Philadelphia City Solicitor Marcel Pratt to Rejoin Ballard Spahr
Philadelphia City Solicitor Marcel S. Pratt will rejoin Ballard Spahr in January as the Managing Partner of the firm’s Philadelphia office and a partner in its Litigation Department, firm Chair Mark Stewart announced today.
Mr. Pratt leads the 330-member Philadelphia Law Department, serving as general counsel to the Mayor, City Council, and all City departments, commissions, and agencies in litigation, transactional, regulatory, and legislative matters. He began his private-practice career as a litigation associate at Ballard Spahr and left the firm in 2016 to lead the City of Philadelphia’s 70-lawyer in-house litigation practice, where he oversaw the City’s most complex legal matters and served as lead counsel in high-stakes litigation.
When he was appointed City Solicitor two years later—at age 33—Mr. Pratt became the youngest person ever to hold Philadelphia’s top legal post. He will serve as City Solicitor until December 10, 2020, and will join Ballard Spahr on January 19, 2021.
“At Ballard, Marcel stood out for his legal and leadership abilities and his personal attributes,” Mr. Stewart said. “Our high regard for him has only grown as we watched the skill and confidence with which he represented the City in its highest-profile litigation, advised City leaders in navigating the many challenges they face, and led a complex legal operation. His return to Ballard is a great development for clients and the firm.”
At Ballard Spahr, Mr. Pratt handled matters involving claims of monopolization, price discrimination, and other forms of anticompetitive conduct. He advised companies on the antitrust implications of mergers and acquisitions and helped them obtain premerger clearance. His practice also included class action defense, false advertising, and intellectual property licensing disputes.
While overseeing one of the largest municipal law practices in the country as City Solicitor, Mr. Pratt personally litigated several matters with national or regional implications in federal and state court. His tenure ranges from defending the Philadelphia Beverage Tax in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2018 to fighting challenges to the election process during the 2020 Presidential election.
He led strategy on matters before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, including the defense of the City’s antidiscrimination laws and contract provisions. In response to the pandemic, he devised the novel legal framework for Philadelphia’s COVID-19 emergency orders and advised the Mayor and Health Commissioner on the legality of mitigation measures.
Said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney: “Some of our administration’s greatest accomplishments are tied to Marcel’s leadership of our legal strategy and operations, especially our consistent success in legal matters that have defined us as a City. Marcel’s remarkable tenure included some of the most consequential legal matters in recent history.”
Mr. Pratt also expanded Philadelphia’s affirmative litigation practice by filing antitrust, fair housing, constitutional, and public nuisance litigation, recovering millions of dollars for the City. He served as co-chair of the steering committee for Mayor Kenney’s Pathways to Reform, Transformation and Reconciliation initiative, which obtains the guidance of external stakeholders on police reforms, public safety, health, economic justice, and racial equity.
His efforts to promote diversity within the City Law Department include a commitment to considering a candidate pool of at least 50 percent historically underrepresented lawyers for open positions, the first municipal law department in the country to do so. Ballard Spahr hopes to obtain Mansfield Rule certification by July 2021.
A lifelong Philadelphian, Mr. Pratt also serves on the board of several nonprofit and municipal entities. He is a trustee and counsel to the Philadelphia Board of Pensions & Retirement, which has $5 billion in assets under management, and serves as a trustee for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. He is a board member of Project HOME, Inc. and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.
“Ballard is a special place with extraordinary lawyers who serve their clients with unmatched dedication, skill, and creativity,” Mr. Pratt said. “The firm also shares my values and my commitment to equity and inclusion. I am looking forward to all the great things that we will accomplish as a firm and practicing law at the highest level alongside my former colleagues.”