Pennsylvania has been a center of all things legal almost since the forming of the commonwealth itself. One of the nation’s oldest firms still plies its trade in Philadelphia, where the Constitution of the United States itself was drafted. As evidenced by the wide range of geographically diverse and cutting-edge firms represented on the pages that follow, the legal minds who make the Keystone State their home are more than doing their share to keep themselves, their craft and their clients at the forefront of all the profession has to offer. The 2022 Law Power 100 takes an in-depth look at the district attorneys, federal prosecutors, white-collar defense attorneys, public interest lawyers, law school deans and bar association leaders who are shaping the direction of the state politically, legally and otherwise.
This list was written by freelancer Hilary Danailova.
Having won the Democratic nomination for governor unopposed, two-term Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is burnishing his centrist credentials against far-right Republican gubernatorial opponent Doug Mastriano. When he’s not defending Martin’s potato rolls – sales of which help finance his rival’s campaign – Shapiro is vowing to protect reproductive choice at a moment when abortion rights appear poised to become a state-by-state issue. Shapiro recently announced that if elected governor, he would eliminate four-year degree requirements for many state jobs, a move aimed at diversifying employment.
Partners in the Philadelphia office of Morgan Lewis, Sarah Bouchard and Zane David Memeger have both been recognized as among the Best Lawyers in America – Bouchard for labor and employment litigation, and Memeger for his white-collar and criminal defense work. Bouchard, a workplace crisis specialist, co-directs Morgan Lewis’s whistleblower group and its Title IX task force. She litigates complex harassment, discrimination, trade secret and other workplace issues. Memeger, who has particular expertise in government program fraud, litigates a variety of white-collar matters, from government investigations to compliance issues. He is a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Frivolous class-action lawsuits don’t get far when Rebekah Byers Kcehowski is involved. As trial counsel in class action defense and multidistrict litigation cases, Kcehowski, who heads litigation for Jones Day in Pittsburgh, has successfully defended myriad actions to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and has established a reputation for her skill in insurance recovery. Kcehowski has been widely recognized – including by the Legal 500, Best Lawyers and Chambers – and co-chairs the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh.
As U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania until 2021, Scott Brady coordinated with global law enforcement to combat cybercrime, brought charges in the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue and created a first-in-the-nation federal-state task force to investigate coronavirus-related fraud. He also prosecuted mail and bank fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. Last year, Brady brought this experience home to Jones Day, where he was previously an associate; he is now a partner in the firm’s investigations and white-collar defense practice.
Class action expert Judy Leone has been successfully litigating cases involving product liability, consumer fraud, negligence and misrepresentation for more than 20 years. Currently managing partner of Dechert’s Philadelphia office, Leone has represented high-profile clients like Philip Morris and is known for defending pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Bayer and AstraZeneca. She has consistently garnered recognition, including rankings on The Legal 500 United States and The Best Lawyers in America, and as an LMG Life Sciences Star.
Jason Hazlewood and Wayne Stansfield are managing partners of the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia offices, respectively, of Reed Smith, a Pittsburgh-headquartered global law firm where both are members of the firm’s global commercial disputes group. Hazlewood’s practice focuses on complex commercial, financial services and securities litigation. A former in-house counsel for a large financial institution, Hazlewood has advised Fortune 500 companies and multinational banks. Stansfield specializes in business and commercial disputes, product liability and class action. A 24-year veteran of the firm, he is responsible for hiring at the Philadelphia office.
Over a 35-year career at K&L Gates, trial attorney Thomas Smith obtained a $40 million U.S. jury verdict in a high-profile 2016 defamation case, won a Clean Water Act enforcement action against the U.S. Department of Justice, and founded K&L Gates’ pioneering practice dedicated to electronically stored information. In addition to serving as managing partner of the firm’s Pittsburgh office and co-managing partner for its U.S. offices, Smith heads the board of the Christian Legal Aid Clinic of Pittsburgh.
Lauren McKenna, a litigator specializing in resolving business disputes, is managing partner of Fox Rothschild’s Philadelphia office. McKenna has particular experience with the insurance, health, real estate and flood industries, routinely defending lenders and flood zone determination companies and speaking at the annual National Flood Determination Association conference. Kelley Hodge was the first African American woman to lead the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office in its 167-year history, directing initiatives with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. At Fox Rothschild, Hodge specializes in higher education, civil rights, school safety, labor and employment and criminal law.
Duane Morris Chair and CEO Matthew Taylor is a commercial litigator and an active trial lawyer in state and federal courts, specializing in banking and securities law, RICO, real estate, product liability and employment matters. Under his leadership, Duane Morris earned gross revenue of nearly $600 million last year. Bill McSwain, a Duane Morris partner, is the immediate past U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where, as lead counsel, he won the high-profile U.S. Court of Appeals case challenging Philadelphia’s plan for supervised drug injection sites. At the firm, McSwain focuses on white-collar criminal matters and complex business litigation.
Constitutional law expert Theodore Ruger joined Penn’s Carey Law School in 2004 as an assistant professor and now oversees the legal institution, which is ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Ruger, who is also the Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law, specializes in several hot topics: judicial authority, health law and pharmaceutical regulation. Prior to Penn, Ruger was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and held a series of corporate and academic positions.
Reelected last year to his second term, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner still enjoys substantial support from his progressive base. But this month’s recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin – a fellow high-profile progressive for whom Krasner personally campaigned – sounds a warning note to Krasner, whose city faces many of the issues that turned Boudin’s constituents against him, rising crime in particular. Krasner’s challenge is to turn around the crime wave while continuing the criminal justice reform policies that made him a household name.
As president and managing partner of Cozen O’Connor, Vincent McGuinness has coordinated the firm’s COVID-19 response and has served on the Philadelphia Bar Association’s COVID Task Force. His leadership earned him the Bar Association’s inaugural Champion of the Bar Award, as well as the 2021 Professional Excellence Award from the Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer. McGuiness started at Cozen O’Connor as a summer associate in 1979 before joining the subrogation department, of which he is still a member, where he largely prosecutes property damages claims.
Employment law specialist Dan Aiken is a partner in the Philadelphia office of Faegre Drinker, a global firm more than 1,300 attorneys strong. Aiken’s litigation concentrates on defending employers facing both class action and individual lawsuits; he also helps clients ensure their operations are in legal compliance in order to minimize liability. Aiken, who leads the Philadelphia office, also served as the regional partner in charge from 2019-20 and was named a star lawyer by Acritas in 2020.
Regina Stango Kelbon, a co-chair of Blank Rome’s Philadelphia office, is widely recognized for her expertise in bankruptcy and restructuring law. Recognized as a Star Individual by Chambers USA in 2021 and 2022, Stango Kelbon is a fellow in the American College of Bankruptcy and a mediator for the bankruptcy court for Pennsylvania’s Eastern District. Alan Zeiger, another Philadelphia co-chair for Blank Rome, is a leader in corporate law and mergers and acquisitions. He most recently headed the firm’s business department, overseeing a global group of more than 300 attorneys.
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After defending Philadelphia’s nationally debated soda tax and fighting for the wage equity ordinance as Philadelphia’s youngest-ever city solicitor, Marcel Pratt returned last year as managing partner to Ballard Spahr, the firm where he had previously spent six years with the litigation and antitrust group. The Philadelphia native, who led the city’s 70-lawyer litigation practice under Mayor Jim Kenney, is now investigating the handling of remains from the notorious 1985 MOVE bombing and purported discrimination against Black-led charter schools.
Reggie Shuford, who assumed leadership of the ACLU of Pennsylvania in 2011, currently oversees campaigns to protect imperiled voting rights, combat cash bail, champion transgender rights and end so-called zero-tolerance practices in school discipline and policing. Shuford previously served as senior staff counsel for the national ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, leading legal challenges to racial profiling. Shuford has served as diversity chair for the Philadelphia Bar Association and was named the Most Influential African American Leader by the Philadelphia Tribune in 2020 and 2021.
A nationally recognized litigator, Joseph Dougherty has served since 2016 as chairman and CEO of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, which earned nearly $300 million last year. Dougherty concentrates on post-employment disputes, including enforcement and defense of employment agreements; he previously chaired the firm’s trade secrets and restrictive covenants practice group, as well as its advisory committee. Dougherty was named one of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs in 2019 and is a member of the CEO Council for Growth of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Whether handling complaints involving the U.S. Department of Education or investigating an internal university matter, Amy Piccola brings a breadth of experience in education law. As a partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, she advises educational institutions on issues of compliance, policy and liability. Piccola conducts staff trainings and helps draft handbooks and policies on everything from sexual conduct to departmental operations. She is also a legal expert in the evolving field of campus esports and in insurance and risk management.
In 2016, Mark Alexander became the first African American dean of Villanova’s Charles Widger School of Law, where he is the chief academic officer, responsible for long-term strategy and academics. He is also president-elect of the Association of American Law Schools, a 176-member nonprofit supporting the legal education field. Alexander, an expert in constitutional and election law, previously served as associate dean for academics at Seton Hall University’s School of Law, where he was repeatedly honored as professor of the year.
For the past five years, G. Mark Thompson has headed Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, a 500-attorney Philadelphia-based firm with 19 East Coast offices. Thompson has more than 30 years of legal experience with liability and fraud cases, as well as hospitality and liquor – these last being especially relevant in the heavily regulated Northeast. A one-time insurance adjuster, Thompson is also skilled in insurance defense. Thompson serves on the board of Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia, where he volunteers monthly.
Michael Miller is member-in-charge of the Harrisburg Office and an ex officio member of the board of directors at Eckert Seamans, a full-service national law firm with 15 offices and a focus on business and litigation counsel. Miller’s Harrisburg practice concentrates on management-side employment and labor law, including litigation before state and federal courts. He has served as a special counsel for school districts, state and city agencies, a college, corporations and national employers in myriad industries. Miller has negotiated extensively with major unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the Teamsters and SEIU.
Immigration specialist Jennifer Hermansky has spent a decade at the Philadelphia office of Greenberg Traurig, most recently as a shareholder focused on employment-based immigration. Hermansky has a record of successful petitions for immigrant investors and works with developers on projects that qualify for such investments. Sherman W. Smith, III, a third-generation Howard University Law School graduate, joined Greenberg Traurig in Philadelphia earlier this year as a shareholder and a member of the firm’s corporate practice. Smith is a transactional attorney across various industries, having represented some of the nation’s largest financial institutions.
Dilworth Paxson partners Meredith Ferleger and Darwin Beauvais are known throughout Philadelphia and beyond as experts in zoning, land use, real estate and government affairs law. Beauvais, who works closely with local officials and municipal agencies, is one of the region’s few attorneys to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as a LEED-accredited professional. Ferleger represents residential, commercial and institutional clients, often steering them through the development process in Philadelphia and its surrounding communities. Her experience includes successful real estate tax appeals totaling millions of dollars in assessment reductions.
Together, trial lawyers Tom Kline and Shanin Specter have made their eponymous firm one of America’s leading catastrophic injury firms. The pair built their careers, and their firm, on an impressive record of courtroom victories that includes hundreds of seven-, eight- and nine-figure verdicts involving medical malpractice, defective products, liability and negligence. More than courtroom success and eye-popping awards, however, Kline and Specter have both taken on cases whose outcomes have prompted social change, such as improved procedures, safety regulations, and new training requirements.
Mark Aronchick, shareholder at the firm of Hangley Aronchick, has been making history since he was Philadelphia’s youngest city solicitor – and was also the first attorney to serve simultaneously as president of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation and vice-chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. More recently, Aronchick led the firm’s litigation team that prevailed in overturning Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act, legalizing same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth. Aronchick was named 2019 Attorney of the Year by Legal Intelligencer for his impact on Pennsylvania’s legal landscape.
When it comes to memorable monikers, it’s tough to beat those used to describe Robert Mongeluzzi. The founder of Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky is known as, among other sobriquets, “the King of construction accidents” and “a name that generates fear in the construction industry.” In addition to his work at his firm, Mongeluzzi is the founder and past chair of the American Trial Lawyers of America Crane and Aerial Lift Litigation group, and is an inductee of the National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame.
With more than 20 years of practicing corporate and transactional law, Solomon Hunter Jr., a partner in Troutman Pepper, has established himself as an expert in the areas of health care, life sciences and food and beverage. Hunter has represented leading companies in mergers and acquisitions, asset dispositions, licensing arrangements, investments and equity financing. This year, Thomson Reuters recognized Hunter on its list of Stand-out Lawyers, while last year BTI Consulting Group named him an M&A Client Service All Star.
Steve Irwin and Heather Heidelbaugh are partners in Leech Tishman’s Pittsburgh office, where they co-lead the government relations practice. Irwin also co-leads the security group and is a member of the corporate and employment and labor practice groups. He specializes in financial services, counseling clients on labor compliance and other issues and regularly interacting with government agencies. Heidelbaugh is an experienced trial lawyer and member of Leech Tishman’s litigation practice group. She co-leads teams dedicated to commercial litigation, defamation, and product liability defense.
An expert in intellectual property and entrepreneurship law as well as diversity, equity and inclusion practices at law schools, Danielle Conway is currently dean of Penn State Dickinson Law. Her scholarly work focuses on advocacy for marginalized groups, most notably the 2020 Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project, for which the Association of American Law Schools honored Conway with its inaugural Impact Award. Conway, a U.S. Army veteran, also co-chairs the Select Penn State Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias and Community Safety.
Since assuming leadership of Drexel’s Kline School of Law in 2017, Daniel Filler, an inaugural faculty member and criminal law scholar, has played a key role in shaping and implementing a vision for Philadelphia’s newest law school. Kline opened 16 years ago, and under Filler’s leadership has expanded programs and achieved a No. 78 ranking from U.S. News & World Report. Previously a law professor at the University of Alabama, Filler is known for his nationally recognized blog, The Faculty Lounge.
Jeremy Mishkin has handled cases as diverse as an internet defamation suit involving the internet search company Intelius and alleged multinational corporate fraud related to the estate of Bob Marley. As a partner in Montgomery McCracken’s litigation department, Mishkin chairs the firm’s e-commerce, social media and web-based business practice group. His practice concentrates on complex commercial matters, catastrophic injury, technology and media law. Last year, Philadelphia Business Journal named him “Best of the Bar.”
Now in his tenth year at Pond Lehocky, Shawn Lehocky, who was named CEO in 2021, continues to lead the Philadelphia firm known for its marketing savvy into expanding its reach, most notably through his cultivation of an international referral network that has resulted in Pond Lehocky referring more than 160,000 cases to its network to date. Lehocky is also CEO of LegalOps, a joint software application venture between his firm and Brio Solutions.
A lifelong champion of workers, Deborah Willig is a managing partner in the employment law firm of Willig, Williams & Davidson. For more than four decades, she has advised and represented labor unions across industries – firefighters, teamsters, musicians, schoolteachers and hotel employees. Over that time, Willig has been involved in every collective bargaining negotiation between the City of Philadelphia, its school district and their respective union employees. Willig was also the first female chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Debby Freedman is the executive director at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, where she has worked since joining as deputy director in 2009. She oversees an agency that provides legal assistance to more than 10,000 low-income Philadelphians annually, advocating on issues such as housing, employment, public benefits, disability and families. Under Freedman, CLS has expanded its team and caseload and implemented new technology and practice tools. Freedman also teaches social justice law at Penn’s Law School.
Born to Cambodian refugee parents and raised in West Philadelphia, Chi-Ser Tran translates her experience straddling cultures to her work with low-income and immigrant Philadelphians as a staff attorney for the SSI unit and the Language Access Project at Community Legal Services. Tran represents disadvantaged and disabled residents and advocates for improved access to legal services for clients with limited English. She is also president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania and a board member of the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition.
One of the commonwealth’s most prominent health care and election law specialists, Lawrence Tabas chairs the departments for both specialties as a partner at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel. Tabas has more than 40 years of experience representing physician practices, hospitals and other health organizations, as well as federal, state and local candidates, political action committees, governmental bodies and nonprofits in election matters. As chair of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, Tabas is also the force behind numerous statewide GOP political victories.
Litigator Kathleen Wilkinson is the immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and a former PBA chancellor, as well as a recipient of the Anne X. Alpern Award from the PBA Women in the Profession Committee. A partner at Wilson Elser in Philadelphia, Wilkinson specializes in complex cases and employment matters.
Her successor as PBA president is Jay Silberblatt, a third-generation lawyer and a partner at the Pittsburgh firm Silberblatt Mermelstein, where he practices civil litigation. Silberblatt, who has chaired the PBA’s civil litigation section and professional liability committee, recently served on the organization’s COVID-19 task force.
After nearly two decades at the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Arbittier Williams last year became a U.S. Attorney, the nation’s principal litigator and executive, for one of America’s largest judicial districts. Arbittier Williams, a former national security cyber specialist and crisis management coordinator, collaborated on the Threat Intervention and Prevention Network, aimed at early detection of mass violence. Jacqueline Romero, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, is the District’s civil rights coordinator at the U.S. Department of Justice in Philadelphia. Romero represents the government in a variety of prosecutorial and defensive cases, including a $422 million settlement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals and a trial victory that resulted in the return of $80 million worth of stolen gold to the U.S. government.
As General Counsel of the Commonwealth, Gregory Schwab oversees legal services for Gov. Tom Wolf, the governor’s staff and more than 30 public agencies. The Legal Intelligencer recognized Schwab as a “Lawyer on The Fast Track” in 2019, the year he assumed his current role after serving as first deputy general counsel for the previous three years. Schwab, a former private-sector litigator, brought that experience to the Office of General Counsel, where he has supervised litigation, regulatory, legislative and criminal matters for the executive branch.
Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Wesley Payne has held a number of leadership positions with the organization over the years, including as treasurer and being on the board of governors. Payne is a partner in the litigation department at White and Williams, where he serves as co-chair of the firm’s Pro Bono and Public Service Committee and as chair of its Diversity Committee.
In his three years as executive director of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Harvey Hurdle Jr. has led the organization to a budget surplus, directed a rebranding initiative, launched partnerships with Temple and Drexel law schools, and overseen two successful voter education campaigns through the Association’s Campaign for Qualified Judges.
The son and grandson of prominent lawyers, Steven Zappala has served since 1998 as Allegheny County District Attorney. Zappala is a Democrat who has bucked his party on key issues like drug sentencing, and during his tenure, he tussled regularly over gun control with then-Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. But Zappala is also an experienced collaborator: Last month, he announced a partnership with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey on a new domestic violence task force.
A noted personal injury lawyer and author, Scott Cooper is a partner at the Harrisburg firm of Schmidt Kramer, where he specializes in motor vehicle accident and insurance cases. Cooper is an editor for the leading treatise on Pennsylvania auto insurance and the author of “The A to Z of Civil Depositions in Pennsylvania.” Cooper, an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, was appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to co-chair a 2014 transition team review.
Feminist legal scholar Rachel Rebouché was named interim dean of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law last year. Rebouché, previously the associate dean for research, is an author of numerous legal titles, including the casebook “Family Law,” and – just as America’s abortion debate has reached a fever pitch – is working on a book about reproductive health law. Under Rebouché’s leadership, Temple Law School was ranked No. 1 in trial advocacy for the second year in a row by U.S. News & World Report.
Adara Combs heads the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia, a professional organization for the region’s Black lawyers. She is also the victim advocate for the City of Philadelphia, a role she has held since January. Previously, she served nearly a dozen years in various positions at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, including as supervisor of the juvenile division. Combs, a Philadelphia native, also previously served as vice president of planning for the National Black Prosecutors Association.
Longtime social justice advocate Kia Ghee Eneanya was appointed by Mayor Jim Kenney last year to head the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and the Fair Housing Commission. In this role, Ghee Eneanya enforces the city’s anti-discrimination measures and investigates violations of civil rights law as well as handles disputes around unfair rental practices and landlord-tenant issues. Ghee Eneanya is also president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division, an advocacy group for Black women attorneys.
Republican state Rep. Rob Kauffman was elected in 2004 to represent the 89th District in Southern Pennsylvania. He chairs the House Judiciary Committee, which is in the spotlight for its potential to take legislative action on gun control as the country reels from mass shootings. Kauffman is also a member of the House Consumer Affairs Committee.
His Senate counterpart, Republican state Sen. Lisa Baker, has represented the 20th District in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 2006. As chair of the State Senate Judiciary Committee, Baker is currently overseeing hearings on several proposals to reform the state’s juvenile justice system.
Helen A. Marino served as second-in-command at the Federal Community Defender Office from 2014 until earlier this month, taking over leadership of the organization when Chief Federal Defender Leigh Skipper went to Duane Morris. Before coming to the Defender Office, Marino worked at the Legal Aid Society of New York and at The Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she also helped train other staff attorneys.
As the head of his eponymous firm, Ajay Raju has been front-and-center in implementing the inside/outside model for providing all-encompassing service to clients. Raju, who previously served as CEO of Dilworth Paxson and as managing partner of Reed Smith’s Philadelphia office, is committed to a number of nonprofit ventures, including Vision 20/20, an initiative to resolve health disparities in the Philadelphia area, and The Germination Project, which focuses on finding and training the next generation of civic leaders.
At the Philadelphia office of McMonagle Perri, litigator Charles Gibbs concentrates on criminal defense, complex personal injury cases, family law and election law. Gibbs serves as co-chair of the City Policy Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association and is a former president of the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia. The West Philadelphia native has a long record of community involvement, including serving as the city’s youngest block captain in 2000. Gibbs is currently solicitor for Darby and Yeadon boroughs in Delaware County.
Complex litigation specialist Andy Susko is managing partner and chair of the executive committee at White and Williams, an august Philadelphia-based firm with 10 offices throughout the Northeastern U.S. and a Chinese affiliate. Susko’s three-decade career includes more than 50 successful cases tried to jury verdict, with particular expertise in liability defense, health care and insurance matters. Super Lawyer named Susko to its 2021 list.
Jason Acevedo is a partner at Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg, a Philadelphia firm specializing in business law. Acevedo, who joined the firm in 2021 as a member of its corporate and securities department, announced this year that he is spearheading its newest practice, aimed at startup businesses. A mergers-and-acquisition, venture capital and corporate transaction specialist, Acevedo was previously a partner at Baer Crossey McDemus, which was absorbed into Cozen O’Connor in 2020.
Dean Amy Wildermuth came to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2018 from the University of Utah, where she was associate vice president for faculty and academic affairs and the university’s first chief sustainability officer. At Pitt Law, which had seen applications drop, Wilderness shrank the incoming class and prioritized connections with law firms in an effort to improve the student experience as well as outcomes. This year, several of the school’s law specialties are ranked in the top 50 best graduate schools by U.S. News & World Report.
Kevin Boyle and Jeffrey Lutsky co-chair Stradley Ronon, a 200-lawyer outfit and the only Philadelphia firm affiliated with Meritas, an 80-country network of litigation and transactional law firms. Boyle, who previously chaired Stradley Ronon’s business department, concentrates in mergers and acquisitions, real estate, nonprofit, corporate and banking matters. Last year, Philadelphia Business Journal named him to its Best of the Bar List. Lutsky, known as a high-stakes litigation specialist, has experience in a wide variety of commercial, civil and criminal cases. He is also the firm’s managing partner, guiding Stradley Ronon’s strategic vision and leading expansion and partner recruitment.
Health care malpractice expert and Pennsylvania Super Lawyer John Conti heads Pittsburgh-based Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, which is consistently named to the U.S. News & World Report list of best law firms. Conti, who chairs the firm’s executive committee and medical malpractice defense group, is also managing attorney for its Los Angeles office. Over 35 years of practice, Conti has represented major health institutions throughout Pennsylvania and beyond, specializing in professional negligence suits and related litigation.
Last fall, Keisha Hudson’s career came full circle when she returned as chief defender to the Public Defender Association of Philadelphia – the same office where she began her career 20 years ago as an assistant defender. In between, Hudson was a capital appellate defender with the Federal Defender-Eastern District of Pennsylvania, representing people on death row and overseeing training at the Capital Habeas Unit, and later developed advocacy and media campaigns for The Justice Collaborative. Hudson also teaches at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
As city solicitor, Diana Cortes is the chief legal officer of the City of Philadelphia, serving as general counsel to the mayor, City Council and all city departments and agencies. She also manages the city’s law department, a diverse legal practice with more than 215 attorneys. Prior to her 2020 appointment, Cortes was a litigator in the professional liability department at Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, as well as an assistant district attorney for the city.
As head of the Education Law Center, Deborah Gordon Klehr recently championed Pennsylvania’s landmark school funding lawsuit, which seeks to redress longstanding inequities among Commonwealth districts. Gordon Klehr was herself an elementary school teacher before going to Harvard Law School and has spent more than 17 years at ELC, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization focusing on public education. Gordon Klehr has also served on the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and co-chairs the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Education Law Committee.
Two years ago, Sara Jacobson became the first full-time employee of the Public Defender Association of Pennsylvania, a half-century-old organization that advocates for indigent defendants. Jacobson oversees a comprehensive defense training program for commonwealth attorneys in partnership with Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law. Prior to joining PDAP, Jacobson – who began her career in the Berks County Public Defender’s Office – spent a dozen years as director of trial advocacy at her alma mater, Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
During the three-year tenure of Dean April Barton, the Duquesne University School of Law has achieved a three-point increase in LSAT metrics and continues to outpace state averages in bar passage. Barton has also launched the Dean’s Diversity Action Council; the Leadership Fellows program, aimed at encouraging social responsibility; and a partnership with the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business, allowing law students to take business courses toward an additional credential. Barton previously served as associate dean for academic affairs at Villanova University’s School of Law.
As managing partner for litigation at Kleinbard, Matt Haverstick specializes in the kinds of high-profile cases that make headlines. He has represented clients as diverse as the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Harrisburg and Greensburg in their child sex abuse cases and state Senate Republicans and members of Congress in their legal fights around redistricting, COVID-19 emergency orders and election outcomes. Haverstick is known for his advocacy on matters of public policy, constitutional law and state grand jury practice.
Some lawyers work across myriad industries. Not Wally Zimolong, who has devoted his entire legal career to representing developers and contractors and their disputes with colleagues, unions and the government. As head of his eponymous firm, Zimolong has acted as lead plaintiff or defense counsel in nearly 500 cases, earning an undefeated jury trial record and numerous plaudits from legal organizations. Zimolong, whose involvements include conservative public interest litigation, is an active supporter of the Republican Party.
As he prepares to turn the presidency of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, the commonwealth’s trial lawyer association, over to Kila Baldwin, Paul Lagnese vows to continue the priorities of his two-year term: fighting judicial gerrymandering and advocating for Pennsylvania’s constitutional rights to civil justice. Lagnese also hired an additional lobbyist and expanded the women’s leaders section as part of his stated commitment to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion within the organization. Lagnese is a partner with Berger Lagnese & Paul, a Pittsburgh medical malpractice firm.
Health care, education, affordable housing, voting rights – and, as of this spring, gun control: These are the priorities Brenda Marrero champions as head of the Public Interest Law Center, a nonprofit partner of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation. Marrero oversees a staff of 16 and is the first Latina to lead the center. She previously spent 13 years at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, including as deputy director of operations and the organization’s first-ever chief diversity officer.
Chris Carusone draws on nearly two decades of government experience to guide corporations in their dealings with state and federal agencies. Carusone, managing partner of the Pittsburgh office of Cohen Seglias, leads the firm’s government law and regulatory affairs and consumer protection and regulatory defense practices, and is also a member of the white-collar defense and internal investigations group. Previously, Carusone served as Pennsylvania’s chief deputy attorney general and executive deputy general counsel, among other public roles.
Known for his publications on patent law, Gregory Mandel is Temple University’s chief academic officer and a professor at its Beasley School of Law. In his previous role as law school dean, Mandel doubled annual fundraising and increased the endowment 50% to $100 million. Mandel currently guides Temple’s 17 schools and colleges and is tasked with ensuring that students’ knowledge – like the intellectual property he parses – retains value out in the world.
Since 1998, Mark Bergstrom has headed the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, an agency of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly that coordinates sentencing, parole and correctional policies and practices for the commonwealth. He teaches sociology and criminology at Penn State and courses on corrections and sentencing at the Duquesne and Villanova University Schools of Law. Bergstrom, a onetime probation officer, received the 2019 Richard Kerr Memorial Award from the National Association of Sentencing Commissions for his policy work. He also chairs the State College Police Civil Service Commission.
Donna Walsh and Daniel Brier aren’t just partners at Myers Brier Kelly. The high-profile litigators have also collaborated on many successful cases, including an investigation of Penn State’s sex abuse scandal, the prosecution of a sex abuse claim against the Diocese of Scranton and an eight-figure settlement in a trade secret theft case. Brier focuses on complex civil and criminal litigation and investigations, especially sensitive and media-intensive cases. Walsh’s practice concentrates on appeals, employment law and white-collar criminal defense. Both Brier and Walsh were key members of the firm’s team that successfully defended state and federal challenges to Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting provisions.
As the legal profession diversifies along with the commonwealth, Anthony Cox Jr. champions minority lawyers and constituents as co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s minority bar committee. His advocacy won Cox the 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association; Pennsylvania Super Lawyers named him a Rising Star this year; and The National Black Lawyers put Cox on their Top 40 Under 40 lists in 2020 and 2021. Cox, a noted litigator, recently joined Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott in Harrisburg.
A partner in Barley Snyder’s employment practice group, Jennifer Craighead Carey focuses on labor and employment law, as well as school law. She litigates cases in state and federal court and frequently practices before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on issues around discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Craighead Carey also advises employers, including universities and colleges, on employment, labor and compliance matters. Last year, Savoy Magazine named her to its list of most influential Black corporate directors.
For those needing legal representation in the Pittsburgh region in the areas of government enforcement, corporate compliance and internal investigations, government related civil litigation, and the False Claims Act, Lourdes Sánchez Ridge is often at the top of the list of lawyers to call. She brings a wealth of experience to her role at Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP, including stints as the chief legal counsel and city solicitor for the City of Pittsburgh, and as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C.
Rida Haq directs Philadelphia VIP, the pro bono arm of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Haq oversees an agency that provides free legal assistance to individuals, small businesses and nonprofits in areas from housing and family advocacy to employment and financial transactions. At VIP, Haq, who previously served as the organization’s director of volunteer engagement and pro bono case manager, has overseen a website redesign, overhauled the volunteer attorney database and improved recruitment efforts.
Business law specialist Chris Carson is president and CEO of Dentons Cohen & Grigsby and a member of its corporate group. He advises a diverse clientele on business strategy around mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, licensing transactions and other aspects of corporate law. His particular areas of focus include the manufacturing, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Carson has been instrumental in the firm’s recruitment, strategic planning, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Last November, Cindy Chung became the 59th U.S. Attorney – and the first Asian American – to serve the Western District of Pennsylvania. She previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, heading the major crimes section and serving as the district coordinator for domestic violence, Project Safe Neighborhoods, border security and civil rights. In her new position, Chung recently announced a restructuring of the district’s criminal division to more effectively address the growing threats of violent crime, illegal fentanyl, extremist ideology and cybercrime.
Maria Goellner came to FAMM, a nonprofit criminal justice reform group, a year ago – just in time to fight new mandatory minimum sentences. As the organization’s state policy director, Goellner advocates for second chances in the justice system, using policy skills honed as an assistant federal defender in Pennsylvania’s Western District and as a clerk with the Legal Aid Society in New York City. Goellner is on the board of the Erie County Bar Association, where she co-founded its diversity and inclusion division.
As executive director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, Su Ming Yeh has represented dozens of incarcerated people and brought class-action suits in connection with civil rights claims. Notably, Yeh won a case that obtained universal hepatitis C treatment for more than 5,000 Pennsylvania prisoners. Yeh serves on the board of the Asian Pacific Bar Association of Pennsylvania, the Defender Association of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Prison Society; she also co-chairs the minority bar committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
In 2020, Deborah Gross assumed leadership of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, an organization that works toward an impartial, fair and accessible judicial system for the commonwealth. Gross previously spent 35 years in private practice, concentrating on complex commercial litigation in federal and state courts. She served as president of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation in 2013 and 2014 and as chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2017, where she championed the city’s legal nonprofit community.
After a record 25 years leading the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Barry Simpson recently announced he will retire next year. Under Simpson’s leadership, the PBA launched myriad programs aimed at both its membership and the public – including malpractice insurance, social media outreach, a federal practice committee and a diversity initiative. Simpson, a past president of the Penn State Alumni Association, currently chairs the board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, a not-for-profit organization that funds civil legal services for low-income residents.
As director of legislative affairs for the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Fredrick Cabell Jr. is the PBA’s representative on legislative matters before the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Cabell oversees a team that tracks pending and enacted legislation to committees, sections and local bar associations, working with those entities to develop policy. He was previously director of governmental affairs for the Pennsylvania Builders Association and, prior to that, was an education lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference for nearly a decade.
Litigator Thomas Sprague’s career was shaped by renowned trial lawyers James Beasley, for whom Sprague worked after a stint in the Philadelphia city solicitor’s office, and Sprague’s father, the late Richard Sprague. Now a partner in his own firm, Sprague helped create a new whistleblower law in the commonwealth after securing a multimillion-dollar verdict for a whistleblower on misuse of public funds. Armando Brigandi, Sprague’s partner, previously worked at the City of Philadelphia Law Department’s civil rights unit. Brigandi has regularly counseled police on legal protocols for handling sensitive populations, such as those with behavioral and intellectual disability issues, and was recognized with the City of Philadelphia’s 2017 Distinguished Service Award for his work with the police and with agencies serving.
For the past three years – an unusually dynamic period for elections – Jessica Mathis has headed Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Election Services and Notaries. She is in charge of planning and implementing the state’s election code, voter registration process and notaries public law – tasks complicated by the pandemic surge of mail-in ballots as well as myriad legal challenges surrounding the 2020 election. Mathis brings plenty of perspective to the role, having previously headed the division of elections and voter registration for nearly a decade.
Lisa Benzie, who served as president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice from 2017-18, is now the 54-year-old organization’s executive director. Benzie is an accomplished litigator who has concentrated on representing claimants in worker's compensation matters and plaintiffs in civil litigation. At PAJ, she oversees a Harrisburg organization founded by trial lawyers to fight tort reform and other legislation that they fear may jeopardize citizens’ constitutional rights.
Gerald Lawrence, chief operating officer at Lowey Dannenberg, specializes in health care and antitrust litigation. He manages the firm’s mass tort lien recovery practice and has recovered more than $1 billion on behalf of health benefits plan providers. He also chairs the Board of Elections of Delaware County; serves as legal counsel to, and caucus chair of, the Pennsylvania Democratic State committee; and, as a member of the Democratic National Committee, is a five-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention, most recently in 2020.
This past December, Max Laun was named interim executive director of Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, a 16-program consortium. Laun, a former PLAN board member, retired in 2020 as vice president, general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer for Arconic, a company formed from Alcoa, the Fortune 150 aluminum corporation where he spent 25 years in the legal department. Laun also directs the University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s new international business law and dispute resolution certificate program, which debuts this August.
The commonwealth’s former General Counsel, Denise Smyler was appointed last year by Gov. Tom Wolf to chair the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, of which she has been a member since 2019. Smyler manages a state agency that last year reported record revenue of $4.7 billion. Under Smyler’s leadership, the board is considering a number of proposed expansions, including new casinos, casino internet gaming, video gaming terminals at truck stops, airport gaming, fantasy sports and other sports wagering.
Geoff Moulton’s lifelong commitment to public service continues in his role as court administrator for the state’s judicial system, where he leads the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and court operations across the commonwealth. Moulton brings a wealth of experience to his role: He was previously counsel to the state Supreme Court, a federal prosecutor, first deputy general counsel to Gov. Tom Wolf, and was himself a judge on the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
The new president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania, Fernando Rivera is a longtime board member who, during his yearlong presidency of the Hispanic Bar of Pennsylvania’s legal education fund, raised nearly $100,000 in donations to award a record $33,000 in scholarships. As HBA president, Rivera aims to promote diversity and inclusion initiatives, increase law student membership and engage the Hispanic community. Rivera, an employment litigation attorney at Console Mattiacci Law, was named a Rising Star by New Jersey Super Lawyers in 2020 and 2021.
Jeffrey Conn – a specialist in corporate, private equity and real estate matters – has spent his entire career at the Pittsburgh firm of Clark Hill, rising to become co-chair last year. He also leads Clark Hill’s banking and financial services practice, and oversees its Pittsburgh office. Conn serves on numerous boards – including the University of Pittsburgh Law Alumni Association – and was last year named among The Best Lawyers in America, after having been recognized as a Super Lawyer in 2020.
Litigator Stephen Kulp, the first Asian American to chair the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association, is no stranger to firsts. He was part of the inaugural class of law student clinicians at Philadelphia Legal Assistance while also an accelerated student at Drexel, completing his bachelor’s and law degree in six years and competing on a nationally ranked trial team. Now an associate at the Tucker Law Group in Philadelphia, Kulp advocates for gay rights, hosts political candidates at events and promotes opportunities for LGBTQ attorneys and law students.
Eminent domain cases are Kandice Hull’s specialty. At McNees, where she is a member, Hull chairs the litigation group and leads the eminent domain practice, representing clients in complex commercial litigation involving business disputes, especially real property litigation. Hull, who previously clerked for former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor, regularly counsels both condemnors and condemnees, defends property owners and secures compensation, including in cases involving Marcellus Shale infrastructure projects.
Nicholas LePore is managing partner of Schnader and its Philadelphia office. A corporate and business lawyer with a focus on bankruptcy, he is currently co-chair of Schnader’s higher education practice group, as well as a past co-chair of the firm’s bankruptcy, workout and business reorganization practice. LePore is also a specialist in secured transactions, commercial lending, acquisitions and health law, and serves on Schnader’s pro bono committee.
Claire Shubik-Richards leads the Philadelphia Prison Society, the nation’s oldest organization devoted to people in or returning from incarceration. Shubik-Richards oversees a network of volunteers who visit prisoners throughout the Commonwealth, as well as a family support helpline, assistance with transportation and mentoring. A seasoned public policy attorney, Shubik-Richards previously directed policy and research for the National Campaign to Reform State Juvenile Justice Systems, a Washington, D.C. advocacy organization, and researched Philadelphia issues for the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Sensitive cases involving sexual abuse and trauma often find their way to Daniel Altschuler, who specializes in complex and catastrophic liability and injury cases. Altschuler is a principal and chair of the casualty litigation department at Post & Schell, as well as a member of the firm’s board. He often defends nonprofit human service organizations and child care facilities, including notable sex abuse cases involving Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the YMCA.
As president-elect of the Dauphin County Bar Association, Kimberly A. Selemba leads a professional organization that represents more than 1,450 lawyers and offers public services ranging from lawyer referrals and pro bono representation to mediation and help with legal fee disputes. Selemba, an experienced litigator and a liquor licensing specialist, is currently senior counsel at Harrisburg-based Saxton & Stump, where she focuses on the real estate and senior care industries and has particular expertise in alcohol law and hospitality matters.
A recognized expert in health care law, Joanne Judge, a certified public accountant, was previously president and chief financial officer of the Community Hospital of Lancaster and is a fellow in the Health Care Financial Management Association. Her practice centers around health systems, senior living centers and medical practices, including mergers and acquisitions as well as compliance and regulatory issues. She was named a 2022 Woman of Influence by the Lehigh Valley Business Journal.
For more than three decades, the Pennsylvania Family Institute has promoted traditional values under the leadership of founding president Michael Geer. Geer, a onetime television producer, oversees a nonprofit that lobbies in the Pennsylvania Capitol and defends its positions in the legal realm through its Independence Law Center. Geer also serves on the board of CitizenLink, the public policy partner of Focus on the Family, and is on the executive committee of the REACH Alliance, a national school choice organization.
Melissa Ruggiero and Jaclyn E. Faulds co-direct the Women’s Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania, which advocates for women attorneys and combats bias in the courts. Ruggiero represents Pittsburgh clients denied benefits as both a staff attorney in the elder law program at Neighborhood Legal Services and as a volunteer with Project HELP, a homeless advocacy nonprofit. Faulds directs the business law group at Houston Harbaugh in Pittsburgh. A former artist and therapist, she also volunteers with local arts organizations, as well as with the Allegheny County Bar Association’s women in law division and its Institute for Gender Equality.
Litigator Erin Beckner Conlin has represented clients across a variety of industries, from finance and technology to energy and real estate. She is chief compliance officer and a shareholder at Tucker Arensberg, the Pittsburgh firm where she has spent the last 15 years. Beckner Conlin’s accomplishments include numerous successful multimillion-dollar settlements and judgments, as well as complex litigations in state and federal courts. She chairs the Women@Tucker group and is involved in Young Women Professionals in Energy.
Michael Pykosh heads the board of MidPenn Legal Services, a Central Pennsylvania nonprofit that provides free services to low-income residents and victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Pykosh is a longtime partner in Dethlefs Pykosh & Murphy, a Camp Hill-based firm. He is also a trustee and former chair of the Cumberland County Bar Foundation and the solicitor for Monroe Township and several zoning boards, with extensive experience in real estate, land development and municipal affairs.
As founder and CEO of Ebony Law, Keenan Holmes draws on more than 15 years of experience to help Pittsburgh-area residents in need of counsel across a wide range of the law. A graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Holmes is a specialist in commercial litigation, civil litigation and employment law.
After three years overseeing legislation and policy at the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, Greg Rowe assumed the top job in 2021. He oversees a 110-year-old organization that represents the commonwealth’s 67 district attorneys, their assistants and predecessors, deputy attorneys general, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and police chiefs. Rowe honed his skills at the Philadelphia DA’s office, where he spent eight years overseeing legislation and policy, and in the Rendell administration.
Since 1990, Carol E. Tracy and the Women’s Law Project have been essentially synonymous. Since becoming executive director of the Philadelphia nonprofit organization 32 years ago, Tracy has continually pushed to protect and expand the legal rights of women in flashpoint areas like reproductive rights, education, athletics, and employment. After leading Women’s Law Project through the worst of the pandemic, Tracy announced that she will be stepping down this year.
Salih Israil, who spent 20 years incarcerated before building a career as a crusader against the prison industrial complex, assumed leadership in March of the five-year-old Philadelphia Bail Fund, which advocates against cash bail and has freed more than 800 people. Israil was previously at New York’s Envision Freedom Fund, one of the nation’s largest revolving bail funds, where he managed a $4.6 million program supporting Black-led social justice organizations.
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