Samuel H. Pond
- Temple University School of Law (J.D. 1984)
- Drexel University (1981)
- Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Associations
- American Trial Lawyers Association
- Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners
- Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Associations
- Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent VIP Program
- Pennsylvania Federation of Injured Workers
- Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board
- Panel Attorney for the Injured Workers of PA
- American Association for Justice
- Public Justice
It should surprise no one that Sam Pond is a staunch advocate for injured and disabled people and a champion for the vulnerable, especially hard-working union members injured while working jobs that put food on the table for their families.
His father was a union machinist for the Philadelphia Gas Works. Sam himself was a union laborer in his late teenage years, working 90-hour weeks laying a pipeline throughout Pennsylvania during his junior year of high school.
This experience, as well as Sam’s upbringing and other work experiences before entering the law—including working tough, on-your-feet-all-day jobs at Philadelphia institutions like The Philadelphia Inquirer (working for a local mailer’s union), Christian Schmidt Brewing Co. (known affectionately as “Schmidt’s”), and Tastykake—put him on a path leading to him becoming a founding partner and the managing partner of one of the largest workers’ compensation and disability law firms in the country.
Life lessons learned early
Sam grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia. Sam’s intellectual and inspirational parents instilled in him the American Dream, and the belief that an intellectually curious person of principles and ambition would never encounter an unachievable goal.
Sam was an all-state soccer player in his youth. His time on the soccer field, along with guidance from his parents and his work experiences, provided important lessons about people and life that he leans on every day as the managing partner of Pond Lehocky Giordano.
For example, Sam learned about the strength of a team and how a group of people united by the desire to accomplish something was unstoppable. He learned about the importance of team members having each other’s backs, and the importance of shared sacrifices and sacrificing for your fellow team members. He also learned that honesty, respect, and manners can get you far in life, yet they always seem to be in short supply.
(Unsurprisingly, these lessons have been reinforced by Sam’s marriage to Mimi, who grew up four blocks from him and was his first-grade classmate. They started dating in high school, and have been married for 40 years.)
Sam also saw early in life how workers suffer when they don’t report injuries they sustained on the job, and how employers try to outmaneuver their loyal employees every step of the way.
His mother worked in North Philadelphia at a sweatshop where she suffered a work injury, but the employer did not have insurance.
Sam’s father was severely burned by steam while working at the Philadelphia Gas Works. He never left his union, but the Philadelphia Gas Works was so behind on paying his medical bills that it sent him to Drexel University for an engineering degree. Nevertheless, Sam’s dad died a union member.
On his deathbed, Sam’s dad designated his union pension to Sam since Sam’s mom had predeceased him. Despite 35 years of excellent service, the Philadelphia Gas Works commissioner denied Sam’s dad’s pension. Sam took on his father’s legal case—it was the first case Sam ever worked on—during his first year of law school. Sam won the case and established legal precedent that, to this day, still stands.
The path to Pond Lehocky Giordano
From 1976 through 1985, Sam worked almost every Friday and Saturday night, and sometimes on weeknights, at the Philadelphia Inquirer on the presses. This union job allowed him to pay his undergraduate tuition at Drexel University, from which he graduated in 1981 with a finance degree.
In his senior year at Drexel, Sam had the realization that the rule of law made everything go. Never shying away from being where the action is, Sam used the money he earned from his job at the Philadelphia Inquirer to put himself through law school, graduating from what is now the Temple University Beasley School of Law in 1984. He has served as an adjunct professor at Temple Law and is one of a small number of law school graduates to have been inducted into Temple University’s Gallery of Success.
After graduation, Sam defended companies in workers’ compensation cases. But just like his future Pond Lehocky Giordano co-founding partners Jerry Lehocky and Tom Giordano, it only took Sam a few months before he realized he can better serve society by being an attorney who brings workers’ compensation cases on behalf of injured workers instead of being an attorney who defends them on behalf of corporations.
In 1988, Sam joined a small workers’ compensation firm with less than seven people—and quickly found his calling. He embraced being a champion for the vulnerable members of society, particularly union members, who aren’t in a position to fight large corporations and government bureaucracies. Sam believes that unions are, to this day, the last bastion of the middle class.
(That’s one of the reasons why he later founded Union Services Access (USA), a network of experts in job site safety, continuing education, politics, and law whose lawyers provide a one-stop solution for union members’ legal needs.)
Over the course of 22 years at that law firm, Sam developed his lawyering, client service, and leadership skills. Sam rose to become a partner at that firm and had become a heavy hitter in the Pennsylvania and national legal communities.
Three years after Sam joined the firm, Jerry Lehocky did as well. Sam and Jerry were friends at law school, and Jerry replaced Sam at the job Sam left to work at the workers’ compensation firm.
During their time together, Jerry and Sam grew inseparable, challenging each other to be the best lawyers, businesspeople, husbands, and fathers they could be.
After almost 20 years of working together at that leading workers’ compensation firm, Sam and Jerry began to think there was a better way.
A better way to fight employers and insurers who refused to abide by the law and pay their injured workers the benefits they were entitled to.
A better way to build a law firm that could help clients who suffered injuries of all kinds find the legal and medical help they needed.
A better way to create a winning law firm culture that attracted and retained the best lawyers and staff.
Soon after they began exploring this idea, they made it a reality. Sam and Jerry, along with Tom Giordano who joined their firm in the mid-2000s, put their reputations and resources on the line, and armed with a belief in themselves, each other, and that they were doing the right thing, turned the lights on at Pond Lehocky Giordano on July 1, 2010.
(By the time Sam, Jerry, and Tom left their old firm, they had helped grow it to more than 100 attorneys and staff.)
Legal advocacy inside a courtroom and out
Sam has always been a hard-charging lawyer. There’s a reason why he’s been called an “intellectual bludgeon.” He’d tell you he’s often not diplomatic and is rarely satisfied. But he is humble and not afraid to admit when he makes a mistake. He’s a born leader who believes the best leaders bring out the best in the people they lead.
His personality is perfectly suited for an area of law like workers’ compensation where corporations and insurers routinely withhold benefits injured workers are legally entitled to. The only way for those workers to hold their employers or insurance companies accountable is to retain lawyers who will doggedly pursue their benefits by leaving no legal stone unturned, and zealously advocate for them.
But Sam also knows that advocacy outside of a courtroom is an important aspect of being a champion for society’s injured and disabled. No matter how creative or tenacious a workers’ compensation or disability lawyer is, if the laws are such that the playing field is always tilted toward employers and insurers, justice will be that much harder to achieve.
That’s why Sam has spent decades in leadership positions in legal industry associations, which give him opportunities to engage face-to-face with politicians and other political stakeholders so that he and his colleagues can do their best to ensure new laws and regulations do not strip legal protections or rights from society’s injured and disabled. His advocacy on behalf of injured and disabled people outside of the courtroom gives them a seat at the political table they would not have otherwise.
Sam’s service to the public and the bar includes:
- Serving as a member and president of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association, and treasurer of its Committee for a Better Tomorrow (He won the association’s President’s Award in 2002 and its Justice Michael A. Musmanno Award in 2023);
- Serving as a member and on the board of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice;
- Serving as a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and its House of Delegates;
- Serving as chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Workers’ Compensation section and as a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association;
- Serving on the board of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation;
- Serving on the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board;
- Serving as a board member of the Pennsylvania Alliance since 2011, as chairman from 2015 to 2019, and on the executive board as Chair Emeritus from 2019 to the present;
- Serving as a panel attorney for the Injured Workers of Pennsylvania; and
- Serving as a member of the American Association for Justice, the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners, the Pennsylvania Federation of Injured Workers, and Public Justice.
Sam also believes in giving back to the world more than he asks from it. That’s why he is an avid supporter of charitable causes, particularly those focused on children and education, including:
- Philadelphia Futures (recently merged into Heights Philadelphia);
- Philadelphia VIP;
- The Union Services Access Scholarship Fund;
- The University of Southern California Shoah Foundation (and serves on its Next Generation Council);
- The Pond Lehocky Trial Advocacy Scholarship at the Temple University Beasley School of Law;
- The Pond Lehocky Legal Studies Department Head Office at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business;
- The Pond Lehocky Giordano Annual Scholarship, which helps the friends, family members, and/or colleagues of the firm’s current or former workers’ compensation clients pay for their higher education;
- The Sam and Mimi Pond Trial Courtroom at the Temple University Beasley School of Law; and
- The Marie Pond Scholarship Fund, which annually awards a scholarship to a member of the Torresdale Boys Club, and which Sam established in honor of his mother.
Sam is also an avid writer, having written more than 100 articles, and is a frequent speaker at legal, political, and union seminars, conferences, and events.
He was the first “Friends of Labor” inductee into the Legends of Labor Hall of Fame, and was recognized as a Peggy Browning Award recipient for his commitment to the rights of workers and their families, presented by the Peggy Browning Fund, an organization dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation of law students to become advocates for workplace justice and labor law.
A vision that built a law firm
Sam’s vision for how a law firm should serve its clients and its own attorneys and staff is reflected in Pond Lehocky Giordano’s approach to client service and its internal culture.
Sam believes in taking a holistic approach to life that focuses on solving problems by looking at the big picture and considering many factors before deciding on a path forward. The attorneys and staff at Pond Lehocky Giordano take this same approach to their clients’ legal and health needs. They work with clients to ensure they recover physically, mentally, and emotionally from their accident, illness, or injury.
Sam’s approach to office culture is fueled by his love of boxing and the years he spent inside a boxing ring. Sam was an amateur boxer who started boxing in 1975 at the Fishtown Boxing Association in Philadelphia. Sam’s last official bout was a charity bout at Philadelphia’s legendary Blue Horizon in 2009 during the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves competition.
In his view, successful boxers show up every day, believe in their mission, support the members of their team, are disciplined, humble, and respectful, and understand that adversity is inevitable so what’s important is not that you get knocked down but what happens when you get back up.
Pond Lehocky Giordano’s attorneys and staff embody these traits as they take on some of society’s most powerful and profitable corporations on behalf of everyday people who are injured and unable to support their families.
Always and forever advocating for workers
Although Sam has had great success throughout his four-decade legal career, including helping to build Pond Lehocky Giordano into one of the largest workers’ compensation and disability law firms in the country, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
His office high up in a Center City Philadelphia skyscraper may be filled with awards he’s received as a lawyer, and he dresses nicer today than he ever did while walking the floor of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s printing plant or Tastykake’s factory. But so much of who Sam is today, and what Pond Lehocky Giordano is today, began in a working-class neighborhood filled with union members and other blue-collar workers.
That’s undoubtedly why Sam and Pond Lehocky Giordano will always be trusted advocates, compassionate guardians, and fearless champions for society’s hardest workers whose lives have been derailed by a health or legal crisis.