Stella M. Tsai


Ms. Tsai is a business litigation partner in the Philadelphia office with a practice concentrating in regulatory compliance and ethics. Ms. Tsai represents both individuals and multi-national businesses in transactional, regulatory, and litigation matters,  including trial and appellate work. Ms. Tsai re-entered private practice after serving as Chair of Administrative Law at the City of Philadelphia Law Department from 2000-2003 where she managed the attorneys who represent the child welfare and social service agencies. While in private practice, Ms. Tsai has served as national coordinating counsel in products liability litigation, litigated civil RICO and securities fraud matters, prepared decisions and presided over hearings for the City of Philadelphia Civil Service Commission, represented insurance companies in disputes with corporate policyholders over coverage for environmental and bodily injury claims, and counseled business organizations on corporate ethics and governance matters, including financial reporting, cybersecurity, and compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption statutes.


Ms. Tsai served an extended term as an inaugural member of the independent City of Philadelphia Board of Ethics, which is charged with enforcing the City’s campaign finance and ethics laws. In October 2008, the Hon. Michael A. Nutter appointed Ms. Tsai to the City’s Zoning Code Commission (“ZCC”) to lend her expertise in rewriting the City’s complex and outdated zoning code and help modernize how the City will manage future development, and facilitate sustainable growth. Shortly after her appointment, Ms. Tsai was named the Chair of Engagement Committee and 2nd Vice-Chair of the ZCC. In December 2011, the ZCC submitted the final draft of the new Zoning Code, which was unanimously passed by City Council and signed by Mayor Nutter. After the ZCC concluded its work, Mayor Nutter appointed Ms. Tsai to the Board of Trustees of the Community College of Philadelphia, the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia. She was recently named as Secretary of the Board.


Representative Experience

  • Co-chaired trial team which secured preliminary injunction on behalf of the City of Philadelphia against another governmental agency from carrying out discriminatory elements of a fare plan and dismissal of agency’s appeal to Commonwealth Court; Co-chaired trial team which secured dismissal of preliminary injunction in a civil rights suit, which was dismissed with prejudice, alleging racial discrimination in the implementation of certain regulations of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code.
  • Chaired trial team which obtained defense verdict in a bench trial involving multi-million dollar breach of contract claims arising under a stock purchase agreement.
  • Made substantial contributions to the system-wide implementation of court reforms designed to achieve the safety, permanency and well-being of at-risk children and youth in Philadelphia.
  • Navigated multi-million dollar exempt organizations through high profile governmental audits and investigations and the diverse and complex business transactions arising from cessation or reduction of  operations.
  • Secured favorable resolution of international business disputes filed on behalf of or against foreign clients in U.S. federal and state courts.
  • Secured summary judgment for corporate defendants in employment discrimination and environmental insurance coverage matters.
  • Obtained political asylum for Chinese refugee after 10 years of litigation and appeals.


Professional and Community Involvement

  • Co-Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association Professional Responsibility Committee, 2013.
  • Member, Community College of Philadelphia Board of Trustees, 2012-2018. Member of Session, First Presbyterian Church in the City of Philadelphia, 2013-2016 Past President and now ex-officio member of the University of Pennsylvania Law School Alumni Society Board of Managers.
  • Member, Pennsylvania Bar Association House of Delegates, 2010-present.
  • Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Diversity in the Profession Committee, 2012.
  • President, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, 2011.


Awards and Recognition

  • Recognized as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine (Business Litigation, 2014) 2013 Diversity Attorney of the Year, The Legal Intelligencer.
  • Community Champions of Zoning Code Reform, Philadelphia Association of Commercial Development Corporations, 2012.
  • Outstanding Scholar Alumnae of the Year, Schreyer Honors College of the Pennsylvania State University, 2012.
  • One Love Award, One Love Movement, 2011.
  • Sean Peretta Award, The Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association for community service, 2009.
  • The Civil Rights Advocacy Award, Northwest Philadelphia Community Appreciation Awards Dinner, The Hon. Cherelle L. Parker (D-Phila.) 2009.
  • The Alumni Award of Merit, University of Pennsylvania Law School Law Alumni Society, 2009.
  • Woman of Distinction, Philadelphia Business Journal, 2009.
  • Ms. Tsai earned the designation as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer in 2007, 2008 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.
  • Member, National Asian Pacific Bar Association’s (“NAPABA”) inaugural class of Best Under 40 Lawyers, 2003.
  • Woman of Distinction, Hon. Blondell Reynolds Brown, Councilwoman-at-Large, 2003.


Articles and Presentations

  • Know Thyself: Affinity Bias in the Legal Profession By: Stella Tsai and Debra Rosen, (Women Advocate Newsletter, American Bar Association, March 9, 2015)
  • How Stereotypes Can Interfere With Objectivity and Logic (The Legal Intelligencer, June 8, 2015).
  • Good Faith Efforts: A Compliance Defense for the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. published by International Law 360, 2014
  • Selection Bias: The Great Asian American Divide on Affirmative Action in Fisher, Minority Trial Lawyer newsletter of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, December 17, 2013
  • 25th Annual NAPABA Convention, NAPABA, Speaker, 2013
  • Asian Americans and The Law in the Golden Mountain CLE, A & G Diversity Committee CLE, moderator, 2013.
  • Get Smart: Deconstructing the MWDBE Certification Process CLE, A & G Diversity Committee CLE, moderator, 2013.
  • A Survivor’s Guide To Cross-Border Insolvency And Restructuring CLE, NAPABA International  Committee,  moderator, 2012.
  • Linsanity, Linguistics, & the Law CLE, Philadelphia Bar Association, moderator, 2012.
  • Boilerplate Contracts: Use at Your Own Risk CLE, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, panelist. 2012.
  • How to Solve the Red Zone: 5 Winning Plays for Corporate Leaders, 2012.
  • A New Year for Lobbying, 2012, A & G Government Affairs.
  • EB-5 Investor Visas: Capital Gains for U.S. Economy, 2011, A & G International Law Update, Co-Author.
  • Promises Kept: Corporate Boards Must Change, 2010, S. Keefe, Contributor.
  • Spending Your Stimulus Dollars, Contract Mgt. Magazine, 2009, Katherine Ng, Wu & Associates, Co-Author.
  • For-Profit and Non-Profit Board Update 2010, 2009, A. Tucci, S. Tsai, F.McElhill, Co-Authors.

1 Course by Stella M. Tsai