In a career spanning more than three decades, Mark Dischell has built a standout reputation as one of the most effective and best-known matrimonial lawyers in Eastern Pennsylvania. A colorful personality - he's both a reflective thinker and fun-loving raconteur - Dischell is regarded with respect and affection by his peers in the field. Furthermore, Dischell has developed one of the most successful and prosperous independent practices in the region.
Growing up in Margate, N.J., near Atlantic City, Dischell worked summers in his father's furniture store; with a lifelong interest in history and logic ("Abraham Lincoln was my idol") he considered teaching but went to Villanova law school, on his father's encouragement. (Over sirloins at Arthur's Steakhouse in 1968, his father offered "You won't be cutting into too many $6 steaks on a professor's salary.") In law school Dischell took a seminar on Canon Law, which included study on marriage and annulment. (A novel term-paper subject: Impotence as grounds for divorce.) Still, Dischell barely tolerated the tedium of law school ("What saved my sanity was actually working in a law office during school and my friends"). He was eager to plunge into the actual work of a law office and what he calls "the hurlyburly" of litigation. He joined a small Lansdale, PA, firm where he got his first taste of divorce cases, just as the state's divorce statutes were being updated. His superiors "gave me a ton of cases" and he gained a reputation as an animated and effective presence in the region's courtrooms. Remarkably, Dischell did an 18-month stint as a defense counsel for AAMCO, the auto-transmission company. "I was all over the country," says Dischell today, "but there were surprisingly few battles, no tumult. And when you represent a company, it's hard to feel you even have a client." So Dischell returned to Lansdale, joining a small litigation practice where "no one else wanted to do divorce work. And I loved it." He handled "loads" of cases - "whatever walked through the door." Indeed, Dischell today says much of his professional success stems from his ability to relate to all types of people: "Every case is important.
The feelings of divorce - deep hurt, anger - are hardly limited to a single socio-economic group. I represented waitresses and truck drivers the same way I represented professionals." What's more, unlike many attorneys, Dischell was unafraid to get out - to Masonic and Rotary meetings, "on doorsteps" - and involve himself civically. All of that paid off, particularly in the early years of his practice, founded in 1976. Today the Lansdale firm of Dischell, Bartle & Dooley has 10 attorneys, with a variety of strong practice areas, including real estate, negligence and municipal work. Dischell has focused exclusively on divorce law for more than two decades now, still handling a varied caseload. He lives all of eight minutes from his office, and he stays in shape by running ("No golf"), reading and listening to jazz and rhythm and blues.
The older of his two daughters is an attorney in New York; his younger daughter is an executive with an insurance company. His wife Cheryl is an elementary school teacher of gifted children, and his brother Stuart Dischell is a published poet, living in North Carolina. Mark's mother is an artist who lives and works in Horsham.