Recovery Time
Workers trying to recover from serious workplace injuries find an ally in Samuel H. Pond, founder and managing partner of Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano
by Pete Croatto

Samuel H. Pond learned everything he needed to know about life—and law—by playing sports with friends on city streets: self-reliance; hard work; an appreciation for the rules of the game; and, when others flagrantly broke those rules, knowing when and how to stand up and fight.

Having grown up in a working-class family from Philadelphia, Pond earned his undergraduate degree from Drexel University before heading off to law school. He was in his first year of study at Temple University Beasley School of Law when back-to-back personal tragedies led him to the doorstep of a life-changing realization.

Both of Pond’s parents died the same year, leaving him and the rest of his family to cope with weighty issues besides their incalculable grief. The pension for his father, a union member at Philadelphia Gas Works, was originally denied, necessitating a flurry of phone calls and, ultimately, legal assistance. The pension, which was finally bestowed to Pond and his sister, was used to start a scholarship fund that exists to this day. Pond’s mother had died from what was most likely a work-related injury, leaving a number of questions regarding any benefits entitled to her family—questions no one seemed willing to answer. 

The lessons learned through these experiences helped clarify the area of law Pond wanted to pursue: workers’ compensation.

Today, 35 years later, Pond is not only a highly respected workers’ compensation attorney but also founder and managing partner of Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano. A mere six years into its existence, the law firm now boasts almost 250 employees and locations throughout the country, including several conveniently located in the Greater Philadelphia Area; a Bucks County office—in Trevose, specifically—is set to open in May. He is regularly recognized by various legal publications as one of the finest attorneys in America.

Over the years, Pond has accumulated all the experience and knowledge needed to effectively counsel clients and their families, as well as fight for their rights against often reluctant employers and insurance companies. The joy in his work comes from the strength he sees in his clients, many of whom are trying to cope with serious workplace injuries or even the deaths of loved ones. They never complain. They never seek pity. They don’t want to be labeled “victims.” They simply keep going, seeking the justice they deserve.

“When you meet the client and now you’re shoulder to shoulder with them, you’re definitely energized,” Pond says. “You’re in the ring and you’re ready to go. You’re representing a human being, not an entity; it’s someone that is really relying upon you. It’s almost life and death.”

Unlike buying a house or planning for retirement, a debilitating workplace injury has no transition period. There is no giddy anticipation of socking away paychecks for a down payment or the celebratory cashing in of a 401(k) to pursue a long-delayed passion. Many people in these situations find themselves on the lip of a black hole, with potentially crippling financial obligations—medical bills, increasing lifestyle expenses (e.g., modifications to a home and vehicle), pricy medications to manage pain, etc. Likewise, many are also struggling to deal with the mental anguish of an uncertain future in which they know they will never work again.

“People get really broken,” Pond says. This brokenness often includes an afflicted party’s spouse, who now has to deal with someone who has become completely different than the person he or she married. Everything happens instantly, and the results are irrevocable. Some even ponder suicide. All the while, they are fighting for the benefits and compensation to which they are entitled in the eyes of the law.

Understandably, most people simply never consider—let alone plan for—the possibility of a workplace injury, according to Pond. If and when it does, however, securing qualified legal help from an attorney who focuses in workers’ compensation is essential. He also suggests any victim of a workplace injury should also see a physician. The reason, as Pond suggests: Knowledge truly is power.

“Because they’re unprepared,” he adds, “they really don’t know what their rights are and they really don’t know what other benefits they may be entitled to.”

Pond thoroughly profiles his clients, each of whom has a unique set of challenges and circumstances. Can they return to work? Do they work for a good company? Are they old enough to apply for Social Security? Do they qualify for disability or workers’ compensation? Do they have a pension?

“We end up bringing in some counseling beyond the law, but we need to know what their other benefits are so we can make strategic decisions,” Pond says. “And we lay out a strategy right away.”

A workers’ compensation attorney can explain exactly what the client is entitled to, Pond says. In addition, an attorney of his caliber can explain “what the insurance company is doing,” he says, “because they’re not going to sit on their hands and just let you collect the check; they’re going to try and stop it.”

Pond attributes his success, as well as that of his firm’s, to how well they treat their clients. He defines this as listening with compassion and offering empathy to complement the legal expertise—and, of course, delivering on promises to represent clients thoroughly and responsively. As Pond puts it, “Your word is your bond.”

This distinctive moral code was forged during Pond’s formative years in Philadelphia, which featured stints working at three city institutions: Schmidt’s of Philadelphia, Tastykake and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Back in the 1960s and ’70s, people in the neighborhood actually looked out for one other. While participating in team sports, whether on the street after school or as part of an organized league, he learned how to play tough but fair—a lesson that would serve him well later in life.

Pond now lives in Delaware County but still works in the city, not far from the neighborhood where he grew up. Because of this proximity, he’s constantly reminded of the people, places and experiences that taught him the qualities that shaped him into the man he is today: a leader and litigator people can rely on to stand up for them and fight a real-life battle with significant real-life costs.   

“I think there’s a certain sense of the edge of Philadelphia,” Pond says. “It’s about being willing to fight for what you believe in, about having the heart and caring, having a sense of right and wrong, and trying to make a difference. And that’s what we try to do with every client, every single day.”

Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano
One Commerce Square
2005 Market Street, 18th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Photograph by Jeff Anderson