Shrinking midsize law firm announces it is closing after nearly 90-year run
Philadelphia-based Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, which listed about 90 attorneys on its website Thursday, plans to wind down without filing for bankruptcy. Image from Shutterstock.
A Philadelphia-based law firm that had more than 300 attorneys at its peak is closing after its roster shrunk by more than two-thirds.
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, which listed about 90 attorneys on its website Thursday, plans to wind down without filing for bankruptcy. In 2014, it had 165 lawyers, and in June 2022, it had 122 lawyers, according to Law.com and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Keith Whitson, Schnader Harrison’s general counsel, wouldn’t explain why the firm is closing. But he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that “it became clear last week that this was the path we had to follow.”
Whitson told Law.com that a dissolution plan is being developed with Schnader Harrison’s bank and other stakeholders. Partners will vote on the plan after it is finalized and will set a date for dissolution, he said. He cautioned, however, that its current plan could change.
Schnader Harrison wants to ensure that client services are not interrupted, Whitson said. It is also talking to other firms about hiring its lawyers and staff members.
Former Republican Pennsylvania Attorney General William Schnader co-founded the firm in 1934 with his protege Bernard Segal and former law school classmate Francis Lewis. Schnader had planned to return to his former firm until he learned that it would not accept Segal because he was Jewish. The firm was at first called Schnader & Lewis, but Segal’s name was later added to the masthead.
Schnader Harrison said in a statement it has “played in such monumental developments as the civil rights movement, the establishment of the state of Israel, and the creation of the Uniform Commercial Code and the Uniform Probate Code.”
Leslie Corwin, a partner at Duane Morris, will assist in the firm’s dissolution. He has played that same role in the closing of Philadelphia-based Wolf Block and Boston-based Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault.
Corwin told Law.com that dissolution is not the final step. Assets must be preserved, liabilities must be paid to the extent possible, and lawyers and staff members must find new jobs.
Lawrence McMichael, chairman at Dilworth Paxson, told Law.com that two partners have accepted offers at his firm, and he expects more partners to follow.
McMichael said he would prefer for Schnader Harrison to remain a friendly competitor.
“It is profoundly sad. Schnader is a historic firm,” McMichael told Law.com.