Jennifer Marie McHugh, 52, of Newtown Square, a lawyer and former state deputy insurance commissioner, died Tuesday, Aug. 7, of metastatic breast cancer at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Ms. McHugh joined the commercial litigation group at Cozen O'Connor in 1998 and led some of the Philadelphia law firm's most significant insurance and professional liability cases.
"She was extremely smart and wrote wonderful briefs, and was equally good in the courtroom," said H. Robert Fiebach, her colleague and friend. "Her strength as a lawyer was putting the facts [of a case] together in a way that was persuasive to the courts."
"She made friends with the adversary after a case was over. She had a wonderful way of dealing with people," Fiebach said. "I received a call from an opposing counsel this morning expressing deep sympathy when they learned of her death. She just was a great lawyer. In our firm, we will miss her terribly. We already do."
Over 20 years at Cozen O'Connor, Ms. McHugh worked from the firm's offices in Center City and Conshohocken. She handled cases involving medical malpractice, real estate, gaming, and white-collar crime. But she was best known there for being a mentor.
"Throughout her career, Jennifer was dedicated to mentoring junior attorneys — especially women — in formal and informal activities," the law firm said in an online tribute.
Ms. McHugh began her career as a law clerk to Judge John Dowling in Dauphin County Court. In 1993, she joined the Harrisburg firm of Rhoads & Sinon LLP,where she honed her skills as a litigator.
By the time she was hired by Fiebach in 1998, Ms. McHugh was ready to take on big cases. In one such matter, she represented an international supplier of auto parts that was under federal investigation for alleged antitrust violations. She persuaded the U.S. Justice Department to drop the probe before charges were lodged.
Ms. McHugh drew statewide attention when she was appointed Pennsylvania's deputy insurance commissioner during the Rendell administration. She served in 2004 and 2005. During that time, she resolved malpractice cases that the state was overseeing.
After rejoining Cozen O'Connor in 2006, she helped defend the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies against claims stemming from the 2001 fall of the Houston-based Enron Corp. due to felonious bookkeeping. The matter bankrupted Enron and took down its auditor, Arthur Andersen LLP.
She also helped resolve a three-year dispute that had delayed construction of a Wawa convenience store and gas station on Fayette Street in Conshohocken. The project was approved by the Conshohocken Borough Council in 2017.
She kept working at Cozen O'Connor until several months ago, when she retired for health reasons.
A longtime member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Ms. McHugh served on its Commission on Women in the Profession starting in 1996. She was the commission's chair and active on committees dealing with awards, technology and quality-of-life issues. In the latter role, she helped develop policies for alternative work arrangements so that lawyers with children might better balance work and home life.
An author and lecturer, Ms. McHugh collaborated with Fiebach on a chapter in the legal journal Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts. It is a compendium of articles on various aspects of the law written by practicing lawyers and judges.
This past May, Ms. McHugh received the Lynette Norton Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession. The award recognizes women lawyers who excel in litigation and mentor other female lawyers.
Born in Darby Borough, she was the eldest daughter of Julia M. and Michael D. McHugh Sr. She was a 1984 graduate of Villa Maria Academy in Malvern and a 1988 graduate of Duke University with a bachelor's degree in political science. She earned a degree from the Dickinson School of Law in 1992.
Ms. McHugh led a healthy lifestyle, beginning her days during out-of-town business trips with a morning jog. She enjoyed reading, the Jersey Shore, and especially swimming with dolphins while on vacation in Bermuda in 2017.
"She was very private, she didn't like to burden others, she was strong and responsible, and she had high expectations of herself and others. If you were her friend, you were her friend for life," said her sister Lisa M. Poduje.
In addition to her father, mother, and sister, she is survived by a son, Maximus Michael Allen Weinberg; a brother; and five nieces. She was married to Eric J. Weinberg. They divorced. He also survives.
A visitation beginning at 9:45 a.m. Monday, Aug. 20, will be followed by an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Mary Magdalen Parish, 2400 Providence Rd., Media. Burial is private.