Lawyerist Best Law-Firm Websites 2015

About Margy

I love our practice because I care so deeply about my clients and their families. I handle all types of family law matters, and my approach to each case varies greatly, depending on my client’s needs and preferences. The range goes from playing a supportive role for those clients who wish to negotiate their own agreements to serving as a zealous advocate in the courtroom for those who need to submit their disputes to a judge for resolution.  In addition to practicing law, I speak and write about family law issues.  My first book, KEEPING IT CIVIL: The Case of the Pre-Nup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer, was published by Algonquin Books in 2013, and I blog regularly for Huffington Post, Daily Worth, and my own blog:


Northeastern University School of Law
Boston, MA
J.D. 1984

Boston University
Boston, MA
B.A. in Political Science 1980 (magna cum laude)

London School of Economics
London, England
Program in political science through the Institute of European Studies 1979

Oberlin Conservatory
Oberlin, OH

Bar Admissions

United States Supreme Court


New York

Work Experience

Berner Klaw & Watson LLP/Berner & Klaw
Philadelphia, PA 1994-Present

Founding partner.  Practice includes all aspects of family law, divorce and custody mediation, and representation of plaintiffs in personal injury cases arising from domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

Law Offices of Joni J. Berner
Philadelphia, PA 1991-1993

Associate to solo practitioner.  Practice included all aspects of family law.

Women Against Abuse Legal Center
Philadelphia, PA 1988-1991

Litigation Coordinator. Staff attorney in charge of protection from abuse, custody and appellate litigation for public interest organization serving victims of domestic violence.

Victim Services Agency
New York, NY 1986-1988

Assistant General Counsel. In-house counsel in charge of training, legislative and policy work on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

Law Offices of Phyllis Gelman
New York, NY 1984-1986

Associate to solo practitioner. Practice included employment discrimination, civil rights and family law.

Bar Association Activities

Member, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Family Law Section (current)

Member, Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section (current)

    Philadelphia Bar Association Activities

  • Co-Chair, Family Law Section Committee on the Legal Rights of Unmarried Cohabitants
  • Member/Family Law Section representative, Board of Governors
  • Chair, Family Law Section
  • Officer, Family Law Section
  • Co-Chair, Women’s Rights Committee
  • Co-Chair, Family Law Section Domestic Violence Committee
  • Member, Commission of Judicial Selection

Court Appointments

Guardian Ad Litem

Pro Bono Counsel

Lectures / Trainings / Consulting

Temple University, Beasley School of Law, Adjunct Professor

The Philadelphia Association of Paralegals

The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University

Villanova University School of Law

Habitat for Humanity

American Bar Association Pro Bono Conference

Economics of Justice Conference

University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work

Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program

Homeless Advocacy Project

Chestnut Hill Hospital Parenting Program

Philadelphia Probation Department

Temple University School of Law

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Pennsylvania Bar Institute Continuing Legal Education

Fundamentals of Family Law, Family Law Updates, Philadelphia Domestic Relations Practice, Family Law Potpourri, Symposium on the Family in the 21st Century, Bench-Bar Conference, Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section Conference, Primer on Family Law, General Practitioner’s Update, Government Intervention in Parenting Decisions


Family Law Unraveled (current blog)

Huffington Post (current blog)

Daily Worth (2012-2014)

Perspectives on Building a Women-Owned Law Firm
Joni Berner, Margaret Klaw, Megan Watson
The Legal Intelligencer (Women in the Profession Supplement, April 2014)

KEEPING IT CIVIL: The Case of the Pre-Nup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer, Algonquin Books (2013)

Gay Divorce, The Next Frontier
The Washington Post (July 2013)

Technology: Family Law Unraveled (One Lawyer’s Dive into the Blogosphere for Fun and (Maybe) Profit)
Philadelphia Lawyer Magazine (Spring 2011)

Relationship Between Distribution of Assets and Award of Alimony (Chapter)
Slicing Up the Pie: Property Distribution in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Bar Institute Press (2010)

A New Direction for Private Contracts Regarding Child Support and Care?
Upon Further Review, Philadelphia Bar Association (December 2008)

Prenuptial Agreements (Chapter)
The Impact of Domestic Violence on Your Legal Practice: A Lawyer’s Handbook,
Joni J. Berner, Margaret Klaw
American Bar Association (1996, 2004)

Whose Child is This? Second-Parent Adoption in Pennsylvania
Margaret Klaw, Megan Watson
Philadelphia Lawyer Magazine (Cover Story, Fall 2001)

Grandparent Custody Rights: Best Interest of the Child or Interference with a Parent’s Prerogative
Margaret Klaw, Mary A. Scherf
Philadelphia Lawyer Magazine (Spring 2000)

Boards / Memberships / Community Service

Legal Advisory Board Member, Mazzoni Center (current)

Volunteer, Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program (current)

Arbitrator, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (current)

Board Member, Equality Advocates Pennsylvania

Board Member, First Person Arts

Board Member, National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

Board Member, Settlement Music School, Germantown Branch

Coach, Mock Trial Team, Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts


Super Lawyer 2006 – 2015*

Brennan Award 2004 and 2005 (Berner & Klaw); 2013-2015 (Berner Klaw & Watson LLP)
Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program

First Judicial District of Pennsylvania’s 2012, 2013 and 2015 Pro Bono Rolls of Honor for exemplary pro bono work

Top 100 Women-Owned Business 2013-2015 (Berner Klaw & Watson LLP)
Philadelphia Business Journal

Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers™, Inaugural Edition 2011

Citizens Bank Pro Bono Award 2009 (Berner, Klaw & Watson LLP)
Philadelphia Bar Foundation

Chancellor’s Award 2002 (Berner & Klaw)
Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program

Philadelphia Family-Friendly Award 2000 (Berner & Klaw)
Philadelphia Bar Association

*Chosen by nominations from PA lawyers, research of periodicals, databases and interviews.  All nominees’ background and experience are researched as well.