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, and I blog for Medium, HuffPost, Daily Worth, and my own blog, familylawunraveled.com.


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 (current)

Pennsylvania (current)

New York

Court Appointments

Guardian Ad Litem

Pro Bono Counsel

Work Experience

BKW Family Law LLC/Berner Klaw & Watson LLP/Berner & Klaw
Philadelphia, PA 1994-Present

Partner/Former Founding Partner.  Practice includes all aspects of family law, divorce and custody mediation, arbitration, 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

Lectures / Trainings / Consulting

Temple University, Beasley School of Law, Adjunct Professor

Presenter, Field Notes From a Family Lawyer
Family Law Society, Rutgers Law School

Co-Panelist, Valentine’s Day Special:
More People Are in Relationships Than Ever Before
CBS Philly, Flashpoint with Cherri Gregg

Co-Presenter, Who Gets the Dog? Prenups 101
Common Cents Club, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (with the University of Pennsylvania Law School)

Co-Panelist, Joint Custody
Untied – The Thinking Woman’s Divorce Resource

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University

Villanova University School of Law

Temple University School of Law

American Bar Association Pro Bono Conference

Philadelphia Bar Association

Lessons Learned While Opening Your Own Practice (co-presenter for Solo and Small Firm Committee)

Town Hall: Marriage Equality in PA – What does it really mean? (panelist for LGBT Rights Committee)

Economics of Justice Conference

University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work

Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program

The Philadelphia Association of Paralegals

Habitat for Humanity

Homeless Advocacy Project

Chestnut Hill Hospital Parenting Program

Philadelphia Probation Department

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)

Medium (current blog)

Huffington Post(2011-2016)

Daily Worth (2012-2014)

Relationship Between Distribution of Assets and Award of Alimony (Chapter)
Slicing Up the Pie: Property Distribution in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Bar Institute Press (2010, 2012, 2016)

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

Three Ways to Protect Yourself in a Divorce
The Wall Street Journal (January 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)

Guns in the Family
Upon Further Review, Philadelphia Bar Association (October 2013)

Co-Sleeping Collides With Custody Battles
Time (September 2013)

Same-sex marriage needs same-sex divorce
Salon (September 2013)

The Magnitude of Our Decisions
Signature-Reads (September 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)

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)

Feminist Advocacy: The Evolution of Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse Act
Margaret Klaw, Mary Scherf
University of Pennsylvania Law School (1993)


People in the News (PA Bar Fiebach Award)
Aleeza Furman
The Legal Intelligencer (October 2020)

How to Boost Your Firm’s Online Visual Identity
Beth Blinebury
American Bar Association (May 2020)

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
The Legal Intelligencer (June 2018)

Advice From Those Who Know Small Firms
Thomas E. Rogers
Philadelphia Bar Association (July 2017)

Reflections on “Innovations in Family Law Dispute Resolution”
Deborah Thompson Eisenberg
University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law (March 2016)

Same-sex couples in Pennsylvania now cheering ability to divorce too
Alana Semuels
Los Angeles Times (May 2014)

Family Law:  Human Nature
Dan Gottlieb
WHYY Public Media (April 2014)

Keeping a Foot in the Office Door Can Ease Mothers’ Anxiety
Ann Carrns
The New York Times (October 2013)

Keeping It Civil:  The messiness of family law
Kelly Blewett
BookPage (October 2013)

Should you count on Prince Charming? Divorce lawyer offers six reasons to keep working
Debra Cassens Weiss
ABA Journal, American Bar Association (October 2013)

Family Law, featuring Keeping It Civil
The Brian Lehrer Show
New York Public Radio, WNYC (September 2013)

“Apartners:” The New Happy Divorce
Louisa Kamps and Jihan Thompson
Redbook (June 2012)

Two Philadelphia Law Firms . . . to Receive Prestigious Philadelphia Bar Foundation Awards
Philadelphia Bar Association (November 2009)

Boards / Prof. Memberships / Community Service

Arbitrator, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (current)

Volunteer, Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program (current)

Board Member, Equality Advocates Pennsylvania

Board Member, First Person Arts

Legal Advisory Board Member, Mazzoni Center

Board Member and Past President, National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

Board Member, Settlement Music School, Germantown Branch

Board Member, The Midwife Collective

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


Best Lawyers in America 2016-2022* (Collaborative Law & Family Law)
Best Lawyers®

Best Lawyers in America 2017-2022* (Family Law Mediation)
Best Lawyers®

Lawyer of the Year 2017; 2020* (Family Law Mediation)
Best Lawyers®

Best Law Firms 2017-2022 (Berner Klaw & Watson LLP)
Philadelphia – Family Law & Family Law Mediation – Metropolitan Tier 1
U.S. News & World Report-Best Lawyers®

PA Super Lawyer 2006-2021**
Super Lawyers®, part of Thomson Reuters

AV Preeminent® 2018-2021***

Top 50 Women-Owned Businesses 2016-2021 (Berner Klaw & Watson LLP)
Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses 2013-2015
Philadelphia Business Journal

Top 25 Law Firms by Pro Bono Hours 2016-2017; 2021 (Berner Klaw & Watson LLP)
Philadelphia Business Journal

H. Robert Fiebach Award 2020 (Berner Klaw & Watson LLP)
Pennsylvania Bar Association – Women in the Profession Commission

Brennan Award 2004, 2005 (Berner & Klaw); 2013-2015; 2017; 2020 (Berner Klaw & Watson LLP)
Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program

Lifetime Achievement Award 2018
The Legal Intelligencer

Pro Bono Roll of Honor 2012, 2013, 2015, 2018 [smal](for exemplary pro bono work)[/small] First Judicial District of Pennsylvania

Top 50 Women PA Super Lawyers 2017
Super Lawyers®, part of Thomson Reuters

Business Integrity Award 2017 (Berner Klaw & Watson LLP)
Independence Business Alliance

Client Choice – Boutique Family Law Firm of the Year in Pennsylvania 2016

Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers™, Inaugural Edition 2011

Pro Bono Publico Award 2010 (Berner Klaw & Watson LLP)
Court of Common Pleas – Family Division, Domestic Relations
First Judicial District of PA

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

*Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer review publication in the legal profession, partnering with U.S. News & World Report, the leading rankings publication in the U.S., to rank lawyers and law firms in the United States.

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

***Peer rated for highest level of professional excellence.