For more than a decade Paul Lauricella has been one of Philadelphia's most successful personal-injury lawyers, with high energy, a quick intellect -- and a memorably voluble style. In many respects the 55-year-old Long Island native is the classic trial lawyer - scrappy, resourceful and streetwise. Yet Lauricella and his partner, Slade McLaughlin, are now at the vanguard of change in plaintiffs' law: For starters, they take a collaborative approach to litigation, successfully subordinating their egos to the collective benefit of their clients, no small feat in a profession of F. Lee Bailey- and Johnnie Cochran-like personalities. Moreover, their Center City practice - now just over two years old - is a prime example of the widening scope of their work, which includes representing a number of victims of sexual abuse. Lauricella and McLaughlin represent victims in the Jerry Sandusky and Philadelphia Archdiocese sex abuse cases, proceedings likely to generate litigation and headlines for years. Still, the firm handles a broad spectrum of cases, and already it's known as a high-RPM enterprise, already famous for a 7-day-a-week work ethic.
For all his high-profile success, there's a surprising humility to Lauricella, and he himself admits to some contradictions: While he's a live wire ("If I was actually funny, I might have been a stand up comic."), and a regular contributor to Michael Smerconish's nationally-syndicated talk radio show (where he offers commentary as "Liberal Paul"), he's often a quiet, detail-oriented technician and multi-tasker. For all his public bravado, in person he's low-key and self-possessed. Growing up in Hicksville, N.Y., Lauricella says his father, who owned a small printing business in Manhattan, encouraged him to "think and act independently." In fact, "when I was in second grade, my dad predicted I'd become a lawyer because I enjoyed arguing." The outgoing Lauricella attended Hicksville High School where he claims to have been friends with the "geeks, jocks and greasers," edited his school newspaper, and went on to Hofstra University on a partial scholarship. "We were hardly well off, and $1,300 per-year tuition was pretty darn reasonable even in 1976." He majored in political science and minored in economics, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and went straight to Villanova Law School. There, he met his future partner McLaughlin ("We know where all the skeletons are buried").
Lauricella returned to Long Island and worked in the county DA's office, headed by Nassau fixture Dennis Dillon, and gained valuable courtroom experience. "It's not as though I had some grand plan. I just wanted to try cases." Newly married, he returned to Philadelphia, and spent a few months at a "white-shoe" defense firm, but "pushing paper and defending insurance companies wasn't for me." In the late 80s, Lauricella was hired by legendary Philadelphia trial lawyer James Beasley, whose firm, at the time, dominated the Philadelphia plaintiffs' bar. Lauricella's first success was a retrial of a Luzerne County case that Beasley himself had lost. Lauricella won the case, cementing his place in the firm. Over the years Lauricella successfully tackled complex cases seen as only remotely winnable. He also bravely ventured into unfamiliar legal territory, successfully representing the estate of the Philadelphia broadcasting legend John Facenda, known nationally as "The Voice of God," in what became a landmark intellectual property case against the National Football League. Over his quarter-century at the Beasley firm, Lauricella tried numerous medical-malpractice cases, and became one of the firm's most successful trial lawyers. After the death of James Beasley in 2004, Lauricella and McLaughlin evolved into a team, perfecting the so-called "digital team depositions" in which one experienced lawyer asks probing questions of a witness while the other partner digitally fact-checks on the spot - a powerfully effective approach. Today, many cases "are won on our deps alone." In early 2011 McLaughlin and Lauricella finally bolted the Beasley firm, but not without some fireworks: a well-publicized brawl with another partner in a Walnut Street pub precipitated their departure. They struck a side-by-side alliance with the renowned firm of Shrager, Spivey & Sachs, a relationship likely to expand in the years ahead. Lauricella is an avid runner who has run marathons in New York City and Washington, D.C., (in 2005, he overcame a disabling neuromuscular disorder that had threatened to permanently sideline him), and a music lover whose iPod features everything from McCoy Tyner to the Ramones. He and his wife Jill have three children, and live in Bucks County.