Thomas B. Schmidt III of Pepper Hamilton has been selected as a recipient of the 2013 Thaddeus Stevens Champion Award by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP) for his role as co-counsel in Rivera v. Lebanon School District, a case brought by PILCOP to halt and reverse excessive and abusive truancy fines in the school district.
Mr. Schmidt, of counsel and attorney in charge of Pepper’s Harrisburg office, has maintained a substantial pro bono practice since joining Pepper in 1974. He served many years as president of the Harrisburg chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and as a volunteer attorney for the ACLU and many other advocacy organizations. As a Pepper partner he has defended a number of prisoners on death row, challenging both the underlying convictions and imposition of the death penalty. He served as lead counsel for a coalition of poor school districts that sought to have Pennsylvania’s public school funding scheme declared unconstitutional. He played a key role on Pepper’s team representing parents and students in the landmark Kitzmiller v. Dover School District case, addressing “intelligent design” and the high school science curriculum.
In 2007, Mr. Schmidt was the recipient of Pepper Hamilton’s William R. Klaus Pro Bono Award, the firm’s signature honor for distinguished service to the larger community which recognizes a lawyer at the firm who has demonstrated a single outstanding achievement for a pro bono client, a sustained record of pro bono service over time, and/or a record of inspiring others at Pepper to do pro bono work.
Mr. Schmidt’s litigation practice includes complex commercial disputes, administrative agency matters, professional liability claims, construction claims, product liability claims, and insurance coverage and “bad faith” claims. His appellate practice includes frequent appearances in Pennsylvania’s Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth Courts. Mr. Schmidt serves regularly as a court-appointed mediator and has been honored for his service in that capacity by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Recently, he was on the faculty of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution’s “Advanced Mediation and Advocacy Skills Institute” (October 2009).He was appointed by Chief Judge Yvette Kane to serve on the Middle District’s “Civil Jury Trial Task Force” and was co-author of its report.
Recipients of the Thaddeus Stevens Champion Award will be recognized during PILCOP’s 2013 Social Justice Gala on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at The Racquet Club of Philadelphia. For more information about the program and winners, visit http://www.pilcop.org/2013-social-justice-gala/.