Mary Platt

The Philadelphia Bar Association’s incoming chancellor plans to focus her term on reinforcing the importance of the bar’s services for all members of the city’s legal community.

Attorney Mary Platt is set to become the bar association’s next chancellor. The Fineman Krekstein & Harris lawyer told bar members gathered Tuesday at the association’s annual luncheon that, along with building on the expanded services aimed at increasing access to justice, she plans to help the association become more effective in the modern era.

Among other things, Platt said that during her term bar leaders would work to finalize efforts to overhaul the association’s bylaws, which have not been significantly updated for years, and tasked the board of governors with developing a long-term set of goals for the association to focus on.

“I will work hard next year to make the bar association as relevant as possible to current and potential members,” she said. “We want to be not just the oldest, but the best bar association in the country.”

Platt, who is set to take over as chancellor from Deborah Gross, has spent more than three decades as an attorney, beginning at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, where she spent 31 years, before joining Fineman Krekstein in 2014. She focuses on complex litigation, and has been an active member of the bar association since the 1990s.

According to Platt, she first became involved in the bar association as a member of the Women in the Profession Committee, at a time when there were few women practicing law in the city. The committee, she said, helped her to network with other women lawyers outside her firm, which, at the time, only had nine female lawyers out of about 80 total attorneys. It wasn’t long before she went on to chair the Federal Courts Committee, the Law Practice Management Division and others groups, and eventually being elected to the board of governors.

She said she hopes to increase the activity of members in all committees, so they can be on the front lines of increasing the relevancy of and interest in the bar.

“Just like I first became active in the Philadelphia Bar Association by participating in the Women in the Profession Committee, lawyers who become active in our committees, sections and Young Lawyers Division will learn important leadership skills, spread the word about how great it is to be a member of the association, and become bar leaders,” Platt said.

During her term, she also plans to focus on further developing the bar association’s pro bono, Continuing Legal Education, technological and mental health services, and increasing its collaborations with affinity bar associations. She said she also plans to continue to follow in the footsteps of previous chancellors and be a vocal advocate for “the rule of law and judiciary, separation of powers, constitutional rights, access to justice, the independence of the judiciary, diversity and inclusion and civil rights.”

“Our association has, and will continue when I am chancellor, to defend these core values and speak out on issues relating to them when necessary,” she said.