Cohen & Grigsby Summer Associates Take a Break from Legal Briefs, Participate in Downtown Pittsburgh Community Service Project

Annual Project is Part of an Ongoing Effort to Broaden Skill Sets of Law Students

PITTSBURGH, PA – July 26, 2012 – Cohen & Grigsby, a business law firm with headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA and an office in Naples, FL, recently challenged its summer associates to create and implement a community service project as part of their summer experience with the firm. The seven associates elected to partner with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership for a beautification project on Saturday, July 21. The summer associates traded in their business attire and legal briefs for brooms and trash bags, concentrating on clean-up efforts in Market Square and other areas of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

“At Cohen & Grigsby, we believe in providing our summer associates with a broad experience that gives them a clear understanding of our firm’s culture,” said Jack Elliott, president and CEO of Cohen & Grigsby. “Our ongoing support of arts and cultural pursuits in Pittsburgh and in Southwest Florida demonstrates our clear commitment to being a corporate citizen. We want our summer associates to understand what it means to get involved and make a difference.”

This year, Alice Mitinger, a partner with the firm and director of pro bono and community services, changed the approach to the community service component of the summer program. Rather than assigning the associates a project, the summer associates were tasked with taking ownership of the project by choosing it themselves. The exercise required the summer associates to brainstorm, come to a consensus and coordinate the project, all of which are critical skills they will need as they embark on careers in the legal profession.

The community service initiative is part of a broader effort to help Cohen & Grigsby’s summer associates hone certain skills and abilities that can act as a complement to their legal education. Last year, the firm added a business development component to the program. Each summer associate conducts intensive research on one of the firm’s current clients to understand its nature and make-up. The goal is to find ways to enhance the value that the firm provides to that client and, in turn, help the firm grow its business with current clients. At the end of the summer term, the associates are required to brief partners and present a plan of action for the attorneys on how they might secure additional business.

“Both exercises provide real-world experiences to these law students that they can use when it’s time for them to build their own practices and portfolio of clients,” said Lisa Stauffer, senior counsel and coordinator of the summer associate program.

This year’s summer associates are:

  • Kirk P. Altman, Washington University School of Law
  • Jeffrey T. Berkey, Duquesne University School of Law
  • John L. Bonaccorsi, Duquesne University School of Law
  • Akiesha R. Gilcrist, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • Matthew M. Papkin, University of Pennsylvania School of Law
  • Elysia Heather Lynn Tonti, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Anna C. Zavala, University of Pittsburgh School of Law

The summer associate program ends on August 3.

EDITORS/REPORTERS: A photograph of the summer associates participating in the clean-up project is available. To obtain the photo, please contact Jennifer O’Rourke at

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