Lawyer Limelight: Marion Munley

Marion Munley’s inspiration for becoming a trial lawyer came from her family. From an early age, her grandmother, the Honorable Marion L. Munley, taught her that the laws are meant to protect everyone equally. Her parents started and grew the family’s law practice, Munley Law. Munley, who graduated Temple University School of Law like her father, has a long record of multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for injured plaintiffs, many of them in truck accident cases.

Lawdragon: Can you talk about why you wanted to join the family business and represent plaintiffs?

Marion Munley: Our family has a long tradition in public service and law, and from an early age, I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer. My grandmother was one of very few women to serve in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and she also served as its first female Secretary. She explained to me how the legislature made the laws, and lawyers and judges upheld them.  My grandmother believed that everyone was equal in the eyes of the law and that it was important to ensure that everyone be treated equally and fairly. She was both an inspiration and role model to me and to countless other women throughout Pennsylvania.

My parents also greatly influenced my decision to become a lawyer. My father started our family’s law practice in 1959, and my mother shaped the business, turning it into one of the leading personal injury firms in Pennsylvania.  They taught me the importance of standing up for the injured, the powerless, the voiceless, and that is the philosophy behind what we do. We stand up for the injured so that everyone can have equal access to the justice system.

LD: What do you like most about this type of work?

MM: The most rewarding aspect of my work is knowing I have somehow made a difference in the lives of people who have suffered a terrible injury or loss. We help them pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. In the process, they become part of our family. Knowing that we have obtained some measure of justice for these people is what motivates me and makes all the hard work well worth it.

LD: Is there a recent achievement that you wish to discuss?

MM: Becoming the first woman to chair the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group was exciting for me, not just as a personal achievement but also because it signifies that more women are taking on leadership roles in a field previously dominated by men.

LD: Can you tell us a bit more about progress you've seen by women lawyers in cases like trucking accidents? Are you seeing significantly more women now handling those suits compared to earlier in your career?

MM: When I graduated from law school it was unusual for a woman to be first chair on a trial for any catastrophic case. We’ve come a long way; about half of law school graduates are women. But, a recent ABA study shows that in 79% of tort cases the lead litigator is still a man. There’s certainly room for improvement.

In 1996, I became the second woman in Pennsylvania to be board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Becoming the first woman Chair of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group was a major milestone, and I’m definitely not alone as a woman in trucking law. In fact, the next person in line to chair the group is a woman as well.

LD: Is there a specific reason why you chose Temple over another law school?

MM: When it came time to choose a law school, Temple was where my father and uncle had gone and it was where I wanted to go. I was fortunate to attend Temple Law School and received a great education. I still am an active alumna.

LD: Is there a matter or client in your career that stands out as a “favorite” or one that is more memorable for certain reasons?

MM: I had the honor of representing the family of a highly decorated Marine who was killed in a trucking accident. He was a hero, a husband, and the father of two little boys. My client, his wife, showed incredible strength in the wake of such a tragedy, and it was a privilege to fight on her behalf.

LD: What do you try to “sell” about your firm to potential recruits – how is it unique?

MM: One of the things that makes our firm unique is that we are a family firm. Munley Law was started by my father 60 years ago; following their example, my siblings and I all became lawyers. This “family-first” approach transcends to how we run our firm and how we treat our clients. Some of our staff have been with us for 20, 30, 40 years. And when we take on a case, we work as a team.

LD: What do you do for fun when you’re outside the office?

MM: Reading mystery books, golfing, spending time with my husband, Matt, our sons, Jack and Matt, and our dog, Dandy.

LD: If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be doing now?

MM: If I didn’t become a lawyer, I would have liked to be a journalist.