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Gross McGinley’s sweet spot: building relationships

From its humble beginnings in an Allentown rowhouse in 1976, Gross McGinley LLP has grown into one of the top 100 law firms in Pennsylvania. It has settled into a professional sweet spot – small enough to develop and maintain personal relationships with clients but large enough to offer them a wide array of services on par with national firms.

From its humble beginnings in an Allentown rowhouse in 1976, Gross McGinley LLP has grown into one of the top 100 law firms in Pennsylvania. It has settled into a professional sweet spot – small enough to develop and maintain personal relationships with clients but large enough to offer them a wide array of services on par with national firms.

And as long as founder and managing partner Paul McGinley has any say, the firm will maintain that balance as part of its identity.

“We’ve been approached any number of times by megafirms to become their Allentown branch, to merge with them,” McGinley said. “But we’ve turned them down every time because I think it changes the nature of the relationship with the client. It just doesn’t seem quite the way we want to do business.”

Added senior partner Tom Reilly, who joined the firm in 2006 and is the chair of the firm’s business services group: “One thing that is never going to change and will always determine the difference between success and failure, regardless of all the information and all the jurisdictions, and all the pieces we bring to the table, is the personal relationship between the attorney and the client.”

The key, Reilly said, is for clients to feel comfortable enough to follow council’s advice, even if it might not be what they want to do.

“I have a client who says to me on a regular basis ‘Aren’t you so proud of me? Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have listened to you,’ ” Reilly said.

McGinley would like to say that was the vision when he joined with his wife Carol (now President Judge of Lehigh Valley County of Common Pleas) and Malcolm Gross in launching the firm 37 years ago. But the fact is they didn’t know what the firm could become.

“We were just happy to be there,” McGinley recalled with a laugh.

Over the years, however, Gross McGinley grew slowly but strategically, adding services – litigation, estate planning, municipal law – as demand became apparent. The firm moved into its current headquarters on Seventh Street in Allentown in 1986 and added satellite offices in Easton (2006) and Emmaus (2011).

A team of 30 lawyers provides services to local, regional and national clients in a wide variety of industries, including banking, media and publishing, and medical malpractice defense.

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