On December 31, 2014, the law firm of Rudnitsky Hackman & Potter LLP celebrated the end of its 40th year anniversary and prepared to begin 2015 as RHP Law Group LLC. Members, Karen Hackman and Ken Potter, describe the new name as putting the emphasis on the firm’s collaborative culture as well as on the firm’s future, “We are strongly committed to the belief that clients are best served when attorneys in a law firm collaborate with one another rather than compete for clients, and as the firm grows and moves into the future we will put a high value on maintaining that culture.”
The law firm was founded in 1974 by Marvin Rudnitsky who retired from the firm at the end of 2012. Attorney Rudnitsky continues to serve as a resource and advisor to the firm in the capacity of Senior Counsel. Karen and Ken credit Attorney Rudnitsky with his forward thinking in focusing the practice in limited areas rather than trying to be all things to all people. Ken notes that at the time the decision was made, it was what we call today “out of the box thinking,” but today more and more firms are moving in that direction.
Both Karen and Ken emphasized that the hard work and dedication of their support team are absolutely critical in providing clients with the highest level of satisfaction and the firm’s success saying “all members of our support team are well trained and experienced in dealing directly with clients under our supervision, thus allowing us to provide quality services in a timely manner at a lower cost for our clients.” Ken noted that time is set aside each month for team building activities. “We meet monthly to collectively address issues affecting the firm and its clients and schedule special activities as well, such as this past summer’s kayak outing on Lake Chillisquaque.” The support team also selects a community service project each year. All members of the staff as well as the attorneys participate. This past year’s event was the Apple Butter Boil and Sale at Kelsey’s Fall Festival in Mifflinburg. The support team sold 157 quarts of apple butter, the proceeds of which will help Kelsey’s Dream in its mission to help children diagnosed with cancer.
The firm’s practice is concentrated in the areas of asset protection, estate and trust planning, business planning and transactions, elder law and business litigation. However, Karen points out that they provide those services to a wide range of clients including individuals, families and businesses along with non-profits and the agricultural community, “What our clients have in common is a desire to get their individual, family and business affairs in order so as to avoid the time, expense and stress of litigation. Whether we are working with a family in protecting and passing on their legacy to the next generation or negotiating and preparing contracts for a business client, we plan not only for the certainties but for what may happen as well.”
Within the firm, Karen’s primary focus is estates and trusts, asset protection and business planning. Ken focuses primarily on elder law and business litigation. Unfortunately, Ken says “while much litigation can be avoided by good planning, it is still necessary to litigate to resolve some of the family and business disputes.”
When asked what the number one misconception about estate planning is, Karen replied “Too many people believe that estate planning is only for the wealthy. The truth is that each one of us has a legacy, some are financial while others may be personal objects or the family’s story. Each of these legacies is worth protecting. The tools we use may differ, but the goal in all cases is to pass it on in a protected way so that it cannot be taken in a lawsuit, by divorce or erased by dementia.” Another common concern among Karen’s clients is that their children may end up with nothing if the surviving spouse remarries. “In fact, second marriages are the number one reason why children are disinherited and the reason that we include remarriage protections in our plans.”
Ken was asked about the area of elder law and he was eager to point out that his goal is to help make sure people plan earlier, but his mantra was that even in a “crisis,” something typically can be done. A crisis is where someone is in or entering a long term care facility. Most people give up and end up losing their life savings. Ken was also quick to point out that elder law planning is as much about protecting the spouse at home as it is about leaving a legacy.
As part of their commitment to educating clients and community, the attorneys present monthly workshops for the public on the subjects of elder law and estate planning. Schedules of the 2015 workshops are available at the office and online at www.rhplegal.com. In October of 2014, the firm also co-sponsored a Business Summit with Cornerstone Advisors attended by 40 of our regions business leaders. The speakers were Michael Siegel from alliantgroup and Mark Pulaski of Cornerstone. Their subjects were tax credits and the use of nonqualified compensation in employee retention. In addition to the Business Summit, 2015 events will include an event for caregivers. Ken Potter noted that “the physical and emotional strain of caring for a loved one at home is a gargantuan task that can be eased by the considerable community resources that are often available and we are very pleased to have two excellent speakers on this important topic.”
The firm’s future plans include the addition of a third attorney in August of 2015. Jeff Gdovin, who is currently in his last year at Dickinson School of Law, will come on board after the bar exam. Jeff worked for the firm this past summer as a summer associate. Karen and Ken are looking forward to Jeff joining the team not only because of his excellent academic achievements, but also because of the promise he has shown in building rapport with our clients. “We are looking forward to Jeff’s arrival in August as well as future opportunities for growth and advancements. We firmly believe that standing still in law as in other professions is really going backward.”
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