Member of the Month: Francois Dutchie, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, City of Philadelphia
1. What are you currently working on?
Right now I am focusing on my expanded management duties now that I am responsible for the work of 18 attorneys and six legal assistants. I’m also gearing up for the first of several municipal bond transactions intended to help fund the City’s Rebuild program — one of Mayor Kenny’s signature initiatives.
2. What do you enjoy most about being a member of the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia?
I have greatly enjoyed and been extremely impressed with the members of the legal community that have spoken at the monthly meetings. The various judges, elected officials, law school administrators and prominent attorneys who have given presentations have provided our members with a wealth of information, insight, and inspiration. I have also been very pleased to be involved in some of the outreach work that the Barristers perform like the educational forum that was conducted at Drexel University and of course, the Turkey Drive.
3. What has been the most important personal attribute in your legal career?
I think my most important personal attribute is probably having a fair amount of patience and an ability to take things in stride. Having a pretty good sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.
4. Tell us about what you do every day at work?
Since my job involves a great deal of administrative work in managing the attorneys in my unit as well as having my own transactions to work on and clients to advise, my day can involve doing just about anything you could possibly imagine. Obviously, phone calls and emails take up a good portion of my day. I tend to prefer to communicate with people over the phone rather than through emails (I can be a bit lazy about typing), although some things clearly need to be put in writing. I also attend a lot of meetings with clients, people working on various transactions such as bond deals or major contracts and with other Law Department staff on a variety of administrative issues. Having spent almost 21 years at the Law Department I have become one of those people who seems to know a lot of stuff, most of it simply by virtue of my longevity. So I also spend a good deal of time answering questions and sharing the fairly substantial amount of experience and institutional knowledge I have gained over the years.
5. If you hit the lottery tonight, where could we find you tomorrow?
It would probably have to be the day after tomorrow since it’s a pretty involved journey to get there, but if I could, I would spend some time at a small resort and spa called Coconut Lagoon. It is located on one of the largest lakes in Kerala which is the southernmost state in India. It’s a beautiful place that my wife and I visited more than 20 years ago and I would love to go back.
6. What has been the best moment of your career thus far?
While I have had a number of very good moments during my career, I think being named Chief Deputy last year was probably the best so far. This promotion for me represents recognition of a great deal of hard work over the last 20 years as well as an acknowledgement of the very successful and productive relationships I have formed with many people in City government during my years at the Law Department.
7. If you had a chance to give out your own award, who would you recognize?
There are five attorneys for whom I have always had a tremendous amount of respect, both for their tremendous skills as attorneys, but perhaps more importantly, for who they are as human beings. They have all been a source of guidance and inspiration to me throughout my legal career. So if I could give out five awards, they would go to Robert Reinstein, Larry Beaser, Robert Archie, Bernard Lee, and Steve Aichele.
8. What is the most important advice you can give to members of the Barristers?
Be willing to talk to anyone and everyone. You never know who may end up providing you with important advice, a key connection, a job offer or just a good book to read.