EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — A group of solo-practice lawyers took a risk nearly 10 years ago, banding together as one law firm and ditching traditional advertising techniques so they could give back to their community.
The law firm of D’Arcy Johnson Day, or DJD, started in July 2008 during the nationwide financial crisis and was flooded with calls for help from community organizations whose budgets had been cut, according to one of the managing partners.
Since then, the law firm has supported hundreds of charities, youth groups and sports teams in the area, and is the winner of the 2017 Bailey Award from The Press of Atlantic City.
The award is named for the beleaguered-but-beloved banker George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the classic Christmas film. The Press has presented it each year since 1995 to a local business that makes significant contributions to the community, the way Bailey did in his hometown of Bedford Falls.
The Press received 41 nominations this year for the Bailey Award.
Larry McCarty, of Absecon, is the board secretary and director of volunteers for South Jersey Field of Dreams, which provides a space for mentally and physically disabled children and adults to play baseball and enjoy other outdoor activities.
McCarty submitted one of 12 nominations for DJD.
“DJD is the most worthy of this award. They’ve volunteered as on-field assistants for our special athletes for a couple of seasons now,” McCarty said in the nomination. “The encouragement and enthusiasm of the entire staff toward our athletes is second to none. Giving of their time is invaluable for a program like ours.”
This year, DJD donated $2,500 to Field of Dreams to help build fitness stations at the park. It is just one of many donations the law firm made this year as part of its $100,000 pledge to area charities and sports organizations, managing partner Patrick D’Arcy said in May.
D’Arcy volunteered with the South Jersey Field of Dreams on several occasions, McCarty said.
“He went back to the staff (at DJD). Now the majority of them come,” McCarty said. “We are very fortunate to be one of many recipients of their support. It’s really special for us to know they are being recognized.”
Giving back was a goal of managing partners D’Arcy, Christopher Day, Richard Albuquerque, Andrew D’Arcy, Steven Johnson and Michael Gibson when they came together as one agency, Day said.
The partners decided to pull all of the advertising money from billboards and phone books and give it to organizations and sports teams that were forced to cut their budgets, Day said.
“When we came together is when we decided to turn the business model upside a little bit,” Day said. “The focus shouldn’t be on the profits. You need to turn the dynamics upside a little bit and focus on the people before profits, and the profits will come.”
The law firm lives by Benjamin Franklin’s quote “do well by doing good,” Day said.
They believe the business will do well by reinvesting in the community and that more businesses need to help each other instead of focusing on profits, Day said.
Since making the pledge to donate $100,000 per year, the law firm has donated to more than 200 organizations, Day said. It lists each recipient on its website to show that no organization is too small to ask for help. The managing partners encourage teachers, sports teams and other small community groups to reach out if they need assistance.
“We want to let our clients know, listen, you are part of us, you are part of a community. If you need help, we will help that,” Day said.
The law firm consists of the six managing partners as well as lawyers Lindsey Burwell, Dominic DePamphilis, Jeanine Warrington, Virginia Graziani Lowe, Jessica Ramirez and Brett Feldman. There also are about four or five “at counsel” attorneys at the law firm.
The law firm of D’Arcy Johnson Day is currently raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Recently, the firm donated 10 bicycles to children involved with the Atlantic City Police Athletic League and money for Pleasantville firefighters to provide local students with new winter coats through Operation Warm.
“These are the things I want to do, and the firm wants to do. We don’t care how big or small it is. We want to get involved,” Day said.