Malcolm Gross and one key segment of the Lehigh Valley hit their stride around the same time.
Many community organizations got their start in the 1970s, shortly after he graduated from Villanova University School of Law, and these groups wanted to include an attorney on their boards – just as Gross was getting established in the legal community and finding his way in the community at large.
“I’ve always considered it part of my duty to be involved with different activities that make up our community, and I’ve helped a lot of them,” he said.
The senior partner and deputy managing partner of Gross McGinley LLP, which has its main office in Allentown and offices in Emmaus and Easton, is a member of three boards and has been on 20 throughout his career.
The combination of his work at Gross McGinley, which has a broad reach in the region, and his board memberships makes him one of the most influential people on business in the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Gross calls his position as one of five trustees of the Trexler Trust, an organization that distributes $5 million annually to charities and the parks of Allentown, “near and dear to my heart.
“It’s the highest honor I’ve ever achieved, because I was appointed by the court, by judges before whom I practice and who decided I was worthy.”
A trustee for 18 years, Gross said he has helped do a lot of good in the community, not just by giving away money, but by helping Trexler and other organizations with their missions.
In several arenas, Gross’ areas of personal interest intersect with his practice of the law and the number of publications in which he has authored influential articles, including articles in the national publication, “Communications and the Law.”
Some of these articles cover press law, including defamation, subpoenas and freedom of information issues.
“I’m passionate about the First Amendment and have been involved with many cases to expand First Amendment rights,” he said. “These are near the top of my legal achievements.
“We opened courtrooms all over Pennsylvania, getting public access to them. We opened legal papers and dockets, which used to be locked. We also took defamation cases all the way to the Supreme Courts. I’m very proud of it.”
INTERESTED IN OTHERS
Gross, who loves meeting new people and learning their life stories, is a historian and prolific writer about history, the law and the media. On the board of editors of his alma mater, he started writing articles for Villanova’s Law Review and branched out to include public interest articles for local publications.
Recently, he published a book, “Two Mayors and a Lawyer: The Gross Family in Allentown History,” about the history of Allentown politics and his family’s participation.
Gross also is a regular on the lecture circuit, appearing before various bar associations and history clubs and groups, as well as visiting lecturer at Cedar Crest and Muhlenberg colleges.
“People who want to be influential aren’t,” he said. “You have to be interested in other people and be sincere about helping them, not in yourself, then people will look to you for advice.”