As part of its 170th anniversary, The Legal for the first time awarded some of Pennsylvania’s most influential attorneys with Lifetime Achievement Awards. Each honoree was asked to provide a brief quote or anecdote about what the law has meant to them. These are there responses, paired with a few sentences from The Legal‘s staff about each winner’s career accomplishments.
ARLIN M. ADAMS
"The law and the legal profession have always been at the center of my professional life — whether as a practicing lawyer, a judge, a teacher orby being an active participant in the various adjuncts of the profession: the courts, the law schools, the bar association, the ALI, the Supreme Court Fellows and the Office of Independent Counsel. I was early persuaded that a democratic political system is best for our great society and at its pinnacle is the judiciary. We let the judiciary and the profession falter at the expense of our valued institutions and its numerous citizens. I am grateful for the many opportunities they have provided to me and, most importantly, for the valuable privilege of being able to support our priceless society."
In the Philadelphia legal community, the legacy of Arlin Adams is in plain sight. Whether it’s the Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society at Susquehanna University, the Arlin M. Adams Professorship on Constitutional Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School or the Arlin M. Adams Professor of Legal Writing at Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law, the retired Third Circuit judge’s mark is strewn throughout the state. Adams, currently of counsel at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, is renowned for his understanding of class action litigation and punitive damages matters and his investigation into Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernie Preate in 1994. In 1995, Adams was appointed as trustee in the New Era bankruptcy case, which was the largest nonprofit bankruptcy in history at the time. In 1975, he was one of President Ford’s two potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, losing out to Justice John Paul Stevens.
SAMUEL A. ALITO JR.
"There is nothing that is more important for our republic than the rule of law. No person in this country, no matter how high or powerful, is above the law and no person in this country is beneath the law."  — Alito, speaking at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings
Elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Samuel Alito was President George W. Bush’s second nominee to the high court. Alito began his legal career in his home state of New Jersey, where he clerked for Judge Leonard Garth of the Third Circuit in Newark. He went on to be an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey and later became an assistant to the solicitor general and a deputy assistant to the attorney general. Alito joined the Third Circuit after being nominated by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and sat on the bench until his confirmation to the Supreme Court in 2006.
LAWRENCE J. BEASER
"I think of my legal career in terms of luck, opportunity and hope. I have had luck in the incredible mentors that I have had, in the clients, colleagues and friends with whom I have worked, in loving the work that I do, and in finding so many meaningful causes to which to devote my energy and time. In the legal profession, I found the opportunity to be part of a long line of attorneys whose ideal was justice and who worked to make the rule of law a reality. I hope that I will be privileged to mentor others as I have been mentored and that I will continue to have opportunities to serve our community and the legal profession."
Lawrence Beaser is a partner at Philadelphia-based Blank Rome who focuses his practice on health law, nonprofit and for-profit business law and government law. Beaser was one of the drafters of the American Bar Association’s Model Nonprofit Corporation Act, Third Edition, and is currently chair of the Model Nonprofit Corporation Act subcommittee of the ABA’s business law section, as well as a member of the health law and administrative law section. In addition, he is chair of the board of managers of the Philadelphia Foundation and is a former chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Earlier in his career, Beaser served as general counsel to former Governor Milton J. Shapp. Beaser has also served as a deputy state attorney general, focusing on litigation and administrative law matters.
PHYLLIS W. BECK
"I am a night school graduate of Temple Law School. I graduated in 1967, a time when very few women were lawyers. I, among others, lit the path for the many women who followed. In 1981, as the first woman to serve on the Pennsylvania Superior Court (founded in 1896), I again lit the path. The law has enabled me to serve as a leader to diversify what was once an all-male profession. Although women are still striving for equality in the law, the landscape has improved. With the influx of women, the profession has become more enlightened, more accepting of differences and more willing to be of service to the community."
Viewed as a leader in the arena of judicial reform, Phyllis Beck is currently the chair and chief financial officer for the Independence Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to providing important services — such as legal aid — to those in need. Beck, the first woman to ever serve on the Pennsylvania Superior Court, penned several important opinions during almost 25 years on the bench. During that stint, the governor appointed her to head up a judicial reform commission that would eventually become known as the Beck Commission, a 23-member group that produced a lengthy report recommending sweeping changes to the state’s judiciary. Some never came to fruition, such as the recommendation that Pennsylvania use a merit selection system for judges. Another recommendation sparked the birth of the state’s new judicial discipline system when, in 1993, the Court of Judicial Discipline was born. Beck also served as general counsel to the Barnes Foundation.
"When I consider the role of public interest lawyering, I recall the observation attributed to the ancient engineer Archimedes: ‘Give me a lever long enough, and a place to stand, and I can move the world.’ I would like to see a world where the needy are cared for, children are nurtured to their full potential and fights between peoples and countries give way to peaceful coexistence. The law has been for me, and can be for many, the lever we use to move people and institutions to this special place in human history. Not so easy, but what’s a lawyer’s life for, anyway?"
Frank Cervone has been a leader in protecting children from abuse as executive director of the Support Center for Child Advocates since 1992. The center has represented the interests of 4,000 children who have been abused or neglected, including through its cadre of 3,000 trained volunteer attorneys. The center celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2007 and under Cervone’s stewardship has grown from 12 staff members to around 25 staff members and grown from serving 552 children in 1996 to 700 children in 2005. The center also prosecuted a class action in the early 1990s with its clients as class members that brought sweeping changes to family court. Cervone also has had an active role in shaping public policy, including being active on legislation and serving as a member of the juvenile court procedural rules committee, an advisory board to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for evaluating the rules and standards governing delinquency procedure and practice.
DAVID L. COHEN
"Being a member of the legal profession has had a significant impact on my life. Of course, like most of us, being a lawyer has essentially defined my career. I loved practicing law. The skills required to be a good lawyer — analytical skills, writing skills, practical skills, judgment — have proved to be perfectly transferable into other careers, whether related to the practice of law or not. The ability to use the law to produce important and good results — for clients and for society — has significantly influenced my personal commitment to community and public service. Being a lawyer is truly a noble profession and I am proud to be a member of the Philadelphia legal community."
David Cohen has worn many hats throughout his career — chairman of one of the largest firms in the state, executive vice president of one of the largest companies in the region and chief of staff to Mayor Edward G. Rendell — and he has worn them all well. While serving as Rendell’s chief of staff, Cohen was a key figure in dealing with the difficult budgetary and financial issues facing Philadelphia at the time — many give him credit for negotiating the city’s economic development through a challenging period. In his current role with Comcast Corp., he is responsible for corporate communications, government and regulatory affairs and community investment, among other duties, and he is also senior counselor to the CEO. Prior to joining Comcast, Cohen served as chairman of Ballard Spahr, helping to shape it into a powerful presence in the Philadelphia legal landscape.
STEPHEN A. COZEN
"The importance of the rule of law has been apparent to me throughout my lifetime, and has influenced much of what we have tried to do in practice, in the local and worldwide community, and in the work we have done for the betterment of mankind. We all feel good about whatever we have achieved in the practice of law, but realize that what we do is not necessarily who we are. Who we are really involves not our legal acumen or talents, but how we interact with our family, friends and community. To be clear, I have long considered my singular achievement to be the good sense to partner with Pat O’Connor. Recognizing that there is nothing mutually exclusive between practicing law and conducting the business of the practice of law at the highest level, I am proudest of the level of performance we have brought to both. The culture of entrepreneurial and familial spirit which exists at Cozen O’Connor is special and long-lasting. I am a lucky guy to be part of it."
Stephen Cozen teamed up with Pat O’Connor to create Cozen O’Connor, which at its start in 1970 had just four lawyers. Under Cozen’s leadership, the firm has grown to nearly 600 lawyers with 22 offices across the globe, joining the Am Law 200 ranks. Cozen O’Connor was historically known for its high-end insurance defense practice, which, to this day, is a niche for the firm that brings in substantial revenue. But it has expanded to a true full-service firm. At the same time, Cozen’s own litigation, appellate and government relations practice expanded as well. Though he has stepped down as head of the firm, Cozen maintains an active practice and remains busy in political and philanthropic circles. Aside from his representation of large insurance companies, he had a hand in major litigation over gaming coming to Pennsylvania, has represented local political power players and has been involved in major transactional work, such as the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers. Most recently, Cozen has led a litigation campaign seeking damages from the Saudi Arabian government on behalf of property insurers over claims stemming from the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
ALBERT S. DANDRIDGE III
"As a child, my family taught me to never be afraid to speak the truth to power. The legal profession has allowed me to do that — using power’s own language."
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis partner Al Dandridge has long led the firm’s securities practice, but has added other leadership positions to his resume in the past two years. In November 2011, Schnader Harrison named Dandridge as the firm’s first chief diversity officer, adding to his existing role as chairman of the firm’s diversity committee. Dandridge’s commitment to diversity isn’t limited to within his firm’s walls. He also serves as the secretary and treasurer of the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group.
Aside from his leadership on diversity initiatives, Dandridge is also a leader in the bar in general. In 2012, he ran and won a rare contested race for Philadelphia Bar Association chancellor. Currently the vice chancellor, Dandridge will serve as chancellor of the association in 2015. Dandridge’s legal work is concentrated in municipal and corporate finance matters. He regularly counsels major public companies, broker-dealers and investment advisers on their securities reporting and financing requirements. Before joining Schnader Harrison, Dandridge served in the Securities and Exchange Commission as associate director of small business and international corporate finance in the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance.
NELSON A. DIAZ
"I sincerely appreciate this prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed for my passion for advocacy and change. I could not accept this award without acknowledging those who made it possible. Peter Liacouras enabled my legal education and Charles Bowser and Howard Gittis were my mentors. These wonderful Philadelphia lawyers believed that empowering minorities is good for the legal profession and good for America. Most recently, Joseph Jacovini and Walter D’Alessio have made it possible for me to continue the struggle and prove that diversity does not imply mediocrity in the business world. The law enabled me to be a reformer of the Philadelphia courts and public housing nationally. It allowed me to open the legal profession to others with the help and support of so many wonderful legal and business leaders. My dedication to the law has afforded me the opportunity to impact Philadelphia, the judiciary, civil rights and international human rights, as well as an opportunity to serve three American presidents."
Nelson Diaz, who served on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas from 1981 through 1993, was the first Latino judge in Pennsylvania history. Diaz, who is now a partner in Philadelphia-based Dilworth Paxson’s litigation department, also previously served as Philadelphia’s city solicitor and, by President Bill Clinton’s appointment, general counsel to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nelson also served as a White House fellow, working as special assistant to Vice President Walter Mondale. Diaz has received several awards and honors for his work, including the American Bar Association’s 2001 Spirit of Excellence Award and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award of Excellence.
LAWRENCE J. FOX
"While I certainly love representing paying clients and have so valued and benefited from their confidence in Drinker Biddle & Reath and me, at the end of the day it is the other professional activities that these wonderful clients have made possible that I truly treasure: a class action that ended up building almost 1,000 units of splendid new housing in Chester, Pa.; Bo Cochran walking off of death row and into the sunshine; revising and opining upon the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct; teaching ethics at Cornell, Penn, Harvard and, now, Yale; chairing the ABA Section of Litigation; starting the Ethics Bureau at Yale; a prolix, if not profound, writing partnership with Susan Martyn; chairing the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project, and the list could go on and on. How fortunate I have been."
Lawrence Fox, a partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath in Philadelphia since 1976 and a former managing partner of the firm, was instrumental in drafting the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Fox previously served as a member of the ABA Commission on the Evaluation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, chair of the ABA Post-Conviction Death Penalty Representation Project, chair of the litigation section and chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. In addition, Fox is the founder of Yale Law School’s Ethics Bureau, a nonprofit that seeks to provide pro bono advice on professional responsibility. Fox was sent by the U.S. Department of State to Argentina in 1997 and to China in 2002 to speak as a specialist on the role and rights of lawyers.
JOHN P. GISMONDI
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the practice of law. It is stimulating and interesting work that allows for a tremendous amount of independence and self-expression. The bulk of my professional work has been as a trial attorney, and I like the fact that the outcome of the case so often depends on the effort and skill of the lawyer. I like the direct correlation between performance and result. I have also spent a fair part of my time teaching law students and giving back to the profession through speaking at seminars and participating in bar association activities, and I have found those pursuits to be very fulfilling. From a personal standpoint, I have always savored the bond with my clients and the camaraderie with fellow members of the bar. The law is indeed a noble profession and I am proud to be part of it."
John Gismondi, head of Pittsburgh personal injury firm Gismondi & Associates, has been representing plaintiffs in injury cases, ranging from medical malpractice to automobile accidents, for more than 30 years. Gismondi has served as president of the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Western Pennsylvania chapter of the Pennsylvania Trial lawyers Association, now known as the Pennsylvania Association for Justice. Currently, Gismondi serves as the chair of the PAJ’s medical malpractice section. He is also a former chairman of the PAJ’s Trial Advocacy Foundation of Pennsylvania. In 2004, the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, of which Gismondi is an alumnus, established the John P. Gismondi Civil Litigation Certificate
Program, a curriculum designed to provide training to law students who aim to become trial attorneys.
ROBERT C. HEIM
"As a boy growing up in Philadelphia, I would frequently visit the Wyoming Branch of the Free Library after exhausting myself playing basketball, and my frequent visits drew the attention of a kindly librarian. She often recommended books and among them were stories of the great debates between Daniel Webster, John Calhoun and Henry Clay. By reading these biographies and those of other 19th-century American lawyers, I became fascinated with the power of advocacy and the idea of law as a logical and sometimes even noble exercise of man’s inherent rationality. It seemed to me then, as it does now, that the law is mostly, and should be, the institutionalization of reason, and that the continuous development of the law and respect for it is our best cause for optimism as a society. The role of the advocate in the shaping of the law held out great promise to me in my youth and these many years later I have found no reason to feel otherwise."
Robert Heim is a nationally known trial lawyer and one of the top rainmakers at Dechert. His practice focuses on antitrust, securities and other complex commercial litigation. Heim has represented drugmaker Pfizer in litigation over hormone replacement therapy drugs and antidepressant Zoloft and in the decertification of a proposed class action alleging off-label marketing of an epilepsy drug, Neurontin. Heim is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He was one of two Philadelphia lawyers appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to investigate Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski over sexually explicit material found on the judge’s website. Heim represented judicial plaintiffs in their successful lawsuit in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in which the high court ordered reinstatement of the judicial pay raises repealed when voter anger erupted over a general pay increase for legislators and the judiciary. He currently is representing several of the judges challenging the mandatory retirement age. He has been the longtime chair of the board of directors for court reform group Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.
LAWRENCE W. KAPLAN
"As a 30-year, now-retired family court judge, with 60 years as an active member of the bar, I am thankful for the privilege of having met my ambitions of providing personal and communal professional services and involvement."
Lawrence Kaplan spent 30 years on the bench of the Family Division of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, issuing decisions that helped to shape family law in the state. He was dedicated to resolving the contentious issues presented by divorce and custody cases and was named Family Division judge emeritus in 2008, before joining Rothman Gordon in 2009. His efforts helped pave the way for the use of mediation as an alternative to custody litigation, an innovative notion that has changed the landscape of family law in Pennsylvania. Kaplan is the founder and president emeritus of the Mediation Council of Western Pennsylvania, which provides the public with education about mediation and assistance in finding qualified mediators. Kaplan remains active in mediation and family law arbitration with Rothman Gordon.
"After a century-and-a-half of exclusion of Asian Pacific Americans from admission to the bar, the law now represents an opportunity to advocate on behalf of disenfranchised communities, including Asian Pacific ones. No longer should Asian Pacific American communities go unrepresented or have their issues continue to be ignored. As the legal profession becomes increasingly diverse, with the encouragement of the organized bar, more multilingual lawyers will be available to represent the 30 Asian Pacific American communities in Pennsylvania. I see my work and practice of law as part of this process of empowering the APA communities."
Tsiwen Law is an authority on civil rights and one of the founding members of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania. He has authored several resolutions that have been successfully approved by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s House of Delegates, including the Pennsylvania Court Interpreters Act, passed in 2006, which requires programs for the appointment and use of certified interpreters in administrative and court proceedings for those who are deaf or have limited English proficiency. He authored an amicus brief regarding the Pennsylvania voter ID law and has testified before Congress on census issues, as well as before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding special education needs for Asian Pacific American students. Through his roles with numerous bar associations and community outreach organizations, he has served as a zealous advocate for the Asian Pacific American community throughout his career.
CHARISSE R. LILLIE
"The law has given me the opportunity to be a lifelong learner. It has given me the privilege of pursuing my passion for diversity. I have been able to do pro bono representation for cutting-edge nonprofit organizations. I have met some of the most fascinating men and women from all over the world — leaders of industry and august legal institutions. I count some of them as friends. My earliest mentors were legends of the legal world. I use my law degree almost every day in my corporate life. My law degrees are gifts that keep on giving."
Charisse Lillie is a legal notable for having reached the status of top-level executive for one of America’s major corporations, as well as partner for an Am Law 200 law firm, and for showing that a woman of color is not precluded from reaching those heights. Lillie is vice president, community investment, for cable titan Comcast and president of the Comcast Foundation. She joined Comcast in 2005 as vice president, human resources. At Ballard Spahr, Lillie was a partner from 1992 to 2005 and was chair of the firm’s litigation department for three years. Lillie’s practice included employment and labor law. She also has been active on issues of diversity, community investment and corporate social responsibility. Lillie also has worked for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, as general counsel to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and city solicitor of Philadelphia.
EDWARD W. (NED) MADEIRA JR.
"A judicial clerkship on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court followed by 60 years of practice in the same firm, including work with the bar and judiciary to enhance resources and tools for our judicial system, provide the basis to respond to the question, ‘What has the law meant to me?’ First, in many ways the practice of law has been personally rewarding — emotionally, inspirationally, intellectually and modestly financially. But borrowing from a recent tribute to the late Anthony Lewis, the law provides optimism for what it can achieve but pessimism for how frequently it falls short as to the ideal. Experience teaches that the law drives our much-admired justice system, which, in fact, is and has been aspirational — ’equal justice for all’ — I can only hope that in my 60 years we have helped narrow the gap between reality and the aspiration."
Ned Madeira, co-chair emeritus and senior counsel with Pepper Hamilton, has spent almost his entire legal career at the firm, playing a large role in its growth into the Am Law 100. Madeira also was chair of Pepper Hamilton’s litigation department and vice chair of the firm. His practice concentrates in civil litigation, including civil antitrust defense, products liability and defense of drugmakers, automobile manufacturers and manufacturers of paper and forest products, asbestos mining companies and major equipment and consumer product manufacturers.
In 2009, Madeira received the American Bar Association Justice Center’s John Marshall Award, given to those who improve the administration of justice. Madeira was honored for his work promoting judicial independence with the ABA’s presidential commission on the separation of powers, former ABA President H. Thomas Wells Jr.’s commission on fair and impartial state courts and Pennsylvania’s judicial independence commission. Madeira was president of the board of directors for the Defender Association of Philadelphia for 25 years. Madeira also is known for his mentoring of future legal luminaries, including Nina Gussack and Michael Reed.
BARBARA W. MATHER
"The law has presented the chance to solve interesting puzzles and use both intellect and professional skills; the chance to work in an environment where logic and right are your best weapons and usually prevail; colleagues — for and against — who are stimulating and interesting; from time to time, a chance to make things better — serving as city solicitor, representing the city in the domestic partners benefits case, defending funding for the convention center and its affirmative action contracts, and quietly advising numerous boards and managers, particularly of charities."
Pepper Hamilton’s Barbara Mather is a trailblazer. Mather was Philadelphia city solicitor in the mid-1980s before joining Pepper Hamilton. She was one of the first female leaders of a law firm in Pennsylvania, serving as Pepper Hamilton’s managing partner in the early 1990s. It wasn’t until Nina Gussack took over leadership of Pepper Hamilton in 2007 that a large Philadelphia firm again had a female leader. Mather has become a leader in her practice as well. She is the former chairwoman of Pepper Hamilton’s litigation and dispute resolution department. She focuses her practice on professional responsibility and malpractice, antitrust, securities and corporate governance and other commercial matters. She also handles higher-education law. Mather currently serves as Pepper Hamilton’s general counsel and heads the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners.
THEODORE A. MCKEE
"As far as I can now recall, my attraction to the law began with a raging curiosity during my formative years — the ’60s. I recall watching the evening news in disgust as Walter Cronkite narrated scenes of protestors being arrested and beaten, or pummeled with high-pressure hoses and cattle prods. I well understood that they had become the targets of mob violence solely because they wanted to engage in such subversive activity as ordering lunch at an ‘all-white’ lunch counter or registering to vote. Somehow, even then, I understood that whatever law defined their activity as ‘illegal’could not possibly survive challenge in a court of law. During the time I was watching those images, I was hearing my father tell me of the insults he had to endure as a waiter-in-charge on the New York Central Railroad or playing on an all-white high school basketball team in Bloomington, Ind. All of that seemed so inconsistent with what I was being taught in school. In later years, I began to appreciate the not-so-subtle betrayal of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. As my thought process continued to evolve, I began to understand that the country’s political and legal principles are only as strong as the legal system and courts entrusted with safeguarding them."
Intellectual honesty and straight talk are the hallmarks of Theodore McKee’s approach on the bench. When he frames an issue, in questioning from the bench or in an opinion, he does so incisively and with clarity. He also reminds appellate lawyers that their cases make rules that are going to have real-world repercussions for common citizens and businesses. McKee joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1994 and has been chief judge since 2010. For the decade before he was appointed to the federal appeals bench, he was a trial judge in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
EDWARD G. RENDELL
"When I was in law school at Villanova, one of my classmates would always say to our contract professor, ‘But that result just isn’t fair.’ Professor Collins would reply, ‘Fairness — if you want fairness, go across the street.’ Professor Collins was referring to the church rectory, which was directly across the street from the law school. Now, don’t get me wrong, Professor Collins was a great person and a great teacher, but he was simply incorrect. I believe, with very few exceptions, fairness is the foundation of every aspect of the American legal system. This is true from our Constitution to our statutes and to their interpretation. When I left law school, I took with me love for the law and my overriding belief that what is fair and right should determine outcomes. Luckily, I have been granted the opportunity in my time as district attorney, mayor and governor to use that belief to inform my decision-making. It is said that we are a governor of laws, not men, and that is true. It is one of the strengths of our country, but for those laws to be effective, they must be interpreted through the prism of what is fair and what is right."
Ed Rendell has become a fixture of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politics and a national player in that arena as well, serving as chairman of the Democratic National Convention during the 2000 presidential campaign. Since finishing up his second term as governor of Pennsylvania, Rendell returned to his law firm roots at Ballard Spahr, but he has also worked nationally as a political commentator and through his board membership with Building America’s Future, a coalition focused on upgrading the country’s infrastructure.
From 2003 to 2011, Rendell served as Pennsylvania’s governor. From 1992 through 2000, he was mayor of Philadelphia, where he balanced the city’s budget and created several years of surpluses. Between his time as mayor and governor, Rendell went into private practice at Ballard Spahr. From 1978 through 1985, Rendell served two terms as Philadelphia’s district attorney.
NORMA L. SHAPIRO
"As a child, I read a civics book about teenagers dreaming of the Bill of Rights and decided to be a lawyer. Later, I hoped to become a judge to help preserve those rights for citizens of a free society. By a happy combination of education, determination, energy and luck, I have been fortunate to have that opportunity, and to be the first female in a number of roles. One of my goals has been to pave the way for others and I hope I have achieved this. Success and satisfaction in a legal career are attained by developing your own skills to help others. It is an honor and a privilege to contribute to the administration of justice and serve the community."
A Philadelphia native, U.S. District Senior Judge Norma Shapiro of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1951 and spent more than 20 years in private practice in the city, becoming the first woman to be named partner at Dechert. Shapiro left the firm to join the federal bench, where she served as an active judge for 20 years before taking senior status in 1998. Shapiro is still hearing cases.
CAROL NELSON SHEPHERD
"For more than 35 years, I have been inspired by the strength, grace and character exhibited by my clients, despite enormous loss and adversity. In particular, since my early years as a medical malpractice attorney, I have been privileged to represent many women who were denied timely diagnosis of breast cancer, who sought representation from a compassionate but resolute female attorney. Helping brain-injured children as well as adults get the treatment and rehabilitation they need, and assisting families who have lost a loved one, has also been immensely rewarding. For me, simply being a member of the Philadelphia legal community has been important in my life, as it has allowed me to work with a collegial and diverse community of attorneys and judges, with bar associations and with many nonprofit legal service organizations, in order to promote equal access to justice for all. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a lawyer doing the work I love for wonderful and deserving clients, at an amazing law firm that I had the honor of co-founding more than a quarter-century ago."
Carol Nelson Shepherd is a founding member of Philadelphia-based personal injury firm Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig. She has served as the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association’s first female president and was the second woman to serve as president of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, now known as the Pennsylvania Association for Justice. Shepherd’s practice is devoted to catastrophic injury claims arising from medical negligence. She has continuously had strong results in high-stakes litigation, including several million-dollar recoveries for her clients. In one case, Shepherd won the full policy limits in what is believed to be the first case in the United States where the defendant’s failure to prescribe periconceptional folic acid to a young woman resulted in the delivery of a daughter suffering from spina bifida.
DOLORES K. SLOVITER
"When I first fixed on law more than 50 years ago, I had no idea it would be totally enveloping. Law school was a financial struggle. My family were working people and did not belong to a country club, as did many of the parents of my school mates. I worked my way through law school and cherished the half-scholarship I was begrudgingly awarded in those days when female law students were not welcomed. I soaked up the classes, especially those that focused on the First Amendment. From the beginning of law school, during my 16 years of private practice, seven years of law teaching at Temple and 34 years on the Court of Appeals, I have had no regrets. I have watched as the profession has become open to all races and religions and to women. From a personal standpoint, I was proud to be the first female chief judge of the Third Circuit. Looking back, I am delighted to see an open profession that truly moves forward."
Judge Dolores Sloviter of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has remained an active-status judge long after she became eligible to take senior status — she’ll do that next month. Sloviter was the first woman named to the Third Circuit bench, in 1979, and she remains the only woman to have served as chief of that court, which she did from 1991 to 1998. Before joining the bench, Sloviter practiced law at Dilworth Paxson and she was a member of the Law Firm of Harold E. Kohn.
"The law has always provided an intellectual anchor for a wide variety of activities during my lifetime. I have been privileged to play a role in public management, law enforcement, the empowerment of people with disabilities, economic development, the furthering of the rule of law — both at home and abroad — and the protection of the integrity of the process of governance. I have learned the overriding importance of the rule of law in its guarantee of equal justice, respect for individual rights and liberties, due process in the protection of our lives and property, the maintenance of independent courts, effective law enforcement and a workable system of civil justice. Law is the tie that binds together all of these disparate elements of what makes up a good and just society. I have been proud to associate myself with the law’s aspirations for over 50 years."
Dick Thornburgh is a former attorney general of the United States and the 41st governor of Pennsylvania. During three years as attorney general in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, Thornburgh took a tough stance on white-collar and hate crimes and had a key role in the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For those efforts, he has been acknowledged for his commitment to civil rights issues with awards and recognition from numerous legal organizations and committees. Currently of counsel to K&L Gates, a firm he first joined in the late 1950s, Thornburgh serves as an adviser to the firm’s government affairs clients. He is widely known as an outstanding private lawyer with an unrelenting devotion to the public interest sector. He has been called one the most legendary lawyers in Washington, D.C., history.
R. STANTON WETTICK JR.
"As part of a school project, my granddaughter recently interviewed me because of my involvement in the war on poverty. She wanted to paint me as someone who made the ultimate sacrifice — giving up big firm life for the Neighborhood Legal Services Association because of my idealism and concern for the poor. I suggested to her that one should seldom trust anyone who claims to be sacrificing his or her own ends for others. I was simply opening a new door — practice at the NLSA — because I looked forward to a new challenge that would perhaps be more interesting, rewarding and fun. This was one of several doors that I have opened because it presented new challenges. I am fortunate to have stumbled into a rich and fulfilling profession with so many doors that may be opened."
Most Pennsylvania litigators will tell you that the best guidance on an issue yet to be examined by a Pennsylvania appeals court, if available, is an opinion from Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Senior Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. For example, as questions arise on the discoverability of social media pages, one of the hottest issues in Pennsylvania courts right now, it is Wettick’s handling of the matter that lawyers view as the gold standard. For years, legal observers have viewed Wettick, the consummate lawyer’s judge, as a leader on civil procedural issues and discovery matters. Halfway through his fourth decade on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Wettick’s decisions have also come to be known for two things: the efficiency with which they come down and their likelihood of holding up on appeal. He currently oversees the complex litigation that makes its way through the court.
DEBORAH R. WILLIG
"I have always viewed the law as an opportunity to effect positive change — to try to achieve fairness and justice for those people and communities without much power or influence of their own: women, people of color, children, LGBT individuals, the disabled, working men and women. To me, the legal profession stands as a testament to the ideal that one person can make a difference by using the legal system to fight for the fulfillment of the promise made by our nation’s founding parents — equal justice under law. I have been very fortunate to spend my career with a group of like-minded lawyers collectively working for the common good and to promote a better way of life for working men and women and for the underrepresented in our community. We all have a collective appreciation of the wonderful results that can be accomplished in fighting for justice — not just to provide a level playing field for our clients now, but also to provide a future free of inequalities and filled with opportunity for our children."
Deborah R. Willig is a founder of Philadelphia labor and employment law boutique Willig, Williams & Davidson and has served as the firm’s managing partner since it opened in 1979. In addition to being one of only a handful of female firm leaders in Pennsylvania, Willig became the first female chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 1992. As head of the firm, Willig has taken several steps to ensure a diverse and family-friendly workplace, including enacting policies on part-time work, as well as family, medical and parental leave, that have set the firm apart as a particularly attractive destination for female professionals.
BARTON J. WINOKUR
"Being a lawyer is all about relationships — understanding your clients’ points of view and having a framework for solving their problems. The practice of law has enabled me to think beyond what is conventionally possible and to realize that we can do what most think is impossible if only we are willing to think it possible. I have learned that what you know is less important than knowing what you don’t know and that acknowledging your limitations and relying on the strengths of your colleagues is the most important key to learning."
Bart Winokur spent 14 years as chairman and chief executive officer of Dechert. Winokur joined the firm in 1965, became a partner in 1972 and served as chairman of the mergers and acquisitions and international law practices. He took over as chairman in 1996, taking Dechert from a firm of nine offices with three outside of the United States to one with 19 offices, including eight foreign locations.
Perhaps the most outwardly notable of his accomplishments, Winokur helped in moving up the firm’s profits per equity partner (PPP) from $345,000 the year before he took over as chairman to $1.96 million in 2009. The PPP figure had reached $2.35 million at its height in 2007.
Winokur’s strategy focused on handling high-end work in highly profitable practice areas while over the years jettisoning those practices that couldn’t support higher hourly rates. He largely did away with immigration, media law and state tax work and focused instead on practices like corporate finance and large-scale mass torts litigation. Winokur embraced the business side of running a law firm and transformed what a Pennsylvania firm could look like. Though he stepped down from running the firm, he is still very actively involved in running his practice. Winokur has been involved in several major deals on behalf of clients since returning to the full-time practice of law in 2011.