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Living and Practicing Law in Philadelphia

published May 10, 2004

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The City of Brotherly Love is generally known for its historical significance. Less well known, however, is that Philadelphia offers a vibrant legal community and a quality of life that belies its status as one of the five largest cities in the country.

Although Philadelphia has traditionally conjured up Benjamin Franklin-like images of American history and landmarks (it is, after all, the place where the United States was conceived, declared, and ratified), Philadelphia has emerged as the fifth-largest city in the United States and the second-largest on the East Coast. This popularity is no surprise, given that Philadelphia offers all the advantages and resources of a vibrant, cosmopolitan city-a booming business district, monolithic skyscrapers and high-rise hotels, world-class cultural attractions and entertainment, the largest number of four-star rated restaurants in America, an Ivy-league university, national sports teams, the largest landscaped city park in the world, and scores of hip stores, funky art galleries, and lively night life, to name just a few. Fortunately, Philadelphia has managed to preserve the small-town charm, warmth, and down-to-earth attitude that has helped it earn a reputation as the "City of Brotherly Love."

From a legal perspective, Philadelphia has a very established legal community, and offers opportunities in just about every practice area. Philadelphia has a very large corporate practice, which is due in part to the fact that Philadelphia is home to 20 Fortune 500 companies, and more than 75 Fortune 1000 companies maintain a significant presence in the region. Furthermore, there is somewhat of a lack of development of large law firms in the nearby corporate center of Wilmington, Delaware, which has fueled Philadelphia's growth in this field. Along the same lines, many Philadelphia corporate practice groups have added bankruptcy practices, which seems to be a natural step because the federal court system in neighboring Delaware is, along with the Southern District of New York, one of the two most important sites of bankruptcy filings (especially the "pre-packaged" filings). In light of the recent wave of corporate scandals, corporate governance is likewise a growing practice. Aside from corporate law, other current strong practice areas in Philadelphia are intellectual property, insurance and healthcare, labor and employment, antitrust, real-estate, and municipal and bond work. Litigators (in numerous different practice areas) are also in high demand, especially given that Philadelphia is home to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and state appellate and trial courts.

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