Margaret Klaw, Berner Klaw & Watson

Margaret Klaw Berner Klaw & Watson

Margaret Klaw is a founding partner of Berner Klaw & Watson, an all-women law firm located in Philadelphia, dedicated exclusively to the practice of family law. Klaw has chaired both the family law section and the women’s rights committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association and been an adjunct professor of family law at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. She writes and lectures extensively on family law topics.

The legal profession is constantly evolving and that evolution only seems to have accelerated in recent years. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the profession during your career?

The increased presence of women. When I first started practicing, the vast majority of lawyers, judges, and leaders within the profession were men. That has changed dramatically. Opposing counsel in my cases are now just as likely to be women as men, over half the judges I regularly appear before in Philadelphia Family Court are women, and the chancellor, immediate past chancellor, and chancellor-elect of the Philadelphia Bar Association are all women.

What is one thing about the profession that has remained unchanged over the years?

The commitment to service and social justice has been a constant. It’s such a strong thread within the Philadelphia legal community and continues to be exemplified in the policies and practices of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Name one thing you’ve learned over the course of your career that you wish you knew as a young lawyer.

I wish I knew that I can’t solve every problem a client has. I probably did always know that on an intellectual level, but not on an emotional one—I used to feel responsible for fixing everything that was broken. I am way more realistic now about which problems can realistically be addressed through the legal system and which ones cannot, which I think has made me a far more effective advocate.