About Mark Schondorf
Why I Practice Divorce
A divorce involves a variety of legal issues. Some cases are about the money; some are about the kids; some are about both; and some are just quick and easy. A case might require investigating hidden income in a business, while another might be fighting to move a child to another state. I love the variety. But I also love knowing that I am not helping some huge insurance company beat up some huge bank. My work is the most personal area of law, and I know that I am making a difference.
I thought I would never practice divorce. I thought it would be too uncomfortable to deal with families fighting and putting children in the middle. But then something happened; I had children of my own. Becoming a father and husband made me realize how much work and sacrifice it takes to put a smile on my children’s faces. It also became clear to me how important communication between parents is to making a family work, and what happens when there is none. A family of my own gave me the insight into family law that helped me understand my clients’ situations.
What Makes Me Different?
I always knew I would go to law school, but never thought I’d be a lawyer. Huh? I’ve always been entrepreneurial in spirit, which means I’m eager to prove my value to myself and to the world. I always wanted to have my own business, and figured that law school was a top notch way to understand organizing and negotiating business. With a degree in finance from Georgetown, I had the numbers licked, and a law degree would teach me where the rubber of business meets the road of the real world. It turns out, my business would be my law practice, and that being a lawyer was my true calling.
Growing up, friends, and family and friends of friends, sought my counsel. Listening was one of my strengths, as was offering creative solutions. But I also understood the concerns that my business owner clients had – like cash flow problems, tax consequences, employment risks, insurance coverage issues, and securing financing. It turns out that divorces are rife with similar issues, especially for business owners or their spouses. More than once has someone explained their own divorce experience, and upon hearing my analysis of their finances tell me “Mark, I wish I knew you back then.”
I had the opportunity to start my practice right out of law school under the wing of a more experienced attorney. He showed me the ropes, how to try a case, and how fun it can be advocating for people in court. My practice focused on business, real estate, employment and injury litigation. I was proud of my successes; I tried cases alone in front of juries, and my very first client set a legal precedent in cases that is still followed by other courts. Now I didn’t win every single fight (no lawyer does), but I learned that litigation is about measuring risk against reward, and while sometimes it’s worth the fight, sometimes it’s not.
I came to Chicago in early 2011 and had to start my business over from scratch. I focused my practice on divorce law and started networking like crazy. I was soon hired by a well-known downtown divorce firm and was put on cases involving complicated business assets, high net-worth individuals, and heart wrenching custody fights. At the end of 2012, I left that firm to start my own practice in the northern suburbs to spend my time with family instead of commuting.
Who Am I?
I never thought I’d end up in the Midwest, but it’s just too good a place to raise a family. I was born and raised in Southern California and never saw a reason to leave. But life is not all sunshine and movie stars. Alas, I was married, my wife is from here, we had a baby on the way, and shoveling snow builds character in children, right? (Or maybe gets Dad a bitchin’ snow blower). Well, I have three children now. What can I say? I like being a lawyer, and I love being a father.