Releases and Announcements

Best of the Bar: Philadelphia's Top Lawyers

September 19, 2019

Photo of attorney John Nixon

John Nixon

Photo of attorney Theresa Langschultz

Theresa Langschultz

Duane Morris is pleased to announce that partner John A. Nixon and associate Theresa A. Langschultz have been recognized by Philadelphia Business Journal as “Best of the Bar: Philadelphia’s Top Lawyers” for their significant and recent achievements.

John Nixon

Firm: Duane Morris

Education: University of Michigan Law School (1988)

Award category: Tax/ERISA

The only repeat winner from last year’s Best of the Bar, Nixon had another busy year, representing Air Products in the annuitization of $180 million in benefit liabilities under its salary pension plan and the hourly pension plan. In connection with the implementation of legislation passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Nixon represented the $58 billion Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) in the drafting and tax qualification of its first-ever defined contribution plan. The project was made particularly challenging by the legislation’s mandate in assuring compliance with the various tax qualification rules of the internal revenue code.

What law or ordinance would you create for Philadelphia?

If born in and raised in Philadelphia, you must spend a portion of your adult life in another city or a different neighborhood.

What kind of legal advice do non-clients (friends, family, etc.) most often ask of you?

Often it is work-related e.g. “Can I be terminated for [fill in the blank]?" or “Can they ask [x] in an interview?”

If you could change one thing about the legal industry what would it be and why?

Law schools should be evaluated on an ROI basis. It is unfair and almost criminal to allow schools to accept students, have them incur significant debt and then be unemployed or underemployed. Schools should be required to disclose this information (hiring statistics, average starting salary, etc.) during the application process.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer and why?

Tom Hagan [of "The Godfather"]. While not a “wartime consigliere,” he was a consummate problem solver for his client. He listens well and will not hesitate to exploit honestly obtained information.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

It’s perhaps more important to “manage down” than to “manage up.”


Theresa Langschultz

Firm: Duane Morris

Education: Temple University Beasley School of Law (2015)

Award category: Business litigation

The youngest of this year’s honorees represents CSX Transportation, a railroad company operating in the eastern U.S. and Canada, in a variety of commercial disputes. In July 2018, she helped secure a victory for CSX when the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that workers from Kentucky and Maryland could not sue their employer in Philadelphia, challenging the notion that the Federal Employers Liability Act cases allowed them to pick any venue. Last year, Langschultz, 32, received the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Child Advocacy Award given to one young lawyer for her dedicated service on behalf of children.

What law or ordinance would you create for Philadelphia?

Ticketing funds generated from cars parked illegally on sidewalks and blocking crosswalks should be earmarked for disability rights organizations. Blocking crosswalks and sidewalks isn’t just illegal; it prevents some of our neighbors with disabilities from safely navigating through Philadelphia.

What kind of legal advice do non-clients (friends, family, etc.) most often ask of you?

The questions I am asked are often are related to the news. For instance, “Can that person or organization really do that?” Of course, the answer is always fact-specific, leading to a common response: “It depends.”

If you could change one thing about the legal industry what would it be and why?

I would increase the visibility of attorney pro bono work to the general public. Jokes about lawyers predate the Shakespearean era, yet each day, attorneys zealously advocate for people in need through and in conjunction with legal service organizations. Increasing awareness of attorney pro bono work would help more individuals realize they can have access to legal assistance.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer and why?

As a child, I adored ["To Kill a Mockingbird" character] Atticus Finch’s commitment to justice and morality, and tuned in each week to see Ben Matlock’s kind demeanor and courtroom skills [in "Matlock"]. Now, I gravitate toward strong, intelligent female fictional lawyers, like Diane Lockhart of "The Good Wife."

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Good things happen to those who hustle. I have long been taught that working hard and being nice may be the secret to success and fulfillment, and on a personal level, I have found it to be true.

For more information, visit the Philadelphia Business Journal website.