Anything But Typical
Stephanie H. Winegrad, Maris J. Weiner and Samantha J. Evian—three attorneys with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP’s Family Law Practice Group—each balances a busy law practice with a full family life
by Sharen Nocella

“Dedicated,” “hardworking” and “capable” are words one might use to describe family law attorneys Stephanie H. Winegrad, Maris J. Weiner and Samantha J. Evian. These women have not only established flourishing family law practices at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP but have done so without sacrificing their family lives. 

Winegrad, who practices out of Obermayer’s Conshohocken office, is an unflappable, no-nonsense attorney who always advocates what’s best for her clients. “I believe in being direct and upfront with my clients,” she says. “I tell them that if I need to be aggressive, I will, but not because they want me to. I don’t encourage litigation for litigation’s sake; it just doesn’t help anybody, especially the children.”

Winegrad became interested in family law while clerking for Judge Calvin Drayer Jr., whose Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas heard primarily domestic relations cases. Seventeen years and two children later, Winegrad has built a thriving law practice and a reputation for steady and low-key competence, as well as a happy family life.

“A typical day for me is anything but typical. No two days are alike,” she says. “I think in order to strike a work/life balance you have to be flexible with your time while being accessible to your clients and to your family. Needs change all the time, predicaments pop up and questions need answers, so in my life and in my legal practice, not being responsive just isn’t an option.”

Winegrad has deep roots in Montgomery County. Having been raised in Lafayette Hill, she now resides in Maple Glen with her husband and two daughters. Winegrad’s practice is primarily in the five-county area of the Greater Philadelphia region. “Family law really has different nuances, even from county to county,” she says. “I want clients to know I’m very familiar with the courts and the judges in the counties where I practice, and all of that is much more important than many realize. One county’s judge will view alimony one way, while another will take a totally different position. Shared physical custody may be preferable by one judge but not by another. Even judges have biases; they are people too, after all.”

“Being well known—and well liked—in legal circles throughout the five-county area, including courthouse personnel, is important in order to have a successful legal practice. Steph has that,” adds David L. Ladov, chair of Obermayer’s Family Law Group. “Such relationships really matter in aiding your clients’ cases.” 

Last year, Winegrad achieved one of her crowning career moments when she was admitted to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, becoming one of 1,600 fellows in the United States and one of less than 80 in Pennsylvania. She also distinguishes herself by being admitted to the “Ten Leaders” list of distinguished young professionals under 45. She was also selected to the 2015 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® list.  Her career accomplishments are rivaled only by her commitment to the legal community. Also active in the legal community, she holds a variety of leadership positions. Perhaps most notably, she is the vice chair for the Montgomery County Bar Association’s Family Law Section, and she will become its chair next year.

As for Maris J. Weiner, if colleagues were to describe her, they would most likely reply that she is one of the most hardworking, pragmatic and effective attorneys they know. And they would be right.

Weiner, who commutes from Princeton, where she resides with her husband and two children, is in the office at the crack of dawn. She doesn’t practice law to receive accolades or get her name on the Super Lawyers or any “Best Of” lists (although she has been recognized many times in the past); instead she focuses her practice on getting the job done by getting realistic resolutions for her clients.

“Any competent attorney knows where a case should settle, and Maris understands that that’s her job: to reach a fair and lasting settlement that serves everyone’s interests,” explains Robert I. Whitelaw, managing partner of Obermayer. “She is a straight shooter, direct and honest. Maris won’t waste her client’s money or time entertaining unrealistic expectations.”

If anyone knows Weiner, it is Whitelaw, who hired her 10 years ago and has served as her mentor, confidant and friend. Prior to joining Whitelaw at Obermayer, she practiced law for seven years with other Pennsylvania firms.

“I would never be able to juggle it all if I weren’t working with a boss like Bob and at a firm like Obermayer, which understands the challenges of working parents and provides a flexible work environment,” Weiner says. “After I leave work my ‘real job’ kicks in, and it’s important that I am home with my family then. Working at Obermayer is the only way I can figure out how to make it all work.”

Over the years, Weiner has dedicated countless hours to pro bono work, wherein she has represented low-income parties in matters of family law and domestic relations. Between her busy legal practice, pro bono work and hectic home life, it is a wonder that Weiner still walks with a bounce in her step.

The newest member of this trio is Samantha J. Evian. After practicing for more than 10 years at another law firm, Evian joined Obermayer earlier this year. 

After first meeting Evian, many people are struck by her sweet demeanor and caring nature. This bright-eyed and friendly attorney means business, however. 

As an experienced divorce attorney, Evian represents clients in all aspects of matrimonial litigation and negotiation. She has extensive experience dealing with complex matrimonial matters such as international divorce, complicated marital estates, child custody and other domestic relations issues, which are often challenging and emotional. A child of divorce herself, Evian empathizes with the children of her clients and understands the delicate situations they face. 

“My practice is about doing what is in the best interests of the children,” Evian says. “It is important that my clients realize that their decisions could have a lasting impact on their children’s lives. I know. I’ve been there. If a client just wants to get even with or hurt his or her spouse at the expense of the children, they have come to the wrong attorney.”

“For Samantha, it is really about helping people,” observes Ladov. “That’s what drives her. She is truly passionate about helping families come out of this difficult time of their lives as whole as possible.”

Today, Evian lives on the Main Line in Montgomery County, with her husband and two sons. She is an active member of her community, volunteers for numerous civic projects, and contributes her time to various local organizations and charities. Last year she started the Divorce Professional Alliance, which is a group of professionals who have formed a networking group based around the philosophy that building a solid team of experts is essential to helping a family transition through divorce smoothly.

Winegrad, Weiner and Evian are part of Obermayer’s Family Law Practice Group, which is one of the largest family law practices in Pennsylvania. They are joined by Ladov and Whitelaw, as well as Michael E. Bertin, Shari B. Veisblatt, Cara A. Boyanowski, Ann G. Verber, Amanda W. Figland, Scott A. Matison, Amy L. Rokuson and Teleicia J.R. Dambreville.

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Photograph by Jeff Anderson