Pepper Hamilton was founded 125 years ago in
the City of Brotherly Love, where it strictly remained for 80
years. While it still maintains more of an East Coast presence, the
firm has grown to over 500 attorneys in offices across the United
States, including California offices in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley
and Orange County.
Pepper Hamilton traces its roots back to 1890,
when George Wharton Pepper and Bayard Henry opened a two-man shop
in Philadelphia. From the start, George Pepper was an intellectual
force. An essay he wrote in his final year of law school would be
cited 50 years later by Justice Brandeis in the famous (or
infamous, to 1Ls) case of Erie Railroad v. Tompkins.
Pepper was such a dominant force in matters of constitutional law
that he not only successfully argued a large portion of The New
Deal was unconstitutional, but the court quoted his oral argument
in full in its opinion.
In 1954, the firm merged with Evans, Bayard,
and Frick, a firm founded by another mental giant: John Johnson.
Johnson was the son of a blacksmith, and after a few years of
working as a document clerk at a law firm, he passed the
Pennsylvania bar, never having attended college or law school.
Johnson would go on to handle over 10,000 cases in his career, with
some 2,000 before the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court and a
more-than-impressive 168 before the United States Supreme Court.
Among Johnson's clients were Standard Oil and U.S. Steel.
In 1955, after being with the firm for 65
years, George Pepper stepped down as chairman and was succeed by
John Hamilton. After graduating from law school, Hamilton was
elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, eventually rising
to the rank of Speaker of the House and also chairman of the Kansas
Republican Party. In 1936, Hamilton gained a prestigious position
on the national scene, serving as chairman of the Republican
National Committee. After retiring from politics, he moved to
Philadelphia and put his name on the Pepper Hamilton shingle. One
of Hamilton's most noteworthy cases was the defense of Harry Gold,
the confessed courier for Soviet spies Julius and Ethel
Some of Pepper Hamilton's notable cases in
more recent times include the Dover, PA school district
"intelligent design" dispute dubbed Scopes II; precedent-setting
defense rulings on behalf of drug and device manufacturers; big
wins in patent litigation before the International Trade
Commission; obtaining defense jury verdicts-twice in three years-in
a long-running antitrust case for Mack Trucks; and the
representation of several Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Pepper Hamilton made news in 2007 when it
elected Nina Gussack as chair of the firm's executive committee.
She was not only Pepper Hamilton's first female executive committee
head, but the first woman to hold such a position at a large
Philadelphia law firm. In early 2013, Gussack returned to practice
full-time, chairing the firm's nationally recognized Health Effects
Litigation Practice, a role she retained while serving as Executive
Pepper Hamilton is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its
founding this year. The celebration has a special focus on giving
back, raising $125,000 to be donated to charities selected by the
firm and its employees and a Week of Service in May, during which
hundreds of the firm's lawyers, paralegals and staff in each office
completed service projects for local nonprofit organizations. The
firm unveiled a dynamic new website to mark its anniversary.
Social events are planned across the firm to bring together Peppers
and clients to celebrate the firm's history as it looks forward to
continued success in the future.
Pepper's pharmaceutical and medical device litigation practice
notched a series of important pretrial victories against putative
class actions and other consolidated cases. For
GlaxoSmithKline, Pepper obtained dismissal of yet another putative
class action case in the long-running multidistrict litigation
involving diabetes treatment Avandia. For Medtronic, the
world's largest medical device manufacturer, Pepper notched major
preemption victories in obtaining hundreds of dismissals involving
its Infuse bone graft device.
In a $4 billion, tri-continental deal, Pepper Hamilton
represented New Jersey-based IGATE Corp in its negotiation of a
definitive merger agreement to be acquired by French information
technology services company Capgemini.
Thomas M. Gallagher, the chairman of Pepper Hamilton's White
Collar Litigation and Investigations practice, was elected chairman
of the firm's Executive Committee, succeeding former FBI Director
and federal judge Louis J. Freeh. Mr. Gallagher was a
longtime federal prosecutor before joining Pepper.
On November 7, less than 16 months after Detroit filed the
largest municipal bankruptcy in history and after a 27-day trial,
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven Rhodes confirmed the city's
historic plan of adjustment. Long plagued by a shrinking tax
base and large pension obligations, and lacking the resources to
provide basic municipal services to its 680,000 residents, Detroit
filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in July 2013.
Pepper partners Bob Hertzberg and Deb Kovsky-Apap worked closely to
help the city through its bankruptcy case and get back on the road