Lori Shemtob, founding partner Shemtob Draganosky Taylor family law firm, answers questions about life and work in Montgomery County for Montco.Today’s Community Profile.
Your full name?
Lori Kessler Shemtob
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Marblehead was a small town on the water.
What are some of your fondest memories of where you grew up?
Some of my fondest memories growing up were my close friends and relationships that I formed in school. Hanging out at “The Landing” in high school and after high school, while in college was a lot of fun. Driving to Nahant Beach once we got our licenses and hanging out at Preston and Devereux beaches brings back fond memories.
If you live and/or work in Montgomery County, what do you like most about it?
I live and work in Montgomery County. I love Montgomery County and have lived here for 35 years. Both of my children went through the Wissahickon school system and both graduated from Wissahickon High School. Both children were active in Whitpain and Lower Gwynedd sports, playing soccer, baseball, and basketball. My husband, Al, coached little league baseball and basketball for our son. Both of our children played travel soccer, with my daughter advancing to play on a premiere soccer team, and ultimately playing Division I soccer.
What did your parents do?
My father was a butcher and owned his own butcher shop in Boston’s Haymarket Square, a very historic area. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, but did the bookkeeping for my dad. My father died very young (57-years-old) and a few years after his death, my mother went back to work as a bookkeeper for many years.
Where was your first job?
My first job besides babysitting was working for my dad in his butcher shop. I fondly remember selling chicken and ground beef, but my dad would never let me cut any of the meat. My brother was allowed to do that, but not me because I was a girl. After that my first real job outside of family was working as a waitress at Friendly’s. I loved that job and did it from the time I was 16-years-old through high school and college.
Where did you go to college?
I went to the University of Massachusetts and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications. I was actively involved with college radio and served as their crime reporter, as well as anchoring the news every week.
Where did you go to law school?
I actually went to three law schools. I started at the New England School of Law in Boston, going at night while I worked full-time in pharmaceutical sales. I then moved to Colorado with my husband and went to the University of Denver Law School, again going at night while working for a pharmaceutical company in sales during the day. When we moved to Pennsylvania, I transferred for the third time, to Temple University. Because it was my third law school, they only accepted credits from the New England School of Law, so I had two full years to complete, and I did that during the day.
Why did you choose to go into your particular area of law?
I chose family law after having my second child and realizing that I wanted to be good in one area of law. I went to a seminar on the four-county practices, where the Honorable Emanuel Bertin was speaking, along with Master Gordon Mair, and other family law practitioners. I fell in love with the area of law that day and decided that would be my area of practice. I have loved family law ever since.
Is teaching and mentoring important to you?
Teaching and mentoring is very important to me. I am an adjunct professor at Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law. I planned and perfected a course on Pennsylvania Family Law Practice, which I have been teaching for five years. I love teaching young students and giving back to them the benefit of what I have learned over the past 30 years. I also enjoy mentoring my younger associates.
Who was your most important mentor?
I had two very important mentors. One was Steven Yusem, Esquire, who, at the time, was a senior partner at High Swartz Roberts & Seidel. I was a young associate right out of law school. I remember him being very clear in a meeting with 10 people that he did not understand what they were talking about and said, “I am in kindergarten, folks. Please explain it to me.” That was an important lesson that I learned as a young lawyer. You can never just accept what someone is saying if you do not fully understand it.
My other mentor was the Honorable Susan Peikes Gantman, who is now President Judge of the Superior Court. Susan gave me my first job in family law, and was an amazing mentor for 10 years. We joined Sherr Jaffe Zuckerman, and then ultimately Sherr Jaffe became Cozen O’Connor. We were together for a decade before I went out on my own and she was elected to the Superior Court. Susan taught me family law and was instrumental in teaching, by both word and action, the importance of integrating family and work.
What is your favorite Montgomery County restaurant?
We go out to eat all the time and I tend to frequent Panache, Izzy’s, Blue Bell Inn, and of course Palermo’s for pizza.
Where is your favorite weekend-getaway destination?
My favorite weekend getaway is the New Jersey shore. We have had a house in Margate, NJ for the last 16 years, and we love going there on weekends. Our children usually join us; our son with his wife, and our daughter with her boyfriend. They also bring their friends. It couldn’t be more fun.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best piece of advice I have ever received is probably from my husband, Al, who always says, “Life is not a rearview mirror. Make a decision and move forward and don’t look back.”