Looking for the next generation of family lawyers? They are smart, eager, fresh and cost much less than their elders’ going rate of $450 an hour and up. Here are 10 of the best, under 40, as identified by their peers.
Erik Arena, 37, is described by colleagues as “fearless in the courtroom” and a formidable advocate. Dragga Hannon Hessler & Wills; 301-340-9090
Jessica Blumberg, 30, was a law clerk to Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Callahan. The youngest on this list, she is now climbing the ranks among the veterans at well-stocked Lerch Early & Brewer; 301-657-0742
Aindrea Conroy, 34, has clerked for federal and state judges, and is now being trained by Jack Quinn, one of the best all-around attorneys in Maryland. Ethridge, Quinn, Kemp, McAuliffe, Rowan & Hartinger; 301-762-1696
Casey Weinberg Florance, 35, is often cited by colleagues for her skill and maturity. Florance has co-chaired the New Practitioners Section of the Montgomery County bar. Stein Sperling Bennett De Jong Driscoll; 301-838-3318
Anne Grover, 38, is considered one of the toughest and most determined litigators among her peers. Joseph Greenwald & Laake; 240-399-7896
Sheila Kadagathur, 39, worked as a “Kids Expert” for Nickelodeon before attending law school at the University of Chicago. In family law, she’s become an advocate for children. Hostetter Strent; 301-657-0010
Sarah Mancinelli, 35, is under the tutelage of Washington super lawyer Sanford Ain. She worked on behalf of Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, in his highly publicized divorce. Ain & Bank; 202-530-3355
Megan Rosan, 35, practiced her trial skills as a moot court champion while in law school at the University of Maryland. She has enhanced her reputation since with a formidable courtroom presence, peers say. Bulman, Dunie, Burke & Feld; 301-656-1177
Hope Stafford, 38, is a rare divorce lawyer with a degree in engineering from the University of Virginia. Delaney McKinney; 301-913-5236
Rebekah Sullivan, 33, has already negotiated a highly publicized settlement in the divorce of Kathleen Biden, former wife of Hunter Biden. Since 2011, she has practiced in Maryland for Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik; 202-331-7522
Nearly all divorce lawyers charge clients for an initial interview. A diminishing number offer a free half-hour consultation before starting the meter. Most charge their full hourly rate.
One reason: A Maryland State Bar Association rule states that once you have interviewed an attorney, and presumably revealed at least one significant secret, your spouse can’t hire that person. So theoretically, a spouse could go office to office and disqualify all the overly expensive or difficult attorneys that he or she might not want to have on the other side. Charging some fee discourages the practice, divorce lawyers say.
While the practice still occurs, it is not as big a problem as it was. “I just don’t think there are as many junkyard dogs [who you are trying to disqualify] as there [were] back when I first started,” says Jonathan Dana of Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell. He says he assumes the best when someone comes in for an interview, even if they have already interviewed a few other lawyers. “I think many potential clients are just smart consumers, and they want to see different styles and get multiple opinions before they settle on the one,” Dana says.
Kim Isaac Eisler is the author of four books about lawyers and has been writing about Washington-area divorce lawyers since 1990.