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Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis

Throughout its history, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis has been deeply committed to client service, excellence in the practice of law, and its dedication to the higher calling — that is, in the words of one of its founding partners, Bernard G. Segal, “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.”

1934-1944

1934

William Schnader, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, loses his bid to become Governor of Pennsylvania. He tries to return to his old law firm with his protégé, Bernard Segal (who is Jewish) but no major Philadelphia law firm will hire a Jewish lawyer. Instead, Schnader turns to his law school colleague Francis Lewis, and the three form the law firm of Schnader & Lewis. 

1935

The firm of Schnader & Lewis opens its doors on the 17th floor of the Packard Building on 15th and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. It is the first religiously integrated firm in Philadelphia.

1936

The firm handles its first case before the United States Supreme Court, Hill v. Martin, 296 U.S. 393, concerning inheritance tax under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

1939

William Schnader is elected President of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. He begins work on the drafting and development of a nationwide system of business law, which later will become the Uniform Commercial Code.

1940

After William Schnader suffers a stroke, Bernard Segal takes on his work load and the firm changes its name to Schnader Segal & Lewis, despite warnings that doing so will cost the firm business because of Mr. Segal’s religion. As a result, the firm is unable to engage local clients for the next decade, and, in response, the firm seeks out nationwide companies.

1944

Charles Kenworthy resigns as a Judge of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and joins the firm. The firm changes its name to Schnader Kenworthy Segal & Lewis.

1945-1954

1945

University of Pennsylvania Law School Dean, former Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and future Schnader partner Earl Harrison tours displaced person camps at the end of World War II and recommends to President Truman that displaced persons be permitted to resettle in Palestine if they wish. President Truman acts on Harrison’s report immediately, and the document is a crucial step in the development of U.S. support for the establishment of the State of Israel.

1946

Earl Harrison travels to Austin, Texas to testify on behalf of an African-American student, Herman Sweatt, who had been denied entry to the University of Texas Law School on account of his race. This 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 and ordered the University of Texas to admit qualified black applicants.

1947

William Schnader, a founder of the American Law Institute, becomes its first Vice President, a position subsequently held by Bernard Segal.  Over the course of the firm’s history, numerous members of the firm have become Fellows of ALI.

1948

Earl Harrison resigns from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and joins the firm. Judge Kenworthy departs to practice in Pittsburgh, and the firm becomes Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis.

1951

The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, drafted in large part by William Schnader, is overwhelmingly approved by voters in a special election and an era of reform begins. The Charter replaced the 1919 Charter, which consolidated power and bred corruption. Until the adoption of the Home Rule Charter, voter intimidation, ballot box stuffing, illegal hiring practices, rigged bidding processes, inefficient management, and crumbling infrastructure had defined Philadelphia politics for decades.

1952

The Uniform Commercial Code is promulgated in official form. William Schnader begins a sixteen-year campaign for its adoption by the states. By the mid-1960s, nearly all states have adopted the law.

Bernard Segal becomes Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and is the youngest and first Jewish person to hold that post. He breathes new life into the Association by greatly expanding its membership, forming committees for special projects, and encouraging the members of the Bar to engage in public service.

1953

When the Justice Department charges nine Communist Party members in Philadelphia under the Smith Act of 1940, a United States statute that imposed criminal penalties for those who advocated the overthrow of the government, no Philadelphia attorney will touch the cases. Despite enormous opposition, Bernard Segal convinces the Philadelphia Bar to act, impressing upon them the importance of the freedom of speech and association. He assembles a defense team who all work for free. The defendants are convicted, but their cases are later thrown out on appeal. As a result, the Justice Department abandons Smith Act prosecutions across the country.

William Schnader and Bernard Segal broker an interstate compromise on allocation of water from the Delaware River between New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This is a precursor to the Delaware River Basin Commission, which will be formed in 1961 as the first collaboration between the federal government and a group of states for river basin planning, development and regulation.

1954

The firm hires its first female attorney, one of the first major Philadelphia firms to do so.

1955-1964

1956

Bernard Segal serves as Chairman of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. He convinces the Attorney General that all federal judicial nominees should first be screened by the Committee and no nominations made unless the candidate is rated as qualified, a system that generally continues to this day. He also advocates the appointment of federal judges of all genders and races.

1962

William Schnader is elected President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association; leads campaign for a new state Constitution, which was adopted in 1968.

1963

When George Wallace threatens to block integration of the University of Alabama, Bernard Segal drafts a statement in opposition. He and partner Jerome Shestack call lawyers all over the country requesting their support. The statement is published on June 10, 1963 with a list of 53 prominent lawyers who support it. It reads in part:

If the issues that trouble the nation are to be peacefully resolved all parties must respect the law… Lawyers have a special responsibility to support the rule of law in our society and to obey the fundamental legal principles that guarantee safety and justice for all.

Following the Bar leaders’ response to George Wallace’s threatened opposition to the integration of the University of Alabama, President Kennedy, at the urging of Bernard Segal, convenes 244 leading American lawyers in the White House on June 21, 1963 to ask them to move the battle for civil rights and racial equality to the courts, giving birth to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The Committee is tasked with marshaling the resources of the private bar, engaging in public policy advocacy and education, and providing pro bono legal assistance to victims of discrimination.

Partner Jerome Shestack becomes the first full-time executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law while continuing to practice at Schnader. Under his leadership, the Committee sends attorneys to Mississippi to defend civil rights workers. Then-associate Lawrence T. Hoyle, Jr. is among the lawyers who go to Mississippi. The Committee also participates in a federal suit challenging the constitutionality of parade ordinances after hundreds of demonstrators are arrested in Jackson for protesting restrictive voting bills.

1964

Bernard Segal becomes President of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Over the history of the firm, numerous partners have been inducted into the College as Fellows, including Irving R. Segal and Dennis R. Suplee, who served as Regents.

1965-1974

1965

Bernard Segal chairs the Advisory Committee on the National Legal Services Program under President Lyndon B. Johnson and enlists lawyers throughout the nation to provide legal services to the indigent.

1968

Upon William Schnader’s death, Bernard Segal becomes Chairman of the firm.

1969

Bernard Segal becomes president of the American Bar Association, the first Jewish lawyer to hold that position. His work results in the creation of an ethics committee. He also raises funds for the Commission on Correctional Facilities and Services, which provides a comprehensive examination of the penal system.

Schnader partner J. Pennington Straus originates the concept of the Uniform Probate Code and his work leads to its preparation and adoption in 37 states.

1970

Brenda Kinney is the first woman elected partner of the firm. Margaret Powers is elected partner soon after.

1974

Schnader opens its second office in Washington, D.C. and William H. Brown, III, former chairman of the EEOC, joins Schnader as the firm’s first African-American partner.

1975-1994

1976

Bernard Segal becomes President of the American Bar Foundation.

1979

Jerome Shestack is appointed the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

1984

Schnader opens its third office in New York City, following a merger with the Rivkin, Sherman & Levy firm.

1985

William H. Brown, III, is appointed to chair the commission that investigates the MOVE disaster in Philadelphia.

1986

Partner Arthur Kahn becomes Chairman of the firm.

1990

Marilyn Kutler is the first woman elected to the firm’s Executive Committee.

1991

Schnader opens an office in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, with a focus on labor and employment law, product liability, construction litigation and class action matters.

1992

Partner Dennis Suplee becomes Chairman of the firm.

1994

Schnader expands into western Pennsylvania with the opening of its Pittsburgh office.

1995-2004

1997

As part of the firm’s involvement in the President’s Summit on America’s Future, Schnader adopts Caton Village, a halfway house for women who are recovering from substance abuse. Attorneys and staff provide on-site legal clinics, assist residents with obtaining vital records and disability benefits, organize holiday events, and donate computers for a new computer lab.

Partner Ralph Wellington becomes Chairman of the firm.

Schnader begins the practice of recognizing its lawyers and staff members’ distinguished record of pro bono service and by annually presenting the Earl G. Harrison Pro Bono award.

The firm files the first brief to be accepted by the United States Supreme Court on CD-ROM.  The amicus brief supports the ACLU’s position challenging the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union.  The Supreme Court rules in favor of our client’s position. 

1999

Schnader gains a west coast presence with the opening of its San Francisco office.

The firm doubles its presence in the Pittsburgh office with the addition of nine attorneys from the firm Titus & McConomy.

Partner David Smith becomes chair of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, an affiliate of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Partner Ralph Wellington becomes chair of Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

2000

Schnader combines its practice with the Philadelphia office of Mesirov Gelman Jaffe Cramer & Jamieson, adding greater depth to its corporate and labor and employment practices.

2001

Schnader becomes one of the twelve founding members of the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group (PDLG). PDLG’s mission is to foster participation of a more diverse group of lawyers in the Greater Philadelphia Region in order to make the legal profession stronger, more diverse and better equipped to address the challenges of the twenty-first century.

2002

Schnader wins an acquittal for wrongly convicted pro bono client Thomas Kimball, who had been condemned to death for the brutal murders of four people. The team uncovered key medical evidence that had been overlooked in the first trial and procured DNA evidence that, instead, placed the victim’s estranged husband at the crime scene.

2005-Present

2006

Schnader opens an office in Wilmington, Delaware, allowing us to represent Delaware business entities and clients in Delaware-centered business transactions, as well as bankruptcy and litigation matters in Delaware.

2009

Partner Dennis R. Suplee becomes President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

2010

The firm wins a not guilty verdict on behalf of pro bono client William Barnes, who was charged with causing the death of a Philadelphia police officer 41 years after Barnes had shot and partially paralyzed him. (Barnes had already served a full prison term for the shooting). Schnader lawyers then work for two more years to free Mr. Barnes, who remained incarcerated on a technical parole violation.

Partner David Smith is elected Chairman of the firm.

2011

Partner Albert Dandridge, III is appointed Chief Diversity Officer of the firm and tasked with increasing and developing our bench of diverse attorneys.

Partner David Smith co-founds the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s Board Observer Program. This program places young attorneys on nonprofit boards so that they can develop the leadership skills necessary for board membership and help to diversify nonprofit boards.

2012

Schnader obtains the first court order permitting the use of predictive coding over the objection of opposing counsel.

2013

The firm finalizes its affiliation with Yang & Co. in Jakarta, Indonesia. The association allows the firms to represent Asian companies and individuals requiring legal counsel in the U.S. and U.S. companies and individuals requiring legal counsel in Asia.

2014

Schnader opens an office in Melville, New York, with a focus on retail leasing.

2015

Partner Albert Dandridge, III is the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. He is the fourth African-American and fifth Schnader attorney to hold the post. Finding inspiration from the advocacy of Bernard Segal and Cecil B. Moore, he challenges the bar to increase its community service and outreach to veterans. His Boots on the Ground campaign puts lawyers directly in the community, whether building houses with Habitat for Humanity or serving lunches at homeless shelters. He also issues the One Day Pledge, a challenge to each lawyer to do at least 24 hours of community service during the course of the year.

2016

Schnader’s Pittsburgh office receives the inaugural Pennsylvania Youth Court Champion Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association for its work with the Manchester Academic Charter School. Schnader attorneys and staff help the students set up a youth court, prepare for a mock trial and draft a bill of rights for their school.

Honorable Timothy Lewis, former U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the Third Circuit, testifies before Democratic members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court. He goes on to give the Weekly Presidential Address with Vice President Joe Biden on the same topic.

The firm wins an acquittal on behalf of pro bono client Anthony Wright, who spent 25 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. He had been convicted of rape and murder in 1993 after signing a confession under duress. The District Attorney chose to retry him even though DNA evidence excluded him as the perpetrator. Members of the jury took less than an hour to exonerate Mr. Wright and waited outside the courthouse following the verdict so that they could meet him.

Partner Nancy Winkelman takes office as President of The American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.

2018

Schnader attorneys and staff design and teach a pilot life skills seminar for a group of young adults aging out of the foster care system. The seminar includes lessons on securing vital documents, opening a bank account, looking for jobs and going to a job interview.