Lori K. Shemtob of Blue Bell has built one of the most successful independent divorce-law practices in the Philadelphia area. Poised and outgoing, Shemtob has a polish, persistence and cheerful diligence that's rare among lawyers nowadays, say friends, colleagues, and clients. Those traits have helped the Massachusetts native - she had no special connections to the Philadelphia area - build a reputation and a firm that's now one of the few longstanding woman-owned practices, not simply in the region, but in the nation.
After growing up in Marblehead, Mass., Shemtob majored in communications at the University of Massachusetts, and in her 20s worked as a television photojournalist for Miami CBS affiliate WTVJ. She braved helicopter rides and burning buildings to report on events like oil spills and fires. Later, before law school, she worked in sales for a pharmaceutical company, and attended business school at night. Deciding instead that law was her passion, she ultimately graduated from Temple Law school (now the Beasley School of Law), in January 1987. Almost from the start she was drawn to divorce law, because "family and family-related issues are most important to me." She first joined a respected Norristown-based divorce firm, and later was hired by a Conshohocken firm (subsumed later by Cozen O'Connor) where she was named a partner. She worked with Susan Gantman, now a Superior Court Judge, and "a fabulous mentor." By 1999, after a decade of increasing focus on divorce law ("I knew to be the best at it, I had to focus entirely on it"), she launched her own practice. It was a bold move, but hardly uncharacteristic of the confident and independent-minded Shemtob. "Family law has been my passion from the start."
Fellow lawyers say Shemtob brings a pragmatic, sensitive and decidedly unpretentious approach to the law - "She never talks over people," says a peer. "She wants everyone to understand and appreciate what's going on." She's also a shrewd and effective negotiator, intent on face-to-face meetings to resolve cases, colleagues say. Part of Shemtob's success stems from a wise decision to locate her practice in the upper Montgomery County town of Blue Bell, so she's maintained a strong presence in the courthouses of not only Montgomery County, but Bucks and Chester Counties as well. She adds, though, her substantial caseload - including some high-stakes custody trials and representing high net worth individuals - takes her throughout the region.
She has brought in several experienced family law attorneys from some of the region's largest firms, and recently hired a new associate. With telegenic poise, Shemtob is a popular speaker in the region on divorce issues. Today Lori and Al Shemtob (a sought-after national expert on structuring benefit plans and financial planning) have two grown children. Ms. Shemtob enjoys her family, the theatre, biking, reading, and travel.