Looking back on his schooling and early jobs, lawyer Sam Pond is proud of his blue-collar roots.
“I’m about as Philly as they come,” he said.
Pond grew up on Primrose Road in Torresdale, graduating from St. Katherine of Siena and Archbishop Ryan High School (Class of 1976), where he played soccer. He earned a degree in finance from Drexel University in 1981 and three years later graduated from the Temple University School of Law.
Before embarking on his professional career, he worked at several Philadelphia institutions. He worked the presses at the Philadelphia Inquirer, was on the production line at Schmidt’s brewery and worked in quality control at the Tasty Baking Co., where he got to sample plenty of Tastykakes.
“I tasted a lot of beer, too,” he said of working at Schmidt’s, the former brewery at Second Street and Girard Avenue.
Pond started his legal career handling defense cases for the insurance industry, but he hated the work.
For 22 years he worked for Martin Banks, a firm that represents plaintiffs in workers’-compensation litigation, and rose to become a partner.
Last summer, he and some others left Martin Banks to open Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, with prime office space in the United Plaza at 30 S. 17th St. His 17th-floor office includes pictures of him with the likes of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., former Gov. Ed Rendell and political strategist James Carville, Democrats who benefit from contributions from trial lawyers.
Pond, who was president of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association in 2005-06, also displays his ticket to game five of the 2008 World Series, when the Phillies captured the championship. And while he wasn’t at the Spectrum when the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup in 1974, he was celebrating at Frankford and Cottman avenues.
The new firm debuted on July 1, 2010 and has grown to 60 employees. Satellite offices opened last October at 2981 Grant Ave. and in April in Pennsauken, N.J.
The firm specializes in workers’ compensation and Social Security disability cases.
Pond, 53, enjoys sparring with insurance companies in courtrooms.
“I love it. I feel blessed,” he said. “Everyone has had a run-in with insurance companies. I love working with my clients.”
Today he lives in Newtown Square, Delaware County, with his wife Mimi and 15-year-old son Dylan, a sophomore at the Haverford School. He and the former Mimi McMonagle met as first-graders at St. Katherine of Siena, and his in-laws still live on Aubrey Avenue in Torresdale.
Pond’s parents, Marie and Sam, died within five months of each other when he was in law school. The student got an early taste of the legal profession by helping to secure a pension for his dad, who worked 35 years as a machinist.
Though his undergraduate degree was in finance, Pond began to see how the law had such a wide-ranging impact.
“The rule of law makes the United States and Western society run efficiently,” he said.
While Pond spends 60 to 70 hours a week on his law practice, he is able to have fun and take part in community causes.
His interests include reading, politics, kayaking, skiing, tennis, boxing, going to the gym, chess, coaching soccer and boating at the Jersey shore.
Locally, he is a benefactor of Archbishop Ryan’s capital campaign. His Grant Avenue office sponsored a turkey drive last Thanksgiving. He has been a longtime supporter of state Rep. Dennis O’Brien and cites state Sen. Mike Stack, state Rep. Brendan Boyle, electricians union boss John Dougherty and City Council candidate Bobby Henon as others who put neighborhoods first.
One of his proudest roles is overseeing the Marie Pond Memorial Scholarship Fund, which has provided college scholarship money for Torresdale Boys Club members since 1991. All recipients have gone on to graduate from college.
Marie Pond, who worked at a dry-cleaning business, was a popular figure at the Torresdale Boys Club.
“She was a real big booster,” her son said. “She’d tell soccer players they were the next Pele or baseball players that they were the next Willie Mays.”
Pond supports his alma mater, Archbishop Ryan, in an effort to preserve Catholic education at a time of dwindling enrollment and school closings.
“Ryan has a large stamp on the Far Northeast,” he said. “It can’t fall by the wayside like North Catholic and Cardinal Dougherty.” ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org