Still Going Strong

GARY PULEO, By Times Herald Staff, November 14, 2007

Still Going Strong

Leon Fox Jr., center, poses with his wife Lois during a party celebrating his 50 years as a lawyer last month. Pictured, from left to right: Jeff Matteo, Leon's son Craig Fox, Lois and Leon fax, and Sandy Romano.

Not many attorneys can say they�ve been practicing law for half a century. Even fewer can claim to have been with the same firm all those years.

But Leon Fox Jr. is one of them.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Leon Fox Sr., who set the groundwork for Fox and Fox Attorneys at Law 85 years ago, the avid sports fan and family man said his predecessor was an obvious role model for him.

The elder Fox � who was the first U.S. Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia � practiced law for 61 years.

At 75, his son has no time for the �R� word either. �I really love what I�m doing, which is why I�m still working and not retiring,� Fox said. �And I have my son Craig and wife Lois here with me, plus the others in the office have been here forever.�

Fox�s assistant, Kathleen Duke, came on board at age 17. Another office manager, Jennifer Dinan, has been with the firm for a decade.

�So we must be doing something right here,� Fox said, laughing.

Twenty-five years ago, a fire at the original building at 523 Swede St. forced a move to the current address, just a few blocks away at Swede and Airy streets. Fox fondly recalled his first job as a teenager, when iconic Times Herald sports editor Reds McCarthy hired him as a stringer.

�Everything except football and basketball,� Fox said.

�The paper had their own reporters to cover those. Even after such a long and esteemed career, he remembered McCarthy as one of his biggest influences.

�He had me writing these articles while going to school and I learned to make decisions and do things quickly. So in college, my writing skills were probably better than some other people�s.�

After graduating A.D. Eisenhower High School (Norristown High), Fox went on to Penn Law School, where he met his future wife, a University of Pennsylvania undergraduate. They�ve been married almost as long as he�s been practicing law.

�And she�s been my office manager for 35 years,� said Fox, whose specialties are family law, estates and personal injury.

Anyone hoping for the inside story on some of the well-known cases the firm has handled over the years is out of luck � that venerable client-lawyer privilege thing.

�That never stops, even after a person dies,� Fox said. �I can never discuss cases, from an ethical point of view.�

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently honored the Norristown native and three others as 50-year members.

�Every year somebody hits that mark now,� Fox said. Noting that he had played tennis the previous night for an hour and a half, he admitted that staying fit has been a long-time priority. A consistent gold and silver medal winner at the Pennsylvania Senior Games, Fox relies on those halfhour or 40-minute daily treadmill stints to keep him at the top of his game.

For further inspiration in aging well, he needs to look no further than one of his best buddies, Federal Judge Bill Ditter.For more than 50 years they�ve served as pitcher and catcher, respectively, for the annual Pennsylvania Bar Association softball games.

�We started back in 1956, and the guy is now 85 years old and still playing,� Fox said. �Even when there�s a 98-degree game, he says, �Leon, it�s too hot for you to pitch.� In the meantime he�s stooping behind the plate with his mask on and shin guards.�

Fox then offered the ultimate self-testimonial to a long and still vigorous run:

�If I had it to do over again, there would be no hesitancy about anything I�ve done.�