Well known throughout Pennsylvania's legal community for her consummate legal skills and uncompromising dedication, it is fitting that Kathleen Wilkinson served as chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2013. As only the sixth woman to lead this 13, 000-member organization founded more than 200 years ago, Kathleen's standing as a former chancellor represents a particularly remarkable milestone in a distinguished career.
Kathleen built her practice and earned her reputation defending complex cases involving products, construction, premises, professional liability, employment, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. A litigator with more than 30 years of experience, Kathleen is regularly entrusted by clients with their most difficult cases, frequently involving death and severe injury in high-exposure cases. Her clients include a major insurance brokerage firm, construction companies and major products manufacturers. Well versed in the substance and subtleties of insurance policies, she also handles coverage and serves as a technical writer of insurance policies.
Kathleen has tried many cases to verdict, occasionally arguing before the Pennsylvania Superior Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. She works closely with her clients to help ensure an appropriate and effective resolution to liability actions. Kathleen also serves as a judge pro tem and discovery master in state and federal courts, earning the respect of the bench and bar.
While Kathleen practices principally in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, she regularly collaborates with local counsel in other geographic areas when it helps to advance her clients' objectives.
Closer to home, Kathleen served on Wilson Elser's Equity Partner and Associate Focus Committees and has been instrumental in the firm's implementation of part-time policies for its attorneys.
Recognition and Work in the Community
Well known for her strong leadership capabilities, Kathleen was first appointed by former Governor Edward G. Rendell and has served for more than10 years on the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness, a statewide commission charged with making recommendations to the three branches of government on eliminating racial, gender and ethnic bias. She was appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to serve as a member of the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence Committee from 2006-2008.
Kathleen is a founding member of Villanova University School of Laws J. Willard O'Brien Inn of Court (a member of American Inns of Court); in 2002-2003 she was Program Chair. In June 2004, Kathleen became the first woman president of the Inn of Court. In 2013, she was honored by the Villanova Law Alumni Association and received the Gerald Abraham Alumni Association Award for Service to Villanova Law School, as part of a program entitled “Our Future in Focus: Advance, Transform, Lead.” This award is presented each year to an alumna who has exhibited outstanding leadership qualities and made significant contributions toward assisting the law school in fulfilling its mission and goals.
Kathleen has served as chancellor-elect, vice chancellor, secretary and assistant secretary of the Philadelphia Bar Association, as well as co-chair of the State Civil Litigation Section, co-chair of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Essay Competition, co-chair of the Rules Committee, and co-chair of the Women in the Profession Committee, among many other positions. She was elected to the Board of Governors and served from 2001-2003.
Active in the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Kathleen received the Anne X. Alpern Award from the PBA Women in the Profession Committee in June 2008. This award is presented to a woman attorney who has had a significant professional impact in Pennsylvania, demonstrated leadership in her profession and community, participated in mentoring activities and engaged in significant activities on behalf of women in the profession. Kathleen sits on the Board of the PBA as Zone One Governor, representing the lawyers of Philadelphia.
National Judicial College: Member of Philadelphia Planning Committee, 2007, 2009, 2013
National Association of Women Judges Conference: Member of Friends Committee planning conference, 2007
Villanova Law J. Willard O'Brien Inn of Court: President, 2004-2006; Immediate Past President, 2007; Program Chair, June 2003-2004; founding member of Inn
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules of Evidence Committee: appointed by a Justice of Supreme Court to provide recommendations concerning the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence; Member 2006-2008
Philadelphia Bar Association Additional Contributions
Assistant Secretary, 2005-2007
Board of Governors Member, January 2001-December 2003
State Civil Litigation Section: Section Co-chair, 2006-2007; Section Secretary, 2005
Task Force for Civil Litigation Section: Member of Interim Executive Committee to State Civil Litigation
Section and assisted in creating the Section, June 2004-2005
Executive Council of the State Civil Litigation Section; Member, 2005-2007
State Civil Rules Committee: Committee Co-chair, 2003-2004; Member since 1997
Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, 2006-2007 & 2011-present
Women in the Profession, Committee Co-chair, 1998-1999
Pennsylvania Bar Association Additional Contributions
Pennsylvania Bar Association, Civil Litigation Section: Executive Board, May 2004-2010 & 2013-present
Mid-year Meeting, Co-chair, 2007
Zone One Director of Political Action Committee of PBA, 2007-2010
Zone One Trustee of Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, 2014-present
Prepared and presented resolutions before Board of Governors and House of Delegates, which adopted PBA Diversity Policy, and diversity representation on Nominating Committee, 2006
Women in the Profession, Committee Co-chair, 2004-2006
Helped develop and obtain PBA approval of part-time policies for lawyers, 2000
Areas of Focus
Professional Liability, D&O, and Insurance
Kathleen has been involved in representing various professionals in liability actions, malpractice, errors and omissions, directors and officers, and subpoena matters. The practice includes assisting insurance agents and brokers in the preparation of insurance policies, defending them in direct litigation and guiding them in responding to subpoenas. Kathleen handles coverage matters and writes insurance policies for insurers and self-insured entities.
Kathleen has defended numerous product liability cases for manufacturers and providers of products or product information, involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, industrial and construction equipment, recreational and marine products, and household appliances. She has also handled medical device claims, including catheters, clips, clamps, sprays, Hoyer lifts and other devices.
Kathleen has an extensive background in the area of employment. She has written employment practice insurance policies and given numerous seminars on employment liability. Kathleen has litigated employment cases in state and federal courts, at the EEOC, state and local agency level, as well as in state and federal court. She also engages in non-binding mediation of employment matters.
General Liability and Construction Experience
Kathleen handles construction, general, dram shop, and premises liability, ranging from minor matters, such as slip-and-fall accidents, to major, high-exposure incidents at construction sites. Whether an injury stems from an accident or a crime, Kathleen is able to advise clients on how best to handle the ensuing legal challenges.
Awards & Distinctions
Rated by American Lawyer and Martindale-Hubbell as a Top Rated Lawyer in Labor & Employment, 2015
National Diversity Council Legal Leaders Award, 2014
Gilbert Nurick Award, Conference of County Bar Leaders of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, 2014
AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
Philadelphia's Top Rated Lawyers, Insurance, 2012
Included in the 2013 Pennsylvania Top 50 Women list by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers
Selected for inclusion in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, 2006-2007, 2009-2015
Alumni of the Year, Kean University, 2010
Woman of Distinction, Kean University, 2009
Anne X. Alpern Award, Pennsylvania Bar Association Women in the Profession Committee, 2008
Woman of the Year, Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly, 2007-2008
Villanova Law School Inn of Court, President, 2004-2006
Pennsylvania Bar Association, Leadership Award, 2006
Does Pennsylvania Permit Manufacturing Defect Claims Involving Medical Devices? September 17, 2014
Daubert Deja Vu July 15, 2014
Summary Judgment Appropriate in PA Where Frequent Exposure to and Breathing of Asbestos Dust Is Absent
Model for Defending Asbestos Products Cases in PA
April 29, 2015
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently affirmed summary judgment in a case certain to be cited in future asbestos summary judgment cases. The Court clearly stated standards requiring the plaintiff to prove he actually inhaled dust from the defendants particular products; to produce evidence sufficient to show frequency, regularity and proximity to the asbestos products; and to provide certainty as to the content of the dust.
In Non-precedential Case, Third Circuit Affirms Fracking Trade Secrets Trump Physician's Right to Know, Absent Actual Harm
Physician's Challenge to Pennsylvania's Oil & Gas Law
April 13, 2015
A recent non-precedential Third Circuit opinion upheld a lower court decision that the absence of a confidentiality agreement can prevent a physician from obtaining information about fracking chemicals when no actual harm has been alleged. But it leaves the door open to future challenges by those in the health care industry treating patients who are at actual or imminent risk of harm or have actually been harmed by fracking activities.
Good News for Companies: Pennsylvania District Court Rules That Plaintiffs Lack Standing without Actual or Imminent Misuse of Data
Hack Away, but No Foul without Misuse of Info
March 26, 2015
Despite their best efforts, companies cannot prevent an industrious hacker from finding a way to access their data, but such incidents may not give rise to a cause of action. When a data breach occurs, an individual does not suffer harm, and thus does not have standing to sue, unless the individual alleges actual misuse of the information or that such misuse is imminent.
Federal Government Issues Long-awaited Final Rules Governing Fracking on Federal Land and Indian Land
Final Rules: Fracking on Federal Land and Indian Land
March 23, 2015
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has issued “final” rules governing hydraulic fracturing operations on federal lands and land owned by Indian tribes. It should be emphasized that only a small fraction of hydraulic fracturing activity in the United States takes place in these areas. In addition, the fracking rule-making process presented the bureau with a golden opportunity to grant the fracking opponents' wish of completely banning fracking operations; yet it declined to do so.
Pennsylvania Superior Court Reverses $14.5 Million Asbestos Verdict Based on Improper Admission of Expert Testimony
Expert Testimony on Any-exposure Theory Disallowed in PA
March 20, 2015
A December 2014 decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court confirmed the ruling of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the “any-exposure theory” of causation in asbestos cases is not allowed in Pennsylvania by holding that an expert must quantify an opinion as to the precise exposure and actual products involved in the case.
Ohio High Court: State Oil and Gas Law Trumps Anti-fracking Zoning Rules Enacted by a Municipality
State Law Trumps Municipal Anti-fracking Zoning Rules
February 26, 2015
Does the Home Rule Amendment to Ohio's Constitution permit localities to enact anti-fracking zoning regulations contrary to Ohio's oil & gas development laws? No, said a majority of the Ohio Supreme Court on February 15, 2015.
What Remains of Act 13 in Pennsylvania after Robinson? Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Strikes Further Provisions of Act 13 as Unconstitutional
PA Appeals Court Affirms Rights of Towns to Regulate Drilling
August 15, 2014
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional provisions of Act 13 that required municipalities to adopt uniform zoning requirements that could allow drilling in all zoning districts. In so ruling, the court found that the disputed provisions of Article 13 violated the Environmental Rights Amendment in that it removed from Pennsylvania's municipalities the right to be stewards over natural resources within their own borders.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules on Whether Drug Company Has Expanded Duties
PA Rules on Drug Company's Expanded Duties
February 10, 2014
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently held that primary responsibility for drug safety rests with the manufacturer, which has superior access to information about its drugs, especially in the post-marketing phase as new risks emerge. The Supreme Court further held that “pharmaceutical companies violate their duty of care if they introduce a drug into the marketplace, or continue a previous tender, with actual or constructive knowledge that a drug is too harmful to be used by anyone.”
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Declares Portions of Marcellus Shale Act Unconstitutional, Upholds Local Regulation of Oil and Gas Operations
Pennsylvania Restores Ability of Municipalities to Limit Drilling
January 15, 2014
In a recent decision, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court confirmed municipalities' constitutional right to limit gas drilling activities through local zoning rules and imposed a more structured state decision-making process to grant waivers from setbacks required for certain bodies of water.
2013 ESI Case Law Update
The 2013 ESI Case Law Update recaps those ESI cases that will likely have the greatest impact on you, your business and how you prepare for and defend civil litigation.
Insurance Agency Risk Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Avoiding E&O Claims
Additional Insureds and Related Topics
December 17, 2012
How Medical Device Manufacturers Can Limit Lawsuits, Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry (May 1993)
Training, Safety, and the Law--Considerations for the Metal Stamping Industry on Avoiding Lawsuits, Stamping Quarterly, the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association International Pressworking Division (Spring 1993)
Admissibility of State of the Art Defense--Manufacturers Expertise May No Longer Be Allowed in the Courtroom, Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly (October 1988)
Constitutional Law - Privacy - Invasion of Privacy Justified Where Hospital Records Are Sought for Grand Jury Investigation, 29 Villanova Law Review 499 (1981)
Leading with Confidence
September 1, 2015
Sixth Annual Philadelphia Diversity & Leadership Conference
The Pathway to a More Inclusive Bench
May 20, 2015
Pennsylvania Bar Institute & The Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness
Commercial Litigation Institute - Examining the Tripartite Relationship - Insurer, Insured & Counsel
March 18, 2015
Pennsylvania Bar Institute
Managing Your Message: Making the Most of Every Day of Your Presidency
February 4-10, 2015
National Conference for Bar Presidents Midyear Meeting
Kathleen Wilkinson Co-moderator at Philadelphia Bar Association Program with Guest Speaker Michael F. Consedine, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner
September 17, 2014
Philadelphia Bar Association Committee on Insurance Practice
Kathleen Wilkinson Chairs Host Committee of Vision 2020's Women's Wit and Wisdom Luncheon
May 5, 2014
Empowering Women to LEAN-IN
April 22, 2014
Global Tax Management Women's Initiative
21st Century Challenges for Nation's Oldest Bar
February 24, 2014
The Cosmopolitan Club
Hidden Product Liability Risks on your MedTech Company Website
February 27, 2013
How to Get Involved in Leadership Activities While Advancing Your Professional Legal Career
November 3, 2012
Pennsylvania Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession: 2012 Fall Retreat
Local Leader Program
October 2, 2102
Pennsylvania Conference for Women
Fill Her Shoes
September 20, 2012
Villanova University School of Law's Women Student Leadership Program
Addressing Inequities and Securing Fairness and Equal Justice in Pennsylvania's Court System
Philadelphia Bar Association
Whether Leading Globally or Locally: How Do You Make Change Happen?
Women in the Profession Annual Meeting
Social Media; Twitter in the Court: From Facebook to Social Media, the New Discovery and Trial Frontier
Berks County Bar Association
Wilkinson to Speak at Berks County Bar Association Bench Bar Conference
April 4, 2012
20th Century Associates in a 21st Century Legal Environment: Preparing Todays Law School Graduates
Berks County Bar Association
Social Media and the Right to Privacy
Hot Topics in Civil Litigation
Kathleen Wilkinson to Participate on Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE
August 12, 2011
“Is Anything Private Anymore? Testing the Limits of the Public's and Parties' Right to Know in Civil Litigation, ” Philadelphia Bar Association Bench Bar and Annual Conference, October 2011
“Survey Says: An Empirical Look at Diversity in the Legal Profession, ” Philadelphia Bar Association Bench Bar and Annual Conference, October 2011
“Technology in the Courtroom, ” Civil Litigation Update, Pennsylvania Bar Association Midyear Meeting, February 2011
“Technology in the Courtroom, ” Philadelphia Bar Association Bench Bar and Annual Conference, October 2010
“How to be the Big Kahuna, ” PBA Leadership Training, Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Summer Conference, July 2010
“The Pursuit of Equal Justice in the Courts - The Pennsylvania Story, ” Pennsylvania Bar Association Midyear Meeting, January 2010
“State and Federal Coordination in Complex Litigation and Mass Tort Cases, ” Bench Bar Annual Conference, CLE Speaker, 2009
“60 Minutes with Pennsylvania's Appellate Court Judges, ” PBA Midyear Meeting, 2009
“Direct Examination Techniques, ” Lawyers Club, 2008
“Settlements and Verdicts in Philadelphia County, ” Bench Bar State Civil Litigation Section, 2008
“Conducting Meaningful Mediations, ” PBA Midyear Meeting, 2007
EnergyWire Queries Wilkinson and Pernicone on the Bureau of Land Management's Controversial Fracking Regulatory Scheme
April 21, 2015
Philadelphia Bar Foundation Honors Former Board Members Wilkinson and Fedullo
December 23, 2014
National Diversity Council to Honor Kathleen Wilkinson with the Leadership Excellence in the Law Award
August 7, 2014
Kathleen Wilkinson Appointed to the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania Bar Association
June 23. 2014
Kathleen Wilkinson Honored by Pennsylvania Bar Association for Dedication and Service
March 18, 2014
Philadelphia Inquirer Quotes Kathleen Wilkinson in Article about the Impact of Legal Services on the Philly Economy
November 19, 2013
Kathleen Wilkinson Named Recipient of the 2013 Philadelphia Business Journal Women of Distinction Award
November 4, 2013
Kathleen Wilkinson to be Honored at Israel Bonds Legal Division Tribute Dinner
October 21, 2013
Kathleen Wilkinson Elected to the National Council of Bar Presidents and Presents at Conference
September 23, 2013
The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel Publishes Letter by Kathleen Wilkinson
July 3, 2013
Kathleen Wilkinson to Speak at Temple Law School Graduation
May 23, 2013
Villanova Law J. Willard OBrien American Inn of Court Presents Kathleen Wilkinson with the J. Clayton Undercofler, III Award
May 22, 2013
Kathleen Wilkinson to Receive Award at Career Wardrobe's Annual Fundraiser
April 16, 2013
Villanova Law Alumni Association to Honor Kathleen Wilkinson
March 16, 2013
The Villanova Law Alumni Association will honor Kathleen Wilkinson with the Gerald Abraham Award sor serive at its annual Alumni Reception & Awards Program
Kathleen Wilkinson Inducted as 86th Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association
January 28, 2013
Specialty Profession Services Contributes to Agents of America e-Book, Insurance Agency Risk Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Avoiding E&O Claims
January 16, 2012
Kathleen Wilkinson Serves as Commentator for the Pennsylvania Superior Court En Banc Session for PCN-TV
November 2, 2012
Wilkinson Selected for Advisory Council for Pennsylvania Conference for Women
July 5, 2012
Kathleen Wilkinson was selected as one of 38 members of the Advisory Council for the ninth annual Pennsylvania Conference for Women, the largest women's conference in Pennsylvania.
Wilkinson Weighs in on the Selection of Appellate Judges
April 5, 2012
In her role as Chancellor-Elect of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Kathleen D. Wilkinson testified before the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee in support of adopting House Bills 1815 and 1816 regarding selection of appellate judges.
Three from Philly Make Philadelphia's List of Top Rated Lawyers for 2012
February 16, 2012
Kevin Kavanagh, Kenneth Scott and Kathleen D.Wilkinson have been named to the prestigious Philadelphia list of Top Rated Lawyers.
Kathleen Wilkinson Assumes Position as Chancellor-Elect of the Philadelphia Bar Association
January 18, 2012
Kathleen Wilkinson is named Chancellor-Elect of the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Wilkinson Elected to Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute
July 1, 2011
Kathleen Wilkinson was elected to the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI), the continuing-education arm of the Pennsylvania Bar Association for a three-year term.
Wilkinson Elected Vice Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association
December 21, 2010
Kathleen D. Wilkinson (Partner-Philadelphia) has been elected Vice Chancellor of the 13, 000 member Philadelphia Bar Association.