Philadelphia Lawyer

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A colloquial term that was initially a compliment to the legal expertise and competence of an attorney due to the outstanding reputation of the Philadelphia bar during colonial times. More recently the term has become a disparaging label for an attorney who is skillful in the manipulation of the technicalities and intricacies of the law to the advantage of his or her client, although the spirit of the law might be violated.

For example, an attorney who uses repeated motions for postponement of an action or excessive discovery requests as dilatory tactics primarily for the advantages that inure to his or her client, as opposed to legitimate grounds for such actions, might be regarded as a Philadelphia lawyer.

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Philadelphia lawyer (chiefly in the US), a very shrewd lawyer who is expert in the exploitation of legal technicalities. Originally with reference to Andrew Hamilton of Philadelphia, who successfully defended John Zenger (1735), an American journalist and publisher, from libel charges.