University of Pennsylvania Law School, 2002, JD, cum laude
University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Research Editor and Board Member
Arthur Littleton and H. Clayton Louderback Legal Writing Instructor

Rutgers University (Rutgers College), 1999, BA (Political Science), high honors


Hon. Edward Rafeedie, Senior U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California, 2002 – 2003


New Jersey

New York


U.S. Court of Appeals:

Third Circuit

U.S. District Courts:

District of New Jersey

Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Middle District of Pennsylvania

Western District of Pennsylvania

John S. Stapleton

John S. Stapleton is a tenacious business litigator with twenty years of trial and appellate experience at preeminent law firms. John’s litigation practice is deep and diverse. He has led some of the highest-profile matters in the region in recent years but is equally adept at handling highly sensitive, discrete matters.

John’s recent and current representations include defending an interstate-federal commission’s ban on HVHF (high volume hydraulic fracking), disputes concerning ownership of cryptocurrency, and prosecuting claims for denial of insurance coverage related to COVID-19. Typical clients include financial institutions, real estate companies, retailers, government agencies, and other businesses and individuals. Typical subject matters of disputes include contracts, restrictive covenants, tax, partnership disputes, fraud, real estate, RICO, ERISA, government regulations, class actions, business torts, and intellectual property rights, among other areas.

John has received several awards and recognitions for his work as a business litigator and a community leader. For example, the Philadelphia Inquirer named John an “Influencer of Law,” one of only twelve attorneys to receive the recognition in the category of “Business Litigation” that year.

John was a leader for the team that successfully defended the Philadelphia Beverage Tax in Williams v. City of Philadelphia, registering victories at every stage of the litigation through the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The case received extensive national attention. John also was a leader for the team that obtained the landmark ruling striking down Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in Whitewood v. Wolf. He also argued before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court during its first-ever televised proceedings.

John routinely logs hundreds of pro bono hours annually. In 2020, John was lead counsel, winning affirmance from the Third Circuit and secured the release of a man who had served approximately 20 years of a life sentence in New Jersey state prison. During that representation, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey specifically thanked John and his team for their “able and vigorous advocacy,” their “thorough efforts and distinguished advocacy,” and for “play[ing] an integral part in ensuring that justice is fairly meted based on the merits of the arguments rather than the resources of the litigants.” Also, John  was co-lead with the ACLU, winning an important First Amendment challenge in the Third Circuit and striking down restrictions on “political” advertising on public transit vehicles. John’s many other significant pro bono matters, as described more fully in LSSC's My100 page, include achieving marriage rights for same-sex couples, obtaining political asylum for a refugee, representing abused and neglected children, numerous constitutional and civil rights challenges, and serving as court-appointed counsel in federal district courts.

John serves on multiple boards in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Currently, he is a member of the Volunteer UP Legal Clinic Advisory Board in Camden, New Jersey and the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s Legal Advisory Board.

John is a frequent speaker and published author on substantive legal issues and litigation tactics, including serving as a chapter author and editor in multiple treatises. He has been quoted numerous times in print, radio, and television media.

Prior to co-founding LeVan Stapleton Segal Cochran, John founded his own successful firm, Stapleton Law LLC, was a shareholder at Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, an associate at Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP in New York, and a federal law clerk in Los Angeles.

Awards & Recognitions

Named an “Influencer of Law” in “Business Litigation” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, 2019
Named one of’s “Who’s Next – Law,” 2017
Named one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” 2017
Named a “Distinguished Advocate” by the Support Center for Child Advocates, 2017
Named a “Lawyer on the Fast Track” by The Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly, 2014
Named by Super Lawyers magazine as one of New Jersey's and/or Pennsylvania's top attorneys as the result of a statewide survey of lawyers, 2018 – 2019, 2020 – 2021
Named by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers magazine as a Rising Star as the result of a statewide survey of lawyers, 2012 – 2017
First Judicial District of Pennsylvania Pro Bono Roll of Honor, 2006 – 2019
University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Research Editor and Board Member
University of Pennsylvania Law School, Arthur Littleton and H. Clayton Louderback Legal Writing Instructor
See Award Methodologies here

Leadership & Community Involvement

Board Member
Volunteer UP Legal Clinic Advisory Board
2018 – present

Chair of the Board
Southern New Jersey Advisory Board to Devereux – New Jersey
2011 – 2017

Board Member
ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Advisory Committee
2014 – present

Volunteer Child Advocate
Support Center for Child Advocates
2006 – present

University of Pennsylvania American Inn of Court, Past Member

Core Class 2011
Leadership, Inc., Philadelphia

Boys & Girls Youth Track Coach, Marlton, NJ
2019 – present

Selected Speaking Engagements

Facilitator and Presenter
Nuts and Bolts for Volunteer Counsel
Volunteer UP Legal Clinic
February 2020

Guest Lecturer
Using a Commercial Litigation Practice to Achieve Social Justice
University of Pennsylvania Law School
November 2019

Making the Case for Kids: Stories from the Philadelphia Beverage Tax Litigation
Public Citizens for Children and Youth
April 16, 2019

Facilitator and Presenter
Preparing Corporate Employees for Deposition and Trial
Greater Philadelphia ACC Litigation Institute
September 13, 2018

Facilitator and Presenter
Avoid Making Headlines for the Wrong Reasons: Ethical Issues When Making Statements in the Media
Greater Philadelphia ACC In-House Counsel Conference
April 25, 2018

Deposition Boot Camp
University of Pennsylvania Law School
January 2016

Facilitator and Presenter
The Art of the Deposition: Taking, Defending and Preparing for Depositions
Pennsylvania Bar Institute

Facilitator and Presenter
Same Sex Marriage Ruling and Workplace Policies
Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs’ Annual Municipal Legal Update

Faculty Presenter
Pennsylvania Marriage Equality: A New Dawn
Pennsylvania Bar Institute

Selected Publications

Chapter Author and Advisory Board Member, Pennsylvania Civil Pre-Trial Practice, Lexis-Nexis (edited by the Honorable Daniel J. Anders and Bobby Ochoa, III) (updated annually)

Advisory Board Member, Pennsylvania Civil Trial Practice, Lexis-Nexis (edited by the Honorable Daniel J. Anders and Bobby Ochoa, III) (updated annually)

Chapter Editor and Advisory Board Member, Pennsylvania Civil Discovery, Lexis-Nexis (edited by the Honorable Daniel J. Anders and Bobby Ochoa, III) (updated annually)

Co-author, SCOTUS Ruling Shows Limits of Securities Exchange Act’s Exclusive Jurisdiction Clause: A look at the implications of Merrill Lynch v. Manning, New Jersey Law Journal, May 20, 2016

Co-author, U.S. Supreme Court’s Splintered Decision on State Voter ID Law: More Questions Than Answers, The Legal Intelligencer & Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Litigation Supplement), July 14, 2008

Representative Cases

Business Litigation

Representing plaintiff in dispute concerning ownership of significant cryptocurrency assets

Representing major food manufacturer in a multi-million dollar dispute over supply and processing contract

Successfully settled multi-million dollar partnership and shareholder dispute over ownership and management of 5 real estate companies placed in receivership prior to representation

Represented real estate investment company against New Jersey township and citizen organizations regarding $20 million land purchase and development

Numerous litigations regarding restrictive covenants across various industries including financial institutions, brokerage institutions, gaming, and others

Secured complete victory for major defense contractor after week-long arbitration regarding allegations that the contractor owed millions in fair market royalties under a patent and license royalty agreement for suite of military training software

Secured complete victory for former partner of major international law firm after two-day arbitration against the firm for breach of contract in its attempt to enforce financial penalties for the partner’s departure

Defense of New York hedge funds and individuals accused of RICO and related violations arising from multi-million dollar defaults on trades on a regional transmission organization’s electricity derivative market

Represented major defense contractor against multiple sub-contractors for breaches of supply and servicing contracts

Defense of investment bank and individuals accused of ERISA and related violations arising from sophisticated tax-advantaged financial transaction worth hundreds of millions of dollars

Retained on appeal and obtained the complete reversal of a $19 million medical malpractice jury verdict in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Defense of major food manufacturer and distributor in allegations of breach of supply contract

Brought successful challenge on behalf of Pennsylvania real estate company against major, national home builder for breach of contract, seeking specific performance requiring the purchaser of real estate to close on the contract

Brought successful challenge for California manufacturer of automotive key transponders against Pennsylvania company for copyright and trademark violations arising from infringing software source code and hardware

Defense of international technology company in New Jersey products liability suit arising from allegedly defective refrigeration equipment

Obtained dismissal on summary judgment for national manufacturer and designer of concrete silo against claims for breaches of contract and negligence

Secured dismissal of putative class action against numerous financial institutions arising from a mortgage broker’s alleged Ponzi scheme impacting hundreds of Pennsylvania homeowners

Government Litigation

Defending interstate-federal commission's ban on high volume hydraulic fracking

Representing major charter management organization in multi-jurisdictional litigation against School District of Philadelphia for breach of contract and due process claims

Defended the City of Philadelphia and its implementation of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, prevailing at all three stages of litigation, including the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Representation of major retailer in several tax liability disputes with New Jersey’s Division of Taxation

Invalidated Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples

On behalf of the City of Philadelphia, obtained complete dismissal of massive challenge to the City's entire property tax assessment system

On behalf of cigar and tobacco distributors and retailers, brought successful challenge to invalidate the City of Philadelphia’s “Blunt Ban”

On behalf of non-profit journalism organization, invalidated SEPTA’s advertising restrictions on First Amendment grounds

Representation of a major outdoor advertising and billboard company against a citizen group’s Constitutional challenge to the erection and maintenance of a digital billboard

Defended state agency against RICO and related claims arising from the agency's debarment of a contractor for violations of state prevailing wage laws

Defended state agency for alleged violations of Pennsylvania’s Administrative Procedures Act

Defended Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State’s certification of electronic voting machines