30 Great Places to Work 2020
Having a great work culture can lead to increased productivity, especially if the company is reliant on teamwork. At Rebar Kelly, a firm that specializes in representing insurance companies in liability and coverage cases, it is the people who make it great.
Since its inception in 2012 Rebar Kelly’s Managing Partner Cathleen Kelly Rebar has sought to assemble a cohesive, focused, talented and diverse staff that is up to any challenge and able to consistently work together to achieve goals. However, not everyone has been the right fit, or shared the same vision, but Rebar believes in the end it helps build a stronger team. Rebar has always been committed to making Rebar Kelly an enviable place to work even when others worked against that goal. With her partner Chris Kelly, Rebar has accomplished that goal, with Rebar Kelly now being named one of CIO Bulletin’s 30 Great Places to Work.
Rebar has long realized that the effectiveness of the team relies heavily on the group’s solidarity, so efforts are often focused on bringing people together. Her philosophy reflects her team sports background: hire the right people for the job, prepare and practice, back each other up, learn from each other, keep an open mind, and always put forth your best effort. “Every person at this firm contributes on a daily basis in a meaningful and essential way,” says Rebar.
In 2018, Rebar Kelly undertook a massive renovation of their Blue Bell, PA main office. Changes including a completely rewired office suite with modern recessed lighting and fresh color schemes, a brand new server room with top of the line wifi, new VOIP system, and all new copier and mail facilities joined creature comforts like open ceilings, spacious hallways, gathering areas, a high tech breakroom and kitchen, and a completely redesigned lobby. “When new people come into our office for the first time they always have the same reaction: ‘Wow’” says Office Manager Marina Bradley. The firm has grown to 4 locations, with the main office in Blue Bell, PA, and offices in New York, NY, Princeton, NJ and Stanford, CT. Office locations have long been chosen with convenience in mind. The Blue Bell office, for example, is minutes from Philadelphia and several major highways that connect it with the other offices. It is also situated close to the second largest mall in the country, King of Prussia Mall, as well as several dining, entertainment and shopping hubs in Skippack, Ambler, and Chestnut Hill. Rebar Kelly organizes events throughout the year to unite remote staff and usher harmony.
Striking that perfect balance and building a great staff is an ongoing effort. “Being great means everyone rowing in the same direction,” say Rebar. “In the past we have learned lessons – know when it is time to cut ties with toxic people. There are just some people who poison the culture of a business. Those who can’t often criticize those who do.”
Rebar credits Kelly with a significant part in the continued growth of the business. “Chris is the best business partner anyone could hope for,” says Rebar. Kelly stresses that Rebar deserves the credit. “Cathleen has the proven track record,” says Kelly. “She is constantly evolving with the times, and that allows for continued growth among the staff and the firm as a whole. Everyone here is eager to work to keep the firm great, through Cathleen’s example, that’s a requirement and that’s why we have achieved the success we have.”
Partner Patrick Healey agrees, saying, “Cathleen’s commitment to the firm is second to none.” “She is a teacher dedicated to the growth of the skill levels of all associates. And personally, every conversation with Cathleen leads me to examine legal issues with a fresh perspective. That commitment to excellence makes us all better.” Partner Stephen Bissell, who was just named one of the “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch” recognizes that his colleagues and friends at the firm help him out on a daily basis, and says, “Without a great team, obtaining individual recognition would be impossible.” Rebar’s long-time assistant Kathy Ciesielka stresses, “Our team is collaborative. There is an open door policy here – if you need help, just ask.”
The office’s warm work culture extends to Rebar’s courtroom as well, where Rebar has been an elected judge in Montgomery County, PA for over 10 years. The offices share a close rapport. “I can tell you this – working with and for her at the court makes it easier to get up and come to work – it’s actually something I look forward to, knowing that the direction and leadership she provides to not only her staff but anyone walking into the court is nothing but top notch. Her knowledge, skills and her overall ability go unmatched and are widely admired. Cathleen creates an environment of positivity for everyone. I have said it before and stand by the fact - there is absolutely no better judge or friend” says Richard Falcone, Rebar’s senior clerk.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested many companies, but with a strong network of relationships among staff, Rebar Kelly has excelled. The firm has never lost sight of the need to foster strong bonds among staff, and Zoom meetings with a focus on fun have become the new normal. Whether playing Kahoot quiz games or having a remote “wacky shirt” party, the team is still finding ways to come together and laugh.
During the pandemic, Rebar and the firm started a charity to support food banks in multiple states by supplying local restaurant gift cards to those in need. The charity endeavor became a firm-wide effort, and raised thousands of dollars in just a few weeks. The firm donated significantly to aid the local businesses in the areas where the firm does business. The gift cards not only benefitted local families in need who were relying on the food banks more than ever, but also the local restaurants trying to stay open in unprecedented times.
Working remotely was also a challenge for many – but Rebar Kelly’s transition to remote work went almost seamlessly. They credit that in part to their pro-active planning for the worst case scenarios and the firm’s partnership with their IT company, Christo IT, who have gone above and beyond to facilitate the transition to remote work. But the employees still look forward to getting back to normal. “I miss the office!” says associate Julie Buonocore. Her sentiment has been shared by nearly every other employee.
About the Founder
Cathleen Kelly Rebar is the Founder and the Managing Partner of Rebar Kelly. The firm specializes in representing insurance companies in coverage and liability cases. In response to the new challenges presented by the pandemic, Cathleen has expanded her representation to include matters related to COVID-19.
As an award-winning attorney and fierce litigator with an impressive record of victories in the courtroom, Cathleen has acted as lead counsel in some of the insurance industry’s most high-profile cases and served as an elected magisterial district judge in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, for over 10 years. With almost two decades of experience, she leads a team of lawyers, who have tried hundreds of cases to successful verdicts.
“Rebar Kelly was formed upon the principle that long-term relationships flow naturally from recognizing that our clients are our true partners.”