IN DICKINSON LAW’S BACKYARD, THE GENEROSITY OF MARTSON LAW OFFICES
The ties between the Carlisle community and Penn State’s Dickinson Law run deep. You see them in the many students clerking at nearby law firms, lunching at Brick and Market Cross Pub, attending events at the Carlisle Theatre, and making their homes in central Pennsylvania after graduation.
Those ties remain on constant display at Martson Law Offices, a firm located just a short walk from the Dickinson Law campus on High Street.
The firm, which offers everything from personal injury to criminal defense to family law, employs more than a dozen Dickinson Law alumni, including all but one of the partners. Shareholder Hubert Gilroy ’79 coaches the National Trial Moot Court Team at the school, and the firm recently participated in Cumberland County’s Twelfth Biennial Bench-Bar Conference held at the Law School.
How important is the Law School to Martson Law Offices? Gilroy notes that the entire office participated in a recent sustaining gift to Dickinson Law, “and the person who seconded that was the only partner who didn’t go to Dickinson Law — who observed how important it was to the other attorneys and the community, and how important it was to our office.”
In addition to making the sustaining donation to the Law School, the firm has encouraged other lawyers in Carlisle to do the same. At Gilroy’s urging, nearby Salzmann Hughes, PC, also endowed a scholarship through the Graduate Scholarship Matching Program.
Gilroy says he’s thrilled to support his alma mater.
“I’m in the community. I can hit the Law School with a rock from where I live. Like the U.S. Army War College and Dickinson College, the Law School is one of the shining jewels of the Carlisle community. It makes the area just a much better place to live and work,” Gilroy says. “Anything that supports our community supports us, so we want to make sure that the Law School is sustaining and the excellence associated with it is sustaining.”
Doing that means staying involved with his alma mater, but it’s not just Gilroy. Many lawyers at the firm maintain close ties to Dickinson Law.
“I’m six generations in Carlisle, Pennsylvania,” says Ivo Otto ’78, whose family was represented by Bill Martson, the firm’s founder. “My family heritage is dairy farming and school teachers. When I showed up, they decided we needed a lawyer in the family, so I became the family lawyer. And it’s continued, because my daughter just graduated, she passed the bar, so now I’ve got an understudy.”
Like her dad, Alexandra E. Otto went to Dickinson Law and now works for Martson Law Offices.
But the elder Otto says the firm’s involvement with Dickinson goes deeper than alumni connections. “We view ourselves as an important part of the town. We’ve all made our livings here,” says Otto. “We’re especially privileged because we live in a wonderful place where our clients are also people we know as friends, people we live with. It’s a blessing to pursue one’s profession in that context, to know your clients and have them know you.”
That, Otto explains, is why Martson Law Offices feels an obligation to the city and to the Law School.
“We’ve got a wonderfully charitable community of people who really want to reach out and help, and the Law School is a huge part of that,” he says.
Indeed, Gilroy has learned just how giving his colleagues and fellow Carlisle residents are through the many hats he wears beyond his office. He’s chairman of a $9 million YMCA capital campaign and has co-chaired the United Way campaign in the past. “Through my wife, Mary, and many of my clients, I have made a lot of connections in the community, and the scope of those connections helped facilitate fundraising opportunities,” says Gilroy.
In a turn of play, this member of the Dickinson Law Association and the Dickinson Law Board of Overseers was honored in 2014 by his classmates, who raised funds to name the Hubert X. Gilroy ’79 Clinic Courtroom and Classroom in the Law School’s clinic building. (“I got a little verklempt, as they say,” Gilroy remembers of the surprise dedication.)
With Dickinson Law such a touchstone for the firm, Otto expects the tight relationship between the Law School and Martson Law Offices to continue for a long time to come.
“It’s a fertile ground with a rich field of candidates for our firm right in our backyard,” he observes. “We pretty much draw exclusively from it. It’s wonderful to have educational institutes in town, and the Law School is part of it. It creates a level of sophistication we wouldn’t otherwise have.”