Press Release

Wilson Elser Philadelphia Partner Kathleen Wilkinson to Receive American Inns of Court Third Circuit Professionalism Award

New York – May 3, 2023 – National law firm Wilson Elser announced today that Kathleen Wilkinson, partner in the firm’s Philadelphia office, has been selected to receive the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award in the Third Circuit. 

Ms. Wilkinson is being honored for her commitment to ethics, civility and professionalism. Her husband, Thomas G. Wilkinson Jr., also was selected to receive the Professionalism Award, based on his work, including serving as a past President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Two attorneys or judges are not always selected to receive Professionalism Awards in the same year.

The Professionalism Award is given to a lawyer or judge “whose life and practice display sterling character and unquestioned integrity, coupled with ongoing dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession on the rule of law.” Candidates for the award are nominated through a circuit-wide open call and selected by a panel of representatives from the Third Circuit and the American Inns of Court. 

Ms. Wilkinson is a founding member and the first woman President of the Villanova J. Willard O’Brien Inn of Court, which nominated her for this Award. The nomination letter was written by past Inn President Dale G. Larimore and Inn President Judge J. Michael Green, and supported by Villanova Law School Dean Mark C. Alexander; distinguished members of the bench and bar; Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Debra Todd; The Hon. D. Brooks Smith, immediate past Chief Judge of the Third Circuit; Third Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell; The Hon. Susan Gantman, President Judge Emeritus of the Pennsylvania Superior Court; in addition to other trial and appellate judges from state and federal courts in Pennsylvania and bar leaders around the state, including Pennsylvania Bar President Jay Silberblatt and Philadelphia Bar Chancellor Marc J. Zucker.

In her nomination letter, Chief Justice Todd said she has met many attorneys throughout Pennsylvania, and “None are more visible and involved than Kathleen and Tom. Some attorneys are known for their excellence in the practice of law. Others are known for their service to the legal community,” the chief justice wrote, “It is a rare attorney who is known for both. Kathleen and Tom are two of the attorneys in that coveted category.”

Judge Smith wrote in his nomination letter, “Nothing could give me greater satisfaction these days than expressing my enormous respect – and affection – for Tom and Kathleen Wilkinson. … No two people have contributed more to the organized bar, both statewide in Pennsylvania and in the Philadelphia area, than the amazing ‘Wilkinson team.’”

Carolyn O’Connor, Regional Managing Partner of Wilson Elser’s Madison, New Jersey, office and chair of the firm’s women’s initiative, Women Attorneys Valued and Empowered (WAVE), wrote a nomination letter on behalf of the firm. “I have considered Kathleen one of my ‘go-to’ people for more than 30 years.” She adds, “Kathleen’s legal skills can receive no higher accolade from me than to place my most coveted clients in her good hands to defend their matters in Pennsylvania.” 

In their letters, nominators noted that during her term as PBA President, Ms. Wilkinson “spearheaded wellness in the legal profession, professionalism, diversity and inclusion and led the PBA House of Delegates to adopt the ABA’s Seven Point Wellness Pledge.” She received the C. Dale McClain Quality of Life/Balance Award from the PBA in 2018 for her overall work in “identifying issues relevant to balancing the professional and personal lives of Pennsylvania attorneys,” they wrote.

Licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Ms. Wilkinson is a civil litigator who handles complex litigation in state and federal courts, including employment, products liability and professional liability.

The Award will be presented on May 10, 2023, during the Third Circuit Bench Bar conference in Philadelphia. Kathleen also will attend the American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence Dinner at the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C. on October 28, 2023.

Ms. Wilkinson is the immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the 2013 Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. She has received numerous recognitions for mentoring other women lawyers, including the Sandra Day O’Connor Award from the Philadelphia Bar, the Anne X. Alpern Award from the Pennsylvania Bar, and most recently was named to the City & State Pennsylvania Law Power 100 list and 2022 Power Women of the Main Line. In 2014 she received the Gilbert Nurick Award in recognition of her contributions and leadership in heading the Philadelphia Bar Association and creating a leadership program for young and diverse attorneys. In 2022, the Herbert Cohen Chapter of American Inns of Court awarded her the “Legal Excellence and Professionalism Award.”

For more information about Ms. Wilkinson, go to

Kathleen D. Wilkinson

About Wilson Elser Philadelphia’s office

Philadelphia, PA - Office

About Wilson Elser

Wilson Elser is the preeminent defense litigation firm in the United States. At any given time, our more than 1,000 attorneys are engaged in some 100,000 defense and coverage matters, with many defending clients in various local, state and federal courts. Indeed, over more than four decades, our litigation, coverage and trial lawyers have gained a reputation for taking on and prevailing in the most challenging and technical cases, frequently “parachuting in” to assume unresolved matters from other law firms. Our success also derives from winning on our clients’ terms and rigorously adhering to their guidelines. We are ranked 105 in the Am Law 200 and 57th in the National Law Journal’s NLJ 500. For more information, go to

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