Rachel Ezzell Berry

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On March 20, 2020, during the statewide COVID-19 emergency, Rachel was appointed the Delaware County Register of Wills, just as the crisis deepened and the life-sustaining shutdown began.   At that time, zero office processes could be completed start-to-finish on a virtual basis.  Under Rachel’s leadership, the office has since probated nearly 2,000 estates virtually, relying on redesigned processes, audio-video platforms and a new, locked dropbox for original documents; issued nearly 2,500 marriage licenses virtually, introducing (for the first time in the office’s history) e-signatures and innovative print-at-home options that saved Delco taxpayers thousands of dollars; migrated the office’s records to a new online portal, allowing Delco residents to search their information for free from the comfort of their own homes; designed and introduced the office’s first-ever e-commerce store, letting Delco residents for the first time purchase copies online; held virtual hearings online and issued orders electronically, saving Delco residents more time and money; and more.  She accomplished these milestones while running a budget surplus for 2020.  She also made history that year, becoming the first Register in the state to have a baby while holding elected office.

Rachel accomplished this modernization and transformation of the office by assembling a team of republicans, independents, and democrats who came together and met the moment.  The team worked tirelessly in-person and remotely at all hours of the day to ensure services would not be disrupted, and that Delco’s Register of Wills office would be the best in the region.  Together, they achieved that.  Rachel has hired exceptional team members of all political stripes and proudly promoted republicans in recognition of a job well done.  Rachel believes that party registration is not a job qualification and that politics should play no role in administering the quasi-judicial functions of the office.

Rachel exercises her quasi-judicial, Register of Wills duties by relying on her extensive judicial background and thousands of hours of courtroom experience.  She has proudly served as a Clerk on the United States Court of Appeals, the court directly below the U.S. Supreme Court.  She has also served as a Clerk on the United States District Court and (prior to becoming Register) as a Clerk to the Honorable Stephanie Klein of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.  In these roles, Rachel reviewed petitions from all areas of the law (criminal, civil, and family), completed extensive legal research, participated in thousands of hours of court proceedings, and directly assisted accomplished jurists on judicial tasks and decision-making.  She relies on this experience as the Register of Wills, who presides over civil matters relating to will contests such as capacity and fraud, applying the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence during hearings, and issuing orders and decrees.

Rachel also brings to her office extensive legal experience.  She previously worked as a litigator at Dechert LLP, one of the largest and most respected law firms in the region, where she practiced on a variety of cases involving complex civil matters.  She has experience at all stages of litigation, from pleadings and discovery to appeals, on consequential cases involving potential damages in the billions.  She is also currently, in addition to serving as the Register, Counsel to her family’s small business, American Services Corporation (“ASC”).  As counsel, she provides guidance on a multitude of civil matters.  ASC is headquartered in Delaware County and has operations across four states.  Aside from her interest in the law and the judiciary, Rachel is passionate about small businesses and economic development.

Rachel was born and raised in Delco and worked her way up.  She grew up in Nether Providence and attended public schools.  She started college as a Pell Grant Recipient (indicating exceptional financial need) at Delaware County Community College, graduating with highest honors and a 4.0 GPA.  She transferred to Temple University on a scholarship, where she was the top graduating student in both her Economics and International Business majors.  She earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School magna cum laudeOrder of the Coif, where she was Book Review Editor of the Michigan Law Review.  Her legal scholarship has been published in LexisNexis’s Pennsylvania Civil Pre-Trial Practice and Trial Practice Guides, and cited in the Yale Law Journal, the UCLA Law Review, and the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

Rachel hopes to expand the technological progress already made in the Register of Wills office during another term and continue bringing the office into the 21st century.  She has leveraged her background after college and prior to law school as a Business Systems Analyst, with her now-know from the federal court electronic filing (“e-filing”) system, to design and develop e-filing for the Delaware County Orphans’ Court.  She plans to continue beta testing of e-filing during 2021, and to first introduce e-filing for the office’s no-fee petitions.  She hopes to earn another term to complete designing and testing e-filing for fee petitions.  She is confident that Delco services can be just as good, if not better, than those in other counties, and will do the work to get us there.

Rachel and her husband, Andrew, live in Middletown Township with their young children, who attend public schools.  Rachel’s long history of community involvement across Delco includes service to the Friends of the Chester Creek Trail, the League of Women Voters, and as a homeroom parent in the Rose-Tree Media School District.  She is the Treasurer of the Women’s Section of the Delco Bar, and more recently, became the first woman to serve as the Chair of the Delaware County Economic Development Oversight Board.