter, or a good education with all the tools needed to learn, and to dedicated, passionate, effective legal representation.

That was why my professional life took the trajectory it did. I went to law school to make a difference in people’s lives and to serve those least able to afford legal representation when their freedom, and in some cases lives, were at risk. I became a public defender. I practiced for 20 years, in both state and federal court, working many of those years with the Defenders Association of Philadelphia. I felt very strongly that it was my job to make sure that the constitutional rights of those charged with a crime were vigorously defended. By doing so, I believed that I was protecting the rights of all who came before the court and most importantly those who were innocent and could not afford an attorney.

In law school, in the courtroom and in public discourse — both nationally and in our neighborhood — I continued to experience bigotry and prejudice. My family is diverse and because of this, my daughters experienced the hurt of unkind words. I taught them early to never stereotype and that respect needs to be earned. Everyone matters and each person’s character needs to be assessed on an individual basis. I also instilled in them the importance of giving back to the community. They spent time with children who were different from them and engaged in volunteer work with me. They grew up understanding how lucky they were and that “but for the grace of God go I.”

Around the time my children were born I learned about the effect that pollutants in the Valley were having on residents’ health, particularly children, often living in low-income areas. I became involved in several environmental citizen suits, going back to school to obtain a master’s degree in environmental science. The degree gave me greater credibility and the ability to recognize and support those industries that were doing the right thing and take on those that were not. I continued my criminal law practice, until the adoption of mandatory guideline sentences took away judicial discretion and my ability to assure equity in the courtroom. I chose to continue my work in another way.

I became involved in community development and eventually co-founded and became the first Director of the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI), which reused old industrial sites, instead of building in farmland and pristine, greenfield areas. It allowed job growth in areas that were easily accessible to those without vehicles. LVLRI is 20 this year and continues to clean up sites, making them an important asset to the communities in which they are located.

My choices eventually led me to New Bethany Ministries, where I had a real opportunity to give back to the community by providing those in need with the tools necessary to improve their quality of life. I learned so much from the people I served about the ways in which their basic needs were not being addressed. Without safe housing and nutritious food, it is virtually impossible to focus on obtaining a job, an education and/or safe childcare. Without stable housing, income and healthy food, traumatic stress can reach a level in young children that can keep them from achieving their full potential. I saw first-hand the inequities in the way we provide for and treat those who are perceived as being different.

This is what motivated me not to retire but to commit myself to finding a Valley-wide solution to the need for safe affordable housing, a living wage and vibrant neighborhoods. I chair the Regional Homeless Advisory Board’s Affordable Housing Committee and am working with others to develop job training that will help create long term employment, affordable housing and community pride simultaneously.

Although I maintained my law license, handling an occasional case, I had no plans to return to the practice of law until I learned of Greater Good. Here was an opportunity to combine my passion with my legal knowledge. I will be focusing my efforts on fair and safe housing – both landlord and tenant – while continuing to fight for equity for all those who are marginalized both in and outside the courtroom.