In 1890, Philadelphia had nine daily newspapers, overwhelmingly voted Republican, and witnessed the birth of a law firm that would one day become Pepper Hamilton. Much has changed in the ensuing years, but one thing has not - Pepper Hamilton's commitment to the values established by our founders, including respect for the rule of law, zealous advocacy of each client's cause, and ensuring excellence in all that we do. Welcome to a brief overview of the proud history - and bright future - of Pepper Hamilton LLP.
The two shared spartan quarters on Walnut Street in Philadelphia - and remained partners and close friends until Henry's death 36 years later.
A position he holds until 1910, when he is named to the Board of Trustees.
"He was," Pepper said, "the most prodigious man I have ever known." Mr. Johnson handled 10,000 court cases during his career, including 2,000 appeals in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and 168 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Johnson's firm would merge with the Pepper firm in 1954.
He lost the argument. Pepper would go on to argue many more cases before the Court - and rarely lost again.
The second Pepper was Benjamin Franklin Pepper, George's cousin and a highly regarded lawyer in his own right. At age 38, Benjamin Franklin Pepper volunteered for military service in World War I and was killed in action in 1918.
The nomination, however, is scuttled by political opposition due to Pepper's earlier representation of Gifford Pinchot, then the head of the U.S. Forest Service and later Governor of Pennsylvania, in the "Pinchot-Ballinger Affair," a political and legal dispute that revealed deep splits in the Republican Party.
The council was aimed at boosting civil preparedness and support of the war effort.
Pepper’s leadership helped resolve a threatened strike by textile workers in Philadelphia – a notable achievement at a time of great labor unrest. Later, as a U.S. senator, Pepper was instrumental in settling a national coal miners' strike.
Pepper argues and wins the U.S. Supreme Court case granting Major League Baseball an exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act.
He was later elected to the remaining four years of the Penrose term and served with such Senate legends as Lodge, Underwood, Borah, Norris and LaFollette. Pennsylvania Republican Party bosses were never comfortable with Senator Pepper and eventually withdrew their support, ending his political career in 1926. Pepper, never entirely happy with the requirements of political life, later stated, “The sting of my defeat lasted about as long as my disappointment over the outcome of a football game or a boat race.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the president has the exclusive power to remove executive branch officials, and does not need the approval of the Senate or any other legislative body. Pepper was invited by the Court to argue as an amicus curiae and took on the matter pro bono, considering it a public service.
Pepper, a former senator, argues and wins this case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court gave President Hoover a victory in a bitter battle with the U.S. Senate over appointees to the Federal Power Commission.
Pepper persuades the U.S. Supreme Court that a major portion of the Roosevelt Administration’s “New Deal” economic recovery program could not pass constitutional muster. In recognition of the force of his logic, Mr. Pepper’s oral argument in the Butler case was one of the few ever transcribed in full, rather than summarized, in official case reports of the United States Supreme Court.
Pepper led the Pennsylvania delegation at the convention, which was chaired by his friend and future law partner, John D.M. Hamilton.
John D.M. Hamilton joins the firm as a name partner.
Harry Gold was the confessed courier for the Soviet atomic spy ring led by Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. A staunch anti-communist, Hamilton said he took on the case because he believed prominent lawyers had an obligation to take on unpopular representations to preserve constitutional rights. Hamilton and Augustus Ballard, then an associate, negotiate Gold’s guilty plea and eventually win his release on parole after 16 years in prison. The judge in the case later called Hamilton’s presentation at sentencing “one of the most brilliant” he had ever heard.
Edward W. (Ned) Madeira joined the firm on Dec. 21, 1953, was instrumental in creating and growing the firm's pharmaceutical and medical device practice, led the firm in numerous other engagements and in management, and continues to serve clients and the firm as senior counsel.
The new firm has 38 lawyers. The dominant partner of the Evans firm at the time of the merger was Francis H. Scheetz, a corporate counselor of agile mind and demanding performance standards. He was an avid alumnus of Cornell, serving on that University’s Board of Trustees. He spent his summer vacations at Cornell, taking courses on scientific subjects unrelated to his corporate practice. He and his charming wife terrified young associates by inviting them to formal Sunday lunches, and then unnerved them further by having lengthy pre-lunch cocktail hours with ice-cold martinis served from silver pitchers. Old-timers also tell a story of Mr. Scheetz, determined to continue working when a power outage darkened the firm’s office, forcing an associate to light match after match so that he could continue to review documents.
A fellow Philadelphia lawyer recalled: “When I was in law school I had the privilege of having courses under the Nestor of the Philadelphia Bar, that great lawyer George Wharton Pepper. At the end of a lecture one day I asked him what one quality he considered most necessary to a successful lawyer. Without an instant’s hesitation he answered, ‘Imagination.’”
George Wharton Pepper retires from active practice and leadership of the firm. Hamilton becomes chairman.
1955 Through 1960
The duPont family was tangled in a complex estate tax dispute over where duPont had resided (he had homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania). The engagement results in convincing Pennsylvania authorities to end their tax claims to the estate, freeing millions of dollars for the duPont charitable foundations.
The law firm of Moffett, Frye & Leopold, founded by Francis S. McIlheney, who had been engaged to incorporate the Sun Oil
Company in 1902, merged with the Pepper firm. This merger brought to the firm our first female partner, Roberta P. McKinney.
The Pepper firm represents Westinghouse Electric Corporation and the H.K. Porter Company in antitrust cases that were among the first involving allegations of price fixing that demonstrated the potential for jail terms for those found in violation of antitrust laws.
The firm represents the William S. Merrell Co. and other drug companies in litigation involving thalidomide - the beginning of the firm's now-nationally recognized pharmaceutical and medical device litigation practice. For more than 40 years, Pepper represented Merrell and its various successor companies in litigation involving numerous products that were investigated or marketed by the companies in the 1960s. The practice, under the leadership of Edward W. Madeira and later Nina M. Gussack, rapidly expanded to represent numerous other major pharmaceutical and medical device companies in complex litigation and related matters.
The firm, led by partner Philip H. Strubing, defended the Curtis Publishing Company, publishers of The Saturday Evening Post, in a libel case involving an article accusing University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant and University of Georgia athletic director Wally Butts of conspiring to fix football games. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court and helped clarify important questions of libel law.
A corporate lawyer and nephew of George Wharton Pepper, Ernest Scott was prominent in community service: he became chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Executive Committee of the United Way.
Six years later, Mr. Giles was elected as Pepper’s first partner of color. He became a federal judge in 1980, and after retiring from the bench in 2008, rejoined the firm as of counsel.
In addition to being an outstanding trial lawyer, Mr. Strubing was an accomplished golfer, who served as counsel to, and the president of, the United States Golf Association.
The firm, led by Edward W. Madeira, Jr., begins representing Volkswagen of America, first in product liability litigation and subsequently in its establishment of manufacturing facilities in the United States – the first foreign automaker to build a plant in the country.
Mr. Ballard served as chair until 1982 and then as co-chairman until 1986. Mr. Ballard was a creative corporate counselor whose clients included Sun Company, The Glenmede Trust Company and The Curtis Publishing Company.
Pepper, led by Augustus Ballard, John Harkins, Ronald M. Dietrich, Lee Hitchner, and others, including a then-new associate, Laurence Z. Shiekman, played a key role in the formation of the Consolidated Railroad (Conrail) from the bankruptcy of the Penn Central Railroad and five other rail lines. Ron Dietrich, who had been general counsel of the U.S. Office of Equal Opportunity and the Federal Trade Commission before joining the firm, became Conrail's first general counsel following the transaction. He returned to Pepper in 1978 and was elected to the executive committee, and was managing partner of the firm's Washington office for many years, until his untimely death from leukemia in 1988. The firm’s relationship with Conrail lasted through the takeover of the company’s assets by CSX and Norfolk Southern, and continues today.
The firm represents leading insurers in the flood of litigation that followed the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania - the worst nuclear energy accident on U.S. soil. Following the event, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission seriously considered designating all four lanes of the Turnpike for evacuees leaving the area, and some wags joked that at least one lane should be reserved for plaintiff lawyers coming in. For more than 20 years, Pepper handled a multitude of cases from the event, all of which were either dismissed or settled. In the early years of the massive litigation, Pepper's team was led by John Harkins, Alfred Wilcox and Fred Speaker, a former attorney general of Pennsylvania who led Pepper's Harrisburg office. Mr. Speaker was a nationally known lawyer who earlier had been personally selected by President Nixon to be the first director of the National Legal Services program, a position he held until he resigned in protest after he accused Vice President Spiro Agnew of interfering with a case the legal services office filed against an urban renewal project in Camden, NJ.
The firm defends against multidistrict litigation (MDL) filed as a result of a fire at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas that killed 85 people – the worst such tragedy in Nevada history and among the worst in U.S. history. The case was a first of its kind. It prompted new safety regulations and established construction law as a vital practice area — one with Pepper at the forefront. The case enhanced Pepper’s reputation nationally and paved the way for other important construction representations. Partners Ken and Bob Cushman, following in the footsteps of their father Ed, led the establishment and growth of Pepper's construction practice into the nationally recognized team it is today. Ken Cushman died at age 65 in 2001; his brother Bob retired in 2004 and died the following year.
Pepper was one of the first firms in Philadelphia to open an office in the western suburbs to capitalize on the rapid growth
in that area.
Harkins had been co-chairman of the firm with Augustus Ballard since 1982.
Mr. Harkins went on to found his own firm, Harkins Cunningham LLP. Mr. Klaus, an experienced corporate practitioner, and Mr. Madeira, an able trial lawyer, served as co-chairmen while the firm reorganized its leadership structure. As part of that reorganization, the firm created the position of executive partner, responsible for overall management of the firm. It also established a policy-setting Executive Committee.
Ms. Mather, a former city solicitor for the City of Philadelphia and a trial lawyer of great renown, maintained an active litigation practice while serving as executive partner for two years. She served as chair and co-chair of the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department from 1998-2008. She continues to be active in firm leadership.
Mr. Baughman was a highly regarded trial lawyer who served as chairman of the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution
Department and chairman of the intellectual property practice. In 2006, Mr. Baughman announced his retirement from active
practice and he passed away in 2015.
Mr. Murray, a corporate lawyer of prescient vision, was among the first to recognize the enormous growth potential of the Philadelphia suburbs and helped establish Pepper’s successful Berwyn office in 1984. Mr. Abelson, a corporate lawyer of exceptional renown, brought new energy and growth to the firm when he joined Pepper in 1992, after more than a decade of
leading smaller firms that he had co-founded.
A highly respected 90-year-old Philadelphia firm, Clark Ladner Fortenbaugh & Young disbanded in the fall of 1996, and nine of its 45 lawyers landed at Pepper Hamilton.
The firm becomes a limited liability partnership.
Pepper, led by partner Joseph V. Del Raso, serves as counsel to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.
Jamieson Moore was a major central New Jersey firm with a statewide practice, and was a leader in the business and legal community for more than 70 years. Since the transaction, the Princeton office has continued to grow, with significant capability in corporate, real estate, financial services, litigation, and other key practice areas.
He continued in that role through 2012, then resumed his construction law practice.
A conversation with a friend led Philadelphia football legend Vince Papale to Pepper partner Vincent V. Carissimi. Pepper worked closely with Papale to bring his incredible life story to the big screen in the 2006 hit movie, Invincible.
Pepper served as co-counsel for the plaintiff corporation in LePage’s, et al. v. 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) in the trial of a Sherman Act Section 2 monopolization claim before a jury that awarded $65 million (after trebling). The case was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and defendant’s petition for certiorari before the United States Supreme Court was denied in 2004. Pepper's team on the case was led by Barbara W. Mather and Jeremy Heep. Another counsel on the LePage's team was Peter Hearn, who spent 35 years at Pepper before starting his own solo practice in 1996. Mr. Hearn, a former candidate for mayor of Philadelphia and a trial lawyer of considerable renown, was one of a handful of Pepper partners other than Sen. Pepper to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Hearn had three cases before the high court in his Pepper career.
Sharon Klein, a partner highly skilled in technology, privacy, security, data protection and health care services matters, rejoins Pepper to grow the firm's West Coast presence.
Michael H. Reed, a partner in the firm’s bankruptcy practice, becomes the first person of color to become president of the
Pennsylvania Bar Association.
Pepper represented Eli Lilly and Company in one of the biggest threats ever faced by a pharmaceutical company – litigation and related matters regarding Zyprexa, its lifesaving treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Among those threats were thousands of cases filed following a change in labeling and medical literature that suggested a link between the drug and diabetes-related conditions in some patients. Pepper obtained favorable settlement of a large number of claims in 2005, but major matters continued for several years and Pepper still represents the company on some Zyprexa related claims today.
Pepper. led by Nicholas Kouletsis, Jeffrey Carr and Melissa Chuderewicz, won a jury verdict for glass manufacturer Pilkington North America in a case alleging arsenic contamination of groundwater at an old manufacturing plant – and helped craft an agreement to ensure that water in the community would be monitored and protected in the years to come.
Since the early 1990s, Pepper has represented Advent International Corporation, a global private equity firm based in Boston, in its acquisition and growth investment activities. Just in 2005 alone, Pepper, led by Cary Levinson, Julie Corelli, Jim Epstein, Thao Le, Brad Boericke and others, advised Advent and its portfolio companies in 11 transactions with an aggregate value of more than $2 billion. These transactions included acquisitions and dispositions, leveraged recapitalizations and later-stage venture capital investments. Pepper's vibrant Investment Funds Industry Group has continued to grow and help clients prosper in the years since.
A team of Pepper lawyers led by Stephen G. Harvey and Eric Rothschild successfully represented the plaintiffs, a group of parents of 9th grade students, in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the “intelligent design” case, in which a federal judge ruled that teaching so-called intelligent design in public schools violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The trial, which attracted national and international attention, is one of the most famous cases involving creationism and evolution since the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 1920s, involving a Tennessee state law that barred teaching human evolution in public schools.
In low-income neighborhoods families frequently need help to prove they own their homes. Pepper formed a group of lawyers to handle such “tangled title” cases. The group handled more than two dozen cases in 2005 - and since then has handled many more. The Tangled Title Group is only one of the pro bono practice groups Pepper formed in 2005 and the years since. The Homeless Advocacy Group helps homeless people with issues such as social security payments and veterans’ benefits. The Child Advocacy Group helps abused and neglected children secure social services and find alternative homes, and also represents them in court proceedings. The Fighting Contractor Fraud Practice Group helps seniors and other low-income residents who are defrauded by home repair contractors. Other projects have been aimed at landlord/tenant issues, prisoner civil rights, and advocacy with the Innocence Project. These groups and other pro bono efforts were spearheaded by Joseph A. Sullivan, who joined the firm in 2005 as Special Counsel and Director of Pro Bono Programs. Every year since, Pepper has significantly increased its commitment and contribution to pro bono matters, including numerous high-profile, unpopular matters that are important for preserving constitutional rights or protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
From an initial focus on funds and corporate matters, the office quickly adds intellectual property, financial services and other practices.
Pepper obtained a full defense verdict following a four-week jury trial of claims by a terminated dealer that Mack Trucks violated federal antitrust laws and various state statutes. The Pepper team of Barbara Mather, Jeremy Heep and Barak Bassman also prevailed on counterclaims against the dealer. In a 2009 retrial of some of the claims, Pepper again obtained a complete defense verdict for Mack.
Ms. Gussack, chair of the firm’s nationally recognized pharmaceutical litigation practice, serves until 2013. Under her leadership, the firm grows in lawyer headcount, geographically and in revenue, and institutes a new strategic plan and governing structure, as well as the firm’s first formal succession planning process.
Pepper obtains a complete defense verdict for Sensormatic Electronics Corporation in high-stakes patent litigation involving retail theft prevention technology. The key to victory was Pepper partners M. Kelly Tillery’s and Erik N. Videlock’s ability to turn very complex technical issues into a comprehensible story “like Mr. Wizard did on Saturday morning TV.”
As part of the ongoing Zyprexa litigation, Pepper represented Eli Lilly in litigation by the Alaska Attorney General seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for alleged misleading marketing of Zyprexa. After five weeks of trial, Pepper obtained a favorable settlement with no admission of wrongdoing, ending one of the biggest civil cases ever tried in Alaska.
In the retrial of price-fixing claims resurrected on appeal of the 2006 trial, Pepper again obtains a complete defense verdict on behalf of Mack Trucks.
In the first Zyprexa case to go to trial, Pepper obtains a defense verdict in a case where plaintiffs claimed that the company failed to warn physicians of adverse events associated with the drug that allegedly resulted in the death of their 20-year-old son. The trial team was led by Andrew Rogoff and Anthony Vale.
The office rapidly adds lawyers focused on consumer finance, real estate and health care services.
The firm also acquires Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC, the global risk management firm founded by Judge Freeh.
Mr. Freeh serves as chair until October 2014.
Mr. Cole, a highly respected Labor and Employment partner, oversees much of the firm’s day-to-day management.
A group of prominent IP litigators joins the firm as Pepper opens its third California office.
In a significant victory in ongoing litigation involving the diabetes treatment Avandia, Pepper persuaded a federal court to dismiss several putative consumer class action complaints seeking reimbursement for funds used to buy the drug.
A team of Pepper lawyers, led by Stephen G. Harvey, Eric Rothschild, Melissa Hatch O'Donnell, Chad Holtzman and Stephanie Wahba represents Sarah Murnaghan and Javier Acosta, two children battling cystic fibrosis, in successfully overturning federal organ transplant rules that unfairly limited transplants for individuals under the age of 12.
Pepper, led by Robert Hertzberg and Michael H. Reed, argues the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that severance payments paid by a bankrupt company to its former employees are “wages” subject to federal payroll taxes (FICA).
On Nov. 7, less than 16 months after Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in history and after a 27-day trial, the U.S.
Bankruptcy Court confirmed the city’s historic plan of adjustment. Pepper partners Robert Hertzberg and Deborah Kovsky-Apap played important roles as special counsel to the city in the bankruptcy case.
The Executive Committee elected Julia D. Corelli as vice chair. Mr. Gallagher is a litigator and chair of the firm’s White Collar Litigation and Investigations Practice Group. Ms. Corelli is a Corporate and Securities lawyer and co-chair of Pepper’s Commercial Department and Funds Services Group.
As part of the firm's celebration of its 125th Anniversary, more than 400 Pepper people from the Philadelphia, Berwyn, Harrisburg, New York, Detroit and Princeton offices lent a helping hand to a number of deserving organizations as part of a Week of Service. Organizations benefitting from the Week of Service include Cradles to Crayons, MANNA, Love Your Park, Ronald McDonald House, Veterans Multi-Service Center, Covenant House, LaMancha Animal Rescue, Surrey Services for Seniors, Downtown Daily Bread, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, the Rescue Mission of Trenton, HomeFront, Baby Buggy, St. James Church/Feed the Hungry, DTE Energy Farm and Forgotten Harvest. Click the picture for a video highlighting some of the service opportunities.
For the first time in the firm’s history, all promoted attorneys are women: Judith L. O’Grady, partner, Washington, Health Effects Litigation; Jessica A. Rickabaugh, of counsel, Philadelphia, Health Effects Litigation; Shirley R. Kuhlmann, partner, Boston, Corporate and Securities; Abigail A. Hazlett, partner, Philadelphia, White Collar Litigation and Investigations; Tracey E. Diamond, of counsel, Philadelphia, Labor and Employment; and Nilufer R. Shaikh, partner, New York, Corporate and Securities.
Pepper Hamilton is the exclusive member firm in Pennsylvania for Lex Mundi — the world’s leading network of independent law firms with in-depth experience in 100+ countries worldwide.
The Pepper Center for Public Service takes advantage of the leadership, skills, experience, passion and critical thinking of Pepper Hamilton's retired and senior partners and counsel by supporting their efforts to study, analyze and work to resolve problems that affect the lives of people in our communities. Pepper Hamilton created and supports the Center, but is a stand-alone organization, led by a board of Pepper Center Fellows.
Pepper people from across the firm's offices have lent a helping hand to a number of deserving organizations as part of the firm’s Week of Service. First launched as part of the firm's 125th anniversary celebration in 2015, the recurring Week of Service has benefitted nonprofit organizations such as Cradles to Crayons, MANNA, Love Your Park, Ronald McDonald House, Veterans Multi-Service Center, TODAY is a Good Day, Bringing Hope Home, Thorncroft Equestrian Center, Covenant House, Inner City Law Center, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, South County Outreach, LaMancha Animal Rescue, DC Central Kitchen, Martha’s Table, Rock Creek Conservancy, New York City Relief, Downtown Daily Bread, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, the Rescue Mission of Trenton, Food Bank for New York City, Jubilee Soup Kitchen, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, DTE Energy Farm, Second Harvest Food Bank, Food Bank of Delaware and Forgotten Harvest, among others.