Lawyer to clients who take center stage

William R. Sasso in the Signing Room on the second floor of the National Constitution Center, where he is a member of the board. He is chairman of Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young L.L.P.
William R. Sasso in the Signing Room on the second floor of the National Constitution Center, where he is a member of the board. He is chairman of Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young L.L.P. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 18, 2014

William R. Sasso, 67, calls himself a business lawyer - if you broaden the definition to include many of the region's most significant undertakings.

A second casino in Philadelphia? Sasso, chairman of the Philadelphia law firm Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young L.L.P. and a cochairman of Gov. Corbett's transition team, backed casino contender Bart Blatstein and his project, the Provence.

A huge hospital merger in Montgomery County? Sasso would have headed the combined board of Holy Redeemer and Abington Memorial Hospitals, had not the merger fallen apart over the issue of abortion.

A promising prospect to build a huge factory on 150 acres in Philadelphia? Sasso is on the team to close the deal.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the subject of sexually abusive priests? The church was Sasso's client. "I don't really want to comment on that representation," he said. "Thank God it's over."

Question: Why do you think you so often are involved in these high-profile events?

Answer: People seek my advice when they are in controversial situations.

Q: Why?

A: I think I'm good at analyzing problems. I cut to the chase and provide people with a direction and a strategy that they think is valuable. I don't feel stress very much. I tend to be very objective and very unemotional in my analysis and I think that gives clients some comfort.

Q: How did you decide to be a lawyer?

A: One of my first jobs was at a Jewish deli . . . grinding horseradish. I remember the owner - and my voice had just changed around that time - saying, "Sasso, you got a great voice. Don't spend your life grinding horseradish. Be a lawyer."

Q: Who's your favorite TV lawyer?

A: Raymond Burr. I would watch him on TV and think, "My voice is almost as good as his, maybe I can make it as a lawyer."

Q: Do you watch law shows on TV?

A: Pure escapism. I like to watch reruns of House. I love Game of Thrones. I can't wait until that starts up in April.

Q: You said you've turned down two opportunities to be a Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge. Why?

A: I don't think I would be a good judge. I like the action involved in being a business lawyer. I just don't think I'd have the patience.

Q: You had dinner recently with Gov. Corbett at Ristorante Castello in Blue Bell. Describe your relationship.

A: I would say we are friends. He thinks a lot like I do. You have to do the right thing regardless of the consequences.

Q: The governor appointed you to the Delaware River Port Authority in 2011 and last year federal prosecutors subpoenaed you as part of an investigation into the DRPA.

A: That relates to programs that were initiated well before I got to the DRPA and about which I've complained at public sessions. So I have no problem with them asking for more detail about what I've been complaining about. I'm glad it came to their attention.

Q: Are you nervous?

A: Not in the least.

Q: You said you are rarely nervous, but there was one time - when you received a Papal Knighthood from Pope John Paul II.

A: You can imagine being in his waiting room, waiting for him to enter.

Q: What did you discuss?

A: Philadelphia. He was a good friend of Cardinal John Krol, so we talked about Cardinal Krol and Philadelphia.


WILLIAM R. SASSO

Title: Chairman, Stradley Ronan Stevens & Young L.L.P.

Home: Gwynedd Valley.

Family: Wife, Debbie; children, Michael, 35, Adam, 31.

Diplomas: Cardinal Dougherty High School, La Salle University, economics; Harvard Law School

Big chair: Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority, Holy Redeemer Health System.

On the board: La Salle University, Constitution Center, Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, Delaware River Port Authority, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Commission.

Special skill: Can iron, starch shirts.

On the grill: Filets and lobster tails.


STRADLEY RONON

Headquarters: Center City.

Offices: Malvern, Cherry Hill, Wilmington, Harrisburg, New York, Washington.

Lawyers: 212 overall, 185 in region.

Additional staff: 187

Specialties: Business, finance, and health.


MORE ONLINE

William R. Sasso on linking friends, clients through golf. www.inquirer.com/jobbing


jvonbergen@phillynews.com

215-854-2769

@JaneVonBergen

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