BR&B Partner Explains What It Means To Be A "Philadelphia Lawyer"

7/21/2022 - The term “Philadelphia Lawyer” originated in the 18th century as a description of members of the Philadelphia bar, then widely considered the best trained in the American colonies and exceptionally skilled in the law and rhetoric.  Its first known usage dates back to 1788, when it was used to describe a Philadelphia-based lawyer named Andrew Hamilton, who is best known for his legal victory on behalf of printer and newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger. 

As part of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s commemoration of its 220th year, the editors of the Bar Association’s magazine asked members of the Bar to reflect on the term.  The response by BR&B Partner Jeff Golan was included in the Summer 2002 edition of the magazine.  In his response, Jeff wrote that being a Philadelphia Lawyer “means making a difference and having an impact,” whether locally or within a wider community.  Jeff highlighted the work that he and the Firm undertook in the WorldCom securities class action, which resulted in more than $6.19 billion being recovered for the benefit of the WorldCom investor class, including a settlement with WorldCom’s outside auditor, Arthur Andersen, after five weeks of trial and just before closing arguments were to take place. 

As Jeff further wrote: “One of the most significant aspects of the case from a corporate governance perspective was a $60.75 million settlement reached with WorldCom’s directors. Before WorldCom, it was virtually unheard of for directors to personally contribute to securities fraud settlements from their own assets. But given the egregious nature of the fraud at WorldCom, the lead plaintiff and we insisted that each of the former WorldCom outside directors make a material payment from his or her personal assets. Ultimately, the WorldCom director-defendants agreed to pay not only their D&O coverage but also amounts from their own pockets equal to 20% of their combined net worth exclusive of primary residences and retirement accounts, to settle the claims asserted against them. With the settlement of the claims of the class against WorldCom's former directors, notice was formally served that persons who sit on boards of directors of public companies may be held personally liable to investors who suffer losses from egregious corporate fraud.”

The WorldCom case truly made a difference!  A copy of Jeff’s submission is available here.