Wills, Trusts, Estates & Business Law Since 1879

Where there is a will there is a way


History of Gordon & Ashworth, P.C. By Brian A. Gordon

The practice of Gordon & Ashworth, P.C. has been in continual existence since 1879. The firm began as the Law Offices of William J. Smythe. The firm was originally located at the Penfield Building at 1328 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. Original volumes of the Pennsylvania State Reports, stamped with the firm’s name, pre-date this period. Older files reveal that the firm practiced, much as it does today, in the areas of wills, trusts and estates, real estate and business law. Mr. Smythe was later joined in practice by James S. Ashworth of Drexel Hill, PA.

In the mid 1920’s, my grandfather, Samuel Gordon, the son of a painter and wallpaper hanger obtained a job with the firm as a legal secretary after attending Pierce Junior College at Broad and Pine Streets in Philadelphia. Samuel Gordon then studied law at Temple University Law School while continuing to work for the firm. Upon graduation, Samuel Gordon was invited to join Smythe and Ashworth in the practice of law.

Correspondence from firm archives shows the law firm was once named “The Law Offices of Ashworth and Gordon” after the names of its two principal attorneys. Upon the death of James S. Ashworth in 1934, Samuel Gordon succeeded to the practice.

A Bill of Sale dated December 1, 1935, between Samuel Gordon and Etta B. Ashworth, the widow of James S. Ashworth, records the transfer of “the contents of the law offices, No’s 315, 316, 317 and 318 Penfield Building, 1328 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, including all books, office furniture, clocks, pictures and equipment of every kind, character and description . . . unto Samuel Gordon, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns.” The clock, referred to in the Bill of Sale remains part of the firm today.

Leonard B. Gordon, born August 4, 1921, joined his father in practice in 1948. His was the first graduation class of the University of Pennsylvania Law School after World War II. Leonard Gordon worked with his father for eight years from age 27 to age 35 until his father’s death in 1956. Leonard Gordon maintained an extremely successful practice over the next forty years. During that time he served as corporate counsel to Barthco International, Inc., a world-wide customs broker and freight forwarder. Leonard Gordon also served as counsel to Horizon House, Inc. a non-profit provider of group homes and other services to people with mental disabilities. Leonard’s work included significant contract and personal injury litigation as well as substantial pro bono matters in the area of civil rights and civil liberties. Leonard practiced law with other fine lawyers including Alan Kauffman, Michael J. Disette, Marvin Gould, and Michael J. McCaney.

In 1985 Leonard was joined in practice by his son William and in the Fall of 1987 I joined him in practice. Initially, I made a commitment to work with my father for two years. After two years, I discovered that that I enjoyed the range of work so much that I decided to stay. Since 1987 I have continued the work of the firm in the areas of drafting wills, trusts, estate administration, business law and litigation matters.

In 2005, after co-counseling several cases with Michael S. Durst, he agreed to serve in the capacity as “of counsel” to the firm. Michael Durst and I continue to carry on the firm’s tradition of providing dedicated and effective representation, complete fidelity to the client, attention to detail and obtaining excellent results.