PHILADELPHIA – Up-and-coming attorneys considering a career that includes public service should do it for all the right reasons, one of the newest judges on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas said during a recent interview.
"Don't look at this as a stepping stone," Judge Daniel R. Sulman said during a Pennsylvania Record interview. "Do it because this is what you want to do, because you want to do the right thing. Do it for all the right reasons."
Daniel R. Sulman was sworn in as a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas earlier this month and has been assigned to the very busy Domestic Relations Division of the Philadelphia Family Court. That division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas responds to complaints and petitions concerning child and spousal support, divorce, child custody and domestic violence.
Sulman has spent the last few weeks observing the court and expects to take on a caseload in the coming days.
"Things are going very well," Sulman said.
His addition to the court comes at a difficult point for the division.
"We have a very large caseload in Philadelphia," he said. "It's very busy and we've been two judges short for a while now."
Sulman's nomination was part of a slate of judicial nominations jointly announced June 13 by Gov. Tom Wolf, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R - 34th District) and Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D - 43rd District). Sulman was nominated to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas along with Stella Tsai, Vincent W. Furlong, Lucretia C. Clemons, Roger F. Gordon and Vincent N. Melchiorre.
"This is something I've always wanted to do," Sulman said. "I've been in public service my entire legal career."
After graduating from Philadelphia public schools, Sulman earned his bachelor's degree from Temple University in 1997 and was awarded a J.D. from Temple University's James E. Beasley School of Law in 2000. Sulman has served as a lecturer at various family law continuing legal education (CLE) presentations. He was appointed a master late 2003 and he served as a law clerk in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to the Honorable Edward R. Summers.
By then, Summers, who retired in 2014 after about 27 years on the bench, had been on the Court of Common Pleas for more than 15 years.
"That was my first introduction to family court," Sulman said.
It's not an easy assignment to encounter people at some of the lowest period in their lives, especially those especially vulnerable, Sulman said.
"Our volume is so high and the resources can be very low," he said. "The people we see, very often, are low income and our funding is very low.
"We want to move these things forward as efficiently as we can," he said. "That way people can have their say, their day in court, and things get done reasonably and fairly."
Sulman said he also encounters like-minded colleagues, all there for very much the same reason.
"I enjoy family court," he said. "I enjoy family law, I enjoy my colleagues. They're here, we're here, to make a difference, even in situations that aren't always ideal."
Sulman also is a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association, where he presently is co-chair of the Family Law Section’s Support and Alimony Committee. He also is a member of the executive committee of the Nicholas A. Cipriani Inn of Court and have given lectures family law CLE gatherings.