Lafayette professors and small, encouraging campus community inspired him
The Philadelphia Bar Association honored Thomas Spratt Jr. ’92 with the Craig M. Perry Service Award, presented annually to a young lawyer “who has devoted substantial time and energy to community-oriented activities, including but not limited to pro-bono and charity work.” A lawyer at the Aramark food services company’s Philadelphia office, Spratt was commended for his volunteer work with the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project, Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program, and Support Center for Child Advocates.
“One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was ‘get involved in pro-bono work early in your career, or you may never find the time to do it later on,’” says Spratt. “I can see why this would happen because the longer you practice, the more responsibility you get and the harder it gets to shift gears. I really enjoy pro-bono cases; they allow me to use not only my legal skills, but also my interpersonal ones. I always wanted to use my law degree to help other people. I’ve been lucky in my life – I got a great education at Lafayette and then went on to a great law school at Rutgers Camden [in New Jersey]. I want to share my luck by helping those who don’t have the resources to help themselves.”
On the job, Spratt spends much of his time negotiating franchising deals and getting involved in potential legal issues as well as those that arise – “putting out fires and trying to prevent them,” he says.
“One of the nice aspects of being in house is that you have an opportunity to be part of the business, not just a lawyer looking from the outside,” he says. “It also gives you more time for charity work.”
Before joining Aramark this year, Spratt was an associate attorney at Pepper Hamilton LLP’s Philadelphia office, concentrating in bankruptcy and reorganization. His varied responsibilities included closing complicated business deals, spending time in court, meeting and working with a variety of people, and helping businesses and individuals navigate through the bankruptcy process.
The anthropology and sociology graduate credits his Lafayette experience with giving him the confidence to explore several careers before settling on law. Before attending Rutgers to earn his J.D. in 2005, Spratt worked as a social worker, radio broadcaster and reporter, and computer networking specialist.
Lafayette’s small size and undergraduate focus made possible experiences that were instrumental in Spratt’s development.
“The professors, especially the ones in the anthropology and sociology department, helped me develop the analytical and research skills that were a big part of both law school and being a practicing lawyer,” he says. “Even more important, the encouraging atmosphere of the campus inspired me to try a number of different careers before becoming a bankruptcy attorney. All these experiences, including my studies at Lafayette, have helped me get where I am today.”
Dan Bauer, professor of anthropology and sociology, influenced Spratt’s outlook on making social contributions no matter the field.
“Many of the professors at Lafayette were both helpful and inspirational,” he says. “Dan Bauer was especially instrumental in helping me define myself – both professionally and personally. As his teacher’s assistant, I spent a good deal of time with him and his strong sense of social responsibility and personal fulfillment had a big impact on my worldview. To this day, I credit Professor Bauer with shaping who I am – both as a father of two amazing little boys and as a husband to my wonderful wife.”