“I had a great experience. They really trained me well, particularly to be an advocate. I have a large network of Widener grads that I constantly rely upon for counsel and assistance,” says John Savoth ’85 of his experiences at the then Delaware Law School.
Savoth, who practices personal injury law with Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky, became the 85th Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association in December of 2011. Following a two-year clerkship with the late Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice James McDermott, Savoth worked with Bill Keller for Kessler & Cohen for two years before striking out on his own. He formed a partnership with fellow Widener Law alum Bill Fedullo ’76 in 2003 before taking his current position four years later.
“When I was practicing with Bill Keller, he taught me that the way you meet people is through the bar association. I started going to Law Week in the mid-80s. It broadened my perspective,” says Savoth, adding, “I got more and more involved and took on leadership roles. I chaired the young lawyers section. In ’93 I got involved in policy matters at the association, and I enjoyed it. When I’d go, it would invigorate me. The same goes today; it provides me with good energy.”
As the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Savoth’s agenda includes several worthwhile programs and initiatives including a Military Assistance Program (MAP) for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan that is part of the association’s Lawyer Referral Service (LRIS) and an Advancing Civics Education (ACE) program that’s teaching school children in Philadelphia about how democracy works. In addition, the association is working on putting together online attorney profiles to help out people looking for a lawyer in Philadelphia.
Speaking about what makes Philadelphia attorneys great, he says, “We are strong advocates on behalf of our clients; we are strong advocates in the transactional world; we’re creative, industrious.”
As for the employment market for attorneys, Savoth trumpets the value of judicial clerkships, saying, “That’s how I started my career. It’s an excellent way to gain experience.” He also emphasizes the value of networking through bar associations and the opportunity to assist “public interest firms and organizations that are in dire need of attorneys. Sometimes initially you need get yourself into the game.”
He directly encourages students to participate in bar association activities, particularly the young lawyers division, stating, “I think they could benefit greatly from the real-world connection. I absolutely would love for any student that wants to come up to make sure and let me know they’re coming. I’ll try to make sure I’m available to see them and talk to them and answer questions.”