Pittsburgh law firm celebrates centennial, names new president

A downtown Pittsburgh-based law firm announced a change at the top.

Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky said on Friday that David Strassburger will become the firm’s president and managing shareholder on April 1.

Strassburger succeeds Alan Shuckrow who has held the post for the past five years.

SMGG, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is Pittsburgh’s 23rd largest law firm as ranked by the number of lawyers, which is 32. In addition to its downtown headquarters, it has offices in Beaver and Greensburg.

Shuckrow succeeded Strassburger’s uncle, E.J. Strassburger, as president. The firm subsequently combined the president and managing shareholder roles. E.J. Strassburger remains of counsel at SMGG. The family tradition is “something to live up to,” said the firm’s new president, who joined SMGG more than 20 years ago.

Strassburger will continue to chair the firm’s construction litigation and litigation group practices as SMGG focuses on growth on multiple fronts.

“We would love to grow our corporate, real estate and trust and estate practices,” Strassburger said. “We have great people here and lots of work that, hopefully, we can build upon to continue to serve clients in the western Pennsylvania community.”

Shuckrow, whose practice includes municipal and education law, civil litigation and real estate, has a busy agenda.

“I’m a major business generator,” he explained. “I have a lot of clients I want to spend time with. And David has asked me to lead our business development efforts, which I’m happy to do. And, in the transition period, I will serve as the firm’s legal counsel.”

Strassburger, 48, and Shuckrow, 50, have similar career tracks with some personal synergies as well.

“I started in the firm in 1997 — David’s father (Gene Strassburger) was running for superior court and I met David at a campaign event,” Shuckrow said. “I learned that David got married one week before I did, we both had our first child three weeks apart, we became partners at the same time in 2003 and became leaders at the same time in 2014 when I became president and David was appointed to the executive committee.”

Shuckrow believes Strassburger is the right person to shepherd SMGG into a new phase of growth.

“We’re ready to move forward faster,” Shuckrow said. “We’ve been in a transition period with the older generation and that can be painful. David will make forward-thinking decisions. He loves the firm and will do everything in its best interest. That’s what we need.”

For his part, Strassburger credits Shuckrow for progressive actions. SMGG’s Women’s Initiative launched in 2017 with the aim of promoting personal and professional advancement, recognizing and addressing women-specific issues, and increasing awareness for the value of women becoming leaders in businesses and within communities. Half of the firm’s lawyers are women, five of whom are shareholders.

“It has been a tremendous asset to cultivate and promote women into positions of authority,” Strassburger said. “They add value, a perspective on the practice that sometimes men just don’t see.”

But he also emphasized his predecessor’s people skills. “I think that Alan’s greatest strength is he’s slow to judge and quick to forgive, Strassburger said. “In a law firm that’s in a highly competitive, energetic and sometimes conflicting atmosphere, Alan’s ability to manage people in a way that makes them feel valued maximizes their potential.”