When David Colleran walks into court, three generations of lawyering courses through his veins. No wonder he’s so good at it.
At 37, he is the youngest of the Collerans who practice at the eponymous firm—his father, James Sr., founded it in 1995, and his two brothers, James Jr. and Francis, and sister, Teresa, also work there. His grandfather was the first to practice.
“It just seems to be what our family does,” Jim Sr. says.
David Colleran was born in 1970 and grew up in Newtown Square, a semi-rural wonderland for him and his siblings. All three boys became local legends on the baseball field and played in college— Jimmy as a pitcher, Frank and David as catchers.
“Dave was the best hitter of all of them,” Jim Sr. says. “He could really hit for distance.”
But life wasn’t all home runs and RBIs.
“One time Dave was on his bike riding down the street and he crashed into a bush in which there was a hornet’s nest, and he got stung 25 times,” says his sister, Terry, chuckling. “After that, he would always wear corduroy long pants. It didn’t matter if it was 100 degrees out.”
Colleran took his analytical nature to Villanova, where he graduated with a degree in psychology. He spent a couple of years as a financial planner before his genes kicked in. He called his dad, who had since opened his own firm, and started as a paralegal. He took to it right away. He became known as the detail guy, the person who kept his desk immaculate and his suits crisp.
Plus, there was the glimmer of something more.
“If they were The Brady Bunch, David would be Peter,” says Denine Moscariello, an attorney who’s been with the Colleran Firm for 10 years. “David has a little mischievous streak to him. He seems really serious, but every once in a while, you see this little smirk.”
Colleran enrolled in law school at Villanova, graduated in 1999, and came back to the family firm as an associate. His first trial was a 2004 medical malpractice case in which he argued that a misdiagnosis led to an unnecessary surgery, causing nerve damage to the leg of a Millville woman. He lost the case but gained valuable experience.
“You never forget your first time,” David says. “From start to finish, I don’t know if there was a thing I would do differently. Until you’re before a jury, you don’t know if you can do it.”
He hasn’t lost much since. He regularly racks up six- and seven-figure victories in court, mainly in medical malpractice, automobile accidents and products liability.
“David is the exemplar of Colleran preparedness—he rarely misses a relevant detail,” says Dan Sherry of Marshall Dennehey. “I’ve really developed a tremendous amount of respect for the Collerans over the years, and, hey, I’m on the other side.”
Colleran admits to being motivated to keep pace with his brothers and sister. “I suppose there’s an element of competition,” he says. “You don’t want to let them get too far ahead of you.”
But, he adds, there’s also a sense of responsibility toward their clients that his father instilled in them.
“He would say, ‘These are human beings we’re representing. They asked for us at a major event in their life, and we work to get them what they deserve. And they only get one shot at it.’”
Tempted as he may be, he insists he won’t pressure his three kids, ages 2, 4 and 7, into following in his footsteps.
“David Jr. has a great golf swing,” he says. “If he can transform that into a career, I’ll be happy.”
Then again, if you happen to be in an eastern Pennsylvania court, don’t be surprised if you see Colleran—followed by the next generation of lawyering Collerans.