The Higher Calling Of The Law Requires...
Inclusion. When Pennsylvania Attorney General William Schnader left politics and sought to return to private practice in Philadelphia, he discovered that no major Philadelphia law firms would hire his protégé, Bernard Segal, a Jewish attorney. In response, in 1935, William Schnader, Bernard Segal and Francis Lewis formed a new law firm, Schnader & Lewis -- the first religiously integrated law firm in Philadelphia.
Innovation. Because Schnader was religiously integrated from its founding, many local clients in the Philadelphia area would not retain the firm in the 1930s and 1940s. Accordingly, the firm sought to represent larger, national companies.
Vision. Firm founder William Schnader was president of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, which drafted and developed the Uniform Commercial Code. He successfully campaigned for the Code's adoption in 49 states.
The pursuit of freedom. At the request of President Truman, firm founder Earl Harrison, as Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, toured displaced persons camps at the end of World War II and recommended to the President that displaced persons in Europe be permitted to resettle in Palestine. His report was a major factor that led to American support for the establishment of Israel.
The pursuit of justice. Firm founder Earl Harrison testified on behalf of an African-American student denied entry to the University of Texas School of Law because of his race. The case challenged the "separate but equal" doctrine, as applied to state law schools and laid the foundation for Brown v. Board of Education. The Supreme Court eventually overturned the lower courts' decisions and ordered the University of Texas to admit qualified black applicants.
Courage. Firm founder Bernard Segal convinced the Philadelphia bar to defend nine accused Communists pro bono. The defendants were convicted but their cases were thrown out on appeal. As a result, the Justice Department abandoned Smith Act prosecutions across the country.
The pursuit of justice. When George Wallace threatened to block integration of the University of Alabama, Schnader’s Bernard Segal drafted a statement in opposition. He and Jerome Shestack called lawyers all over the country requesting their support. The statement was published in the Birmingham News with 53 prominent lawyer signatories and provided support for President Kennedy's Executive Order federalizing the Alabama National Guard.
The pursuit of justice. In the wake of George Wallace's efforts to impede the integration of the University of Alabama, and at the urging of Schnader’s Bernard Segal, President Kennedy convened 244 lawyers at the White House to ask them to move the battle for civil rights and racial equality to the courts. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law was born and Jerome Shestack became its full-time executive director while continuing to practice at Schnader.
Inclusion. Firm founder Bernard Segal was chair of the ABA’s Committee on the Federal Judiciary. He advocated the appointment of federal judges of all genders and races.
Inclusion. Firm founder Bernard Segal was the first Jewish person to serve as Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. He encouraged the bar into public service and expanded its racial horizons.
Inclusion. Schnader was one of the first major Philadelphia firms to hire a female attorney.
Diversity. Schnader was a founding member of the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group, which aims to increase the number of diverse attorneys in-house and in private practice.
Vision. Firm Chairman David Smith co-founded the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s Board Observer Program with Norm Weinstein of Galfand Berger, LLP. The program provides young attorneys with the opportunity to serve on nonprofit boards, where they can develop the leadership skills necessary for board membership, and increase the diversity of nonprofit boards.
Inclusion. The firm appointed Albert Dandridge as Chief Diversity Officer and charged him with increasing and developing our bench of diverse attorneys.
Service. The firm adopted Caton Village (now closed), a halfway house for women in Philadelphia, where we provided free legal clinics and social and educational activities for its residents.
Service. Schnader lawyers regularly represent undocumented children who were abused or abandoned by their parents. We help these children obtain guardians, stop removal proceedings, and begin the path to citizenship.
Service. As U.S. veterans waited an average of four years for a ruling on the denial of their disability benefits, Schnader attorneys led a campaign advocating for a solution to address the backlog.
The pursuit of justice. Schnader attorneys represented Guantanamo Bay detainees, advocating for fair treatment and due process against a byzantine legal landscape.
Service. With a nonprofit partner, Schnader attorneys and staff designed and taught a pilot life skills seminar for young adults aging out of the foster care system. The program included lessons on securing vital documents, opening a bank account, looking for jobs and going to an interview.
Service. Schnader attorneys help middle school students in Pittsburgh set up a youth court, prepare for mock trials and draft a bill of rights for their school. The students learn about Constitutional law, advocacy and restorative justice from participating in these programs.
Service. Bernard Segal, a founder of the firm, believed that Schnader's hallmark is its "dedication to the higher calling of the law," which he defined as "the lawyer's obligation to assume an active role in the pursuit of a just and ordered society, in helping to solve the emerging problems of social, economic and political importance, and to serve the public as his or her client, as she or he would serve a full-paying client."
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