The Quintessential Professional

He is the “quintessential professional” and “a highly successful Temple Law graduate who doesn’t forget his roots.” That’s how Jeffrey P. Scarpello ’88, president of the Temple Law Alumni Association, describes Abraham C. Reich, who received the law school’s Certificate of Honor at the 2010 Founder’s Day celebration. Reich has earned this honor through a career marked by service to the legal profession and ongoing commitment to the law school.

Given Reich’s distinguished legal career, it is rather ironic that the law was not his original calling. As a senior at the University of Connecticut, Reich—the son of Holocaust survivors and the first in his family to graduate from college—planned for a career in psychology and spent his time working in the primate lab. Watching dismally as psychology graduate students failed to find employment during an economic downturn, Reich, discouraged but pragmatic, considered his options. After being repeatedly told that he would make a good lawyer, he ultimately applied to Temple Law School, along with his girlfriend, Sherri Engelman ’74, a native Philadelphian.

By the time the couple arrived at Temple in the fall, they were not only classmates, but also husband and wife. As it turned out, abandoning the primate lab for the law library was the right career move. Reich excelled in law school, earning himself a seat on the Temple Law Review. “Temple Law School provided Sherri and me with a very strong legal foundation,” says Reich, “and with a public interest perception of what lawyers should be doing.”

Equipped with that “legal foundation,” Reich joined the law firm of Fox Rothschild after graduation in 1974. Now, more than thirty years later, he is a partner and co-chair of the firm. His practice encompasses all aspects of business litigation, including antitrust, securities, trade secrets, intellectual property, and other corporate matters, as well as alternative dispute resolution. As a true “lawyer’s lawyer,” Reich also represents lawyers and law firms in ethics and professional responsibility matters and serves as an expert witness on these issues.

Reich recognized the importance of legal ethics and professional responsibility early in his career. In the late 1970’s, he saw the need to “raise sensitivity to these issues” and responded by joining, and ultimately chairing, both the Professional Guidance Committee and the Professional Responsibility Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Reich has also lectured and written prolifically on these topics throughout his career. In addition to addressing practitioners, Reich has appeared as a guest lecturer on legal ethics at Temple Law and co-taught a course on international civil litigation at Temple’s Rome campus with his close friend and former classmate Joseph W. Anthony ’74. The course naturally included a component on comparative legal ethics and professional responsibility. Reflecting back on this opportunity, Reich describes it as “a wonderful professional experience.”

In addition to educating students and colleagues in legal ethics, Reich has long been committed to serving the legal community through his leadership within the bar. In 1995, for example, he was chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. He is also a longtime member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a member of the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board, and a member of the House of Delegates of both the American Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Reich was also appointed by then Chief Judge Dolores K. Sloviter to the Lawyers Advisory Committee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which he chaired in 1998. While on this committee, he served on the Third Circuit Task Force on Equal Treatment in the Courts.

In 2007, the Philadelphia Bar Association recognized Reich’s extensive history of service by honoring him with the Wachovia Fidelity Award, presented annually for “significant accomplishments in improving the administration of justice (preferably in Philadelphia).” In support of Reich’s nomination for that award, Dean JoAnne A. Epps wrote: “Abe Reich has worked tirelessly toward the pursuit of justice and has done so without any expectation of reward. Presenting the Fidelity Award to Abe would be a fitting way for the Philadelphia Bar to express our collective gratitude.”

Despite his active practice and ongoing service to the bar, “Abe has always been a part of the Temple family,” says Louis Thompson, Assistant Dean for Graduate and International Programs. Sharing this sentiment, Dean Epps describes Reich as “the kind of alumnus that every institution dreams of. As a successful practitioner, he reminds us what hard work and integrity can produce. As a friend and supporter, Abe helps the law school continue on its path of excellence. And as a role model, he serves as a bridge between practice and our students, always sharing his time and wisdom with care and good humor. We are deeply grateful to him for the many benefits he bestows on us.” Reich has consistently supported the law school in an advisory capacity as a member of the distinguished group of alumni that make up the Law School’s Board of Visitors.

“Temple Law School was instrumental in navigating my professional life as well as that of my wife,” says Reich. “I want to make sure that the law school continues to have the ability to attract and educate bright young people, who can lead the legal profession in ways that make the school proud.” Reich has been particularly pleased with “Temple’s unparalleled commitment to diversity” and has spoken passionately about the need to inculcate students with a sensitivity to legal ethics and a commitment to public interest. In fact, his insight on these subjects has contributed to changes in Temple’s public interest law program and to the addition of new courses on professionalism and on the business of practicing law.

“Having known Abe professionally and personally for over twenty years,” adds Jeff Scarpello, “I have witnessed his support, devotion, and commitment to the law school and to its students and graduates. Abe has served as a mentor and role model for countless Temple Law alumni. I salute the law school for selecting Abe Reich, a most deserving recipient of the Certificate of Honor.”