The Dilworth firm launched in Philadelphia in 1933, in the midst of one of the worst economic times in American history. The firm had offices in the Fidelity Building, which remained its principal location for almost 60 years until the spring of 1992 when we moved to the Mellon Bank Center. The early practice was varied, but was largely supported by contingent fees from real estate tax appeals as the value of properties plummeted in the 1930's. The fortunes of the firm improved dramatically in 1938 as Richardson Dilworth arrived just as his career as a litigator began to soar. Dilworth's legacy to the law firm was to see that every decision was guided by devotion to clients, dedication to our community, and a determination to make the tough, but right calls when necessary. Above all, this was to be a meritocracy where advancement was determined by accomplishment, not gender, race, or religious affiliation.
Richardson Dilworth's law firm reflected Dilworth the man. To illustrate, William T. Coleman Jr., an African-American, in spite of a Harvard law degree and clerkship for Justice Felix Frankfurter could not get a job in a major Philadelphia law firm in 1952 until the firm made him an offer. Many of the Plaintiff's briefs in Brown v. Board of Education are significantly a firm work product. Bill became a partner in 1957 and was followed a few years later by Judge Dolores Sloviter, former Chief Judge of the Third Circuit, who became one of the first women partners in a large Philadelphia firm.
In the 1950's and 1960's under the leadership of Harold Kohn, Bill Coleman, Harry Kalish and Richard Levy, the firm grew and our Corporate Department began to represent Bill Levitt, who was the first developer of the planned community. In addition, our litigators created a nationwide reputation in the antitrust area as Harold Kohn took on the Fortune 500 and won some of the largest recoveries in American legal history to that time.
During the 1970's and 1980's, the firm went through a period of both turbulence and growth. The firm was fortunate enough during this time to attract Robert Casey, a young litigator from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who in 1986 was elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is during this period that Judge Bruce W. Kauffman emerged as the leader of the firm. He embarked on an expansion strategy which by 1990 grew the firm to 150 attorneys with offices from Florida to California.
In 1992 the firm moved the Philadelphia office to the Mellon Center, reduced down to 75 lawyers, amidst very tough economic times, and regrouped to face the challenges and opportunities of the 1990's.
Today, the firm has over 90 attorneys with offices in Philadelphia, PA; Harrisburg, PA; Cherry Hill, NJ; New York, NY and Wilmington, DE. The Philadelphia office is now located at 1500 Market Street directly across from Dilworth Plaza which is named for Richardson Dilworth who served as Mayor of Philadelphia from 1956 to 1962.