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Mackley calls it quits - one more time

January 08, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Hearing that Kenneth J. Mackley is retiring from the practice of law, some of his colleagues may remember the veteran attorney retired once before and it didn't take.

"I withdrew from the firm of Ottinger, Mackley and Gilbert in December 1995 but changed my mind after six weeks," Mackley said.

After he split from his former partnership to form a solo practice, Mackley was associated for the next three years with Roger Schlossberg, sharing his office at 134 W. Washington St.

Now 74, Mackley said he has had enough after 38 years of practice in Washington County. While he still has some active cases, he said he wouldn't be taking any new cases in 1999.

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Ironically, Mackley's former law partner, Howard W. Gilbert Jr., also retired at the end of 1998 after 33 years of practice in Washington County.

"I have mixed emotions about the end of my legal career," Mackley said. On one hand, Mackley said he will miss the intellectual challenge but the years have taken their toll.

"There is lots of scar tissue," Mackley said, noting some gripes with his chosen profession ... failings that he says have gotten worse.

"Litigitation has become too costly and sometimes a claimant with a meritorious cause loses to a party with deeper pockets," Mackley said.

Divorce especially is very expensive, Mackley said. "There are too many requests for documents."

Lynn Williams, president of the Washington County Bar Association, agreed with Mackley's feelings about the increase in documents and expenses but said often it is necessary to put forth the best effort for a client.

"If one party has the knowledge and documents and won't share, you must compel production of those documents," Williams said, noting that is especially true when parties can't agree on property issues.

She said she works with other attorneys so information can be shared amicably.

Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III agreed the flood of paperwork has been a thorn in the side of the state bar association for many years.

"We encourage litigants to resolve their differences through alternative methods before reaching the court stage," Wright said. Alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, is a growing field currently under study by a commission, Wright said.

The commission's finding will then be forwarded to the Maryland appellate courts.

Whether the situation improves or not will be of great interest to Mackley as he leaves the profession he first began 50 years ago.

Mackley graduated from Hagerstown High School when he was just 15. Entering Dickinson College at 16, he left for the military service in April 1943.

Three years later, he completed his undergraduate degree and the University of Maryland Law School. Mackley was admitted to the bar in 1949.

From there, his career took an interesting turn.

After a year of study in international law at the University of Zurich, Mackley re-entered the military as a first lieutenant judge advocate officer stationed briefly at the Pentagon.

For the next 18 months, Mackley was a trial attorney with the Second Armored Division in Germany.

When he returned to the states, Mackley worked as a contracting officer and then as division counsel for Fairchild.

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