Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr.
Partner and Chief Diversity Officer

Duane Morris LLP
30 South 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-4196

Phone: +1 215 979 1920
Fax: +1 215 689 0855

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Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr.


Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr. is a member of the Trial practice group in the Philadelphia office and the firm's first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer.

Mr. Atkinson has had trials in both the state and federal courts in a variety of commercial and personal injury matters. He is an experienced litigator in commercial matters representing banks, insurance companies and railroads in major disputes. He has an extensive background in defending major corporations in product and toxic tort matters. He has also represented numerous hospitals and physicians in complex health-related matters. Today his focus is on business litigation matters.

Mr. Atkinson was appointed the first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of Duane Morris in August 2007. Currently, he spends a significant amount of time managing diversity and inclusion issues and programs throughout the Firm. He has developed award winning, innovative programs for Duane Morris in the field of diversity, which have resulted in making the Firm a more inclusive organization.

Mr. Atkinson is the former chair and a founder of the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group, Inc., a consortium of law firms and corporations committed to increasing ethnic and racial diversity in Philadelphia's larger law firms.

In 2014, he received the A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. In 2013, The Legal Intelligencer honored Mr. Atkinson with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his "distinct impact" on the legal profession. In 2011, he was named one of The Legal Intelligencer's Diverse Attorneys of the Year. He was honored as a 2010 Minority Business Advocate by the Philadelphia Business Journal. In 2009, Mr. Atkinson was honored as the recipient of the inaugural Diversity Leadership Award from the American Bar Association, Section of Litigation. In 2008, he was appointed to the Mayor's Advisory Task Force on Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and was the recipient of the inaugural Chancellor's Diversity Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association. In 2006, Mr. Atkinson received the Honorable William F. Hall Award from the Barristers' Association of Philadelphia, and in 2004, Mr. Atkinson became the fifth recipient of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's Rainbowmaker Award, awarded to a lawyer who has made exceptional contributions in support of a more diverse legal profession. He has also been named as a Super Lawyer by Philadelphia magazine.

An active litigator, he has taught trial advocacy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Temple University School of Law. He was Managing Partner of Atkinson & Archie between 1984 and 1991. He served for 12 years as a Commissioner of Lower Merion Township. He has also served as a member of the Boards of First Pennsylvania Corporation and later CoreStates Bank. Mr. Atkinson is a 1969 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School (LL.M., international law), a 1967 graduate of Howard University School of Law and a graduate of Boston University.

Representative Matters

  • Represented the advisory board of a venture capital fund with a total investment in excess of $100 million in the investigation of the fraudulent activities of the general partner. As a result of that effort, Duane Morris was engaged to pursue litigation against the general partner's counsel for fraud and attorney malpractice, with an ultimate recovery in excess of $5 million.
  • Represented railroads as defendants in FELA actions, multiple death cases (electrocution, crossing, walking on the right-of-way and suicides) involving third parties.
  • Represented clients, both plaintiff and defendant, in litigation and transactional matters involving the utilization of minority business enterprises (MBEs) and women's business enterprises (WBEs) when required by law and/or contracts with prime contractors or joint-venture partners. For example, in a $7 million development project, gathered the factual data and drafted a recommended anti-discrimination policy, the substance of which was included in the ultimate contract documents.
  • Selected by a national manufacturing firm to defend claims made in federal court by more than fifty persons alleging that one of client's products contained PCBs that were a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs' cancers and fear of cancer. Led a team of lawyers through extensive discovery and motion practice which resulted in the dismissal of most of the "fear of cancer" claims and the weakening of the plaintiffs' overall case.
  • Defended a national corporation accused of violating claimant's contractual rights to concession and restaurant space at a major facility within Philadelphia thereby denying her the right to do business and make a profit. The case was tried before a jury in the United States District Court. Near the end of the trial, the parties settled the matter in what was deemed a favorable outcome by the client.
  • Counsel to a former Mayor of the City of Philadelphia sued in federal court for civil rights claims alleging the authorization of excessive force. Complete success was achieved when our motion for summary judgment was granted. The United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.
  • For the past twenty years, represented utilities and health care providers in major casualty and professional liability litigation with sums in excess of a million dollars routinely at risk. These cases require extensive preparation of experts, trial skills and the assessment of a client's risks.


  • Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania


  • University of Pennsylvania Law School, LL.M., 1969
  • Howard University School of Law, LL.B., 1967


  • Duane Morris LLP
    - Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, 2007-present
    - Member, Partners Board, 1998-2000
    - Partner, 1991-present
    -- Responsible Partner, Commercial Litigation Practice Group, 1995
  • Atkinson & Archie, P.C., Philadelphia, PA
    - Partner, 1975-1991
  • Zack, Myers, & Atkinson, Philadelphia, PA
    - Partner, 1972-1975

Professional Activities

  • Advisory Board, Minority Corporate Counsel Association, Diversity & The Bar, 2014
  • Chair, Philadelphia Diversity Law Group, Inc. 2001-2006
  • Instructor, Trial Advocacy, Temple University School of Law, 1974-1990
  • American Bar Association
    - Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity -- Conference of Minority Partners in Majority Corporate Law Firms
    --Co-Chair, 2001-2003
    -Section of Litigation
  • Instructor, Legal Method, University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1969-1970
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Diversity Executives Board
    - Chair, Diversity & Inclusion Committee
    - Chair, Diversity & Inclusion Network Speaker Series
    - Co-Chair, Diversity Executives Board
    - Executive Committee

Honors and Awards

  • Honored by The Legal Intelligencer with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his "distinct impact" on the legal profession, 2013
  • Named one of The Legal Intelligencer's Diverse Attorneys of the Year, 2011
  • Honored as a 2010 Minority Business Advocate by the Philadelphia Business Journal
  • Recipient of the inaugural Diversity Leadership Award from the American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, 2009
  • Recipient of the inaugural Chancellor's Diversity Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association, December 2008
  • Recipient of the Honorable William F. Hall Award from the Barristers' Association of Philadelphia, January 2006
  • Recipient of the Rainbowmaker Award by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), June 2004
  • Philadelphia Magazine named Mr. Atkinson one of the top Civil Defense lawyers in Philadelphia in 2004
  • Named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
  • Listed in Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition, 2010
  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell

Board Memberships

  • Member of the Acting Committee of the Widows Corporation, 2012-present
  • Director, Episcopal Community Services, 2006-2012
  • Member of the Board of Directors of The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, 2003-present
  • Director, CoreStates Bank, 1990-1998
  • Director, First Pennsylvania Corporation and First Pennsylvania Bank (merged with CoreStates Bank), 1982-1990
  • Director, Bryn Mawr Hospital, 1984-1997
  • Member, Board of Corporators, Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1984-1990
  • Member of the Board of Trustees, Harcum Junior College, 1984-1988
  • Member, Greater Philadelphia First Corporation, 1985-1987
  • Trustee, Philadelphia Bar Foundation, 1984-1986
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors, Philadelphia Child Guidance Center, 1981-1985
  • President, Ardmore Community Development Corporation, 1970-1974

Civic and Charitable Activities

  • Appointed to the Pennsylvania Governor's Early Learning Investment Commission
  • Appointed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to the Mayor's Advisory Task Force on Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform, 2008-2009
  • St. Luke's Church, Germantown, Pennsylvania, Accounting Warden and Chief Financial Officer, 1988-1996
  • Mayor W. Wilson Goode's Transition Team, Chairman, 1987, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Lower Merion Township, Commissioner, Fourth Ward, 1974-1986
  • Democratic National Convention, Member, Credential Committee, 1980
  • Jimmy Carter for President, Co-Coordinator - Get Out the Vote, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, 1976

Selected Publications

  • Featured in "His Dreams, Our Stories," a collection of interviews of people involved with the 1963 March on Washington
  • Featured in "A Legacy of Leadership," Profiles in Diversity Journal, January/February 2014 Edition
  • Quoted in "'The Moment We'd All Been Waiting For': March Attendees Remember King's Historic 'Dream' Speech,", August 27, 2013
  • "Righting an Ancient Wrong," The Philadelphia Lawyer, Spring 2011
  • "Diversity Management Matters: A 2010 Forecast, The Legal Intelligencer, January 27, 2010
  • "More Partners of Color for Philadelphia Firms," The Legal Intelligencer, January 22, 2009
  • "Diversity Mathematics 101: What Counts Within Law Firms?" The Legal Intelligencer, November 30, 2007
  • "How the National Practitioner Data Bank Affects Medical Malpractice Clients," The Practical Litigator, ALI/ABA Vol. No. 1 (Jan. 1994)
  • Note, "Justiciability and the Statute of the International Court of Justice," 15 Howard Law Journal 518 (1970)
  • Note, International Law and the Southwest Africa Cases, 13 Howard Law Journal, 371 (Spring 1967)
  • Note, The Press and Fair Trial - Implications of Sheppard, 13 Howard Law Journal, 371 (Spring 1967)
  • Recent Development: Felony-Murder - No Direct Physical Contact Occurring Between the Accused and the Decedent, 12 Howard Law Journal, 345 (1966)

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Moderator, "Engaging Excellence: How Corporate Legal Departments are Promoting Minority Lawyers in Marority Firms," Creating Pathways to Diversity® Conference, Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), June 29, 2015
  • Guest Speaker, 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, September 2014
  • Moderator, "Relationship 911: When the Price Tag for Litigation is not as Advertised," 2014 MCCA CLE Expo, March 13, 2014
  • Presenter, "Why Diversity is Important to Everyone," 11th Hour CLE Presentation, The Dispute Resolution Institute, December 2013
  • Panelist, CEO Symposium V,"Investing in the Future Through Diversity and Leadership," The Urban League of Philadelphia, May 2013
  • Panelist, "Relationship 911," Minority Corporate Counsel Association's 10th Anniversary General Counsel Invitational Diversity Leadership Summit, April 2013
  • Guest, "Diversity and Inclusion in Sports," SportsLaw10 Podcast, December 2012
  • Panelist, "Investment Advice for Law Firms: Reinvesting Your Dividends in Diverse Talent," Minority Corporate Counsel Association's 11th Annual Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference, November 2010
  • Speaker, "Significantly Improving Minority Recruitment & Retention in Tough Economic Times," Pennsylvania Bar Association Minority Bar Committee 5th Annual Diversity Summit, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 29, 2010
  • Panelist, "Do's and Don'ts in Effectively Marketing Diversity," The MCCA 10th Annual Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference, November 11, 2009
  • Panelist, "Sharing Best Practices in Diversity," hosted by Exelon, November 10, 2009
  • Co-chair, The Diversity Executives of The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, October 2009
  • Presenter, "The Adversity to Diversity," Temple American Inn of Court, January 2008
  • Panelist, "What the Minority Law Graduate Needs to Know When Beginning a Career in a Corporate Law Firm," Pennsylvania Bar Association Minority Bar Diversity Summit, October 2007
  • Moderator, "Doing Business With the Casinos: A Workshop for Minority- And Female-Owned Firms," Pennsylvania Gaming Congress, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, March 6-7, 2006
  • Keynote Speaker, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Memorial Breakfast, The Barristers' Association of Philadelphia, January 16, 2006
  • Panelist, Minority Corporate Counsel Association "Diversity Dialogue," September 2004
  • "Strategies for Proper Case Assessment and Management so Litigation will be Cost-Efficient," Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) Second Annual CLE Expo, Chicago, Illinois, April 30-May 2, 2003
  • Moderator, "What Are the Law Firm Diversity Practices That Really Work," American Bar Association, Conference of Minority Partners in Majority Corporate Law Firms Mid Year Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 1, 2002
  • Panelist, "Trial Evidence in the Federal Court," Advanced ALI-ABA Course of Study, October 4, 2001
  • "Can the Daubert Standard Be Satisfied in MTBE Litigation?" Mealey's MTBE Litigation Conference, May 10-11, 2001
  • "Achieving Diversity in the Legal Profession," Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 19, 2000
  • "Retention of Minority Lawyers in the Private Sector," American Bar Association Summit, Boston, Massachusetts, April 28, 2000
  • Moderator, "Impact of Multi-Disciplinary Practice on Various Substantial Practice Areas," Philadelphia Bar Association's Task Force on Multi-Disciplinary Practice, September 1999.
  • Panelist, "Roundtable Discussion on Advanced Discovery," Continuing Legal Education Course sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, October 1995