Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin, 80, of King of Prussia, a prominent family and divorce lawyer who used her experience as a divorced woman to shepherd others as they opted out of failing marriages, died Oct. 9 of multiple myeloma at Lancaster General Hospital.
Ms. Gold-Bikin was visiting Bruce A. Martin, her husband of four months, to see about the house the two were building in New Holland when she became ill. Doctors diagnosed multiple myeloma and had begun treating the disease when she died, said her daughter, Sheryl Gold.
Ms. Gold-Bikin blazed a trail as a powerful force for those seeking a divorce because she had lived it and knew the obstacles. Just 18 when she married Roy Gold, she had four children before she was 25, and found herself a bored, lonely housewife.
"By the time three years and babies and diapers came, I started to look for something that would keep me sane," she told the Inquirer in 1984. She wanted a career. Her husband was supportive "as long as his dinner was on the table" each night, she said.
She graduated from Villanova University Law School in 1976 and got a divorce two months later. "My mother told me I was selfish," she told the Inquirer. "I worked my tail off going to law school and taking care of the kids."
By 1982, she joined the Norristown law firm of Pechner, Dorfman, Wolfe, Rounick & Cabot while juggling life as a single mother. Later, she became a partner in the Norristown law firm of Weber Gallagher and chair of the firm's Family Law Group.
By 1984, she had amassed 500 clients, many of them the wives of wealthy Main Line men. Initially, the wives were reluctant to divorce because they feared being on their own, she told the Inquirer.
She held herself up as someone who had achieved success alone. Surely, she told clients, they could make changes in their lives, too.
"I'm a role model for a lot of women." she said. "I think I'm living proof that women can do anything."
Ms. Gold-Bikin so empathized with clients that she hired counselors to provide group therapy as part of her divorce services.
But she also hoped to help build healthy marriages. When she became chair of the American Bar Association's Family Law Section in 1992, she created a television program to help high school students avert divorce by learning about conflict and negotiation.
She and family therapists devised a series of five broadcasts called Partners that were beamed by satellite dish to 44 Philadelphia area high schools in 1994 by the Massachusetts Corporation for Educational Telecommunications. Other schools bought the tapes, which were well-received by students.
Ms. Gold-Bikin was hailed by Weber Gallagher as a mentor and teacher. "She was a pioneer who always lifted up other female attorneys along the way," said firm chairman Andrew L. Indeck.
Friend and broadcast journalist Marciarose Shestack said: "She was iconic in that field, active in the Bar, an advocate and an activist."
Ms. Gold-Bikin received the KYW Women of Achievement Award and the Pennsylvania Honor Roll of Women Award. She also was given the Eric Turner Memorial Award from the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association for her exceptional work.
Born in New York City, Ms. Gold-Bikin graduated from public high school there. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1973 from Albright College, which later bestowed on her an honorary doctor of laws degree.
She never retired. "My mom literally worked until the day she passed away," said Gold, her daughter, an entertainment lawyer for Universal Music Group. "This was her passion, her whole life. It was about helping people."
When not practicing law, she traveled, enjoyed her family, and collected old marriage licenses.
She was married to Roy Gold, Bruce Bikin, Martin H. Feldman, Steve Fine, David O. Smith, and Martin. Of the six, only Bikin and Martin survive.
In addition, to her daughter Sheryl, she is survived by children Russell Gold, Lisa Untracht, and Michael Gold; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.