Marcel S. Pratt is the Chair of the Litigation Group at the City of Philadelphia Law Department, where he oversees litigation matters for the City and manages the seventy-lawyer Litigation Group.
Recently, the City’s attorneys successfully defended Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s first major legislative accomplishment, the sweetened beverage tax, in litigation where a confederation of plaintiffs argued that the tax was unconstitutional.
Previously, Marcel was a commercial litigator at Ballard Spahr LLP. He is an avid supporter of the Barristers’ Association, having previously served on the Executive Board for several years. Marcel was born and raised in Philadelphia. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law.
• What do you enjoy most about representing the City of Philadelphia?
I like the complexity and variety of the Law Department’s litigation practice, which includes matters involving civil rights, commerce, torts, appellate advocacy, enforcement of the Philadelphia Code, and labor and employment. Our cases are fascinating and many involve issues of significant public importance. I’m also a lifelong Philadelphian and find purpose in combining my passion for the law with service to my hometown.
• What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned so far about government service?
Government lawyers often have access to less resources than their private-sector counterparts; they become highly resilient out of necessity.
• Why is being a member of the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia important to you?
The Barristers’ Association has a longstanding tradition of advocating for social justice and ensuring diversity in the legal profession. Many of our careers are possible because of the efforts of prior generations of Barristers. Serving as a member is important for carrying the organization’s legacy forward.
• What is the most memorable moment of your legal career?
I’ll never forget the first time I gave my father a tour of my office.
• What are you currently reading?
Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates); Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman).
• If you won the Powerball jackpot today, where would we find you tomorrow?
You would find me in Middletown, PA, at the entrance of the PA Lottery headquarters, patiently waiting for them to open.
• If you had two weeks to vacation, where would you go?
I’d book a National Geographic photography safari through the Serengeti during the wildebeest migration.
• What is the most important advice you have ever received?
The answer changes depending on when I’m asked, but today it’s:
• Optimism is a choice.
• Become your own curator of information—news, history, civics, and art.
• Always bring something to the party.
*If you are interested in nominating a Barrister for Member of the Month, please email your nomination with a few sentences describing the individual’s merit to firstname.lastname@example.org.