William H. Pugh IV Esq. is by all accounts one of the pillars of the legal community of greater Philadelphia, particularly in Montgomery County, where he has built his practice and reputation over more than four decades. With a genial, gentlemanly bearing that projects integrity without pretense, Pugh is in many respects the standard-bearer of the firm he co-founded. He is an example of leadership for the firm's 15 attorneys, which includes his sons Bill V and Robert ("They've taken the firm to the next level"). Today the firm is one of the region's leading litigation-defense firms - trial attorneys representing other professionals, particularly physicians - in malpractice and liability cases.
Pugh, a native in every sense (Bala Cynwyd, Lower Merion H.S., Villanova and Villanova law), says "you could say I slid into it" after doing well on law-school admissions exams. He joined a litigation practice in Center City, but in short order jumped to a Norristown firm headed by Robert W. Tredinnick Esq., "one of the premier trial lawyers in those days" and who later served as a distinguished judge.
Pugh, poised and eager, took on all manner of trial work. In 1984 he won a wrongful death case, a $1.2 million jury award that stood as the largest in Berks County until just recently. Also, appointed by the court, he prevailed with an insanity defense for a teen in a homicide of 9-year-old, successfully arguing that the prosecution had to prove his client's sanity - rather than the defense proving insanity, a subtle but important new standard adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Pugh's cause, thus changing Pennsylvania's law on the issue.
Pugh ultimately teamed up with Edward F. Kane Esq., and in 1975 launched what is today Kane, Pugh, Knoell Troy & Kramer LLP. The practice is principally focused on civil litigation defense, although they have a growing family law group and do some criminal-defense work. Pugh himself, the veteran of hundreds of trials, continues to defend physicians and hospitals in high-stakes civil-liability claims. His top-floor office looks over Swede Street ("There was a law firm in every house when I started here in 1964"); it's crammed with mementos, honors and gifts, including a fresh bottle of Balvenie single malt from a grateful physician client ("Too bad I don't drink Scotch").
He had a "brief fling" with politics, running for county DA as a Democrat in the 1970s. Thirty years ago Pugh, in keeping with his character of not taking himself too seriously yet having seriousness of purpose, launched a running club, the now well known Tortuga Golden Striders (Motto: Start Slowly - Then Ease Off) "I was eating and smoking too much - I had to do something." He went on to run the Boston Marathon four times. When he turned 60, Pugh challenged himself with a life-defining trip, joining a sailor friend in a trans-Atlantic sail from Gibraltar to the West Indies. "I just went along for the ride," an obvious understatement. He and his wife Nancy take pride in their five grown children and soon to be eight grandchildren; the couple live in the same home they raised their family in, in Erdenheim, Pa.