Friday, May 11, 2012

William J. O'Brien, 77, prominent trial lawyer

Remember the 1993 movie “Philadelphia”?

A lawyer played by Tom Hanks is fired from a Philadelphia law firm after it is revealed he has AIDS.
William J. O’Brien, one of the city’s premiere trial lawyers, had a similar case in 1994. He represented the law firm of Kohn Swift & Graf, which was sued in federal court by a 30-year-old lawyer who contended he was fired by the firm because he had HIV. Both the real case and the movie case wound up being settled out of court.

Over the years, Bill represented a wide variety of clients — Fortune 500 companies, law firms, hospitals and individuals, including physicians and lawyers. In his last jury trial, he obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a major law firm in a legal malpractice action claiming more than $20 million in damages.

Bill was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He was past president of the Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel, and recipient of its Distinguised Service Award. He lectured extensively on trial advocacy and served as an adjunct professor of trial advocacy at Temple University School of Law, now the James E. Beasley School of Law.

He is survived by his wife, Lillian; a daughter, Nancy O’Brien Weidner; a son, William J. O’Brien Jr; two brothers, James and Joseph; five sisters, Mary DiCondina, Susan Zimmerman, Kathleen Ferguson, Mildred O’Brien and Fran O’Brien.  Services: 11 a.m. Thursday at Our Mother of Consolation Church, 9 E. Chestnut Hill Ave. Friends may call at 9:30 a.m. Interment will be at a later date.

*edited from the Philadelphia Inquirer Obituary section*