His signature promise that “there’s never a fee unless we get money for you!” as he points into a TV camera has made Edgar Snyder, ’66, an icon in the Pittsburgh legal community. A pioneer in law firm advertising in the 1980s and one of the area’s most successful personal injury and product liability attorneys, Snyder came back to the University of Pittsburgh recently to reflect on his 40 years as a lawyer.
Snyder was honored as the inaugural speaker of the Edgar M. Snyder Distinguished Visiting Scholar Program at the School of Law on April 4. He spoke to students and faculty about the humble beginnings and later success of his law practice, and his commitment to community service, all of which have defined his career.
The Program was created last year by a generous gift to the School of Law from Snyder’s wife, Sandy, in honor of his distinguished service to the legal profession. It was established to bring a distinguished scholar or legal practitioner to the Law School each year to engage Pitt Law students and faculty on various issues in the legal profession, with an emphasis on ethical aspects of the profession.
Over the years, his firm has grown to include over 100 people in five office locations in Western Pennsylvania. Edgar Snyder & Associates has represented over 30,000 people injured in all kinds of accidents and has provided more than 350,000 free legal evaluations.
But it was Snyder’s decision to make a significant commitment to advertise his services—at a time when law firm advertising was in its infancy—that distinguished Snyder’s firm from all others and became the standard against which all other law firm advertising was measured.
Attorney Snyder has said, “If you’re fortunate to be successful in business, you have a responsibility to give something back.” And he and his wife are, indeed, passionate about giving “something back” to the community. Today, the Snyders spend nearly as much time in the community doing volunteer and fundraising work as they do in their law practice. (Sandy Snyder is the firm’s marketing director.)
By the creation of an endowment to support the Edgar M. Snyder Distinguished Visiting Scholar Program, the Snyders will enrich the education of students at Pitt Law for years to come by promoting the discussion of ethical issues in the legal profession.
by Matt Moon, Associate Director of Development and Alumni Affairs
David Fawcett, '53, Dean Mary Crossley, Chip Babst, '73
This spring, Pitt Law alumni from a number of law firms in the greater Pittsburgh area participated in the inaugural Pitt Law Challenge, a friendly competition between graduates to help increase the alumni giving participation rate at the Law School. Eleven firms took part in the Challenge, including Alcoa; Babst Calland Clements and Zomnir; Blumling & Gusky; Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney; Cohen & Grigsby; Dickie McCamey & Chilcote; Eckert Seamans; Jones Day; Reed Smith; Swensen Perer & Kontos; and Thorp Reed & Armstrong. Special thanks are extended to the firms’ Pitt Law representatives—Max Laun; Chip Babst; Tim Wolfson; Matt Carl; Patrick Lutz; Ron Basso; Jeff Blum; Lisa Pampena; Chris Carson; Michael Dougherty; David Fawcett; Vince Scaglione, Jr.; Richard Klaber; Arnold Silverman; Grant Coffield; Laura Ellsworth; Andy Kozusko; George Magera; James Whetzel; Diane Perer; Doug Gilbert; Stuart Gaul; and Elene Moran.
The results were tremendous; 151 alumni participated, raising over $31,000 for the Annual Fund. Eight alumni joined Law Fellows, the School’s annual giving society of donors who contribute $1,000 or more for the first time. Of the competing firms, Babst Calland Clements and Zomnir had the highest participation rate, with an impressive 96 percent of Pitt Law alumni taking part, while Dickie McCamey and Chilcote had the most alumni participate, with 38. In all, 42 percent of alumni from the competing firms participated, a great start to this annual program that will provide momentum as the Law School invites more firms to compete next year.
Dean Mary Crossley and participating alumni celebrated the successful completion of the Pitt Law Challenge with a reception hosted by Reed Smith on July 25th. It was a wonderful opportunity to personally thank those alumni who so generously support the Law School. Dean Crossley noted that the contributions of alumni and friends to the Annual Fund positively impacts the School’s rankings and assures that Pitt Law remains competitive. Support of the Annual Fund also enables the Law School to provide scholarships to deserving students and to recruit the brightest and best students and faculty.
If you would like to know more about the Pitt Law Challenge and how your firm can participate, please contact the Pitt Law Development and Alumni Office by phone at 412-648-1305 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National and local experts gathered at the University of Pittsburgh to explore the challenges of enhancing diversity in the legal profession at a one-day institute in June. “Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Law Students and Lawyers of Color in the Pittsburgh Region” was co-sponsored by Pitt Law and the University’s Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP), featuring speakers from law schools, law firms and associations from across the country. The program’s goals were to promote an understanding of the barriers to enhancing diversity, to support the exchange of ideas on best practices in the area, and to plant the seeds for collaborative efforts to improve diversity in the legal profession in the region.
According to the National Association of Law Placement, minorities account for approximately 5 percent of partners and 17 percent of associates at law firms nationwide. And in the Pittsburgh region, the numbers are even lower, with minorities representing less than 1.5 percent of partners and less than 9 percent of associates.
Law schools must do a better job of reaching out to minorities and recruiting them, said Peter Alexander, dean at the Southern Illinois University School of Law. He contends that this outreach should begin long before the undergraduate level and should aim for students in the middle school and high school levels, including those in neighborhood youth groups.
Panelists urged law schools to recruit and retain more minorities on their faculties to serve as mentors.
Featured speakers included Eugene E. Harris, Diversity Coordinator for the Allegheny County Bar Association; Arin Reeves, President of The Athens Group in Chicago; Helise Harrington, Partner and Director of Diversity at Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal in New York City; and Cathy Bisson, Director at Cohen and Grigsby in Pittsburgh.
The University of Pittsburgh School of Law faculty was ranked 21st nationally in a study released in September by University of Texas Law Professor Brian Leiter, measuring the quality of law faculties as based on the scholarly impact of their work. Leiter ranked the top 35 law faculties based on mean per capita citations to faculty scholarship—an objective measure of scholarly impact.
Harry J. Gruener, ’69, and Dan Friedson have been named Assistant Clinical Professors of Law. Gruener and Friedson formerly held appointments at the School as Visiting Clinical Professors of Law and were the architects of the School’s two newest clinics.
Gruener created and directs Pitt’s Family Law Clinic and Friedson created and directs the Community Economic Development Clinic. Both clinics are unequivocal success stories, marking their third anniversary this fall.
Pitt’s Family Law Clinic provides no-cost legal services to the indigent of Allegheny County. The Clinic offers legal expertise and support in dealing with matters of child support, custody and visitation rights to a population historically underrepresented or never represented. In its relatively short history, the Clinic has become a trusted resource in the community.
The Community Economic Development Clinic, in its first year alone, supported and saved 132 jobs, served 30 small businesses, 35 non-profits, 29 municipalities and helped clients create or maintain a combined total of 2.5 million dollars in revenue. The Clinic provides free legal support to small business start-ups, non-profit community organizations, and potential homeowners from distressed areas who are unable to afford legal representation on their own.