Drinker Biddle & Reath

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Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
No. of offices 11
No. of attorneys 600 About Drinker Biddle
Major practice areas General practice
Key people Andrew C. Kassner Chairman and Chief Executive Officer[1]
Date founded March 5, 1849; 167 years ago (1849-03-05)
Founder John Christian Bullitt[2]
Company type Limited liability partnership

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP is a national law firm founded in Philadelphia in 1849 by John Christian Bullitt. The firm has more than 600 lawyers located in 10 offices in the United States: Philadelphia; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Florham Park; Princeton; New York City; Albany; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Wilmington. Drinker Biddle also maintains an office in London. The firm maintains a broad range of practices, including corporate and securities; corporate restructuring; intellectual property; real estate; health care; investment management; environment and energy; litigation and investigations; insurance; trusts and estates; labor, employment and benefits; and government regulation, lobbying and advocacy. [3]

Drinker Biddle also offers industry-specific business counsel and legal services in the areas of communications, construction, education, energy, financial services, health care, insurance, manufacturing and distribution, nonprofits, pharma and life sciences, professional services, real estate, retail and technology.[4]

The 2016 edition of Chambers USA recognized 69 lawyers and 13 practices in the firm as leaders in their field.[5]

Other recognitions include:

Recognized by the ABA as a “Top 10 Health Law Firm” in two regions – No. 8 in the Northeast and No. 10 in the Midwest [6]

Intellectual Property Practice Group ranked in the World Trademark Review 1000 for 2015, recognizing the Washington D.C. and Chicago offices, as well as individual lawyers [7]

Ranked as the top overall insurance sector law firm in the Reactions Legal Survey 2016 [8]

Recognized by Working Mother Magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers as one of the “50 Best Law Firms for Women” – a ranking based on the firm’s family friendly policies and career development initiatives for women attorneys in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015 [9]

Corporate Restructuring Practice recognized by The Legal Intelligencer as the top Bankruptcy/Reorganization practice in Pennsylvania, and one of top three best law firm corporate practices in 2015[10]

Firm History[edit]

John Christian Bullitt, a young lawyer from a prominent Kentucky political family, arrived in Philadelphia in 1849 and within a few months had opened the law offices of Bullitt and Fairthorne, Attorneys at Law. Bullitt's first client was the Bank of Kentucky.[11] Bullitt would go on to become a significant civic figure in Philadelphia, serving as a delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1873, and drafting the "Bullitt Bill" which eventually became the Philadelphia City Charter in 1887. He also founded the Fourth Street National Bank in 1886, and in 1871 he oversaw the brokerage firm merger that created Drexel, Morgan & Co., later renamed J.P. Morgan & Co.. In 1863, Samuel Dickson joined Bullitt's firm. Dickson would begin a long relationship between the firm and the University of Pennsylvania, acting as counsel to the university and serving on its board of trustees from 1881 until his death in 1915. Together, Bullitt and Dickson created one of the most successful and lucrative law offices in Philadelphia.

The partners who gave the firm its modern name joined in the first part of the 20th century. Henry S. Drinker Jr. joined the firm in 1904, became a partner in 1918, and was named counsel to the University of Pennsylvania in 1927. From the 1920s until the 1950s, Drinker was the executive voice of the firm. Charles J. Biddle joined the firm in 1924 as the firm's first lateral partner, bringing from his former firm several significant clients, including the Philadelphia Contributionship (the nation's oldest property insurance company, founded by Benjamin Franklin) and the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society (at the time the third largest savings bank in the United States[12]). Biddle became a partner in 1925 and was a major force at the firm for decades. In the 1950s, Biddle argued successfully for the acquittal of Merck Sharp & Dohme in one of the firm’s first major price fixing cases. Thomas Reath joined the firm in 1919. In 1940, W. Averell Harriman sought Reath's assistance in reopening Philadelphia's Cramp shipyard, and Reath and other lawyers at the firm negotiated a compromise on a $1 million tax lien to facilitate the reopening. The yard was used to construct submarines and cruisers for the U.S. Navy during World War II.

At the turn of the 21st century, Drinker Biddle initiated a series of mergers that significantly raised its national profile. In 1999, it merged with the prominent New Jersey general practice firm of Shanley & Fisher, P.C. In 2001, Drinker Biddle merged with two more firms, the Philadelphia intellectual property firm of Seidel, Gonda, Lavorgna & Monaco and the San Francisco firm of Preuss Shanagher Zvoleff & Zimmer. The most significant union came in 2007, when the firm merged with Chicago’s Gardner Carton & Douglas, giving Drinker Biddle a stronger presence in the Midwest and adding expertise in health law, employee benefits and executive compensation, hedge funds, and government and regulatory affairs. The Gardner merger also made Drinker Biddle, in terms of number of attorneys, one of the 75 largest law firms in the United States.[13]

Position Among American Law Firms[edit]

Since 2003, Drinker Biddle has appeared on American Lawyer magazine's annual "AmLaw 100" list, which ranks United States law firms by number of attorneys, profits per partner, and overall revenue. In 2016, the firm was ranked 75th among American firms in terms of overall revenue.[14]

Drinker Biddle has a few different diversity initiatives, including a Women’s Leadership Committee and LGBT Affinity Group. In 2015, 66 percent of Drinker Biddle lawyers promoted to partner were women.[15] The firm was also recognized by Working Mother Magazine & Flex-Time Lawyers as one of the “50 Best Law Firms for Women,” a ranking based on the firm’s family friendly policies and career development initiatives for women attorneys, in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015.[9]

First-Year Program[edit]

Drinker Biddle has received praise[16] for its innovative first-year program, launched in 2009. When new associates start with the firm in late September, they are immediately immersed into the program, which runs three months and involves firm-wide training of core skills, practice group training of substantive skills and apprenticeship. The plan is to transform a law student into an experienced, practical lawyer who can proactively deal with new challenges.

Training is focused on developing the skills in the four categories of core competencies – technical lawyering skills, client focus, execution and professionalism. This training helps associates understand what it takes to succeed as a lawyer and recognize what clients value – a lawyer’s judgment, business sense, experience and understanding of the client's business and needs.

During the program, associates do not have billable hour expectations as their full-time objective is training.

Notable Lawyers & Alumni[edit]

  • Cenk Uygur is a former associate of the firm, former MSNBC analyst, and now hosts the progressive online show The Young Turks.[citation needed]
  • Henry Drinker was a dominant presence in the firm from his arrival in 1904. Georg von Trapp asked him to intervene when the family was detained at Ellis Island with visa problems.
  • Charles J. Biddle, who rose to the rank of Major as an aviator in World War I, had a profound impact on the firm after joining as its first lateral partner in 1924.
  • Thomas Reath served in the Ordnance Corps (United States Army) in World War I and joined the firm in 1919. He embarked on a long process of negotiating a compromise on a $1 million tax lien and reorganizing the Cramp Shipyard in Philadelphia, at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Lewis H. Van Dusen joined the firm in 1935 and, for decades, was viewed as a leader of the firm. He served in World War II as a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army and was awarded numerous decorations, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Van Dusen was later asked to return to the Army to serve as a representative to NATO, which was formed in 1949. Most famously known for his essay Civil Disobedience: The Destroyer of Democracy, Dusen is also obscurely attributed to writing the less known essay, Pizza: The Savior of Democracy.[17] He also helped organize the formation of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in the 1960s.
  • Henry W. Sawyer III joined the firm after military service in World War II. He later worked on the Marshall Plan in Europe. During the Army-McCarthy Hearings, Sawyer represented many people accused of being members of the Communist Party.
  • Bernard M. Shanley founded the New Jersey firm Shanley & Fisher that combined with Drinker Biddle in 1999. He served President Dwight D. Eisenhower as Deputy Chief of Staff, Appointments Secretary, and Special Counsel to the President.
  • Deborah T. Poritz is former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, currently of counsel to the firm's Princeton office.[18]
  • Arthur Seidel is recognized as a “legend” in Intellectual Property Law and was the first recipient of the Philadelphia Intellectual Property Law Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award.[19] He was founding partner of intellectual property boutique Seidel, Gonda, Lavorgna & Monaco, which combined with Drinker Biddle in 2001.
  • James H. Douglas Jr. served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and was secretary of the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1959. Douglas was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. He was one of the name partners of the Chicago law firm Gardner, Carton & Douglas, which combined with Drinker Biddle in 2007.[20]
  • Wilson M. Brown III worked on the Herring v. U.S. case, which has its roots in a landmark state secrets privilege case U.S. v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1, (1953). He also heads the firm’s pro bono program.[21]
  • Lawrence J. Fox is a partner at the firm and the founder and the supervising lawyer for the Ethics Bureau at Yale, a not-for-profit provider of pro bono professional-responsibility advice. He is a former Chairman of the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.[22]
  • Andrew C. Kassner joined the firm in 1986 and serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, in the specialty of Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law; he has given many lectures on the subject; and he has appeared on Lou Dobbs' show on CNN.[23]

Notable Cases[edit]



  1. ^ "Andrew C. Kassner Chairman and Chief Executive Officer". 
  2. ^ "Our History| Drinker Biddle". 
  3. ^ "About Us| Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  4. ^ "Industries | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  5. ^ "Drinker Biddle Earns Top Practice and Lawyer Rankings in Chambers USA 2016 | Insights & Events | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  6. ^ "Drinker Biddle's Health Care Team Earns National Distinctions | Insights & Events | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  7. ^ "Drinker Biddle IP Lawyers Ranked in World Trademark Review 1000 for 2015 | Insights & Events | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  8. ^ "Drinker Biddle Ranked as Top Insurance Firm in Five Categories | Insights & Events | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  9. ^ a b "The 2015 Working Mother & Flex-time Lawyers 50 Best Law Firms for Women". Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  10. ^ "Drinker Biddle Wins Top Honors in Legal Intelligencer's Best Law Firm Corporate Practices | Insights & Events | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  11. ^ "Our History | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  12. ^ "Business: Savings Banks". Time. March 10, 1930. Retrieved 2013-08-01. no 
  13. ^ "Drinker Biddle & Reath Profile". The American Lawyer. 
  14. ^ "Drinker Biddle & Reath Law Firm Profile. American Lawyer.". The American Lawyer. American Lawyer Media. Retrieved 12 August 2016. 
  15. ^ "Women's Leadership | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  16. ^ Law Schools Applauding Drinker Biddle Plan to Emphasize Training Over Salaries for First-Years The Legal Intelligencer. Retrieved 9 September 2014
  17. ^ Answers.com--Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
  18. ^ "Deborah T. Poritz | People | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  19. ^ "IP Law Icon Arthur Seidel Receives First PIPLA Outstanding Achievement Award | Insights & Events | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  20. ^ "James H. Douglas, 88, Chicago lawyer, banker (February 25, 1988)". Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  21. ^ "Wilson M. Brown III | People | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  22. ^ "Lawrence J. Fox | People | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  23. ^ "Andrew C. Kassner | People | Drinker Biddle". www.drinkerbiddle.com. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 
  24. ^ United States v. Greber
  25. ^ Vargas, Theresa (18 June 2014). "U.S. patent office cancels Redskins trademark registration, says name is disparaging". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  26. ^ "Federal judge orders cancellation of Redskins' trademark registrations". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-08-25. 

External links[edit]