Principal Divorce and Family Law Attorney // Jennifer L. Lavin, P.C.
Description of your practice:
I own a boutique, solo divorce and family law firm. I practice exclusively divorce and family law in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties. I am a litigation attorney, a mediator, a collaborative law attorney, a Cook County Child Representative and Guardian Ad Litem, and a Cook County Parenting Coordinator. I also draft prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements.
Why are you a member of the WBAI?
I have been a member of the WBAI since law school, which for me followed as a second career following many years as a college professor of political science and gender studies. I love being surrounded by smart, strong, savvy women. The WBAI programming is outstanding, and over the years I have made and strengthened many friendships because of my WBAI membership. My favorite WBAI activity is the annual Domestic Relations Roundtable because it provides divorce and family law attorneys the opportunity to learn from and socialize with many of our Domestic Relations judges.
What do you think is the best way to empower women in law? What are the qualities you have seen and admired in a senior female attorney you know? Tell us about a story or time when being a female attorney was advantageous.
I am a firm believer that successful women in law have a duty to pay it forward by making conscious efforts to contribute to the success of newer, less experienced women in law. To this end, I am a mentor for women law students and women attorneys, and I am a part of a group of women divorce and family law attorneys who make concerted efforts to promote and advance the members of our group by sharing information and resources, referring each other cases, and requesting that we be considered for court-appointed roles in divorce and family law cases. A rising tide lifts all boats, and successful women in law can and should unabashedly promote and empower other women in law not only as a form of gratitude, but as a form of self-preservation for the continued advancement of women in the legal profession.
There are several qualities that I have seen and admired in a few senior female attorneys I know, who I often say “I want to be when I grow up.” Autonomy. Voice. Grace. Civility. Empathy. Compassion. Fortitude. Resilience. Grit. And a good sense of humor, punctuated with a liberal amount of swear words when appropriate, is essential.
I once had a case with an older male divorce and family law attorney who, at the outset, completely underestimated my level of knowledge and experience. In short order, my fastidious attention to detail, command of the facts and the law, and refusal to be baited despite numerous attempts to undermine my confidence turned things around such that, at the end of our case, I received some of the most important professional compliments of my legal career. I attribute the sea change in this collegial relationship to the fact that, in addition to my legal knowledge and skills, my prior life experience both as a political science and gender studies professor and as a woman instilled in me what I often quote to newer women attorneys as one of my favorite mottoes: “No is a complete sentence.”
What are you most looking forward to in the following year, personally/professionally?
I have been given the gift of bonus time with my husband as the result of the Coronavirus quarantine, though both of us have continued to be just as busy while working from home as we were when working from our offices. I am looking forward to more bonus time together, as from all indications remote court operations just might be here to stay. I am also looking forward to watching the continued development of our court system as we continue to navigate new frontiers of litigating online, which for me has been a fascinating process to observe during the past three months alone. I see a vast amount of potential to reframe what the judicial system and access to justice look like, and the efficiencies of what they can do remotely, as a silver lining result of these challenging times.
Tell us something interesting about you.
I am a natural redhead who is six feet tall, and my childhood dream was to become both a lawyer and a ballerina who lived in New York City. Though I have studied dance since I was three years old, life’s twists and turns ultimately meant that I became a divorced divorce and family law attorney who still takes dance classes and is thrilled to be remarried to a New Yorker. Sometimes life’s biggest blessings come from unanswered prayers.