VLS Mourns the Loss of Alumnus William J. O’Brien ’62
The Villanova Law School community mourns the loss of alumnus William J. O’Brien ’62, a prominent trial lawyer in Philadelphia. O’Brian passed away at the age of 77 on May 7 in Chestnut Hill, PA.
O’Brien was a founding member and chairman emeritus of Conrad O’Brien, where he practiced for more than 30 years. Having tried numerous high-profile cases in state and federal courts, including the American Red Cross, AT&T, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Rohn & Haas and Bethlehem Steel Co., O’Brien was recognized as one of the country’s leading trial lawyers. Some of his most publicized cases include the successful defense of the Reed Smith law firm and partner Richard Glanton in a sexual harassment jury trial, defending Kohn Swift & Graf when it was accused of discriminating against a lawyer who had AIDS (similar to the claim depicted in the movie Philadelphia), and defending John E. DuPont in a civil lawsuit for wrongful death brought by the wife of an Olympic athlete shot and killed by DuPont.
Chairman of Conrad O’Brien, Jim Rohn, worked with O’Brien for over 23 years noting that, “Bill’s trial skills are legendary. It was his ability to connect with people that made him so effective and unique.”
O’Brien was a graduate of LaSalle University and graduated from Villanova University School of Law in 1962. He began his legal career at Pepper Hamilton & Scheetz, where he became a partner before leaving in 1982 to start Conrad O’Brien.
O’Brien is survived by his wife, Lillian, daughter, Nancy O’Brien Weidner, and son-law John Weidner, a son, William, Jr., 2 grandchildren, 2 brothers, James and Joseph, and 5 sisters, Mary DiCondina, Susan Zimmerman, Kathleen Ferguson, Mildred O’Brien and Fran O’Brien.
At the request of the family, in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of O’Brien to Villanova University School of Law or Temple University School of Law LLM in Trial Advocacy.