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Dedicated Litigator, Lecturer, Historian, Mentor and Community Leader Leaves Lasting Impact
December 15, 2021 – Malcolm J. Gross, who co-founded Lehigh Valley-based firm Gross McGinley, announced his retirement from legal practice. He will remain active at the firm in a mentorship role, as well as in the community as a lecturer and public speaker.
After graduating from Muhlenberg College in 1962, Mal earned his J.D. from Villanova University School of Law. He served as a law clerk for Justice Egan in 1965-1966, then completed his post-law school preceptorship with Allentown attorney Ray Brennan for two years. He started the law firm Gross & Brown, where he brought on Paul McGinley as an associate attorney. A few years later, Mal and Paul partnered to form the law firm of Gross McGinley & McGinley in downtown Allentown in 1976 with now Judge Carol McGinley. In 1985, they moved to the firm’s current location in Crown Tower on Seventh Street in Allentown, where Mal has continued to practice as a counselor and litigator to hundreds of businesses and individuals.
“Mal’s reputation as a great litigator is well known.” says Gross McGinley Managing Director Deb Faulkinberry. “He took on causes that weren’t attractive or very profitable, because he believed wholeheartedly in them. If he believed in it, he fought for it.”
Within the legal community, Mal was an active member in the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Bar Association of Lehigh County (past member, Board of Directors), Lehigh County Court Mediation Panel, Donald E. Wie and Barristers Inn, and Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (past member of the Hearing Committee and Disciplinary Board). In addition to several milestone cases, he won two of three appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Throughout his career, he was named multiple times to the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers lists, as well as selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America©. Honored by The Legal Intelligencer with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication and work in First Amendment and Media Law, Mal may be best known in the Lehigh Valley for his counsel and defense of the Morning Call.
“Mal was responsible for pre-publication clearance of articles,” recalled Paul McGinley co-founder of Gross McGinley. “He would review a journalist’s content prior to publishing, to ensure it complied with the law, and spent many nights in the newsroom, checking facts and helping get articles ready for the next day. Mal was passionate about fair and accurate publishing. He was deeply and intellectually involved with First Amendment Law, as well as Right-to-Know requests, making sure the community had the information it needed.”
In the Lehigh Valley, Mal was also deeply involved and connected with the non-profit community. In 2000, he was court-appointed to serve as a Trustee of the Harry C. Trexler Trust. He completed two 10-year terms before stepping down in 2020. He’s also served in a leadership capacity with Lehigh County Historical Society, Da Vinci Science Center, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Sacred Heart Hospital, Muhlenberg College Board of Associates, and Lehigh Valley Business Partnership Coalition on Health Care. He and his wife Janet continue to support The Baum School of Art.
“He was always part of community organizations, and instilled that mindset into the rest of the firm” Gross McGinley Managing Partner Jack Gross. “That means you have to give up some of your time to do those things, but it’s important. It’s something Mal has stressed as a leader of Gross McGinley and that’s embedded in our firm culture.”
An avid reader and lover of history, Mal has lectured in law at Muhlenberg College, Cedar Crest College, and Lehigh University as well as in front of multiple Bar and community organizations, including the Lehigh County Historical Society, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Sigal Museum, and many others. In 2013, Mal published “Two Mayors and a Lawyer” detailing the history and politics of Allentown through his eyes and his recollection of his grandfather and father, who both served as Allentown mayors.
While Mal may not have served as an Allentown mayor, he made himself known in the downtown area. He served as a public defender and ran for Lehigh District Attorney twice. He used his experience and influence to provide mentorship opportunities to those inside and outside Gross McGinley.
“Mal was a huge mentor to me and so many young attorneys,” says Sam Cohen. “He would always take a meeting with anyone. He was never too busy to make time for someone in need of guidance, listening to others and building relationships in the community. He says hello to everyone, and he’s been committed to being engaged in the community. He built his career on this.”
Mal has served as a mentor to many lawyers and was an inspiration for his son Jack Gross, the firm’s managing partner, to become an attorney.
“I never wanted to be a lawyer,” recalls Jack. “After college, I started working at the firm and my dad had me involved in two big trials and when I saw what he actually did and the way he did, that’s when I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. He’s interested and caring, and his clients know how much he cares about them. He’s always recognized the key to success is having a relationship with his clients, so even if he didn’t know the answer, he would find out and provide the best counsel he could. He’s the best lawyer I know.”
In his retirement, Mal will stay on as a mentor at Gross McGinley and will continue to lecture at tri-country bar events, as well as the Lehigh County Historical Society. He also plans to spend more time in his personal library, which contains a collection of approximately 5,000 books.
“One of the best things about retirement is not having an alarm clock anymore,” says Mal. “I look forward to spending time with my family and giving lectures.”
Gross McGinley gives Mal our deepest and sincerest thanks for his many years of faithful service to the firm and the community and wish him a long and fulfilling retirement!
Gross McGinley, LLP has served the Lehigh Valley and beyond for nearly 50 years. The firm’s 35 attorneys provide sophisticated legal services to businesses large and small as well as individuals. With offices in Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon counties, Gross McGinley has steadily grown into one of the most comprehensive law firms in the region while remaining a consistent and reliable source of trusted counsel.
Learn more about Gross McGinley, LLP at www.GrossMcGinley.com