Jon Campisi Dec. 10, 2013, 7:01am


Less than a month after White and Williams Chairman Guy Cellucci passed

away in his sleep, the Philadelphia law firm announced that it has elected its first-ever female managing partner.

Patricia Santelle was chosen this week to serve as both managing partner and chair of the executive committee of White and Williams, a 230-lawyer firm with offices up and down the East Coast.

Santelle, who will serve out a three-year term that begins immediately, follows the path paved by Virginia Barton Wallace, who served as the first female partner at White and Williams and the first woman partner at any firm in Philadelphia, according to a White and Williams news release.

“We at White and Williams feel fortunate and proud that we have a partner of Patricia Santelle’s caliber,” Peter Parashes, chair of the firm’s subrogation department and a long-standing executive committee member, said in a statement. “Patti is an exceptional human being, an outstanding lawyer and a person who possesses the intellect, leadership qualities and energy necessary to be successful in the position. We are confident that we will have continued growth and success under her leadership.”

Santelle, in her own statement, said that it is with “mixed emotions that I take on this role,” given the Cellucci’s recent sudden death.

“In the face of such tragic circumstances, I am deeply honored and also extremely humbled to be elected to this position,” Santelle said. “I was very close with Guy both professionally and personally, and shared in his vision for the firm. He was a valued mentor to me and I look forward to building on the plans he had begun but did not have the opportunity to complete.”

Santelle landed a position at White and Williams in 1990, soon after completing a one-year clerkship with an associate justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court, and following a three-year stint as an associate at a large law firm in the Garden State, according to a bio provided by White and Williams.

Santelle became a partner at White and Williams in 1995 and she went on to chair the firm’s 65-member Litigation Department in 2011.

In 1999, she was named co-chair of the Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Group.

Under Santelle’s leadership, the Commercial Litigation Department has experienced ample growth, namely in the New York and Boston offices, according to the firm’s press release.

The department now numbers 85 lawyers.

“By attracting well-respected laterals, the department has been able to increase the services it provides to its clients while maintaining the high caliber representation clients expect from the firm,” the news release reads.

Santelle’s practice includes representing property and casualty insurers in coverage matters involving asbestos, environmental, toxic tort and other long tail exposures, according to White and Williams.

Santelle has been as a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer” since 2005.

According to her professional biography, Santelle was given the Scarlet Oak Meritorious Service Award by Rutgers University in 2010 for her contributions as an alumni leader and student mentor at the Rutgers-Camden School of Law, where she served as past chancellor of the board of the school’s Law Alumni Association.

White and Williams has offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Massachusetts.

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