Philadelphia lawyer Kathleen D. Wilkinson, a partner at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, is the 2021-22 president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
Wilkinson was the 2020-21 president-elect. From April 27 to May 20, 2021, she served as president due to the resignation of the previous president.
Her recent efforts to support the organized bar have focused on issues related to the ongoing pandemic. She served on the PBA COVID-19 Task Force that is providing timely information to assist lawyers in their practices during the pandemic. She was a member of the Joint Task Force on Continuity of Delivery of Legal Services that issued a comprehensive report offering recommendations such as technology enhancements so that citizens have access to justice during the current pandemic and future emergencies.
Wilkinson is the current co-chair of the Membership Committee of the PBA Commission on Women in the Profession. She also is a PBA appointed delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates.
Wilkinson has represented Philadelphia lawyers on the PBA Board of Governors. She has served in the PBA House of Delegates and has been a member of numerous PBA committees and sections. She is the chair of educational programs for the Federal Practice Committee Executive Council, immediate past co-vice chair of the PBA Planning Committee, immediate past co-vice chair of the PBA Quality of Life/Balance Committee, immediate past co-chair of the Commission on Women in the Profession Quality of Life Committee, past co-chair of the Commission on Women in the Profession and past chair of the PBA Civil Litigation Section. Wilkinson is a member of other committees, including the Finance, Membership Development and Minority Bar committees.
She was chair of the PBA Membership Engagement Blue Ribbon Panel on Millennials, Mothers and Minorities. In addition, Wilkinson served on the board of directors for PBI (Pennsylvania Bar Institute) and was a zone one director for the PABAR-PAC, the PBA’s political action committee, and co-chair of the 2007 PBA Midyear Meeting.
She is a Life Fellow of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the PBA, and previously served as the foundation’s zone one director.
In 2013, Wilkinson served as the 86th chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, only the sixth woman to serve in that position in the association’s history. She has filled a variety of leadership roles in the Philadelphia Bar Association since 1998 when she co-chaired the association’s Women in the Profession Committee. She was the bar association’s secretary, vice chancellor, chancellor-elect and a member of the bar association’s cabinet. She served on the Board of Governors for a total of 16 years. Wilkinson was the 2019 chair of the Federal Courts Committee. Wilkinson is the recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s 2019 Sandra Day O’Connor Award, which is presented to a woman attorney who has demonstrated superior legal talent, achieved significant legal accomplishments and has furthered the advancement of women in both the profession and the community.
Wilkinson was a member of the Executive Council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents from 2013 to 2016, and remains an active member of the NCBP Program and Diversity Committees. Wilkinson served on the boards of directors for the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP) and Philadelphia Defender Association. Wilkinson served on the board of the Forum of Executive Women from July 2014 until June 2016 and was the program chair. She has served on other boards in the community.
In 2019, Wilkinson received the C. Dale McClain Quality of Life/Balance Award, an annual award presented by the PBA Quality of Life Balance Committee that recognizes the substantial contributions made by Pennsylvania attorneys in identifying issues relevant to balancing the professional and personal lives of their peers, as well as the progress made in assisting attorneys in maintaining and improving their overall quality of life. She received the Gilbert Nurick Award from the PBA Conference of County Bar Leaders in 2014 for outstanding service to local bar associations. She was the recipient of the PBA Commission on Women in the Profession’s Anne X. Alpern Award in 2008 for her demonstrated leadership in the legal profession and professional impact on women in the law.
Wilkinson is a member of the Chester County Bar Association, Delaware County Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association.
Wilkinson is the vice-present of programs for the Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel, which presented her with the William J. O’Brien Award for achievements in legal advocacy and improvements in the legal profession in 2016.
She is a founding member of Villanova University’s School of Law J. Willard O’Brien Inn of Court, was its first woman president in 2004 and serves as an Honorary Member of the Inn. Wilkinson received the Inn’s J. Clayton Undercofler III Award for exemplary leadership, integrity and dedication to the rule of law in 2013.
A civil litigator with more than 30 years of experience, Wilkinson is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, defends complex cases involving employment, professional liability, construction, products, toxic tort, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Wilkinson also serves as a judge pro tem and special master in state and federal court. Wilkinson has been a member of Wilson Elser’s Women Attorneys Valued and Empowered (WAVE) initiative that focuses on advancement and well-being of women in the profession.
The Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly named her “Woman of the Year” in 2007-2008.
She is a summa cum laude graduate of Kean University, which named her “Alumni of the Year” in 2010. She received her juris doctorate from the Villanova University School of Law. In 2013, the Villanova Law Alumni Association named her the recipient of the Gerald Abraham Alumni Association Award for service to the law school. She is also a member of the Alumni Association Board of Advisors of the law school.