Barely 16 years in practice and already a key litigator at regional power Archer & Greiner, Kathleen Pasquarello Stockton has earned a respected place among Southern New Jersey matrimonial lawyers. It was just in 2008 that Stockton, then in her mid 30s, was named the first woman partner in the firm's ten-lawyer matrimonial law group, among the most influential in the state. In recent years her stature has grown further, as she's taken more complex matrimonial cases into South Jersey courtrooms and has become a high-profile advocate for victims of domestic violence and abuse. To peers she's known for diligence and determination, as well as a certain cheerfulness and positive nature not exactly common in high-level professionals. In fact she's a reflection of important life experiences: She worked as a secretary before going law school, and she grew up in a strong, tight-knit Italian Catholic family in which her father, Ralph Pasquarello, proudly reminded friends of his daughter's accomplishments, first in school and later in her career as a lawyer. Her father died in 2012, but his memories, and all of her family roots, are with her every day. "I've always known where I got my sense of fairness - and my work ethic," says Stockton today. (Her husband, attorney and mediator Christopher Stockton, gets some credit too: He encouraged her, she says, to go to law school.) Growing up in nearby Runnemede, Stockton (Katie to everyone who knows her) and her three siblings all attended Catholic School, at the insistence of her parents. "It's not as though we were well-off. They made huge sacrifices to send us to private school." She excelled, particularly in math and science. Though scholastic achievement "always came easily to me," attending an elite college was "not on everyone's radar at the time." Thus from an early age she had to think practically: She took evening classes at Rutgers-Camden while working as a legal secretary. She majored in Psychology ("I was gaining insights on behavior, learning to understand people and their motives - and I was figuring out what I wanted to do") and graduated #1 in her class - all while putting in forty hours a week in lawyers' offices. While engaged to be married, she enrolled in law school - "almost a relief, since it was the first time I wasn't working and attending school at the same time." Hardly slowing down, she and her husband had the first of their three children in February of her second year of Law School. Following law school Stockton clerked for The Hon. Lee B. Laskin, whose busy chambers saw upwards of 100 family-law cases a month. It was Laskin, a timely mentor, who claimed Stockton was the best law clerk he'd ever had: "You were meant to be a family law attorney," he once told her. With the judge's support she joined Archer & Greiner at the conclusion of her clerkship and after a three-month maternity leave following the birth of her second child. As Stockton assesses it, Judge Laskin "always appreciated a common-sense perspective in handling cases, and so does Archer & Greiner." The firm's matrimonial law department, previously headed by the renowned Lee Hymerling and now Bill Thompson and Michael Weinberg, has long been recognized as perhaps the best in the region, and Stockton has worked nowhere else. "We're like a small firm within a large firm, and there are many benefits to that, especially for our clients." Over the years Stockton has built a broad practice, with clients "from every walk of life, every socioeconomic background." She's volunteered to represent victims of domestic violence, particularly in Camden and Burlington counties, where her practice is focused. "I've always been a hard worker - and a good listener," she says. "That's been the basis for my practice." Moreover, in this age of alternative methods in divorce, Stockton considers herself a litigator first. "I've always been comfortable in the courtroom, it never scared me for a moment." She's received offers, but "I can't imagine working anywhere else. I always felt we had the best team of lawyers." Today Katie and Chris Stockton - he's a well-known attorney and divorce mediator based in Moorestown - just sent their oldest off to Penn State. Away from the office, she says, she enjoys cooking and entertaining family and friends. They are busy too with child-centered sporting events. "No one would ever mistake us for being lazy. That's the message we give our kids - get in the habit of working hard, every single day."