In January 2021, Elizabeth Crawford, JD ’12, became managing partner at Stern & Crawford, PC. Crawford, a Chicago native, is an accomplished trial lawyer. After graduating from Kline School of Law with honors, she clerked for a Justice in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and then joined Kline & Specter PC. There, Crawford dedicated herself to her clients, eventually working her way up to become a partner in 2019.
As part of Kline Law’s ongoing series “Alumnae Rising,” Crawford answered a few questions about her journey to becoming a partner and her experience at Kline Law.
Why did you choose to study at Kline Law?
I knew I wanted to be a lawyer when I was an undergraduate psychology major working with children with behavioral issues. I understood those issues were secondary to larger issues relating to their environments and being victims of domestic violence. Rather than punishing the children, I believed it was better to try and fix the system. I specifically chose the Kline School of Law because I believed it would be a hands-on experience with well-qualified professors who cared about the professional development of their students. It was a newer school with the resources of a law school that had been around for decades—with professors previously teaching at some of the best schools around, including Harvard, University of Pennsylvania and Temple University.
Was becoming a partner your goal at graduation/early in your career? If so, what steps did you take to meet that goal?
Yes. I think making partner is often one of those professional milestones that law students and lawyers seek to achieve in their career. I knew I wanted to become a partner when I began at Kline & Specter PC after finishing my clerkship on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In order to meet that goal, I worked very hard—I worked early in the morning, late at night, on the weekend, and on vacation. I learned from my mentor and now partner, Andy Stern, about how to become a trial lawyer both on paper and in the courtroom. I helped to get results for the clients; prior to my promotion to partnership, I, along with Andy Stern, had generated close to $200 million in verdicts and settlements. In October 2019, I tried a case as lead counsel where I was the only lawyer for the plaintiff in the Courtroom in Montgomery County in a challenging medical malpractice case where no offers were made and a case that was marked for the defense. I won the case and achieved a $4.7 million verdict. I was designated partner the next day by Kline & Specter. I then became managing partner in February 2021 when Andy and I opened our own firm, Stern & Crawford PC. Managing partner was a role I had been doing without the title for the last several years in our “firm within a firm” at Kline & Specter and now I have the official title.
What advice would you give a student or alumni interested in becoming a partner?
I would give the advice of working hard, making yourself invaluable to the lawyers you are working with, and learning from a mentor who will help guide you professionally in your career.
What are the main skill sets you need to thrive as a partner?
You need to be hard-working, vigilant, willing to learn and accept constructive criticism, and a team player.
What has been your experience in practicing your area law?
I think the relationships with the clients are the most rewarding—being able to fight for them and give them justice and being a voice for them. I am so fortunate to have these relationships with these resilient people that have lost loved ones, became severely injured themselves, or have children who have been severely injured. They encourage me to be a better lawyer but more importantly, to cherish the relationships I have with my family and loved ones and health in general including my amazing two young girls and husband.
Now that you’ve made partner, what’s next on your horizon?
I made partner in 2019 at Kline & Specter—so next for me was managing partner at our own firm. I plan on now just focusing on continuing to get results and justice for our clients, continuing to build lifelong relationships with them and spending quality time with my family.