Attorney at Law Magazine Las Vegas — Vol 2 #2
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Black & LoBello
Dan Baldwin

Experience and Diversity is Our Edge

The full-service family law department at Black & LoBello, headed by partner Michele LoBello, provides superior representation to its domestic relations clients. The firm’s family law attorneys have almost 50 years combined experience. LoBello is an AV Preeminent rated attorney, and senior associate attorney, John D. Jones, is a Nevada board certified family law specialist. LoBello says, “Each of us is passionate about our field of practice, our cases and, most importantly, our clients and their children.”

But experience in family law is not the only reason the firm provides such effective representation. There is often significant crossover between family law and other practice areas. Black & LoBello does not limit its practice to family law. The firm includes eleven attorneys who provide a broad range of additional legal services, many of which impact divorce.

In addition to complete family law services, Black & LoBello’s practice areas include estate planning, asset protection, bankruptcy, probate, civil commercial litigation, administrative law, workers’ compensation and real estate. LoBello points out, “Our attorneys and staff have handled literally thousands of matters involving financially distressed properties. The great majority of my family law clients own at least one such property.” In the current economic climate, it is more critical than ever to consider more than just how to divide up assets and debts equally. The impact a foreclosure or bankruptcy will have on each party’s finances, both before and after the divorce, must be considered in evaluating each client’s case.

LoBello says, “Our family law attorneys can bring the bankruptcy or real estate attorney right into the initial consultation with a prospective divorce client. We can identify and evaluate all of the issues before a divorce strategy is chosen and implemented. This process is not only cost-effective for the clients, but it greatly increases the likelihood of achieving the most favorable results at the conclusion of the case and the probability of settlement.”

The best part of practicing law is watching her clients find closure and satisfaction after going through what is usually a traumatic life experience, says LoBello. “I strive to give clients realistic expectations up front. ‘Here’s your best case scenario. Here’s your worst case scenario. Here’s what’s probably going to happen’,” she says. “It’s very gratifying when a client concludes their case and is able to appreciate the hard advice I had to give them in the beginning. To me, that’s the ‘right’ outcome.”

Balancing Client Goals with Client Resources
A guiding business principle for Black & LoBello is to provide effective legal services that their clients can afford, both emotionally and financially. LoBello says, “We are not just in this to make money. We’re in it because we want to help people while pursuing our chosen career. I think we’ve done that.” LoBello explains that each attorney strives to treat their clients fairly and with respect. This means utilizing the best resources available, in the most efficient manner possible, to achieve the best results. More importantly, it means being forthright with the client as to whether their goals are realistic and the associated costs.

Again, experience counts when conducting such a cost-benefit analysis in a family law matter. When a new client arrives, the attorney must evaluate not only their legal issues and goals, but also the financial needs and limitations of the case, coupled with the client’s anticipated emotional investment. The attorney must be able to quickly determine whether the issue involves a $5,000 problem or a $50,000 problem, as well as the time and energy the client (and possibly their children) will need to invest to achieve the client’s objective. The attorney must fully explain this to the client up front. LoBello says, “I always explain to the client, ‘You can take twenty steps to get there, or you can take five steps, which will save you time, money and likely mitigate the emotional toll of the case.’ You can’t use the same strategy for every client. We can tailor the most effective strategy for each client because we are intimately familiar with the court system, the attorneys who practice in our field, and the judges who preside in our cases. We also have the benefit of being able to brainstorm each case with all of our attorneys to be sure we have explored every possible strategy.”

Professional but Down-to- Earth
LoBello and Tisha Black Chernine started the firm in 2000. They were working together at a large Las Vegas firm and left to start their own practice, primarily because they believed the move would allow greater flexibility to both practice law and start families. “We were right, because I think the fact that I am not only a lawyer, but also a wife and mother, makes me better at what I do on all fronts,” states LoBello. The firm has grown from two lawyers and one assistant to eleven attorneys and a large support staff. “We’ve gone from a small, sparsely appointed office to a 9,000 square foot office in a Class A building in Summerlin. Our office is impressive visually but also client-friendly — comfortable yet professional.”

Our Family Law Team
Four years ago, seasoned family law attorney John D. Jones joined Black & LoBello. Jones has learned from the best family law minds in Nevada and in the country and has used that knowledge to benefit his clients. He is a Nevada board certified family law specialist who focuses primarily on family law trial practice.

There are many lawyers who know the law, can analyze a case properly and write well. There are far fewer who can do all of those things and put those skills to the test in a trial. Effective oral argument in law and motion practice is one thing; trying a case successfully is an entirely different animal. Jones’ sophisticated command of the law governing family matters, trial tactics and the presentation or preclusion of evidence, set him apart from even the most experienced family law practitioners as a trial lawyer. Few attorneys are more capable of so effectively handling the complex nuances of family law, both as to custody and financial issues. Jones is very experienced in complex financial matters such as alimony in high income cases, business valuations and stock option vesting calculations. His understanding of the interplay between psychological professionals and the court system in child custody cases, including relocation issues, truly sets him apart.

If there is one indicia of Jones’ dedication to excellence, it is the words of his clients. Jones cares deeply for his clients and their cases, no matter what the issue. Hard work and results are how he repays his clients for their trust.

Stephanie B. MacKeen joined Black & LoBello in 2006, having achieved several awards during her studies at the New England School of Law. Although she has practiced primarily in family law with the firm, her education and previous practice experience in land use and zoning, liquor and gaming licensing, securities regulation, and her service with the Boston Stock Exchange have provided invaluable practical experience in the application of virtually any law, rule, policy or regulation. More importantly, MacKeen’s background has instilled her with the unique ability to navigate almost any legal or administrative forum, an invaluable tool for a family law practitioner.

MacKeen has almost single-handedly spearheaded the firm’s juvenile dependency department which has represented literally hundreds of mothers, fathers and children involved in abuse & neglect and parental termination proceedings in Clark County. Her tireless work with the indigent clients she has been appointed to represent by the local family court judges has garnered her literally thousands of hours in motion and trial practice. Few attorneys her age have as much experience in trying cases or in helping disadvantaged people rehabilitate themselves and regain custody of their children.

As an associate attorney in Black & LoBello’s family law department, MacKeen’s experience, hard work and common sense have made her indispensable to the team. She is extremely organized, detail-oriented, thoughtful and dedicated. Her passion and compassion were recently recognized when MacKeen was asked to serve as a judge for the Truancy Diversion Program through the Eighth Judicial District Court. She is not only a credit to Black & LoBello but also to the community.

Formula for Success
LoBello attributes the firm’s success and growth to the excellent, cutting edge legal services Black & LoBello and its employees provide to its clients. “We have state of the art systems, but we still have a family friendly environment,” LoBello says. “The attorneys and staff are professional but personable. We all enjoy working together and helping our clients.”