Experience Matters
The attorneys of Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel LLP stand apart by providing clients with personalized attention and decades of expertise
by Jenny Graham

Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel LLP is a firm with an impressive history and track record of success. From real estate to wills and trusts, tax law to commercial litigation, personal injury to family law, the firm has been achieving results for clients since 1954. Among notable areas of expertise honed by the firm over the years is family law, an integral part of the practice for more than years.

“This practice has a distinguished history and one of the largest domestic/family-law practices in the state,” says Jerry Schorr, co-chair of the firm’s family-law department. “We have a group of people with a vast amount of experience. Anyone you would ask locally or regionally should know of this practice because it’s been around a long time and prides itself on the results it has obtained over the years. … I’m tempted to say there are hundreds of years of experience here.”

Family law is a difficult area to master, however. Issues such as divorce, spousal and child support, custody, protection from abuse orders, division of assets, parental rights, paternity and adoption are not easy to deal with. For that reason, it is important to have a good attorney to help guide a person through such matters.

“We have different people with different strengths, different styles, but we all have the same goal: to come up with practical, creative solutions to help people get through a difficult part of their lives,” Schorr says.

Schorr began his career at a smaller firm in 1984 but, as fate would have it, that firm merged with Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel LLP in 1991 so, in a sense, his current firm is the only one he’s ever been with. He mentions his colleagues as one of the reasons he’s stayed for so long.

“Part of the reason I stayed here is the personal nature of the practice,” he says. “This is a nice place to work. We’re friendly, we’re collegial, we don’t have large egos … [and] we always try to help each other out. If you measure by how many people come and go, you’ll find we’ve been the same stable group of people for many years.”

One such colleague is Julie A. Auerbach, a partner in the firm. Auerbach, a graduate of Rutgers School of Law in Camden, N.J., has been practicing law for more than 20 years, nearly all of which she spent focusing on family law. Like Schorr, she enjoys working with clients to help them through difficult times in their lives.

“Most rewarding is seeing the emotional journey,” she says. “When [clients] come to you they’re very distraught; they feel lost, confused, and when you take them through the divorce and help them on a path to a new life, a lot of times you can see a difference in them. You’re hopeful you’ve had a chance to help them with that process and give them the tools to manage their new life.”

She continues, “It’s certainly a challenge, but it’s probably the overarching reason why I like what I do. Just to distinguish ourselves among many other family practices, we pride ourselves on being sensitive to the needs of the client.”

Likewise, special counsel Elizabeth L. Bennett says, “The most satisfying thing is to have someone come into the office in a state of crisis and mental chaos and to help them transition through that so they end up with a rational, functional, satisfying solution and with that solution they feel safer, more secure and they can establish the appropriate boundaries, hopefully, with their spouse and meet new people.”

With 35 years of experience in law, Bennett is a top attorney in her field and has even contributed to shaping the state’s health care policy. Bennett, a proponent of collaborative law and mediation, had her own firm prior to arriving at Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel LLP but decided she wanted to focus more on her clients and less on managerial duties. “I joined Astor Weiss so I could hand off management functions to them and continue to try to help people,” she says. “I’m very happy that I’ve been able to do that here.” For the convenience of Bennett’s Main Line and Delaware County clients, the firm has provided office space in the same complex as her prior office.

She, too, spoke highly of her colleagues at the firm, noting, “I like the people here: They’re honest, they’re civilized, and they’re experienced.”

Schorr concurs, noting, “I think what sets the firm apart is experience. It has just tons of experience doing every single facet of this practice for many, many years.” Auerbach says the firm is special because it is adept at balancing sensitivity and cost-consciousness.

Schorr goes on to list a number of other reasons for why he thinks the firm is one of a kind. “It’s not just the history and experience [the firm] brings; we really try to pride ourselves on fashioning practical solutions. We’re always mindful that we’re dealing with people’s lives. We’re trying to get them to the next chapter of their lives intact.”

He continues, “I enjoy, after the fact, that I’ve moved a person through this very difficult process and helped them reach a point where they hopefully can stand on their own and can move on personally, financially, psychologically, to whatever comes next in their lives.”

Schorr, Auerbach and Bennett are only three of the family-law department’s distinguished roster of nine family law attorneys. The others are Barbara Silver, Neil Hurowitz, David Gutin, David I. Grunfeld, Dina S. Ronsayro and Sara McGeever. Hurowitz, a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, was recognized for his dedication and contributions to family law by the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association last summer.

Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel LLP
www.astorweiss.com | attorneys@astorweiss.com

Philadelphia Office
The Bellevue
200 S. Broad Street, Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Bala Cynwyd Office
401 City Ave., Suite 500
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

Wayne Office
175 Strafford Ave.
Wayne, PA  19087

Photograph by Alison Dunlap