Enduring, Evolving, Excelling
Full-service law firm Timoney Knox, LLP, takes a “people first” approach to helping clients contend with legal issues of every manner
by Pete Croatto

The phrase “Enduring, Evolving, Excelling” serves as the official motto for Timoney Knox, LLP, a full-service law firm based in Fort Washington. The tagline did not come from a Center City marketing firm, nor was it the result of a focus group’s passionate deliberations. Rather, the ideology developed in a fashion befitting a 94-year-old firm that was built on the strength of its relationships: organically.

Colleagues quizzed each other, and long-tenured partners asked their clients. Such grassroots polling grew out of the firm’s need to add a “headline” of sorts to a newly upgraded website as a way of informing and engaging both current and prospective clients through a more dynamic online presence. In nearly every discussion, the same three descriptors kept coming up again and again.

Truly, the spirit of Timoney Knox’s tagline is embodied even in the story behind the upgrading of its website. This is no accident. At Timoney Knox, members of the firm live and breathe these three principles every day. 

More than Attorneys
Timoney Knox, LLP, has been an institution in the Montgomery County and surrounding areas since its founding in 1921. The firm has evolved to employ a comprehensive staff designed to support its clients’ diverse needs: 25 attorneys, six paralegals and 17 members of a support staff.

Other numbers stand out. Most of the staff has been at the firm for more than 10 years. Three staff members, including partner Michael Peale, boast more than 35 years of service. In the past 55 years, the firm has had only three managing partners, two of whom—Peale and George Riter, who has held the title since July 2007—still work for the firm.

“It’s a family atmosphere that’s been passed down from one generation to the next,” explains Peale, who joined Timoney Knox in 1971, back when there were 11 attorneys on board. “George has embraced it. With that, we’ve been blessed with quality attorneys. Since ’71, four have gone on to be judges.”

“We’re not just lawyers; we want to be counselors and advisers,” adds Riter, who has been with Timoney Knox since 2001. “That means fielding the call from a client and not billing them to doing pro bono work, which we do a lot of. A lot of practicing lawyers have a community base and care about where they work, but almost every lawyer here is active on some board, some community matter, or gives back. I think our clients are receptive to that and appreciate the fact that we are active.”

This becomes apparent when one examines the loyalty of its clients. Timoney Knox has represented the Wissahickon School District for more than 70 years, while partner Mark E. Weand Jr. has been serving as Telford Borough’s solicitor for 45 years; such a record of service is impressive, according to Peale. The firm’s ability to retain such high-profile clients, not to mention friends and neighbors, can be explained through one consistent principle: “We treat them as people,” Peale says. “We don’t just give them legal answers.”

The firm’s willingness to reside in the digital world plays to the “people first” mindset. “All of this is to assist our clients in the most efficient and cost-effective manner,” says associate Christine O’Brien, a Bucks County native and Villanova Law graduate who joined the firm in 2011. 

Over the last two years, the changes have come fast and furious. Timoney Knox’s website (www.timoneyknox.com) is easily accessible on both personal computers and mobile devices; clients have the option of paying online. Similarly, the firm has taken full advantage of social media, using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to share news and updates.

“We updated our network computers, our software, our phones and our dictation devices,” says O’Brien. “That enables us to work more efficiently for our clients.” Attorneys also have remote access to the firm’s network and email, and the firm has embraced electronic filing, meaning less paper. Even though the firm has embraced the use of technology to better serve clients, such technology has by no means compromised the family-like atmosphere that has contributed to its success.

In other words, attorneys not only collaborate on cases but also share laughs at the firm’s social gatherings throughout the year. “We know, like and trust each other,” O’Brien says.

A Partner in the Community
The Timoney Knox family keeps growing. The firm recently expanded its insurance industry law department, having hired eight attorneys in the past five months. Before that, Riter says, the firm added lawyers to its trust and estates department.

“We are just able to attract really terrific young lawyers,” Riter says. “Christine [O’Brien] and our current crop of associates and younger lawyers are absolutely terrific.”

This is good news for clients.

“Clients may come to us and think of one lawyer in particular,” Riter explains. “We’ve made a concerted effort to make sure whether it’s Christine or another younger associate that they’ve had client contact almost from Day One. They have to understand that there’s a team behind us, and it’s not just one person, so that if one person goes down or goes away, things don’t come to a halt.”

Because the firm is competent in so many areas of law—education law, business law, real estate law, family law, wills, trusts and estates, etc.—clients can go to one place to solve any legal query.

“We become involved with our clients,” Riter says. “We may represent a client from an estate planning perspective and then we handle their corporate needs, their employment needs, their family needs, their children’s needs. We represent multiple generations; I have one client that I now represent four generations [of the client’s family]. We have clients that are just starting out, young couples that just need a simple estate plan because they have young children, clients who are significantly well off that would be the envy of many other law firms. So we handle everything, from the simple to the complex.”

“Local” is another aspect of Timoney Knox’s mission. As Riter says, “We are tied to the community,” Riter says. In addition to being involved in the schools of Upper Dublin Township, the firm has helped establish the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund, which assists families caring for children with serious illnesses, disabilities and injuries; partner Herman Weinrich sits on the fund’s board. In addition, Timoney Knox contributes to Montgomery County Community College Foundation and Mattie N. Dixon Community Cupboard, and it also serves as counsel for the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association.

Such neighborhood devotion resides in the office, which has a room devoted specifically to the Philadelphia Phillies. Several employees are diehard fans—Peale, who saw the team win the 2008 World Series and earn its 10,000th loss, and Riter, who used to visit Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn in the broadcast booth, among them—and the firm has season tickets.

“Even if the Phillies aren’t playing that well, a baseball game is still a terrific family event,” says Riter, who has arranged to have the Phillie Phanatic, who is a friend of a friend, visit clients with special needs children during games. “The ownership of the Phillies has been family oriented,” Riter says. “They’ve got stability; we’ve had stability."

Clients can attest to the firm’s ability to excel—and not just because it’s in the tagline.

Timoney Knox, LLP
400 Maryland Drive
Fort Washington, PA 19034

Photograph by Kim Billingsley