About the Author


Northeastern University School of Law
Boston, MA

Boston University
Boston, MA
B.A. in Political Science (magna cum laude)

London School of Economics
London, England
Program in political science through the Institute of European Studies

Oberlin Conservatory
Oberlin, OH

New York


Berner Klaw & Watson LLP/Berner & Klaw
Philadelphia, PA
Founding partner.  Practice includes all aspects of family law, divorce and custody mediation, and representation of plaintiffs in personal injury cases arising from domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

Law Offices of Joni J. Berner
Philadelphia, PA
Associate to solo practitioner.  Practice included all aspects of family law.

Women Against Abuse Legal Center
Philadelphia, PA
Litigation Coordinator. Staff attorney in charge of protection from abuse, custody and appellate litigation for public interest organization serving victims of domestic violence.

Victim Services Agency
New York, NY
Assistant General Counsel. In-house counsel in charge of training, legislative and policy work on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

Law Offices of Phyllis Gelman
New York, NY
Associate to solo practitioner. Practice included employment discrimination, civil rights and family law.


Pennsylvania Bar Association, Family Law Section

Philadelphia Bar Association
Co-Chair, Family Law Section Committee on the Legal Rights of Unmarried Cohabitants
Member, Board of Governors
Chair, Family Law Section
Officer, Family Law Section
Co-Chair, Women’s Rights Committee
Co-Chair, Family Law Section Domestic Violence Committee
Member, Commission of Judicial Selection

Guardian Ad Litem
Pro Bono Counsel

Temple University, Beasley School of Law (Adjunct Professor)
The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University
Villanova University School of Law
Habitat for Humanity
American Bar Association Pro Bono Conference
Economics of Justice Conference
University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work
Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program
Homeless Advocacy Project
Chestnut Hill Hospital Parenting Program
Philadelphia Probation Department
Temple University School of Law
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence


Pennsylvania Bar Institute Continuing Legal Education

  • Fundamentals of Family Law
  • Family Law Updates
  • Philadelphia Domestic Relations Practice
  • Family Law Potpourri
  • Symposium on the Family in the 21st Century
  • Bench-Bar Conference
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section Conference
  • Primer on Family Law
  • General Practitioner’s Update
  • Government Intervention in Parenting Decisions

Joni J. Berner & Margaret Klaw, “Prenuptial Agreements.” The Impact of Domestic Violence on Your Legal Practice:  A Lawyer’s Handbook, Eds. Margaret Drew, et al. (American Bar Association 1996, 2004).

Margaret Klaw, “Family Law Unraveled.” The Philadelphia Lawyer Magazine (Spring 2011).

Margaret Klaw,  “Relationship Between Distribition of Assets and Award of Alimony.” Slicing Up the Pie: Property Distribution in Pennsylvania, Ed. David L. Ladov (Pennsylvania Bar Institute Press 2010).

Margaret Klaw, “A New Direction for Private Contracts Regarding Child Support and Care?” Upon Further Review, Philadelphia Bar Association (December 2008).

Margaret Klaw & Mary A. Scherf, Philadelphia Bar Association: “Grandparent Custody Rights: Best Interest of the Child or Interference with a Parent’s Prerogative,” The Philadelphia Lawyer Magazine (Spring 2000).

Margaret Klaw & Megan Watson, Philadelphia Bar Association, Cover Story:  “Whose Child is This? Second-Parent Adoption in Pennsylvania,” The Philadelphia Lawyer Magazine (Fall 2001).

Board Member, Settlement Music School, Germantown Branch (current)
Volunteer, Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program (current)
Arbitrator, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (current)
Board Member, Equality Advocates Pennsylvania
Board Member, First Person Arts
Board Member, National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women
Coach, Mock Trial Team, Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts

First Judicial District of Pennsylvania’s Pro Bono Roll of Honor for exemplary pro bono work, 2012, 2013
Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers™, Inaugural Edition 2011
Super Lawyer 2006-2014*
Citizens Bank Pro Bono Award (to Berner, Klaw & Watson LLP) 2009
Philadelphia Bar Foundation
Brennan Award (to Berner & Klaw) 2004 and 2005
Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program
Chancellor’s Award (to Berner & Klaw) 2002
Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program
Philadelphia Family-Friendly Award (to Berner & Klaw) 2000
Philadelphia Bar Association

*Chosen by nominations from PA lawyers, research of periodicals, databases and interviews.  All nominees’ background and experience are researched as well.