HARRISBURG (May 1, 2018) — The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation will present the 2018 Louis J. Goffman Award to John F. McKenna of MacElree Harvey Ltd. in West Chester on May 10 during the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon in Hershey.
The Goffman Award is named for a late PBA president and recognizes individuals and organizations committed to outstanding pro bono service.
McKenna is being honored for his individual service to the poor and disadvantaged residents of West Chester, as well as his ability to bring others together to help make a difference in the lives of those in need of legal representation. His dedication to pro bono work began while working as a psychiatric social worker for the Defender Association of Philadelphia from 1973 –1985. After graduating law school and moving to Chester County, McKenna became involved in the Chester County Bar Association and Legal Aid, joining the board of directors of Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (LASP) three years into its existence.
At a time when LASP needed to strengthen its relationships and increase bar member participation, McKenna stepped forward to champion the organization and advocate for Chester County’s vulnerable and low-income residents. His impact on the local system of justice there is still evident today.
As a Chester County Bar Association leader and LASP board member, McKenna used his position, influence and own example to expand local legal access. Among his many accomplishments, he promoted pro bono volunteerism within the bar on behalf of LASP clients and is credited with increasing financial contributions to LASP. In 2004, he created the Access to Justice Program, a then groundbreaking initiative to provide free legal assistance to those in need in the areas of family law, landlord tenant and estate planning, among others. With the help of the LASP Intake Unit, Chester County Bar Association and pro bono attorneys, the program has assisted hundreds of Chester County residents who didn’t qualify for LASP assistance.
In 2006, McKenna spearheaded a collaborative effort that brought together the county bench, court administration, private bar and LASP to pass an administrative regulation allowing for “limited scope entry of appearance and withdrawal.” The regulation permits those agreeing to provide pro bono representation to low income parties in family court to limit their services to those low-income clients for a limited purpose and over a limited timeframe. As a result, the number of attorneys willing to volunteer in custody cases has grown.
McKenna heads the Trust and Estate Litigation Group at MacElree Harvey, representing clients in estate and trust matters, complex guardianships, will contests, trust termination and modifications, corporate and real estate disputes, consumer protection and broker liability litigation. His practice also includes private mediation.
McKenna chairs the Chester County Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, a post he has held for more than 10 years. In addition, he is a member of Chester County Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution, Civil Litigation, Business Law, Probate and Estates, and Elder Law sections. He is past president of the Chester County Bar Association and Chester County Bar Foundation. McKenna is a former member of the PBA House of Delegates and a current member of its Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section. He also serves as a treasurer of Chester County Estate Planning Council, a member of the Philadelphia Estate Planning Council and a charter and master level member of John E. Stively American Inn of Court.
Active in the community, McKenna belongs to the DNB First Wealth Management Advisory Board, Chester County Art Association Advisory Board where he served as board president and the American Cancer Society. He is a former president of the West Goshen Lions Club.
McKenna is a graduate of Farleigh Dickinson University and Temple University School of Law.
The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, improves the public’s understanding of the law and its appreciation of democracy and strives to ensure that citizens, particularly Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable, have full access to our legal system. The foundation accomplishes its mission by making grants, seeking financial support from individuals and organizations both within and outside of the legal community, and encouraging bar members to donate their time, talent and expertise in service to the public.