Mark C. Alexander

Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

As the Arthur J. Kania Dean and professor of law at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, Alexander serves as the school’s chief administrator and chairperson of the faculty. He joined Villanova on July 1, 2016. Prior to that, he served as associate dean for academics at Seton Hall University School of Law. 
He is the first African-American law dean at Villanova.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I studied architecture as an undergraduate and originally planned to pursue a career in architecture and/or urban planning. After three years working in the U.S. Senate, I decided that law school was the path for me!

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I deeply admire my parents. My mother, Adele Logan Alexander, is an academic—a historian who retired in the last few years from the faculty at George Washington University, and she is still researching and writing. My father, Clifford Alexander, dedicated his life’s work to serving our nation, working as an adviser to President Johnson, as chairman of equal employment opportunity commission and as the first African-American secretary of the Army. Through their various life experiences and professional accomplishments, they always made clear to my sister and me, in word and deed, that nothing mattered more than family.

What is the best advice you ever received?

One day when I was a teenager, my father and I were walking in the alley behind my childhood home in Washington, D.C., when we came upon a homeless man. He was avoiding eye contact and trying to be inconspicuous. My father looked the man in the eye, smiled and said, “Good morning, sir.” The man looked surprised. As we continued on, my father turned to me and said, “Just remember, he was someone’s baby once.”

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

I believe that values must be at the center of any legal education. As the legal profession is one of service, an education not firmly rooted in values is meaningless.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Stay calm. While you cannot control what happens to you, you can control how you respond to it.

Judge Jacqueline Allen

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

Appointed administrative judge of the trial division of the Common Pleas Court, which includes the system’s busiest criminal and civil courtrooms, in January 2016, Allen has been a Common Pleas judge for 23 years.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

If I had not pursued a career as a lawyer, by now, I would be nearing retirement from a career in print journalism. Writing has always been “near and dear” to my heart. After graduating from college with a major in English and later obtaining a Masters in English Literature, I taught writing to community college students and even in law school, I found the time to teach writing to incoming college freshmen. So looking back, a “dream job” for me would have been to be engaged with writing “24/7″ as a journalist for a major newspaper.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

During my lifetime, I have been richly blessed with several mentors—so please allow me to name three persons who each played a significant role in my legal career. All three have long since passed on. So this question brings to the forefront their absence and the “stark reality” that there are few such pillars of strength remaining for all of us to lean on during these challenging times. These three persons include Justice Juanita Kidd Stout, Hiliary H. Holloway, Esquire and U.S. Congressman Lucien Blackwell (all who are icons needing no introduction).

What is the best advice you ever received?

As you may know, I grew up in the segregated South (Memphis Tennessee) and left there upon graduation from high school to “embark” on a journey (largely undefined at the time). So the best advice that I have received during this lifetime is from my grandmother who reminded me as I departed to “always remember from whence you came.” This journey started in Pennsylvania (at Lincoln University), took a “detour” to Ohio (Ohio State University) and brought me back to Pennsylvania (Temple University) where I have remained to this very day. Along this journey, I have steadfastly tried to remember who I am, what I stand for and above all else, “from whence” I came, i.e., from a family who instilled in me the “time-honored” values of honesty, hard work and above all else, giving back to others.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

The legal profession should spend time developing succinct ways to share time-honored strategies for success, one lawyer at a time. Below is my attempt:

a. Find your niche in the law and excel,

b. Secure the greatest Mentor(s)

c. Be the best possible mentee

d. Develop a close-knit circle of legal colleagues

e. Have the courage to refine this circle over time

f. Always remember your most valuable possessions are your name, reputation, faith and family

g. Cherish, protect and preserve those possessions every day!

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Whether the crisis is personal or professional, one should center yourself in the moment or “eye of the storm” and focus only on the issue presented and not the potential consequences or the antecedent facts leading to the crisis. Essentially, quiet your mind, thoughts and emotions. Then wait and begin thereafter to work through possible options realizing three things:

You don’t have all the answers; only respond to what is in your purview of responsibility. In other words, “Stay in your lane;” and perfection is not required: Good enough is good enough.

Kiandra Bair

McNees Wallace & Nurick

Lancaster attorney Bair was the first member of the National Bar Association to file a successful petition for clemency on behalf of an inmate.

On Oct. 6, 2016, President Barack Obama granted clemency to 102 inmates serving prison sentences for nonviolent crimes. Among those whose sentences were reduced was Jason D. Rakel of Shreveport, Louisiana, who was represented by Bair, an associate at McNees Wallace & Nurick.

Bair worked with Rakel over the phone to draft a petition, which she submitted to the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice. As a result of that petition, Rakel is now set to be released Oct. 2, 2018, after which he will serve a 10-year supervised release.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

If I weren’t a lawyer, I would have pursued a career as a news anchor or TV show host. I initially went to college as a communication major intending to hone my skills in broadcasting; however, after declaring criminology and criminal justice as a second major, the law swiftly took me in a different direction.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I admire Michelle Obama. Her grace, class and intellect inspire me!

What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I ever received was to take a seat at the table and ensure I raise my hand. You never know what opportunities lie unless you put yourself in a position to receive them and be heard.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

I am not sure the legal profession should focus solely on preparing the next generation of lawyers, rather, the legal profession must be prepared for the disruption and innovation which millennials bring to the profession. Projected to make up as much as 75 percent of the U.S. workforce, millennials are disrupting the norm with their innovative ideas and contributions. As such, the legal profession must prepare itself to keep up with the changing demands and influx of millennials in the workplace.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

When dealing with a crisis, I would tell someone to remember why they started. We all have varying reasons for engaging in things. At the core of our being is our “why.” Oftentimes, we forget that “why” and things begin to unravel. Remembering why you started will keep you focused on the end result, rather than the crisis going on around you.

Lawrence Beaser

Blank Rome

Beaser counsels individuals and entities in the fields of nonprofit and for-profit business law, health and health insurance law and government law.

Each year, he provides over 130 hours of pro bono service. Throughout his career, Beaser has handled many different types of pro bono matters, including representing juveniles in criminal court through the Juvenile Justice Program and working with a variety of nonprofits seeking to improve the community, including The Philadelphia Foundation, Philadelphia VIP, the Philadelphia Bar Association, and countless other organizations.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

This is not a relevant question for me. I was fortunate to have a father who was a government lawyer and who worked to make our society better. I always assumed that I would follow in his footsteps, and have been fortunate to be able to do so.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I have been very fortunate in having a significant number of mentors who helped me in my career. I will mention three: I clerked for Judge J. Sydney Hoffman of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. He was a role model as a judge and teacher. I served as general counsel to Pennsylvania Governor Milton J. Shapp. Governor Shapp was an important mentor and role model. Finally, I want to mention my former partner, Dennis Replansky, who died much too young. Dennis mentored me as I was learning to be a business lawyer and I often think of all that he taught me.

What is the best advice you ever received?

From my mother, that I should marry Shelly.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

Start by encouraging this generation of lawyers to be good mentors and teachers. Encourage new lawyers to focus on improving their person-to-person relationships. And, actively work to transmit the ethical precepts that make an attorney a true professional.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

In a crisis, take a deep breath, think through your options, and plan before reacting. Don’t panic. Think of what the problem is right now and what immediate steps must be taken to deal with it. Anticipate and plan for future repercussions, but worrying about them is a distraction from the critical, imminent actions that you need to take.

Bruce Beemer

Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General

As interim attorney general, Beemer helped lead the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office through a tumultuous period following former Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s conviction on perjury and other charges stemming from a leak of once-secret grand jury material.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I would have loved the opportunity to teach in high school or middle school (either History or English), along with coaching football or basketball.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

One of the greatest mentors in my life was my mother. She passed away in 1999 at the outset of my legal career, yet she had a tremendous impact on how I view the legal profession and how I try and conduct myself. She was an attorney in the Scranton area who started her own practice and soon became one of the top environmental lawyers on the East Coast. My mom taught me the value of standing up for others and never backing down in difficult situations when you are trying to do the right thing. While growing up I watched my mom fight hard for those that desperately needed help, and it really made me want to become a lawyer.

What is the best advice you ever received?

My dad, who is also an attorney in Scranton, once told me that nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. He told me this was a Teddy Roosevelt line, but I tried to always utilize this sound advice in my approach to leadership.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

The next generation of attorneys will obviously be very proficient in talking via electronics and social media. Young lawyers will need to make sure they develop the skills to effectively communicate in person and persuade judges, juries, and others of the correctness of a position.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Always, always do the right thing. This is most critical when you are challenged by others or you may be criticized for doing so.

Merrill G. Davidoff

Berger & Montague

Davidoff, the chairman and managing shareholder of Berger & Montague, served as lead counsel and lead trial counsel in what is considered one of the longest-running cases in the United States: Cook v. Rockwell International. The case was filed in January 1990, was tried to a jury in 2005-06 (yielding a $554 million verdict which was later reversed on appeal), and finally reached a $375 million settlement May 19, 2016.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I would’ve like to have had a career in investment banking or investment management. Or beach bum.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

My mentors were the late David Berger and H. Laddie Montague Jr. and some people that I admire are Thomas Sowell and Ayn Rand.

What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I’ve received is to keep on pushing for success—if blocked, try another way; and when you give your word, keep it. Your oral promise should be as valuable as your written promise.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

Law schools should integrate work and education as much as Drexel University has done for many years for undergraduate education.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Take a breath, seek advice if possible, reach a decision and stick with it until and unless it fails.

JoAnne Epps

Temple 
University

The longtime dean of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, Epps was promoted to executive vice president and provost in July 2016—the Philadelphia university’s top academic post.
A native of Cheltenham, Epps received her B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 1973 and is a 1976 graduate of Yale Law School.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

If you’re asking what career path I now think I would have enjoyed, I would pick Engineering. I like to understand how things work, and I like to take things apart. But when I was growing up, I didn’t know anything about Engineering, so it wasn’t a career I considered at the time.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I have had the benefit of support and encouragement from more people than I can name, but the person who most shaped my career was my predecessor as dean of Temple Law School, Bob Reinstein. He opened up new worlds to me (he made me obtain my first passport), and ensured that I had the range of experiences that would enable me to continue my professional growth, eventually following in his footsteps as dean.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Try.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

We need to communicate the joy of being a part of a service profession. With our licenses, we can do what others cannot. Therefore, we need to celebrate the privileges and responsibilities that come with that role. We need to tell others why we’d choose this profession over again if we had the chance to choose again—and mean it.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Hold firm to your faith.

Idee C. Fox

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

Fox took over the role of supervising judge of the civil trial division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in 2016. In that role, Fox heads the Complex Litigation Center, the major jury unit, and the motions and statutory appeals program. She also serves as a team leader in the Complex Litigation Center, but focuses on arbitration appeals and the nonjury program.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

Being a lawyer was always my first and only choice. I did have a back-up plan of being an urban planner.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I admire Judge Frederica Messiah-Jackson.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

Being a lawyer is a profession, not a job. As a profession we need to adapt to the needs of the people we serve.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Blame is of no benefit and does not remedy the problem. Assemble a team and develop solutions. After the crisis is over reassemble your team and develop a strategy to avoid the crisis again.

John Haggerty

Fox Rothschild

Haggerty, co-chair of the firm’s litigation department and co-chair of the class actions group, successfully defended tennis star Maria Sharapova in her doping case. By proving that she had been punished unfairly for a doping violation that was not her fault, Haggerty helped to get the tennis player’s career back on track and restore her reputation.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I would’ve liked to have been a basketball coach.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I admire my wife for giving up her successful law career to raise our four children so that I could pursue my passion of practicing law without distraction and still have a great family life.

What is the best advice you ever received?

The will to win is only as strong as the incentive to prepare.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

The legal profession needs to educate the next generation of lawyers on the importance of client service. It is critical that young lawyers understand their clients’ needs and put them first at all times. Failing to do so will result in having unhappy clients who ultimately may become former clients.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Remain calm and thoughtful.

Richard R. Harris


Littler Mendelson

Labor and employment law firm Littler Mendelson added Harris as a shareholder to its Philadelphia office in 2012 as part of the firm’s continued Mid-Atlantic expansion. He is now a member of the firm’s Board of Directors.

In 2016, Harris was instrumental in defending convicted former Attorney General Kathleen Kane in multiple high-profile civil lawsuits.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

If I were not a lawyer, I might have pursued a career as a private equity or hedge fund manager.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

Philadelphia lawyer Gregory Miller (now retired) has been a motivating mentor throughout my career. As a renowned partner at a general practice firm, Gregory had a reputation as an excellent lawyer—as well as being a gentleman. I admired him from afar and early on in my career, reached out to see if he would serve as co-counsel with me on a case. He agreed, and the rest is history. Gregory has invested in me and my development as an attorney in a meaningful way. I am extremely grateful for his guidance.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Do what you love, and the rest will take care of itself.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

This is an important topic, and I think about it all the time. As a profession, lawyers have to get closer to the decision makers of the businesses we represent, and this requires more thoughtful lawyers who are eager to see their success tied directly to the success of clients. Also, lawyers should be engaged in the community and contributing their talents as problem solvers. Finally, I see us as social engineers, and we should accept this responsibility and be at the forefront of change.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Breathe. Think of the next step—not 10 steps ahead—and this will inform the following step.

Michael Heller

Cozen O’Connor

As the firm’s president and CEO, Heller had an ambitious goal: significantly grow head count while keeping faith in the firm’s longstanding values and culture.

In 2016, under Heller’s guidance, the firm added 25 partner-level attorneys and grew total headcount by 5.6 percent, to 563 lawyers.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

Professional golfer. But I would have failed miserably and ended being a lawyer.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I admire my father for teaching me how to excel at my most important job—being a father. And Steve Cozen has been an invaluable professional and personal mentor. Through his own example, Steve showed me that the path to success is not paved with dollars and cents. Rather, it is marked by what you give to your community and by the platforms you create to support others’ successes.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Do what is right, not what is easy.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

Modern legal practice is fast-paced and conducted largely through machines. But we remain “counselors,” and that role requires personal service to our clients. We must teach the next generation to meet the increasing demands of the practice while honoring the essential human element that separates a job from a profession.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Stay calm. Thoughtfully consider all options in dealing with the crisis but at the end of the day, do what you think is right.

Alan J. Hoffman

Blank Rome

As the chairman and managing partner of Blank Rome, Hoffman helped lead the firm through a period of rapid expansion in 2016, including its merger with Dickstein Shapiro, which brought aboard 107 attorneys.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I was an accounting major in college, so I would have likely pursued a career in accounting or finance.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

Professor Collins, a very wise law school professor of mine. When I was a first-year law student at Villanova, mid-term grades didn’t count, so I didn’t exactly apply myself on the contracts mid-term. Not surprisingly, I got a low score and he called me into his office. Professor Collins was very brief and said only, “Here’s what’s going to happen at the final: I will give you six questions to answer. I will then spend five minutes reading each of your answers. You will have a total of only 30 minutes to impress me with what you learned this entire year. Your job is to distinguish yourself from the masses.” I took his words to heart, dove into my studies, and ended up finishing eighth out of my class of 200 following the final exam. I have never forgotten those five wise words of Professor Collins: distinguish yourself from the masses.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Prepare, prepare, prepare. There will always be somebody smarter than you, but as long as you are the one who is the best prepared for a situation, you will ultimately have the advantage.

At the beginning of my career when I was in the U.S. Attorney’s office trying cases, Chief Judge Latchum of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware took me into his chambers following a hearing to provide counsel. He told me to anticipate every issue in a case and prepare a memorandum addressing those issues to be handed to the trial judge. I have followed his wise advice—both in the courtroom and out—ever since. While the concept is simple, it has helped guide me through complex situations that I’ve encountered as a lawyer and a leader.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

Building and nurturing relationships is critical to being a successful lawyer. In a time when everything is instantaneous, and we frequently interact over text message, social media or email, we must instill the value of client service, face-to-face networking, and strong communications skills to prepare the next generation of lawyers.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Slow down, collect all of the information that is available to you, and speak with a number of advisers (both internal and external) who represent different “voices” before reacting.

As a leader, you must build consensus in your organization and keep the lines of communication open during trying times. With the trust of your organization behind you, a difficult situation can be handled swiftly and efficiently.

Bobbi Liebenberg

Fine Kaplan and Black

In an extremely rare move, Leibenberg was named co-lead counsel in the huge antitrust MDL, In re Generic Digoxin and Doxycycline Antitrust Litigation. U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered an order appointing Liebenberg and fellow honoree Dianne M. Nast of Nast Law as co-lead counsel in the case.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

After graduation from the University of Michigan, I taught high school in a rural county on the Southern shore of Maryland. Many of my students were children of tenant farmers who came to school hungry, were far behind in their reading and math skills, and were not optimistic about their future opportunities. This experience motivated me to attend law school, as I believed a law degree would empower me to effectuate social change. Had I not become a lawyer, I would have continued to teach and would have pursued a Ph.D. in history.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

Judge Norma Shapiro was a mentor, role model and trailblazer who I greatly respected and admired. She was always generous with her time and sage advice, and encouraged me to follow her example of paying it forward to help other women lawyers advance and succeed. Another long-time mentor and friend is JoAnne Epps, the provost at Temple University. I often turn to JoAnne to help me strategize issues and challenges I am facing, and she has served as an invaluable sounding board for me for many years.

What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I ever received was to become involved in bar association activities on the local, state and national level and also participate in the work of other organizations whose missions were important to me. My mentors and sponsors also wisely advised me that it is not enough to merely show up, but instead you must demonstrate a commitment and willingness to put in the necessary time and effort to fulfill the goals of the organization. Therefore, I became very active in the work of the associations and organizations I joined, which led to the attainment of leadership roles that increased my profile and visibility in my law firm and the legal community at large. Most importantly, this work greatly expanded my network and enabled me to develop close friendships with lawyers from firms and corporations around the country. These relationships ultimately led to numerous referrals and the development of a substantial book of business.

What does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

The pace of progress for women and attorneys of color has been far too slow, and continuation of the status quo is simply unacceptable. In order to finally disrupt this paradigm, law firms must implement significant structural and cultural changes to stem attrition, ameliorate implicit bias and create equal opportunities for everyone.

The one piece of advice I would give someone when dealing with a crisis?

In my experience, the best way to handle a crisis is to slow down and not act prematurely or without first thinking through the potential ramifications and consequences of your response. Take the time to carefully evaluate your potential next steps, formulate a plan and secure the necessary buy-in by all interested parties. Remain flexible and make necessary changes as circumstances may dictate. Significantly, grit and perseverance are also instrumental to successfully overcoming a crisis.

Patricia A. McInerney


Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

McInerney was appointed supervising judge of the court’s commerce program in early 2016. The elevation of McInerney from coordinating judge to supervising judge marked the first time a supervising judge has overseen the commerce program.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I would have continued with a career in higher education administration.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

As a young lawyer I had the privilege of trying a number of cases before the late Judge Harvey Schmidt who epitomized the intellect, demeanor and sense of fairness a judge should possess.

What is the best advice you ever received?

To go to law school. I did not know any lawyers or the first thing about being a lawyer, but a good friend whose father was a lawyer thought I would like it and encouraged me to go. She was right!

What does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

Recognize that the next generation of lawyers will be more diverse, more technologically advanced, more concerned with work-life balance, and be responsive to those needs. At the same time, clients will continue to be concerned with obtaining the most cost-effective efficient services. As is presently the case, clients will not be willing to pay for young lawyers to learn at their expense or to perform tasks computers can do faster and cheaper IT departments will need to be better integrated across firms and able to service the virtual office needs of the firm as well as the firm’s clients. Lawyers will have to be willing to work more cooperatively and collaboratively in teams and make use of technology to work in a more efficient manner.

What is the one piece of advice you would give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Keep calm, take a deep breath, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Zane Memeger

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Memeger, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, successfully prosecuted former U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah in 2016 and ended the year by rejoining Morgan Lewis & Bockius as a partner following President Donald Trump’s election.

As a U.S. attorney, he led an office of 130 lawyers who prosecuted a variety of federal criminal cases. He was also a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, and co-chair of the committee’s health care fraud working group.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I would’ve been a gymnastics coach.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

Barry Gross, a friend and mentor who taught me how to be an effective prosecutor and advocate.

What is the best advice you ever received?

While you might be unhappy with certain work, don’t burn bridges as the people who gave you those assignments may be your strongest advocates down the road.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

All of us had mentors who took time out of their schedule to work with us. While the time pressures today seem greater than in the past, we each need to take the time to work with the next generation of lawyers so they understand that civility, empathy and the written word (nonsocial media style) still matter.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Social media can ruin your reputation, take the time to understand the facts before making public comments.

Dianne Nast

NastLaw

In an extremely rare move, Nast was named co-lead counsel, along with fellow honoree Bobbi Liebenberg, in the massive MDL In re Generic Digoxin and Doxycycline Antitrust Litigation. 


What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I would’ve liked to have gone to medical school (although Organic Chemistry might have ended that career quickly).

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I was fortunate to have the late Harold E. Kohn as my mentor. He was an extraordinary lawyer, person and teacher. Any success I have achieved, I believe I owe to the lessons learned working 
with him.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Pretty standard—work harder, try to work harder than those around you, and always be prepared. Study the briefs and the cases. Don’t read your oral argument. Speak and write plain and simple English. Don’t use footnotes.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

Become more flexible. Quality of life issues are equally or more important to younger lawyers than the amount of income or titles.

Accommodate the real and important needs of working mothers, to keep talented women in the legal practice. Stratify less—good lawyers make important contributions, regardless of their positions as partners or associates.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Stay calm, calmer that on a regular day. Study alternatives and options and weigh the ups and downs of each choice. Don’t deal with the crisis on email.

Judge Lillian Harris Ransom

Pennsylvania Superior Court

Ransom, a veteran Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge, was appointed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in June 2016 by Gov. Tom Wolf, succeeding now-Justice Christine Donohue, who was elevated to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

Had I not chosen to become a lawyer, I would have continued on my path as an educator. Both my undergradauate degree and master’s degree are in early childhood education. With that background, I have taught young children as well as college students who wanted to become teachers of young children. I have also led citywide social service departments in the implementation of early childhood programs.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

My mother was the first female high school principal in my home state: my grandmother owned and operated her own printing shop. She was an extraordinary businesswoman; my father who was also a high school teacher, always told me that I could be anything that I wanted to be.

What is the best advice you ever received?

I have always been surrouned by family and friends who stressed the importance of getting a good education and who loved reading and traveling. They encouraged me to do all of these things in order to enrich my life. From an early age, I was taught the value of hard work and of the importance of public service.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

In addition to assuring that the next generation of lawyers master legal theory, the most important thing is to provide opportunities for actual experience through interships and externships. Experienced attorneys should also volunteer to serve as mentors so that new lawyers will have the benefit of their guidance and experience.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

When managing a crisis—take a deep breath or two to calm yourself. Think fast, but speak slowly.

Judge Teresa Sarmina

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

Judge Sarmina oversaw the Salvation Army building collapse trial which settled for a record $227 million, an amount plaintiffs attorneys say is the largest personal injury settlement out of a Pennsylvania state court.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I was already in the beginnings of a career in social service administration when my interactions with lawyers with whom I was working to implement a consent decree motivated me to take the LSAT again.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

Judge Carolyn Engel Temin was a real mentor to me. When I appeared in front of her as a young assistant district attorney, she set such a tone of excellence in the courtroom, it was a pleasure to be in front of her, notwithstanding that she was difficult. She called me up to the bench one day and told me to keep my pen out of my mouth—I was not in the grocery store. Whenever I see attorneys—some of them well into their prime–with a pen in their mouth, I think of her. When I became a judge, she continued to be a mentor. She had high standards and was highly regarded. I could rely on her to be straightforward and honest with me, and to always know the answer.

What is the best advice you ever received?

“Don’t give yourself the ‘no.’ Plenty of people will tell you no, don’t you be the one to knock yourself out of the running because you think they will tell you no. Make them do it.”

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

The legal profession has to insist that the high standards of civility, integrity and performance are adhered to by the next generation of lawyers. We should be mentoring our law clerks and young associates, whether in law firms or organizations, and also be correcting them when they are not performing as we know they should.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Stop yourself, don’t panic—breathe. And find someone to help you deal with it.

Chief Justice Thomas Saylor

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Saylor led the state Supreme Court through a tumultuous period following the retirement of former Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I would’ve done something that involved diplomatic service.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I admire Attorney General LeRoy S. Zimmerman.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Think before you speak.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

In the adversarial system of justice, I often reflect upon the balance to be achieved between zealous representation and compliance with other ethical obligations, including candor to the tribunal and fairness to opponents. Seasoned attorneys should inculcate core values in young lawyers and model behaviors that are expected of them.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Reflect calmly and clearly before deciding on a course of action.

Mark Silow

Fox Rothschild

Under Silow’s 12-year watch as managing partner, Fox Rothschild employed a strategy of mini-mergers, opening in new locations by picking up small boutiques, with the aim of building out each location to at least 25 lawyers.

That strategy expanded to include a deal last year with 80-lawyer Minneapolis firm Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly, an acquisition that helped propel Fox Rothschild into The Am Law 100.

Silow became the firm’s chairman April 1 of this year.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

Probably something in politics or public policy.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I was fortunate to have three partners at Fox who really took me under their wing and taught me how to be a tax lawyer: Leonard Schwartz, Norman Leibovitz and Steve Weiss.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Let It Be—The Beatles

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

First, it needs to inspire young lawyers that they can make a difference and that their work is important. Too many lawyers today, young and old, feel like they are just a cog in a machine. Second, it needs to teach more critical thinking; how to analyze and resolve a complex set of facts. Third, it needs to impress upon the next generation that the practice of law is a business and lawyers will need to be sensitive to the business needs of the profession to succeed.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Initially, do nothing: take a deep breath, assess the facts and think. Hasty decisions usually make a bad situation worse.

Kevin Steele

Montgomery County District Attorney

Steele led the prosecution of former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane last year, resulting in her conviction in August. Last year saw Steele make headlines again when he charged embattled comedian Bill Cosby with the sexual assault of former Temple University employee Andrea Constand.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I enjoy teaching—so I’d be a university professor in either a law school or undergraduate school teaching about the criminal justice field. I’ve been teaching in the sociology and criminology department at Cabrini University for the over 10 years, and I enjoy the students and the fact that it’s a way to give back.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I am the product of two very supportive parents, both of whom I greatly admire. I attribute my successes to my foundation that came from the way they raised me and then helped provide me opportunities to develop. My father is a lawyer and my mother is a teacher.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Years ago when I was working as a deputy district attorney in Dauphin County, former Attorney General LeRoy Zimmerman told me one night to enjoy what I’m doing, telling me that it will be the best part of my legal career since it’s a job where the only thing I have to do is the right thing. And I feel very blesses to still be doing just that 25 years later.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

Law school, as a professional school, needs to include practical experience. We are trying to do our part and have an extensive internship program–undergraduates to 3Ls. Some are permitted to appear in court under the supervision of an ADA and we have them participate in a mock trial competition judged.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Face it head on, addressing the problem one issue at a time to work through the crisis the best way you can.

Elliot A. Strokoff

Strokoff & Cowden

Strokoff represented Michael McQueary, a key prosecution witness in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, in his suit claiming he was wrongfully fired for cooperating with investigators. Late last year a jury awarded McQueary $7.3 million on defamation and misrepresentation claims, and about a month later a judge awarded an additional $5 million on whistleblower claims.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

A preceptor system for law students would be a good idea. For example, a mandatory requirement that law students meet and confer with different volunteer preceptors, from all sectors of the profession, six hours a semester in order to obtain a better understanding of the realities, demands and rewards the profession has to offer.

Lisa M. Wampler

Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman

In 2016, Wampler became the first female managing partner in the 60-lawyer firm’s history.

Wampler has a construction litigation practice and chairs the firm’s women’s initiative. She joined the Pittsburgh office in 2003 as Cohen Seglias’ first full-time attorney in the city.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I would have liked to have been a food/travel writer or caterer.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I am lucky to have grown up among several remarkable women in my family who in each of their own ways taught me how to walk tall in life and to lead by example.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Have the courage to live a life true to yourself, not the life others expect of you.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to prepare the next generation of lawyers?

Our law schools need to move away from teaching just cognitive skills and legal theory, and put more emphasis on the practical skills it takes to be an attorney as well. And in our law firms, we need to re-examine the way this generation communicates and adapt to the change.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone when dealing with a crisis?

In my experience, being a compassionate listener and offering emotional support is much more effective than giving advice.

Robert A. Zauzmer

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Robert A. Zauzmer, the chief of the appeals unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was named acting pardon attorney by the U.S. Department of Justice in February 2016.