Lawyer Raises the Bar
March 15th, 2009 | Allan M. Kluger
Janine Ungvarsky, March 15, 2009
Attorney Allan Kluger has some advice for young attorneys: “You're in a wonderful profession — don't only look for the monetary reward. If you do a good job for your clients and you give back to your community, success will come.”
Kluger knows what he's talking about. It’s the way he’s lived for more than eight decades, a lifestyle that brought him success with a law firm he helped establish and joy in his family life. It’s also brought him dozens of awards and accolades. The most recent is also among the most special: Kluger was last year’s recipient of the prestigious President’s Award from the Wilkes-Barre Law and Library Association, an award given only occasionally to someone who consistently demonstrates exemplary service and leadership. The award gives recognition to a seemingly endless list of groups, boards and associations that have benefited from Kluger’s time and talent.
Yet when Kluger is asked about his community involvement, it quickly becomes apparent that instead of feeling that he has blessed his community, he is the one who feels blessed.
“How fortunate I was to receive that Bar Association Award. To be recognized by your peers, that has to turn you on,” Kluger said. “But I’ve been so fortunate. I’m in a job that I love, I have a wonderful wife who is even more involved in community service than I ever was, my children are successful and supportive — how fortunate and blessed I am. If success is getting what you want and happiness is wanting what you get, then I’ve been very lucky. And it’s our community that has given me this opportunity. We live in a wonderful community with so many opportunities to give back. I’m just so grateful to everyone, especially Susie and my children and Divine Providence.”
Kluger credits the patience and support of his wife and three children for allowing him to serve on so many fundraising committees and community boards over the years. “I’m sure I cheated them over the years because I was involved in so much,” he said, “but they know I loved what I do.” He doesn’t use the past tense when speaking of his work and community involvement because even as he passes his 81st birthday, Kluger continues a full work schedule. Even when he spends time at his second home in Florida, Kluger handles calls from his legal clients — using a special phone set up that prevents callers from incurring long distance charges.
“I answer every phone call and message, and I call my office several times a day when I’m not there,” he said. While he loves his chosen career, Kluger wasn’t always sure what he wanted to do. After graduating from Wyoming Seminary and Amherst College, Kluger said he knew he wanted to go to graduate school. He just wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. “I decided going to law school would be a good choice because even if I didn’t like law and didn’t want to practice, the knowledge from law school would be helpful in business or banking. But I fell in love with law when I started to practice. I’m just a lucky guy who happened into a profession I love.”
Kluger was such an advertisement for law as a profession that two of his three children followed him into the practice. Son Joseph is part of his father’s firm while daughter Elizabeth practices in Washington, D.C. His third child, Lawrence, is in publishing.
“I didn’t encourage my children to practice law and I didn’t think they would pick it because they saw all the hours involved,” Kluger said. “I felt pretty good with their choices, though, because maybe it means I wasn’t such a bad father, that I didn’t cheat them as much as I thought. I did tell them all, though, that no matter what career they chose, they have to give back to the community.”
It’s something Kluger is so passionate about that it even directed his decisions about what type of law to practice. While he’s done considerable corporate work — including work for every newspaper this area has had since he set up shop — and has always done estate work, Kluger never practiced trial law. “I didn’t enjoy trying cases and it takes a lot of time away from other activities,” he said.
Instead, he gave his time to a whole host of community boards and charities, from the Community Chest that preceded the United Way to local school and corporate boards.
“The United Way is just a simply wonderful solution, asking folks to contribute to a range of charities,” he said. “I’ve been involved with them for 50 years. After I started with what became the United Way, I got involved in other things, like the Chamber of Commerce and helping to bring new industry into the area. I’m so grateful I was involved in that.” Knowing how important his own education was to his success inspired Kluger to fundraise for academic institutions like King’s College while his spirit of community led him to say yes when asked to help places like the Kirby Center and Wyoming Free Library.
“I never mind fundraising when it’s for a charity I believe in,” he said. “When you believe in an organization, it’s pretty hard to say you won’t ask for money for them. And I do it because I know I’m doing the right thing.”
It was also the right thing for Kluger to agree to serve on a number of bank boards over the years. “I liked serving on bank boards. My father worked with the First National Bank of Wyoming for 63 years and died in the bank,” he said.
“Looking back, I sometimes wonder where I found the time,” he said. “But I flunked one course and that was sleep. I’m in my office every day of the week at 4:30 in the morning, even when I’m in Florida.”
Now that he’s entering his ninth decade, Kluger does take a little more time to relax. He enjoys reading, especially history and biographies, and was recently enjoying “American Lion,” a biography of Andrew Jackson. And the former football and soccer player still plays tennis. “I still play a decent game, even at my age,” Kluger laughed.
Though he teasingly wonders if people are comfortable taking estate advice from someone older than they are, Kluger said he thinks he’s figured out when it will be time to quit.
“As you get older, fear is that you won’t know when to stop,” he said. “I’ve figured out that when you think you know the answer but nobody asks the questions, then I’ll know it’s time to stop. But they keep calling and they keep asking, so I guess it’s not time yet.”
About Allan M. Kluger
- 81 years of age
- Native of Wyoming, Pa.
- Graduate of Wyoming Seminary(1945) and Amherst College (1949). He earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School (1953)
- Married for 48 years to the former Susie Kline
- Father of three children: Attorney Elizabeth Kluger Cooper, Attorney Joseph E. Kluger and Lawrence M. Kluger.
- Founding partner of the law firm HKQ Law, PC, headquartered in Kingston with offices in Scranton
- Is a member of the Wyoming Valley Airport Authority, serves on the Board of Trustees of Temple Israel, and is a director of AAA Mid-Atlantic Northeastern Pennsylvania. Director Emeritus of the Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry and the Bloomsburg University Foundation. Has served on the boards of the United Way, the Ethics Institute of Northeast Pennsylvania, the Wyoming Free Library, the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Federation of Greater Wilkes-Barre, the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. Founding member of the Luzerne Foundation board. Former president of Seligman J. Strauss Lodge B'nai B'rith and the Wilkes Business Club and served as the campaign chairman for the United Jewish Appeal.
- Professional associations include the State Ethics Commission; as Chairman of the Board of Luzerne Bank; and as director on the boards of Mellon Bank Northeast Region, First National Bank of Wyoming Valley, United Penn Bank, Continental Bancorp, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, the Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund and the Bertles Can Company
- 2008 Recipient of the Wilkes-Barre Law & Library Association's President's Award, given occasionally to a Bar Association member who has demonstrated exemplary service and leadership
- Recipient of the B'nai B'rith Outstanding Citizens Award, the First Annual Ethics Award given by Ethics Institute of Northeastern Pennsylvania and, along with his wife, Susie, received the first Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award presented by the Greater Pocono Northeast Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. Has also received the Wyoming Seminary Distinguished Service Award, the Boy Scouts Distinguished Citizen Award, and the Anti-Defamation League B'nai B'rith Distinguished Community Service Award.