William J. O'Brien, II
Since his 1982 admission to the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Bill O'Brien has gained valuable experience in both trial and appellate advocacy, including practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Superior Court of Pennsylvania, the Courts of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks and Delaware Counties, Philadelphia Municipal Court, several Magisterial District Courts, Bankruptcy Court and District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, as well as many administrative agencies, including the Zoning Boards of Adjustment for Philadelphia, Springfield Township, Whitemarsh Township and Lower Merion Township, the Philadelphia Board of Revision of Taxes; Philadelphia Tax Review Board, the Philadelphia Board of License and Inspection Review, Philadelphia Board of Building Standards and the Philadelphia Board of Safety and Fire Prevention.
Named for his paternal grandfather, who emigrated from County Tyrone, Ireland, Bill O’Brien was born in 1954, the first of five children born to Dick and Peggy (nee McGill) O’Brien. In 1920, Bill’s grandfather founded William Penn Realty, Inc., a diverse real estate company active in southeastern Pennsylvania. Bill’s father, Dick, was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroism during the Battle of Leyte Gulf while serving aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid. After the war, Dick returned to Philadelphia and focused the family’s real estate business on multi-family residential investments in Center City and Germantown. In 1968, the day before Bill entered St. Joseph’s Prep, the Jesuit high school in Philadelphia, Dick O’Brien suddenly died while on a family vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey.
Bill O’Brien’s education began with the Sisters of Mercy in Lower Merion Township, first at the St. Matthias parish school, followed by Waldron Academy for Boys. At St. Joseph’s Prep, Bill played football, rowed crew and was a member of the Cape & Sword Drama Club. After graduating from the Prep, Absque Laude, Bill entered Merrimack College, the Augustinian college north of Boston, Massachusetts. He was an active leader in student government and fraternal organizations, as well as mascot for the Merrimack Warriors hockey team. In 1976, Bill graduated Cum Laude, earning a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Economics and Political Science.
Upon graduation from Merrimack College, Bill was hired by the Committee to Elect John Heinz to serve as the Southeastern Pennsylvania advanceman. The candidate, H. John Heinz III, then the Republican congressman serving Pennsylvania’s 18th District, was seeking election to the United States Senate. Three months later, during the Republican National Convention, Bill became the candidate’s full-time traveling campaign aide. Following Heinz' election, Bill worked in Senator Heinz’ Philadelphia Field Office as a liaison between the Senator and Federal agencies on behalf of persons adversely affected by the bureaucratic process. Bill also provided community outreach on behalf of Senator Heinz throughout southeast Pennsylvania. In August 1978, Bill left Senator Heinz’ staff and entered Delaware Law School. He served as President of the Student Bar Association prior to his graduation in May 1981.
After graduating from Widener University’s Delaware Law School, Bill accepted the opportunity to serve as Law Clerk to Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Joseph T. Doyle. Established in 1970, the jurisdiction of the nine-judge Commonwealth Court is primarily focused on appeals from state agencies and appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas that involve public sector disputes and government regulation. The Commonwealth Court also has limited original jurisdiction serving as trial court in civil actions by, or against, the Commonwealth, as well as in disputes involving statewide elections. In 1983, Bill retired as Law Clerk and became an associate attorney with the Center City Philadelphia firm of, Philips Curtin & DiGiacomo. During his two years at the law firm, Bill’s time and attention was focused on ERISA and real estate matters assisting partners John T. Curtin and Louis J. DiGiacomo. In 1985, at the age of thirty, Bill left the Center City law firm and hung his shingle on Main Street in Manayunk.
Bill has enjoyed a variety of work, community service and political experiences that, collectively, have helped him to succeed as a lawyer. His first job was hawking the Philadelphia Inquirer, earning 4¢ from each ten-cent sale. Bill has been a successful restaurant dishwasher, sanitation worker, warehouseman, vacuum cleaner repairman, bartender and racquetball instructor. He has served as counsel to local civic, business and development organizations, including the Business Association of Manayunk, Manayunk Development Corporation, Manayunk Special Services District, Manayunk Neighborhood Council, Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association and Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association. He has served as both a Director and President of North Light Community Center, a member of the Federation of Neighborhood Centers. For twenty-five years, Bill has served as Board Chairman for the Friends of Chamounix Mansion International Hostel. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015, Chamounix Mansion, an 1802 Federal-style landmark in Fairmount Park, welcomes more than 12,000 visitors to Philadelphia each year.
In 1987, Bill was elected as Republican Committeeman from Philadelphia’s 21st Ward. In 1991, he was a Republican candidate for City Council, placing a close second (don’t look that up) to Michael Nutter who served the Fourth Councilmanic District for sixteen years prior to his 2007 election as Mayor of Philadelphia. In 1997, Bill was the Republican candidate for Philadelphia City Controller. Although he garnered City-wide support, including the public endorsement of both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, Bill placed second to the incumbent, Jonathan A. Saidel. It was little consolation that Bill O’Brien’s vote count led the Republican ticket in Philadelphia. The following year, Bill was elected to the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania.
Bill O’Brien is an approved attorney with both Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and Old Republic Title Insurance Company; a member of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association; and a certified arbitrator for the Compulsory Arbitration Program of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania. Bill holds a Peer Review Rated status of AV® Preeminent™. An "AV" rating identifies a lawyer as having very high to preeminent legal ability and is the highest reflection of expertise, experience, integrity and overall professional excellence.
Bill is proud of his two extraordinary children who are now pursuing their college degrees. For health, Bill endures spinning and long-distance cycling; for adventure, he enjoys SCUBA; and for humility, he plays golf.