McNees, Lancaster Help Each Other Grow

Sunday, January 17, 2016 - 20:09

By Diane McNaughton, writer for MessageProse

The constant hum of a construction crane is the Muzak that the 23 attorneys of the Lancaster office of McNees Wallace and Nurick have grown accustomed to in the last few months.

For attorneys Crystal Clark, Joshua Cohen and Kendra McGuire, the hammers and heavy equipment make a beautiful noise.

It is the sound of progress.

"The noise is unavoidable," Cohen said good-naturedly, who chuckles at the “bunker of boxes” surrounding his desk and the close quarters along Manheim Pike off Route 283, by Chelsea Square Shopping Center.

Since Cohen and Clark joined the law firm, at 570 Lausch Lane, in the last few months, they and fellow newcomer Kiandra Bair have had to navigate an obstacle course as they convert a bank office into law firm space.

McGuire, the Member in Charge, said she is surprised by the pace but not by the amount of growth at the Lancaster office since its formation in 2005. The city is expanding, and top-notch legal talent with sophistication and down-home values is always in demand, she said.

The quality, breadth and depth of attorneys in McNees, Wallace and Nurick won it national recognition. In U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 edition of the “Best Law Firms” rankings, the Harrisburg-based firm earned Tier One designations in 18 areas of practice, including bankruptcy, corporate law, the environment, employment, health care, tax law and litigation.   

Most of the legal eagles in the modern office have deep Lancaster roots.  Many gained valuable experience in big-city law firms, then returned to the Dutch Country.

Clark, a graduate of the Dickinson School of Law, was formerly the solicitor for Lancaster County, gaining experience in all facets of the law and forming relationships with a vast network of businesspeople. She began her legal career with Thomas, Thomas & Hafer, LLP in Harrisburg.  A wife and mother of one who has immersed herself in Lancaster for four years, she has expertise in labor and employment issues and is active in Junior Achievement, which provides educational opportunities in financial literacy and STEM fields (science, technology, education and mathematics) .

In November, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania announced that she had been selected as its new chief counsel. This assignment will place her at the helm of litigation and legislative efforts to advocate on behalf of all 67 counties.

Having resided and practiced law in Lancaster for 24 years, Cohen has been a driving force behind scores of business and economic development projects, especially from his vantage point as past chairman of the EDC Finance Corp.  A graduate with honors of the Wharton School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, he clerked for the Israeli Supreme Court, began his legal career at Wolf Block in Philadelphia, and then brought those Ivy League and international skills back to central Pennsylvania.

McGuire fell in love with Lancaster as an undergraduate at Franklin & Marshall College. After earning her law degree at the University of Pittsburgh, Lancaster seemed like home to her, with its leafy streets and caring residents, and she returned in 1987.  She served as a clerk for a county judge and practiced law for the firm of Barley Snyder for 23 years before coming to McNees in 2011. Her husband is a Lancaster native and a retired law enforcement professional.

As the area has taken off, so has the firm.  Cohen, Clark and McGuire said they see growth in all sectors, including residential and commercial real estate, manufacturing and retail.

“It shows that businesses and individuals don't have to travel to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., or New York City for top legal talent,” McGuire said.

"We have been growing organically from within Lancaster," Cohen said.  "Lancaster was and is a very open, welcoming community."

The crane is making fast work of the office expansion.  The firm occupies the second floor and half of the third floor, but it will have the entire third floor soon.  It will expand to the first floor to take over the whole building when the current tenant vacates in mid-2016.

Cohen acknowledged the many fine law firms in Lancaster. But, he noted, “We are a central Pennsylvania firm that brings big-firm experience with a strong central Pennsylvania knowledge base that other firms have a hard time matching.”

Clark points to the growing business market, as evidenced by the expansion of Urban Outfitters in Gap, the Nordstrom fulfillment center, Spooky Nook Sports Complex, and two new shopping center projects, which include Whole Foods and Wegmans. As the former county solicitor, Clark was involved with the Keystone Opportunity Zone designation for Urban Outfitters and the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA) for Nordstrom.   

Cohen pointed to the Rock Lititz project, which "anchors a unique live event cluster” not anticipated for this area, along with tourist infusions from attractions such as Spooky Nook becoming the home of the U.S. National Women’s Field Hockey Team.  

Since McGuire came to McNees, it has added 14 attorneys, one specialist, and seven staff members.  It doubled the amount of space it occupies, and will soon triple it. McNees has a “commonality of values” with residents: intangibles such as work ethic, common sense, vision, and a never-quit attitude.    

McGuire said, “Josh is widely recognized as one of --if not the-- leading corporate business attorney in the marketplace. His academic credentials and practice experience are unparalleled.”

She noted that Clark, as the in-house lawyer for Lancaster County, has “local relationships that she can leverage with a much broader practice that spans the entire Commonwealth.”

McGuire predicts that the Lancaster office will continue to grow as it develops an even bigger and deeper legal dream team. 

And in true Lancaster County fashion, when the expansion is complete, McGuire said she will miss the plumbers, electricians, drywallers and painters who have become part of the McNees family when she comes to work.

“We are blessed to be in this fabulous location,’’ McGuire said. “We are not far from major metropolitan areas and our clients interact and do business in those areas, across the nation as well as overseas; negotiating with counsel in Germany or in Philadelphia or in New Holland – it’s just another day in the life of a McNees lawyer.”


McNees is a full-service law firm based in central Pennsylvania with more than 130 attorneys representing corporations, associations, institutions and individuals. The firm serves clients worldwide from offices in Harrisburg, Lancaster, State College and Scranton, PA; Columbus, OH; and Washington, D.C. McNees is also a member of the ALFA International Global Legal Network. | @McNeeslaw | LinkedIn