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Local law firm has deep roots in region

McCormick Law Firm, 835 W. 4th St, has provided general counsel to the central Pennsylvania area for over 150 years.

The firm has called The Emery House, a Victorian-style mansion built in 1888, home since 1974. A 1600 square-foot expansion was completed in 1988, with a smaller expansion in 2020. The last McCormick left the firm in the 1980s, and in 1996 the firm officially became McCormick Law Firm.

“We are the oldest continuously existing firm in north central Pennsylvania to the best of our knowledge. We don’t know of anyone who has been around longer,” said attorney J. David Smith.

Fast-forward to the present, and the firm is thriving and structured for transition with a mix of older, mid-career and younger attorneys.

“We have been in continuous existence for 160 years and we’re expecting that we will go at least 160 more,” said Smith.

When it comes to working in this community, attorney Joanne Ludwikowski said the camaraderie of the attorneys in this area is somewhat unique.

“We can battle in the courtroom and then have lunch later,” said Ludwikowski.

She added that it is not unusual for her to call another local attorney when she has an unusual situation to get their take on it.

“I don’t know that you can get that everywhere,” said Ludwikowski.

Smith echoed Ludwikowski’s sentiments that the lawyers in this area are very collegial, even though they are zealous advocates for their clients in the courtroom.

The firm, which is currently made up of 13 attorneys, is a general practice law firm with specialized areas of focus. Ludwikowski practices workers’ compensation law and Smith practices litigation and municipal law.

Smith said other lawyers in the firm specialize in areas such as representing banks and businesses in commercial transactions, municipal and school law, employment law, medical malpractice defense, intellectual property such as patents and copyrights, real estate and elder law. In addition, they act as general counsel for a variety of corporations, both for profit and not-for-profit. The firm is the solicitor for many municipal entities, school districts, authorities, and colleges.

“We do probably everything that you would expect a general practice firm in an area of this size to do,” said Smith.

When the firm had to close its doors two years ago due to the pandemic and everyone found themselves working from home, Ludwikowski admits there was initially a lot of anxiety.

“With the help of our amazing business manager and some of our other tech-savvy people, we were able to keep everyone employed and we are super proud of that,” said Ludwikowski.

The firm was able to continue servicing all of their clients, manage phone calls and emails, stay up on litigation, and keep the cases moving to their clients’ satisfaction.

“I am very proud of how McCormick Law Firm went through the pandemic as a group,” said Ludwikowski.

Like many area businesses, Smith said that one day they were in the office and then over the weekend they were shut down.

“We had incredible support from our staff. Our paralegals and our assistants kept us on track,” said Smith.

The firm’s community involvement ranges from coaching youth to serving on non-profit boards. The firm has also been a strong supporter of Leadership Lycoming and sent several people through the program with the intent of getting them trained in leadership roles and out into the community. Every one of their new lawyers is strongly encouraged to get into something community-minded.

Smith said he knows the public perception of lawyers may not be high. He wants people to know that while they are professionals, they are also neighbors and friends.

They love serving this community and the people and institutions in it.

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