Overview

With 650 lawyers in 11 offices nationwide, we strive to provide clients with unparalleled service in matters ranging from billion-dollar deals to complex class actions, across a broad spectrum of industries.

Our priorities are knowing our clients' business and providing the value they need so that we can be an integral part of their success.  Clients choose us for our sophisticated yet efficient approach to handling their most important business transactions, litigation and government affairs efforts.

Our 160-plus year history is marked by service to the public and the bar and innovating for our clients.  Today, we combine a comprehensive range of traditional legal practices with significant national roles in such practices as class action defense, corporate and securities, government relations, health care, intellectual property, insurance, investment management, private equity, bankruptcy, energy, environmental, education and communications.  We also remain committed to our long tradition of handling pro bono work and taking on unpopular causes.

Experienced, hands-on lawyers lead our matters and are supported by younger lawyers and legal assistants.  We strive to employ teams, technology and resources in a fashion that best meets our clients’ needs while offering a highly competitive cost structure.

Our first year associates spend four months in our nationally recognized development program, which embraces the belief that, while the best learning comes from doing, our clients should not bear the cost associated with the early learning of new associates.  Because of that, our first years are not expected to bill work during the program.  Led by our partners, the training emphasizes the need for associates to understand the business contexts related to client problems and teaches the skills needed to solve them effectively.

Our firm is not only the people who currently work in our offices across the country but also all those who used to work here.  Our alumni are part of our history and our future.  We have developed a firm wide alumni program, the Drinker Biddle Alumni Network, to offer our alumni a dynamic forum to network with former colleagues, participate in alumni and other social events, take advantage of complimentary CLE opportunities, external job postings, other professional development tools and more.  Our alumni have forged diverse career paths and taken on new challenges after having left the firm and we remain proud of our association with all of our alumni.  We are delighted to maintain contact and strong relationships with so many of them.  Our alumni can reconnect and stay in touch with us through our Drinker Biddle Network website at www.drinkerbiddlealumni.com.

Firm History

From its founding in 1849 to its present-day status as a leading law firm with a national footprint, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP has demonstrated a sustained commitment to excellence in the practice of law, public service and a civil society.  Our practice and character are deeply rooted in the firm's history, as exemplified in these historical profiles of our lawyers and services.

 

FOUNDING OF THE FIRM BY JOHN C. BULLITT

John Christian Bullitt, a young Kentucky lawyer, arrived in Philadelphia on March 5, 1849, the day Zachary Taylor was sworn in as the 12th President of the United States. Bullitt had chosen to relocate to Philadelphia, an area with a population of 120,000, on the advice of Secretary of State James Buchanan, whom he had met on a tour in Washington, D.C. After his admission to the Philadelphia Bar on June 4, 1849, he opened the law offices of Bullitt and Fairthorne, Attorneys at Law. Bullitt’s first client was the Bank of Kentucky, for which he spent the next 40 years collecting on a judgment in a fraudulent stock case.

Among his many accomplishments, he founded the Fourth Street National Bank in 1886, the only large bank founded in the city in the last quarter of the 19th century, and spearheaded the construction of the Bullitt Building on South Fourth Street. Drinker Biddle's founding partner practiced law in Philadelphia for more than 50 years until his death in 1902. William C. Bullitt, his direct descendent, is a partner in the firm's Private Client Practice Group.

 

REPRESENTING THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

Drinker Biddle’s relationship with the University of Pennsylvania dates back nearly to the founding of the firm in 1849. Partner Samuel Dickson, who joined the firm in 1863, served on the board of trustees of the University of Pennsylvania from 1881 until his death in 1915. He was also counsel to the university, a role that the firm would retain for many years.

Dickson was consulted on a variety of matters during his 34 years on the board and participated in debates over the pace and direction of development, including such issues as Provost Charles Custis Harrison’s controversial dismissal of Frank Furness as the university architect in 1894. In 1927, Henry Drinker was named counsel to the university and in 1931 was appointed an associate trustee and a member of the university’s Board of Fine Arts. We continue to serve the university to this day.

 

DREXEL, MORGAN & CO. – EARLY BANKING EXPERIENCE

After the Civil War, a close association was formed between a law firm and an investment banking client that would endure for more than a century. Spurred by industrial expansion and corporate finance, John C. Bullitt presided over the formation of Drexel, Morgan & Co., merging the brokerage firms of Drexel & Co. with Morgan, Dabney & Co. Bullitt’s counsel extended over the full range of the business of a private bank, including accepting deposits, making short-term commercial loans, financing foreign trade, promoting commodities exchange, providing brokerage services, and sponsoring new offerings of government and corporate securities.

Following the death of Anthony Drexel in 1895, Drexel, Morgan & Co. was renamed J.P. Morgan & Co., and the company shifted its key presence from Philadelphia to New York. The firm has since represented dozens of prominent financial institutions, among them Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., a current relationship that began in 1911.

 

HENRY S. DRINKER

August 1904 marked the arrival of Henry S. Drinker, Jr., who became a dominant presence in the firm for 50 years. Drinker was the executive voice of the firm from the time he emerged as a firm leader in the 1920s until the 1950s. Educated at Haverford College, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, Henry Drinker worked for several months without a salary, until finally collecting $50 and $100 in January 1905. He was admitted to the partnership in 1918, and was named counsel to the University of Pennsylvania in 1927. His passion for the law was equaled by his love of music. Drinker was a recognized musicologist and translated texts of Bach and Mozart. In 1931, he was appointed as an associate trustee and member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Board of Fine Arts.

When war once again engulfed Europe in the first half of the 20th century, Henry Drinker’s love of choral music earned him a footnote in the well-known story of the Trapp family. In October 1939, family patriarch Georg von Trapp asked Henry Drinker to intervene when the family was detained at Ellis Island with visa problems. Their Philadelphia lawyer and benefactor would repeatedly come to their rescue during the war years. 

 

CHARLES J. BIDDLE

Charles J. Biddle served with distinction in World War I. He joined the Lafayette Escadrille in France, where he shot down eight enemy planes and rose to the rank of major. The French awarded him both the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre, and he received the American Distinguished Service Cross.

He arrived at the firm in 1924, and of all lawyers who joined the firm in the 1920s, he had the greatest impact on its future. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, he initially practiced law in the Drexel Building with his father’s firm. Following his father’s death, Biddle made an arrangement to join this firm (he was, in fact, the firm's first lateral partner) and brought with him several significant clients, including the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire (founded by Benjamin Franklin) and the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society (PSFS). Biddle became a partner in 1925 and was a major force at the firm for decades. In the 1950s, he led the defense of Merck Sharp & Dohme in one of the firm’s first major price-fixing cases. At a trial in Trenton, N.J., he argued successfully for Merck’s acquittal alongside Thomas E. Dewey, the former governor and presidential candidate, who represented Eli Lilly.

In 2003, Drinker Biddle partner Wilson M. Brown III picked up the baton from a Charles Biddle case against the United States on behalf of the survivors of widows of men killed in a 1948 B-29 airplane crash in which the government invoked national security as its defense.

 

THOMAS REATH AND THE FIRM’S SERVICE IN WORLD WAR II

With France about to collapse in 1940, President Roosevelt asked shipping businessman W. Averill Harriman to revive the Cramp shipyard in Philadelphia. Harriman summoned Thomas Reath and said to him: “This is what the President wants done, and you’re my man to do it.” Thomas Reath, who had joined the firm in 1919 and served in the Army Ordinance Department in World War I, and other firm lawyers embarked on a long process of negotiating a compromise on a $1 million tax lien and reorganizing the shipyard, which formally reopened in September 1941 – just three months before Pearl Harbor. Reath's partner, Lewis Van Dusen, summed up Reath's contribution:

Tom set up the corporation and stuck all these Navy fellows in.  He was responsible for making the thing work, and he did an outstanding job.  I was involved in it for a year…. It cost the firm an arm and a leg to do it, but it was a big contribution to the war effort.

 

The firm contributed to the war effort in many other ways, primarily through service in the armed forces, in Washington and overseas, of its partners, associates and staff. All six of the firm’s lawyers who served in the armed forces during World War II returned safely to their practices in 1946.

 

HENRY W. SAWYER III AND THE MCCARTHY HEARINGS

Henry W. Sawyer III joined the firm after military service in World War II, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s accelerated program for veterans, and later worked on the Marshall Plan in Europe. When he rejoined the firm, the anti-communist campaign of Joseph McCarthy was in full swing. Henry Drinker, in spite of his political conservatism, fully supported Sawyer’s work to represent, on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, alleged communists who were called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Senate Internal Security Committee or who were charged with related violations. In the atmosphere of hysteria and fear that embraced the country in the early years of the Cold War, Henry Drinker would not be intimidated. Sawyer explained:

I represented a couple of the 30 alleged communist Philadelphia public school teachers called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.  A valued client of the firm came in to complain.  Mr. Drinker listened and then explained to the indignant client the way it worked.  The firm was free to choose its clients, and the clients were free to choose their firm.  This in itself was something that no other large firm would have done, but the true Drinker touch was that he never mentioned the episode to me.  I only found out about it after his death.

 

Henry Sawyer enjoyed a long and highly successful career at Drinker Biddle, marked by distinguished firm leadership, prominent advocacy and support of constitutional and civil rights, and defense work for major corporate clients, including General Electric in the electrical equipment price-fixing cases in the 1960s that were the harbingers of the type of large litigation that would transform the practice of law from the 1970s to the 1990s.

 

REPRESENTING THE PHILADELPHIA SAVING FUND SOCIETY (PSFS)

One of Philadelphia’s oldest companies, PSFS was founded in 1816 as the first savings bank in the United States. The company remained an important client of the firm until the 1980s, with representation including residential mortgages and foreclosures, litigation, drafting legislation, tax work, sophisticated forms of financing and investment, and real estate joint ventures.

In 1983, Drinker Biddle represented PSFS in its conversion to a stock company and the public offering of $340 million in common stock, which at the time was the largest initial public offering of equity securities by an issuer. PSFS was a client for more than a half-century, until the financial implications of fluctuating interest rates of the 1970s and 1980s led to its financial decline. PSFS is now gone as a landmark institution, but its familiar acronym survives atop its former headquarters at 12th and Market Streets, the first modernist skyscraper built in Philadelphia.

 

BERNARD M. SHANLEY – FOUNDER OF SHANLEY & FISHER, PC

In the 1930s Bernard M. Shanley founded the New Jersey firm that came to be known as Shanley & Fisher and combined with Drinker Biddle in 1999. Bern Shanley joined the military during World War II, serving in the European theatre of operations. After the war he returned to Newark and broadened the firm’s work to include both litigation and commercial matters. President Dwight D. Eisenhower called him to public service during the 1950s. Shanley served the President, who was a close friend, as Deputy Chief of Staff, Appointments Secretary and Special Counsel to the President. Returning to New Jersey in the late 1950s, Bern Shanley was responsible for broadening the firm’s business, helping Shanley & Fisher to become one of the largest and most respected firms in the state. He insisted that the firm’s lawyers give its clients their very best, as he did throughout his long and distinguished career. He viewed his work as an attorney not as an occupation, but as a means of improving the world around him. Bern Shanley’s commitment to his community was equal to his political participation.

 

WOMEN AND MINORITIES AT THE FIRM

In the expansion period of the 1920s, Ada M. Lutz became the firm’s first woman lawyer, spending a year with the firm and going on to practice in Philadelphia for several decades thereafter. In 1944, Ida Agnes Rosa arrived as a student, was admitted to the bar the following year, and stayed on as an associate until her marriage and move to New York in 1947. Like other women of her era, she had gained access to a position that in peacetime might have been denied her.

When Amy Davis joined the firm in 1971 and subsequently became Drinker Biddle's first woman partner, she established the foundation for women lawyers to have prominent roles throughout the firm. Kathryn H. Levering started as an associate in 1976 and became the second female partner. She eventually became the first woman to serve as managing partner, and continues today as a key leader in the firm. The firm launched a Women's Initiative in 2007, and more information about it can be found under our Diversity tab.

Drinker Biddle's first African-American associate, Melvin Breaux, joined the firm in 1970 and became a partner in 1979. He served as mentor to Kenneth C. Frazier, who also joined as an associate and became a partner. Ken’s career has since taken him to Merck as its Chairman, President and CEO .  In early 2004, Drinker Biddle established a Diversity Initiative and began creating and implementing a Diversity Strategic Plan, which is now managed by our Firmwide Diversity Committee.

 

LEWIS H. VAN DUSEN – LARGER THAN LIFE

Several generations of the Drinker family – lawyers and staff alike – viewed Lewis H. Van Dusen as the heart and soul of the firm. A longtime partner, Lew joined the firm in 1935 and spent his entire career here, including time out for significant World War II service. And though he never received a formal designation, Lew was a leader of the firm for decades. According to legend, Lew delivered his 1932 Princeton undergraduate valedictory address entirely in classic Greek. He then attended Harvard Law School and New College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

Lew followed Henry Drinker as chair of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. He considered the client's interest paramount, viewed the practice of law as a privilege and a 24-hour-a-day commitment, and sought only the most effective and professional representation. He stood for a commitment to the highest values of ethics and integrity. Until a few months before his passing in November 2004, just short of his 94th birthday, Lew continued to come to the office regularly. During his World War II service, one of Lew’s commanding generals commented that “He is one of the few 100 percent intellectually honest men I have ever known.” The Drinker Biddle family will forever and gratefully remember this larger than life lawyer.

 

GROWTH AND PROSPERITY IN CHICAGO

In 1910, Henry A. Gardner Jr. and Alfred T. (Tom) Carton, two young graduates of the Harvard Law School, opened the doors of their new law practice at 76 West Monroe Street in Chicago with their first client, Swift & Company. In the course of the next two decades, relationships with major corporations in the Chicago area formed the nucleus of the firm’s legal practice, which began to grow substantially and continued through the advent of the New Deal in 1933, an era that often necessitated that corporate entities pay near constant legal attention to their business dealings. A year later, James H. Douglas’ return to the firm after his service as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt prompted the firm to rename itself Gardner Carton & Douglas, the name it kept until the combination in 2007 with Drinker Biddle. Around the same time, in the 1930s, firm partner Arthur D. Chilgren filed one of the first registration statements in the United States under the Securities Act of 1933. His skill attracted many investment bankers to use the firm as underwriter’s counsel for numerous financing transactions. Several decades later, in 1973, partner Ray Garrett, Jr., was selected to become chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the 1970s, Gardner Carton & Douglas also established one of the first health law practices in the country.  The firm opened its Washington, D.C., office in 1977, and several years later expanded again, opening offices in Milwaukee, Wis., and Albany, N.Y.

 

STRATEGIC GROWTH FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

In the past several years, Drinker Biddle has undertaken a plan of strategic growth, strengthening practices and opening offices to provide first-tier services nationally in focused areas, including, for example, products liability and class action defense, intellectual property and bankruptcy. Key events marking our expansion have included the 1999 combination with the prominent New Jersey general practice firm of Shanley & Fisher, P.C., the 2001 combination with the Philadelphia intellectual property firm of Seidel, Gonda, Lavorgna & Monaco, and the 2001 combination with the San Francisco firm of Preuss Shanagher Zvoleff & Zimmer together with the addition of lawyers from Haight, Brown & Bonesteel in Los Angeles, both with strong products liability and general litigation practices. In 2003, we opened our office in Wilmington, Delaware with a focus on bankruptcy and litigation services. Drinker Biddle joined the ranks of the AmLaw 100 in 2003, and two years later opened its 10th office in Chicago.

 

GARDNER CARTON & DOUGLAS COMBINATION

On Nov. 13, 2006, Drinker Biddle and Gardner Carton & Douglas announced their plans to combine. The merger of these two long-established, client-focused firms cemented a national footprint with more than 650 lawyers in 12 offices. The merger, effective Jan. 1, 2007, also made the firm one of the 70 largest law firms in the United States. From the beginning of the merger Drinker Biddle and Gardner Carton shared in values of the highest standards in client service, legal work and professional ethics.

As a firm founded in 1910 in Chicago, Gardner Carton brought to the newly combined firm its nationally known practices in health law, bankruptcy, employee benefits and executive compensation, government and regulatory affairs, hedge funds and intellectual property, among others. In addition, the merger allowed Drinker Biddle to deepen and strengthen many additional core practice areas, including corporate, commercial litigation, and others.

 

GROWTH IN LOS ANGELES

In 2009, the firm expanded its presence in Los Angeles with the addition of six lawyers, including prominent litigators George T. Caplan and Henry Shields, who established a new Century City office with a focus on complex commercial litigation and labor and employment law. In 2010, the boutique firm of Eisenberg Raizman Thurston & Wong LLP joined the Century City ranks, thus further enhancing the office’s reputation as a litigation powerhouse. 2011 saw the growth of the firm’s nationally ranked Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation practice group when 11 lawyers from Reish & Reicher in Los Angeles joined the firm, including Fred Reish and Bruce Ashton, who are recognized nationally as two of the top lawyers in the 401K and retirement plan sphere.

 

NEW YORK EXPANSION

Since moving from Lower Manhattan to the heart of Midtown in 2011, our New York office has tripled in size. In January 2012, three new partners joined the office from Dewey & LeBoeuf. Thomas M. Dawson, John P. Mulhern and H. Michael Byrne are recognized as leaders in the insurance regulatory and transactional arenas. Transactional lawyer Joseph Seiler joined them later that year. In 2013, the New York office doubled its state-of-the-art space at 1177 6th Avenue and welcomed experienced hedge fund, investment management, and private equity lawyer Kay A. Gordon as partner.

 

INFORMATION GOVERNANCE AND EDISCOVERY

In 2012, the firm launched a dedicated information governance and eDiscovery subsidiary staffed by technical specialists who help our lawyers and clients decrease the overall cost of the eDiscovery process through the use of culling strategies and advanced technology. Then, in 2013, partners Bennett B. Borden and Jay Brudz joined the Washington, DC, office as leaders of the Information Governance and eDiscovery Practice Group and brought a wealth of experience in advising clients on data from a risk, cost and value standpoint. Later in 2013, Jason R. Baron, a former Director of Litigation for the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and senior counsel at the Department of Justice, joined the group.

 

WORK BEYOND THE LAW TO BENEFIT THE ENVIRONMENT

In recent years, the firm has bolstered its commitment to sustainability and to creating a better community. Philadelphia partner Bill Clark has spent countless hours championing the creation of benefit corporations, a new class of corporations that are required to create a positive, material impact on society and the environment and to meet higher standards for accountability and transparency. Bill created the benefit corporation model legislation and has worked with associate Lizzie Babson to draft almost all the subsequent state legislation. So far, the legislation has been enacted in 20 states and is under consideration in many more. Also, the firm joined the Law Firm Sustainability Network in 2013 and will serve on the Network’s Leadership Council. The Network’s mission is to develop key performance indicators, foster knowledge sharing, develop best practice guidelines, and recognize innovation regarding environmental sustainability.

 

Representative Clients
  • Agilent Technologies
  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
  • AmerisourceBergen Corporation
  • Ansell Health Products, Inc.
  • Avaya Inc.
  • AT&T Mobility
  • Aventis Pharmaceutical
  • Bank of America, N.A.
  • BASF Corporation
  • Broadcast Music, Inc.
  • Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
  • Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc.
  • Center for Telemedicine and E-Health Law
  • Children's Memorial Hospital (IL)
  • CIGNA
  • City of Chicago
  • Comcast Corporation
  • Cott Corporation
  • Crump Group, Inc.
  • Delphi Corporation
  • Deutsche Bank Trust Company
  • Ernst & Young LLP
  • General Electric Company
  • Gulf Insurance Group
  • Honeywell International
  • HSBC Bank USA
  • Illinois State University
  • International Pharmaceutical Aerosol Consortium
  • J.P. Morgan Trust
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Kellogg Company
  • Kulicke & Soffa Industries, Inc.
  • LaSalle Bank, N.A.
  • Laureate Education, Inc.
  • Limited Brands
  • Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company
  • Matrix Realty, Inc.
  • Medicare Access for Partners-Rx Coalition
  • Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Motorola, Inc.
  • Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
  • Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc.
  • Oncology Nursing Society  
  • Penske Truck Leasing Co., LP
  • Pfizer Inc
  • Puerto Rico Telephone Company
  • Pulte Homes, Inc.
  • Quaker Chemical Corporation
  • Questor Partners
  • RadioShack Corporation
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Selective Insurance Group, Inc.
  • Serta, Inc.
  • Sprint Nextel Corporation
  • The Chubb Corporation
  • The Independent Directors of the Credit Suisse Funds
  • The Travelers Companies, Inc.
  • Trammell Crow Company
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • Urban Outfitters, Inc.
  • USG Corporation
  • Wakefern Food Corporation
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Pro Bono

At Drinker Biddle, pro bono work is part of who we are and what we do, every day.

We work for clients who cannot afford lawyers, and for causes that call out for the skilled advocacy that only the best lawyers can provide. We fight for the lives of inmates on death row; enforce the constitutional rights of prisoners to freedom of worship and decent medical care; counsel small nonprofit organizations on their legal rights and responsibilities; and represent many individual clients, from tenants who are wrongly evicted and left homeless, to victims of domestic violence and child abuse, to families of limited means that are trying to adopt hard-to-place children. And we serve these pro bono clients with the same quality and resources we devote to every client.

Drinker Biddle is a charter signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge. In 2013, the firm devoted more than 33,000 hours to pro bono work, while investing thousands of dollars to cover the costs associated with our pro bono cases, and donating many thousands more to public interest legal organizations around the country.

Our lawyers participate in litigation that has a major impact not only on the lives of our clients, but also on the communities in which we live and practice. Three different teams of Drinker Biddle lawyers are fighting for death row inmates in Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Another team of Drinker Biddle lawyers are continuing groundbreaking litigation in Pennsylvania to challenge state certification of electronic voting machines that do not provide a paper record for audit and recount purposes. Lawyers from our Washington office represent Native American clients who are challenging federal trademark protection for the name of a professional sports team that incorporates a term that is racist and degrading to Native Americans.

Drinker Biddle lawyers also represent many individual clients in a wide range of personal legal matters. Many of our lawyers are assisting active duty military personnel now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, or their families, through bar programs that recruit lawyers to handle civil matters such as support, custody and landlord/tenant cases. Other Drinker Biddle lawyers are advocating for disabled veterans who are challenging denials or reductions of their benefits. A number of lawyers in our Philadelphia office serve as appointed child advocates for abused and neglected children under court supervision. Lawyers in our Washington office regularly represent low income artists and arts organizations in matters referred by the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, dealing with contracts, intellectual property issues and other subjects. These are only a few examples of the many individual clients that Drinker lawyers assist every day.

Our litigators also regularly accept appointment by the federal courts to represent prisoners who have filed pro se civil rights cases deemed potentially meritorious by the courts. Several of our prisoner cases went to jury trials in the last few years, and were ably tried by the young associates who prepared the cases, conducted the discovery and handled the motion practice leading up to those trials.

We collaborate with local and regional legal services organizations on a host of projects: representing victims of domestic violence at final hearings on protective orders; staffing and operating walk-in clinics for indigent clients; handling intake of new clients for those organizations; and training their volunteers to handle cases in areas such as immigration, asylum, elder law, domestic violence, family law and landlord/tenant disputes.

Our business lawyers also get involved in pro bono work. Many counsel small nonprofit organizations on corporate formation and governance, applications for tax-exempt status, lending, real estate, intellectual property, and employment and regulatory issues. Transactional lawyers from Drinker Biddle recently handled mergers of several nonprofit organizations with similar missions, combining the entities to maximize the impact of their resources and talent. Another group of transactional lawyers represented a Chicago-based community enterprise lender on a $5 million administrative services agreement with the City of Chicago to provide funding to local minority-owned businesses. Yet another team of business lawyers counseled a Chicago-area organization that helps disadvantaged children on the purchase of a property and financing for a community center. And business lawyers in our Philadelphia office have acted for years as the primary outside counsel for a nationwide organization of community lenders that make funds available to improve cities and towns across America.

Pro bono work brings its own rewards, in the satisfaction we earn by serving the legal needs of our communities, but Drinker Biddle lawyers also have been recognized, locally and nationally, for their pro bono work:

  • Larry J. Fox, a litigation partner in our Philadelphia office, was one of just five recipients nationwide of the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards in 2005. The award recognized Larry’s distinguished career in pro bono work including extensive advocacy for defendants on death row, and a groundbreaking victory for residents of substandard public housing units in a federal class action lawsuit in Philadelphia.
  • Alicia Hickok, a litigation partner in our Philadelphia office, was one of just three recipients statewide in 2007 of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s prestigious Louis J. Goffman Award. The award recognized her sustained commitment to pro bono work including thousands of hours devoted to the cause of justice for defendants in capital cases.
  • Lawyers in our Chicago office have earned numerous honors for their commitment to public service, at Gardner Carton & Douglas and also at Drinker Biddle after the two firms combined in 2007. Among those awards are the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services’ Distinguished Service Award in 2005; entry on the Honor Roll of Chicago’s Public Interest Law Initiative in 2005 and 2006; and the “Law Firm of the Year” award in 2005 from the Chicago-based Center for Disability and Elder Law.
  • Drinker Biddle received the New Jersey State Bar Association Service to the Community Award in 2006. That same year the firm was recognized by the Board of Judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey for its outstanding pro bono efforts.

This is just a brief summary of how Drinker Biddle lawyers serve the public interest and help address the unmet legal needs of the communities in which we practice. At the right of this page is a link to our most recent pro bono report, which describes in detail this vital and diverse part of our practice.

Diversity

Our commitment to diversity at Drinker Biddle reflects our belief that by more accurately reflecting our clients and our communities, we are more effectively positioned to understand their needs and objectives, in all their many facets.

Creativity, innovation, cooperation and mutual respect are the natural result of an environment in which individual contributions are valued, where biases based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, creed, political beliefs, veteran status, and other factors are absent, and legal knowledge combines with unique world views.  Drinker Biddle has always had a commitment to civility and respect for all, and this is reflected in our core values and business.

DIVERSITY COMMITTEE

Our Firmwide Diversity Committee is charged with ensuring our firm reflects the rich diversity of the communities and clients we serve. As such, one of the committee’s primary objectives is to proactively recruit, retain, promote to partner and foster the professional development of talented diverse lawyers. The committee is co-chaired by two of our most senior partners, Steve Selna and Helen Tuttle, and is charged with implementing various programs and processes in the Diversity Strategic Plan, including (but not limited to) recruiting, retention, assignment management and overall associate development.

WOMEN'S INITIATIVE

As part of Drinker Biddle & Reath's commitment to diversity, we have established a Women's Initiative to further the retention and promotion of female lawyers.  In keeping with that focus, the Women’s Initiative works with the firm to support and assist female lawyers in (i) becoming partners; (ii) becoming fully participating partners; (iii) becoming principal billing partners on client matters; (iv) being recognized and compensated for their contribution to client billings and (v) being leaders in the firm in greater numbers and more meaningful ways. 

RECRUITING

The firm’s commitment to diversity is demonstrated by its many efforts to recruit minority law school graduates and experienced lawyers. We regularly help coordinate and participate in a number of minority attorney recruitment programs. Members of our hiring committee and recruitment staff travel to law schools around the country, meeting with first-year minority students to increase interest in the firm’s Summer Associate program and conducting interviews with graduating students for our associate positions.

Further, the firm regularly offers time, money and other resources to help support and encourage minority students as they pursue their educational and professional goals. We work with student groups at various law schools to provide mentoring and financial assistance. We sponsor scholarships given annually to deserving minority law students by the Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois and the Cook County Bar Association, and we sponsor scholarships and paid internships for deserving minority students at the newly formed Drexel University School of Law in Philadelphia.

In addition, resources are dedicated to ensure that our diversity commitment is reflected in our hiring practices. A few of our efforts include participating in minority job fairs nationally (Vault/MCCA Job Fair, Cook County Minority Job Fair, Philadelphia Area Minority Job Fair, etc.), committing to hire at least one summer associate through a minority-focused organization (Philadelphia Diversity Law Group), ensuring that our firm’s core interviewer group has a diverse constituency, insisting upon diverse representation in interview schedules, financially supporting minority law student organizations nationally (Black Lawyers Student Association, Latin American Student Association, ALIANZA), placing job postings on websites targeted to a diverse lawyer audience (MCCA, Hot Jobs.com, etc.) and holding outreach activities to meet minority candidates and foster minority hiring practices in various cities in which we maintain offices.

SPONSORSHIP AND ORGANIZATION OF MAJOR EVENTS

Drinker Biddle sponsors, organizes and participates in a variety of major events addressing issues important to women and minorities both in the legal profession and in the wider business communities that we serve. The following list is a sampling of recent events:

  • American Conference on Diversity Humanitarian Dinner
  • Barrister’s Association of Philadelphia Annual Barrister’s Ball
  • California Minority Counsel Program 19th Annual Business Meeting
  • The Enterprise Center’s “Passing the Torch” Awards
  • Garden State Bar Association’s 33rd Anniversary Scholarship & Awards Gala
  • Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois Annual Awards
  • Hispanic National Bar Association National Convention 
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund Annual Gala
  • National Association of Women Lawyers Annual Meeting
  • NBA/WLD “Celebration of Firsts” Awards
  • NBA Healthcare Law Symposium 2008
  • National South Asian Bar Association 5th Annual Convention
  • MCCA Midwest Region Diversity Dinner
  • MCCA Northeast Region Diversity Dinner
  • Philadelphia POWER Seminars and Dinner
  • Spanish Coalition for Jobs, Inc. Annual Awards
  • Villanova University School of Law 3rd Annual Diversity Symposium

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Once a lawyer has joined our firm, our work is far from complete. A stable, supportive environment is critical to encouraging the exploration of professional interests and the ongoing development of legal skills.

The firm has established varied mentoring programs: a peer integration mentor is assigned for every new associate’s first year at the firm, a Diversity Committee Watch Program has been put into place (minority associates are tracked to ensure that they are given ample opportunity to work on our most significant matters and clients) and a voluntary “opt-in” mentor program in which associates select their own mentors among partners has been initiated.