The Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel’s website includes a page entitled “Our History”. The page contains information about PADC’s more recent past such as: “… in 1991 it was recognized as the most outstanding local bar group in the United States by the … Defense Research Institute in Chicago, with which it is affiliated.” The page, however, contains little information about PADC’s formative history. It states: “It was shortly after World War II that Attorney Ralph Croskey led a movement of prominent Philadelphia defense lawyers to form an organization as a social club for those practicing in tort and insurance law.” It further notes: “Minutes of those organizational days and the days that followed are lost in history, but … Mr. Croskey [w]as first President and the guiding force of the Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel (PADC) for some 20 years.”
Well, that’s a start, but what else do we know about PADC’s early days?
We had a chance recently to talk with longtime PADC member Ronald Sherr about his memories of PADC. Ron began as a young Philadelphia defense lawyer in the 1950’s working for Howard R. Detweiler. Mr. Detweiler would become PADC’s second President. Ron has been a continuing member of PADC since 1957.
Information suggests that PADC was formed in 1947. But, it wasn’t called PADC. It was simply the Association of Defense Counsel, according to Ron. He confirms that ADC was formed by Mr. Croskey and his friends as a social club for Philadelphia civil defense lawyers. There initially were no written by-laws, and either no minutes were kept of ADC’s formation, or they no longer exist. ADC’s name later changed to PADC. The adoption of written by-laws and the keeping of meeting minutes also came later.
PADC is believed to be the oldest continuously operating defense organization in the United States. Ron recollects that at the time the American Bar Association was the only lawyer organization. This year marks PADC’s 70th anniversary.
According to Mr. Sherr, unwritten rules initially kept PADC’s membership to no more than 50 members, and no more than 2 members from any firm. Membership was limited to Philadelphia defense lawyers. Out-of-county defense lawyers, insurance house counsel and plaintiff lawyers were not eligible. It was according to Ron Sherr, an honor to be invited to join PADC.
Ron doesn’t recall how much PADC’s initial membership dues were.
Initially, PADC held two annual golf outings for its members. Monthly luncheons were later added and substantive luncheon programs were added later still. For many years luncheons were held in the Union League’s Lincoln Room, according to Ron.
We hope this will be the first in a series of articles about PADC’s history. We invite our members to offer information about PADC and their recollections of PADC for future articles.