Lisa Schoenfeld is emerging as one of Long Island's leading young divorce lawyers, one of a team of Schlissel Ostrow Karabatos partners whose steady performance and high standards have kept the renowned firm at the top of New York's divorce bar. With a confident and firm manner, Schoenfeld - now in her mid-30s, and a partner - already possesses broad litigation and case experience. She brings a personal background to her work that by all accounts has made her an effective matrimonial lawyer.
At a young age she and her twin brother dealt with their own parents' divorce, an experience that served as an early, powerful education in sensitively handling divorce matters. "Those experiences stay with you forever, and they certainly impact the way anyone would practice in our area of the law," she says. Today Schoenfeld is regarded as a strong advocate for her clients, as she understands the nuances surrounding a contested divorce matter.
A native of Whitestone Queens, she and her brother attended Solomon Schechter School until the 8th grade, followed by a transition to Bayside High School. Schoenfeld says, "The friendships I made there have been lifelong." Always a good student, she was accepted to Cornell, and in the beginning there "I felt a little bit like an outsider, that I had to prove to myself that I belonged." That drive and focus of course translated into high achievement; in the Industrial & Labor Relations School she was named to the Dean's List virtually every semester of the 3 1/2 years it took her to graduate. The thought of law school came early on and she says many of her undergraduate studies had a focus on the law. After an internship with a technology company, she enrolled at Hofstra Law School and, from her first year, considered family law.
A law review member and a graduate at the top of her class, Schoenfeld met Schlissel, a well-known adjunct professor at Hofstra, "in my third year, when I was looking for a job." Schlissel is a shrewd assessor of legal talent; Schoenfeld stood out for her success in law school. Upon graduation, she joined the Schlissel Ostrow Karabatos firm, and in recent years her work and accomplishments have burnished the firm's stature. Like her colleagues she has committed herself to complex and high-stakes cases, involving sensitive custody and financial matters. She's made an early mark too in bar organizations at the state and county level, giving lectures and leading professional committees. As just some examples, she chaired the New York State Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section, one of the then-largest Sections of the State Bar. She also co-chaired the Matrimonial Committee of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association and then joined its Board of Directors.
Like many young lawyers, there's a natural assertiveness that's contributed to her success; "sometimes I think I might be too direct with my clients, but I find it's been better to not sugarcoat things. We should work to give as realistic a perspective as possible. It may be hard for our clients to hear, but in the long run, I think they appreciate the honesty."
With a young family too, she is an excellent multi-tasker: She and her husband - a Principal Appellate Court Attorney in the Appellate Term, Second Department - have two young sons. They reside in nearby Great Neck.