THIS FAMILY LAW AND DIVORCE ATTORNEY IS HELPING STATEN ISLAND CLIENTS TURN FEAR INTO POWER
BY AMANDA McCOY PHOTOS BY Imara Moore Photography
A major life event in Adelola Sheralynn Dow’s childhood—her parents’ divorce when she was just five years old—would one day help position her as one of the most effective matrimonial attorneys in the borough. It gave her an intimate knowledge of how the process affects all parties involved, particularly children.
“One of the things I value is the fact that I understand what it’s like to be a child of divorce,” explained Dow, who has been practicing law in New York and New Jersey for 13 years. “I use a lot of that insight to help clients come to resolutions.”
Though she knew she wanted to pursue a career in law as young as nine (crediting the TV drama Matlock with sparking an interest in the field), Dow did not have any intention of focusing on family or divorce matters when she began law school at the City University School of Law in Flushing, Queens. In fact, it wasn’t until serving as a law clerk to the late Paul A. Kapalko, the former presiding judge of the Family Court of the State of New Jersey, that she realized her fervor for matrimonial law. “I got the bug,” she explained. “And I haven’t looked back since.”
From there, Dow practiced family law in Red Bank for a short time before taking a clerkship in New York under another family law judge in an e ort to learn more about that state’s law. She credits experience as clerk and law secretary to two divorce/family law judges with providing a unique understanding of the way jurists make decisions in family law cases.
Eager to get back to practicing, she took a position as the deputy counsel to the finance division, but quickly became unenthusiastic about writing law all day. (“Frankly, it was boring,” she said.) In 2009, with the help of her mother and fiancé (now husband), she opened a private office in the Bloomfield area, serving clients in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. The practice only handles matters of family law and divorce, as it’s important to the attorney to not engage in what she called “door law” multiple types of litigation under the same roof. “I don’t believe in that,” she explained. “It prevents me from honing skills to effectively and efficiently represent people. If a practice is too thin, you can’t adequately represent clients.”
Dow employs a teaching based representation to educate clients on the law and the way it works in each individual case. Her primary goal is to protect the interests of clients, of course, and also those of their children. Working with people during a particularly sensitive point in their lives, she utilizes every precaution necessary to guarantee privacy. Each is offered his or her own private client portal, in which the attorney and her two staff members schedule appointments, upload legal documents, and communicate in lieu of email or regular mail. Also, the office doesn’t take walk ins, to ensure all communication is strictly confidential; that policy also allows the office to work more efficiently, explained the attorney.
Of all the cases she takes, approximately 90 percent are settled outside of the courtroom. One method of achieving that is through collaborative law an alternative dispute resolution method that requires an open and honest exchange of financial and other information in a divorce process. It’s often a team approach, bringing in a financial and/or divorce coach to assist the parties with sensitive issues like financial maintenance, alimony, parenting, etc., in a confidential environment. When using this method, the parties are required to sign an agreement that both will not litigate their case.
“The purpose of collaborative divorce is to serve parties in a manner which keeps them out of court,” said Dow. “Many parties going through a divorce appreciate not having to involve the courts in issues which are the most sensitive to them, i.e. their family, their finances, and their futures.” In the rare instances a case does reach the courtroom, that’s when razor sharp litigation skills are paramount, the attorney explained. “It’s important to have an attorney who can do that…who is a good litigator.”
The Law offices of Adelola Sheralynn Dow
1000 South Avenue, Suite LL1 / 347.273.1285 / adelolalaw.com