1500 Market Street, 38th Floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102-2186
Telephone: (215) 972-7777
Fax: (215) 972-7725
Web site: http://www.saul.com
Founded: 1921 as Saul, Ewing, Remick & Saul
Sales: $118.5 million (2004)
NAIC: 541110 Offices of Lawyers
Saul Ewing LLP is a major mid-Atlantic multidisciplinary law firm, employing more than 250 attorneys and another 325 supporting professional staff. In addition to its headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the firm maintains offices in Chesterbrook and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Newark and Princeton, New Jersey; Wilmington, Delaware; Baltimore, Maryland; and Washington, D.C. Saul Ewing does work in more than 20 major areas of law, including healthcare; bankruptcy and restructuring; litigation; business; labor; real estate; public finance; personal wealth, estates, and trusts; utilities; and environmental. Clients range from individuals to corporations, their needs met by a cross-practice approach that employs teams of attorneys with varied expertise. Saul Ewing is organized as a partnership, led by an executive committee and a managing partner elected for a four-year term. Providing further structure are department chairs and office managing partners.
Saul Ewing traces its lineage to one of the greatest attorneys in U.S. history, John Graver Johnson, a man who "in the opinion of some well-qualified judges [was] the greatest lawyer in the English-speaking world," The New York Times wrote at the time of his death. His illustrious legal career notwithstanding, Johnson today is best remembered for donating more than 1,200 paintings to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The son of a blacksmith, he was born in 1841. At a time when law schools were not the custom, Johnson learned his trade after high school by serving as a document clerk in a law office. At 21, he was admitted to the bar and launched his distinguished career. He was only 28 when he became general counsel for the Pennsylvania Company, a major bank and trust company that today is part of the Wachovia family. At that time, Johnson played an instrumental role in the creation of the new Philadelphia Naval Yard at League Island. Johnson combined a photographic memory with an incisive intellect to become one of the most sought-after attorneys in the country, serving the interests of industry barons such as Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Henry Clay Frick, and John D. Rockefeller. He also marched to his own drummer, refusing to travel to New York City, forcing prominent men to visit his Philadelphia offices where they would often be seated next to everyday people, whose much smaller cases he took on at reduced rates. Everyone was made to wait their turn. Johnson was also known to charge modestly for the work he did for corporate clients, a practice that caused occasional embarrassment for co-counsels who presented much higher bills for performing far less work. Nevertheless, Johnson became a wealthy man, due in large part to his enormous capacity for work, allowing him to indulge in his passion for collecting art, a field in which he was self-taught. After a legal career that lasted more than half a century, Johnson handled more than 10,000 court cases, including a staggering 168 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, only a handful of attorneys argue as many as ten cases before the Supreme Court.
When Johnson, who operated as a sole practitioner, died in April 1917, his law practice was taken over by his salaried associates, who formed the firm of Pritchard, Saul, Bayard & Evans, which maintained offices at 1835–43 Land Title Building in Philadelphia. In March 1921 the firm was dissolved and a split of attorneys occurred, leading to the foundation of today's Saul Ewing. Saul Ewing was originally formed as a general law practice called Saul, Ewing, Remick & Saul. Unlike Johnson, all of the partners, graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, had law school educations. The managing partner was a Johnson protégé, Maurice Bower Saul, who was also an important real estate developer. In 1925 the firm moved into new offices in the Packard Building at 15th and Chestnut Streets, a Saul project. His brother, Walter Biddle Saul, was the litigator, specializing in construction law and associated areas. Walter Saul also was president of the Philadelphia School Board in the early 1950s and is the only living person after whom a Philadelphia public school (the Saul Agricultural High School) was named. Joseph Neff Ewing and Raymond M. Remick, who had become partners in Pritchard, Saul, Bayard & Evans in 1920, were well-respected real estate and estate lawyers, respectively. Remick wrote the treatise still used in Pennsylvania regarding trust and estate law.
Shortly before the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the firm added Earl G. Harrison as a partner and changed its name to Saul, Ewing, Remick & Harrison. Eleven Saul Ewing attorneys and two clerks volunteered to serve in the military. By the end of the war all of the attorneys had attained officer rank, three won Bronze Stars, and Robert Sayre received the Legion of Merit. In the early 1950s Sayre achieved acclaim by defending Philadelphia teachers on a pro bono basis during the McCarthy anti-Communist witch hunts. During the war, Harrison, himself a World War I veteran, served as the United States Immigration Commissioner. Shortly after the fighting in Europe ended he was directed by President Truman to inspect the displaced persons camps in Europe housing Jewish concentration camp survivors. In his report to the president he wrote, "We appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them, except we do not exterminate them." His recommendations became American policy and were instrumental in the United States prodding the British into permitting Jewish emigration to Palestine, eventually leading to the birth of Israel.
Early on, the historic contributions of its attorneys notwithstanding, Saul Ewing was very much a Philadelphia-focused law firm, representing some of the city's most important companies as well as developing a thriving regional municipal finance practice, heavily involved in the issuance of bonds for significant public works projects. The size of the firm increased modestly, from 20 attorneys in 1925 to 65 in 1975, when it moved to new accommodations at Centre Square West where Broad and Market Streets intersect in the heart of Philadelphia's Center City. During most of this time the firm was headed by Maurice Saul, "the Boss," as he was called by associates. He retired in 1960, and died in 1974. He was succeeded as managing partner by Fred VanDenbergh, who served in that capacity until 1978. At this point the firm began to elect managing partners for three-year terms, which eventually evolved into four-year terms. Robert Sayre served as the firm's first elected managing partner.
Saul Ewing embarked on a period of significant growth during the 1980s, adding practices as well as expanding geographically. In the early 1980s the firm added a healthcare practice and moved into Philadelphia's western suburbs, opening an office in Malvern to serve companies located along the Route 202 corridor in neighboring Chester County. Also during this time, litigation partner John J. Barrett, Jr., won a $6 million verdict against Mobil Oil, at the time a tremendous jury victory. The firm expanded by adding an office in Wilmington, Delaware, and added environmental and bankruptcy and reorganization practices. The firm further expanded by opening an office in Pennsylvania's capital city of Harrisburg. In the late 1980s, Saul Ewing opened an office in Princeton, New Jersey, to serve clients in the Princeton-Trenton, New Jersey corridor. To support its rapid expansion, Saul Ewing launched a major recruitment drive in the middle of the decade, hiring 15 attorneys in one stroke to add more litigators and bolster the firm's capabilities in business law.
In May 1986, then Philadelphia Police Commissioner KevinM. Tucker appointed a 14-member Task Force to review the "status and potential of the Philadelphia Police Department." The panel, composed of distinguished Philadelphians, included not one, but two Saul Ewing attorneys, Henry S. "Hank" Ruth, Jr., and J. Clayton Undercofler, III. Hank Ruth had started his legal career in the 1970s at Saul Ewing and left for Washington, D.C., where he was the last of four prosecutors in the Watergate scandal. Ruth returned to Saul Ewing after his career in Washington and served on the police commissioner's task force. The task force published a report and Hank Ruth was appointed the Vice Chair of the Philadelphia Advisory Group of ten other prominent Philadelphians to oversee the implementation of the recommendations. Two years later, Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey tapped Undercofler to assume chairmanship of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) board. The Philadelphia Inquirer called Mr. Undercofler a "diplomat and a tenacious leader" who "effectively ended the squabbling on the SEPTA board." Several years later, Undercofler and partner David Moffitt served as special counsel to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Judiciary Committee in connection with the impeachment of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice. In 1990, Saul Ewing partners John Stoviak and Paul Hummer, as well as several associates, represented the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in court cases brought by insurers challenging the constitutionality of what was a new auto insurance reform act. And, in a tie to the firm's founder, John G. Johnson, Saul Ewing's real estate lawyers in the late 1990s participated in the revitalization of the Philadelphia Naval Yard, successfully transforming the site into a thriving commercial hub.
In the early 1990s many law firms were adversely impacted by a recession that led to corporations reducing outside legal services, prompting a wave of mergers between law firms looking to fortify their balance sheets. At the time, Saul Ewing was Philadelphia's 13th largest law firm with 142 attorneys, most based in Philadelphia. As the economy rebounded, business picked up and Saul Ewing once again added attorneys, seeking to bolster its regional presence.
At Saul Ewing, we are dedicated to the key values of excellence, energy and enthusiasm: excellence in our legal services, the energy to succeed, and an enthusiasm for understanding and being responsive to our clients' needs. These core values are the hallmarks of our 85 years of service to clients.
In September 1998 Saul Ewing merged with a smaller Baltimore law firm, Weinberg & Green, founded in 1920 by Leonard Weinberg and Howard Sweeten as Weinberg & Sweeten. It became Weinberg & Green in 1930 after the arrival of wunderkind attorney Howard Green, who despite being just 21 years of age held a Ph.D. and a law degree. When it merged with Saul Ewing, Weinberg & Green had 63 lawyers and a reputation for meeting the needs of closely held and emerging companies across a number of disciplines. The cultures of the two firms complemented one another, as did their specialties. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "The firms said they hope that by combining their legal staffs, they will significantly increase business in such specialized services as employee rights and pensions to health care and the environment. The deal broadens the geographic reach of both firms—their combined territory will stretch from New York to Maryland." Writing for the Baltimore Business Journal, Heather Reese maintained that the merger was "indicative of the direction in which the legal industry has begun to move. With businesses growing and expanding, law firms are looking for ways to meet their clients' legal and geographical needs, which often means joining forces. 'The law firms are looking to their clients and what their clients are looking for and need as they become more national in scope,' said Joseph Altonji of law firm consultant Hildebrandt Inc." Reese also wrote that the merger allowed both firms "to expand the depth of their practices—Weinberg & Green by adding stronger securities, public finances and health care practices, and Saul Ewing by growing its tax and labor and employee benefits groups."
After Saul Ewing and Weinberg & Green consolidated their operations, the combined firm truncated its name in 2000, becoming Saul Ewing LLP. A year later the firm expanded its specialties by launching a Baltimore-based human resources consulting group called Workplace Initiatives, or WISE. Unlike other large law firms in the area that housed labor and employment practices providing employment consulting and legal services, WISE offered packaged services to help businesses prevent problems by making sure they were in compliance with an increasing number of complex federal, state, and local work-place laws. WISE started out by focusing on mid-Atlantic region employers.
Leading the firm during this transitional period was StephenS. Aichele, who took over as managing partner in 2001 after Litigation Partner John Stoviak stepped down after serving as managing partner for eight years. Aichele joined Saul Ewing in 1976 as a summer student and distinguished himself in the early 1990s when at 42 he assumed leadership of the real estate department at a time when the recession had devastated the sector. Under his guidance, the unit thrived, growing from 17 lawyers to 40. Taking the reins of the entire firm, he was now determined to raise the profile of Saul Ewing, which over the years had done little to court publicity. In addition, Aichele wanted to deepen the firm's bench. "The (firm's) Baby Boomers didn't have a strong generation above us," he told Philadelphia Business Journal, lamenting a weakness in the firm over the previous 15 years. "The danger is that we'll stay in those positions until we're 60 and lose a whole generation behind us. We need to make sure we get out of the way soon enough and bring along another generation." Aichele was not adverse to shaking things up. In 2002 the firm hired former lawyer-turned-marketing guru David H. Freeman to teach Saul Ewing attorneys sales and marketing techniques to attract new business and develop rainmakers. "Whenever you say sales, marketing or business development, people immediately leap to the Golden Arches," Aichele told Baltimore's Daily Record. Rather, the emphasis was on attorneys building personal relationships with clients to develop influence and trust that would lead to further business. The program also helped attorneys cope with rejection. "Lawyers like immediate success," Aichele said. "They were successful in high school, successful in college, successful in law school. Sales is 90 percent failure, and in marketing there is no expectation of work each time you make a call." Other concepts the program taught was how to better listen to clients and to start thinking like a potential client's lawyer before being retained.
Given the Baltimore office's proximity to Washington, D.C., in October 2003, Saul Ewing established an office in the nation's capital, not only to serve clients' needs in the District of Columbia but in northern Virginia as well. To advance the firm's strategic plan of becoming a mid-Atlantic powerhouse, in 2005 Saul Ewing opened an office in the New York City metropolitan area, established in Newark, New Jersey, by a group of public utilities lawyers. It was a natural expansion as Saul Ewing already did utility work in Princeton, Harrisburg, and Washington, D.C. In addition, the Newark office provided Saul Ewing with a toehold in a key market where the firm hoped to pick up clients in areas such as litigation and real estate law.
Saul Ewing had become one of the predominant law firms serving the mid-Atlantic region, a true generalist with successes across the legal spectrum. Its Bankruptcy and Restructuring Department won a high-profile case in front of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals establishing the rights of a licensor of software to preclude a debtor from returning the licensor's license rights without the licensor's sanction. The Business Department represented an IT consulting firm on a $60 million merger, and the Litigation Department scored a summary judgment for one of the largest petrochemical corporations. Moreover, the firm in 2005 became one of the first mid-Atlantic firms to hire a diversity program manager and pro bono counsel.
In early 2005, the firm launched "We're All In," a firm-wide initiative to provide legal assistance to low-income elderly and veterans living in the communities where Saul Ewing has offices. Through the program, the firm pledged to give a minimum of 25 hours per attorney each year to help meet the overwhelming needs of the elderly and veterans.
Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler LLC; Venable LLP; Wiley, Rein & Fielding LLP; Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen.
Feiler, Jeremy, "Saul Ewing's New Head Sets His Course of Action," Philadelphia Business Journal, February 15, 2002.
Fernandez, Bob, "Philadelphia Legal Firm to Merge with Baltimore Law Practice," Philadelphia Inquirer, September 11, 1998.
Geier, Peter, "Philadelphia-Based Saul Ewing Law Firm Trains Attorneys in Sales and Marketing Concepts," Daily Record (Baltimore), July 18, 2003.
Reese, Heather, "Weinberg Merger No Surprise to Other Firms," Baltimore Business Journal, September 18, 1998, p. 9.
Rulison, Larry, "Saul Ewing Forms HR Business," Baltimore Business Journal, May 11, 2001, p. 5.
St. John, Gerard J., "This Is Our Bar," Philadelphia Lawyer, Winter 2002.