Christina Stueve Hodges Dec. 21, 2012, 8:54am
ST. LOUIS - In a move to expand its family law practice team, Sandberg Phoenix recently added three new attorneys: Counsels, Amanda McNelley and Chuck Todt, and Associate Alex Chosid.
McNelley has exclusively practiced family law for 10 years in the St. Louis area, and Chuck Todt, formerly of Clayton-based Todt Law Firm, is a veteran attorney with a winning trial reputation who brings nearly 40 years of family law expertise to the firm.
The team’s concentration will be divorce, child custody, modification of child custody, support and maintenance, paternity, ante- and postnuptial agreements and mediation.
Since coming out of the economic recession without a single layoff, Sandberg Phoenix has been bulking up recently, bringing on 17 new attorneys since January of this year ranging from first-year associates to seasoned senior attorneys. In total, the firm now boasts over 90 attorneys divided between their downtown St. Louis office and four Illinois offices.
Currently, its family law team is led by shareholder Andrew Kasnetz, a 30-year veteran attorney who joined the firm in 1982. Other family law members include shareholders Marty Daesch, Tony Soukenik, Phil Lading and Associate Raven Akram.
Known for a robust business practice group as well as litigation achievements involving health and malpractice, products liability and business lit, the addition of Sandberg’s three new family law attorneys makes it the largest firm in the St. Louis metro area, on both sides of the river, with a fully staffed, comprehensive family law practice supported by established business and business litigation teams.
“That’s what sets us apart from other firms,” Kasnetz said in a press statement, “how the experience and depth of our business attorneys and related business services tie neatly in with our family law practice, helping us navigate our high-asset clients, often business owners, through a complicated maze of personal matters and some very real business decisions that need to be made at a sensitive time."
The family law team will continue to serve middle and upper middle class, as well as their high-asset clients, who have traditionally been the firm’s mainstay with some cases involving $10 to $15 million in assets or more.
At this level the game changes dramatically and everything comes into play during a divorce case. Not only do the more traditional issues such as child support and college and living expenses come under scrutiny, but so do millions of dollars in assets and real property interests that often times involve multiple pieces of collateral litigation.
“The strong organizational structure of our family law team working side by side with our business and business litigation attorneys, some of who practice in both fields, is the best of both worlds,” said McNelley, who focuses on high-net-worth asset divisions, modifications, high-conflict custody disputes paternity actions, and also acts as a guardian ad litem in both St. Louis County and St. Louis City.
She is also keenly aware of the complicated issues borne out of family law’s changing landscape, highlighting recent changes in same-sex marriage laws and civil unions, also factoring in that more women than men are now in the workforce and child custody is no longer a guaranteed outcome for the wife but is increasingly being shared between both parties.
McNelley says that it’s important to be able to deal with the changing “family” and adapt a practice to be creative enough to help people through those very rough times.
But she also notes that one of the principal concerns of family law remains unchanged.
“Everyone wants to do what is best for their children," McNelley said. "Litigants may have different definitions of what is best, but a good family law practitioner assists their client in meeting their needs reasonably, realistically and with compassion.”