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The Hon. Irvin Stander, the memorable Pennsylvania referee (later Judge) and bar association lecturer, began his career in the workers’ compensation field in 1972, when he turned 65. He was to work in the referee job for over 20 years, finally retiring as Judge at age 86. Earlier, he was a lawyer with expertise in zoning, inheritance taxes, and land use. Judge Stander received his bachelor’s (1926) and law (1929) degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

So dedicated to scholarship and excellence in the field was Judge Stander that the Workers’ Compensation Law Section of the state bar association awards its top honor in his name: The Irv Stander Award, presented to the lawyer whose dedication to the administration of workers’ compensation law, clients, professionalism, and regard for colleagues, is so extraordinary that it serves as an example to others. The Philadelphia Bar Association, meanwhile, each year presents the Irvin Stander Memorial Prize to a top-notch graduating law student.

Judge Stander, upon taking his job, immediately threw himself into scholarship of the law. In the 1970s, he was a Lecturer in Law at Temple University Law School, teaching a course in workers’ compensation, and had a regular column in the Pennsylvania Law Journal. On two occasions, he collected his various columns and had them published in invaluable book-length anthologies. For many years, each week he would hand-write a summary of the new developments in the case law and mail them out to his fellow judges and others.

In 1989, Judge Stander attended a national workers’ compensation “summit” convened by industry. After he attended the event, held on September 7-8, 1989, he penned a 5000-word memo to members of the community who had the good fortune to be on his mailing list. This memo is a time capsule, to take us back to the eve of the reforms that were soon to unfold in Pennsylvania and other states. It is notable that Judge Stander handwrote the entire memo.

At CLE events, Judge Stander would frequently lecture on the importance of submitting meticulous proposed findings. “Your proposed findings are your jury speech!” he would admonish. He ultimately published his advocacy on this point in the Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judges. Importantly, Judge Stander was an advocate for elevating the status of the workers’ compensation referee. Stander welcomed, notably, the 1972 significant change in the law, elevating the referee to final fact-finder. He also greeted favorably the 1993 change of the fact-finder’s title from referee to Workers’ Compensation Judge.



2017 - Frances Perkins (1880-1965)
2016 - Professor Samuel B. Horovitz (1887-1995)
2015 - Professor L. Arthur Larson (1910-1993)

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