Split Decisions | Page 3 of 3

Split Decisions

We canvassed people in the know to come up with the top 25-plus divorce lawyers in the area

| Published:

Bryan Renehan

Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein Lastra & Bouquet, Gaithersburg
301-869-1700 | www.brpfamilylaw.com

Bryan Renehan, 66, toiled for many years under the shadow of Jeffrey Greenblatt, his controversial former partner who is now with Joseph, Greenwald & Laake in Rockville. Though Greenblatt’s tough-guy reputation is no longer part of the firm, Renehan wants clients to know the firm is still the one to hire for tough cases involving probable litigation. Renehan has a well-established reputation for keeping up with divorce-related technology. His courtroom presentations use the most current computer-generated graphics and displays. In addition, Renehan is second to none in understanding how to scour for incriminating evidence that might be hidden in a hard drive or a “cloud.”

Lori Rothfeld

Karp, Frosh, Wigodsky & Norwind, Rockville
301-948-3800 | www.karpfrosh.com

Lori Rothfeld, 51, is the family law specialist at Karp Frosh, a firm known for litigation and personal law. Rothfeld has a reputation as a solid litigator—she once worked for the elite downtown firm of BakerHostetler—but partners at Karp Frosh emphasize that her role as a divorce lawyer is noncombative. Says one close associate, “When people call and ask me for a pit bull, I tell them not to hire Lori. But if they want to get through this with civility and a way to keep their family from going through a crisis that results in therapy, nonstop Valium and anger that is self-destructive, Lori is the right choice.” 

Darcy Shoop

Darcy A. Shoop LLC, Rockville
301-340-7950 | www.darcyshoop.com

A former singer and animal rights activist, Darcy Shoop, 54, is the pied piper of Montgomery County’s collaborative divorce movement. Nearly a decade ago, Shoop became convinced that there was a better way to get divorced than through endless conflict. To show she wasn’t just talk, Shoop quit her job at a high-powered county law firm and burned the business cards of private investigators she had hired. She’s now devoted to the cause of civilized divorce. Colleagues in the collaborative divorce movement say Shoop retains the skills of a top divorce lawyer even as she promotes the process, which involves clients consulting divorce coaches and counselors to help deal with the emotional fallout. If the case is not resolved amicably, new lawyers must be hired, as required by the collaborative agreement.

Howard Soypher

Paley Rothman, Bethesda
301-951-9333 | www.paleyrothman.com

A decadelong protégé of Glenn Cooper, Howard Soypher, 42, is regarded as one of the top family law practitioners in Montgomery County. His typical cases involve complicated business valuations or tracing forensic issues. A notorious early riser, Soypher leaves his home in Frederick County before 7 each morning, and often schedules predawn meetings with clients, conveniently before they have to be at work. Soypher is a tough negotiator, willing and confident enough to face any county attorney in the courtroom. “I believe that my counterparts know that we frequently try complex financial cases for our clients and are well prepared in doing so,” he says.

Scott Strickler and Geoffrey Platnick

Shulman Rogers, Potomac
301-230-5200 | www.shulmanrogers.com

Scott Strickler, 52, and Geoffrey Platnick, 44, aren’t going to win many popularity contests. Opponents openly deride Strickler and Platnick, his ever-present sidekick, as “Mutt and Geoff,” based on the old comic strip characters. Neither man minds a bit. In fact, they relish their notoriety. Platnick counts chess and other games of strategy among his passions and views the practice of family law much like a chess game. Strickler is the straight man who delights in confounding opponents and admits that he has handled divorces that have been planned as many as three years before clients actually left their spouses. With Montgomery County judges prone to split property evenly among divorcing couples, Strickler says he loves to find ways to force opponents to pay up to avoid embarrassing disclosures.  

Robin Taub

Paradiso, Taub, Sinay, Owel & Kostecka, Bethesda
301-986-7900 | www.familylawattys.com

Robin Taub, 54, is on her way to becoming a Bethesda institution. She has emerged as the lawyer of choice for a procession of professional athletes. She has done custody work for several NBA stars and various NFL players—among them retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Taub says about 40 percent of her divorce practice is collaborative in nature, and the rest involves mediation or negotiation. “If you can listen to people, you can cut to the chase pretty quickly,” says Taub, who has become one of the area’s leading adherents of collaborative law. “It gives people a chance to move on to the next stage of their lives,” she says.

Michele Zavos and Eva Juncker

Zavos Juncker Law Group, Silver Spring
301-562-8220 | www.zavosjunckerlawgroup.com

The rapid-fire changes in laws regarding same-sex marriage have energized the practice of these Silver Spring partners. Michele Zavos, 62, was the winning lawyer in a landmark 2012 case that dealt with the right of a same-sex couple to get divorced in Maryland, which at the time did not recognize same-sex marriage. Zavos has considerable expertise in handling the region’s laws concerning same-sex divorce. Before joining Zavos, Eva Juncker, 38, practiced in Virginia for nearly a decade and is familiar with the laws of D.C., Maryland and Virginia concerning same-sex marriage and divorce. Juncker says she and her life partner have been married or united in a civil union three separate times in three jurisdictions, including twice on the same date.

Honorable Mentions

16 More Who Get Positive Reviews from Peers

Matthew Andelman: The former business lawyer at top-ranked Williams & Connolly brings sophisticated knowledge. Don’t try to one-up him—Andelman once was a winner on TV’s Jeopardy! (Delaney McKinney, Chevy Chase; 301-913-5236; www.delaneymckinney.com)

Erik Arena: The Bucknell University and University of Maryland law school grad is an up-and-comer who provides quality divorce work at a top firm’s lower rate. (Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills, Rockville; 301-340-9090; www.draggalaw.com)

Julie Christopher: Psychologists who practice in the collaborative divorce arena say Christopher is good with cases that affect young children. (Stein Sperling, Rockville; 301-838-3257; www.steinsperling.com)

Robin Clark: Judges like Clark’s sensitivity when dealing with children’s issues. She’s on her own now, after longtime law partner Eric Glass left private practice to work for the Montgomery County Police Department. (Law Office of Robin A. Clark, Rockville; 301-424-1440; www.robinclarklaw.com)

Marjorie DiLima: DiLima and partner Dorothy Fait form a tough-minded duo. DiLima is expert in dealing with families handling substance abuse problems. (Fait, Wise & DiLima, Rockville; 301-251-0100; www.faitwisedilima.com)

Sara Donohue: A lawyer who has practiced with Donohue says “Sara is very passionate, a great advocate for her clients and will keep plugging away down to the finish.” (Offit Kurman, Bethesda; 240-507-1700; www.offitkurman.com)

Faith Dornbrand: This Yale University undergraduate with a law degree from the University of California attracts a highly educated professional clientele. Peers say she’s smart and very aggressive. (Dornbrand Law, Bethesda; 301-913-0650; www.dornbrandlaw.com)

Kathleen Dumais: This state delegate for District 15 in Montgomery County is awfully busy during the three-month General Assembly session that begins in January, but a good choice the rest of the year. (Ethridge, Quinn, Kemp, McAuliffe, Rowan & Hartinger, Rockville; 301-762-1696; www.eqkmrh.com)

Dorothy Fait: This tough, veteran litigator is well-versed in domestic violence issues, as well as complicated property and custody issues. “Nobody is going to push her around,” a peer says. (Fait, Wise & DiLima, Rockville; 301-251-0100; www.faitwisedilima.com)

Hadrian Hatfield: Hatfield, fluent in French, is well experienced in cases involving international law, kidnapping or spouses of different nationalities. (Shulman Rogers, Potomac; 301-230-6575; www.shulmanrogers.com)

Deborah Luxenberg: This veteran divorce lawyer handles the full range of family law cases, including cases for clients in international organizations and U.S. government employees stationed overseas. (Luxenberg & Johnson; 301-652-1161; www.luxlaw.com)

Stuart Muntzing Skok: A leader in the collaborative divorce movement, Skok demonstrated her negotiating skills in first grade when she faced down her parents over her first name, “Kim,” which she hated. She began using “Stuart,” her more business-like middle name. (Houlon, Berman, Bergman, Finci, Levenstein & Skok, Rockville; 301-444-4432; www.houlonberman.com)

Donna Van Scoy: The native Missourian is a reliable counselor in a time of trauma who can collaborate or mediate as a situation dictates. (The Law Office of Donna E. Van Scoy, Rockville; 301-610-0110; www.donnavanscoylaw.com)

Robert Weinberg: Weinberg is attuned to mental health issues, child-support modification and general custody matters. “Reasonableness may sound like a mundane concept,” he says, “but it’s an important one.” (Delaney McKinney, Chevy Chase; 301-913-5236; www.delaneymckinney.com)

Steven Weisbaum: A lawyer with a degree in chemistry, Weisbaum likes to avoid combustible situations and tends to favor collaborative solutions. (The Weisbaum Law Firm, Rockville; 301-279-0977; www.weisbaumlaw.com)

Sarah Zimmerman: Zimmerman’s interest in women’s issues led her to become a lawyer. Often involved in tense family and custody situations, Zimmerman says her role is “not to inflame conflict or be involved in mudslinging.” (Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, Bethesda; 301-232-1252; www.feldesmantucker.com)

Kim Eisler has been writing about Washington area divorce lawyers since 1992. He will celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary in December 2014. He is the author of four books, including Masters of the Game: Inside the World’s Most Powerful Law Firm (St. Martins/Thomas Dunne Books, 2010).

Editor’s note: During the first half of 2013, Kim Eisler was compensated for rewriting several website profiles for the firm of Delaney McKinney.

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