Based on 6 reviews
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I retained Debra after realizing that my initial attorney was too inexperienced and had done nothing but lose give me bad advice for almost two years of litigation. I had gone from primary custody with over 90% custody to 50% to get agreement to a move-away and my lawyer had later advised me to agree to a custody evaluation that was going poorly. My ex had married and had virtually unlimited funds for litigation while I was a full-time student.
Debra evaluated the situation and told me what my options were. She was clear on what the possible outcomes would be and that my case was in a bad position due to all concessions I had given initially based on the previous lawyer's advice. I didn't like everything she had to say but she was brutally honest with what I could expect from the court. At our first court appearance, I was impressed with her preparation and her command during the appearance. It was obvious to me that this woman knew what she was talking about and that the other professionals at court knew and respected her, including our judge.
When the custody evaluation came back against me, Debra gave me invaluable advice, which I took. She told me what she thought was the best course of action but said that the choice was mine and she would take the case forward however I chose. After reflection, I agreed that her assessment was accurate. In court, I watched as Debra argued the judge into ordering a second custody evaluation, possible because I followed Debra's advice and agreed to relocate back to the county where my ex lived. This was at great personal cost, both financially and professionally. But it was worth it in the end. Because Debra got me back to 50% custody, which was critical to my child's emotional well-being, and I do not believe that would have happened without her advice or her skills in the courtroom.
Debra was always honest and upfront about the slim chance I had at success in my case but delivered a successful outcome. She remained focused on the best interest of my child at all times. When I became frustrated with my ex over a minor issue involving a vacation dispute, she bluntly set me straight, telling me that she didn't play tit for tat and helping me focus on my child's experience rather than my own annoyance. I was kept informed about her availability and her staff was helpful, caring, and above all, competent.
I joked with friends that I was Debra's poorest client. As a student, I borrowed every penny that I paid Debra with and she was careful with it. Did it go faster than I hoped? Of course. But she changed procedures in her practice to save clients money while I was a client when she found a way to have lower billing staff perform tasks. I appreciated that.
Debra has great knowledge, experience and integrity. I do not exaggerate when I say that she saved me and my child. Without her, I would have ended up with three weekends a month, simply because my ex had more money and a lawyer who would tell any story to win. For the first time in the court process, I felt defended. I highly recommend Debra Schoenberg.
Please stay away from this firm. When I first talked with Debra in December 2012, she was funny, persuasive and empathetic. Fast forward to today, June 2014. I spend much more time thinking about awful, unscrupulous, and unethical an attorney Debra was than my ex who left me in the middle of a battle with cancer. I wish I had never hired Debra.
Debra's website used to say "Divorce with Dignity" and I would joke with friends how it would be much more accurate if her tagline was "Divorce WITHOUT Dignity." She's updated her site to say "Personal Attention | Thoughtful Litigation | Final Resolution." Well, after more than 10 months with her firm, more than $100,000 (yes, you did not read that incorrectly, 5 zeros!) spent in fees, I think I have the right to say that she is the worst divorce lawyer in San Francisco.
Debra might have been a good attorney at one time. She is no longer. She is past her prime. She is a wanna be opera singer who is now a washed up attorney with a lot of bravado who preys upon clients and their fears. Don't let the nice notepads and pens and glasses of water and challah on Friday mornings fool you. She is to be avoided. I don't know how she sleeps at night. I know that I barely do with the stress and financial ruin I'm trying to deal with after my engagement of Debra as my divorce attorney.
You deserve a divorce with dignity and compassion. Debra is NOT your answer.
We first met with Debra and she was very empathetic to our plight, my partner going through a very messy divorce. Mid way he realized he needed representation as his ex had acquired a very skilled lawyer pro-bono who was willing to use whatever tactics to win.
She listened and made some very encouraging recommendations. I remember almost crying as we walked home that day feeling like finally things would be put right. How very wrong we were.
Over the next 10 days, Debra met with us twice. Once to make empty promises and give false hope and last to charge my credit card $10,000 for her retainer. I remember her relating to my partner as they both have Jewish background and both had parents that were Holocaust survivors. We felt this woman would really help us. She seemed to "understand". As she left the room that second (and last) meeting after taking the $10000, she turned and said, "Just remember no matter how bad it gets, it's not Auschwitz." and walked away laughing.
We never saw her her again. She assigned us one of her assistants who ended up blowing through our entire retainer and then some in 10 days.
We got a bill on day 10 before any actual work had been done or produced other than a few letters to the opposing lawyer. The amount was for several thousand over our retainer which had to be paid before any more work was done. Then they demanded another $6000 retainer over and above. We got that on Friday afternoon. We both were sick all weekend, realizing we had been had.
I found Deborah through a lawyer friend who is an estate planning attorney, and has a great deal of experience working with family law firms. She gave me the names of several family law firms, but once I met Deborah, I knew this was the place to be at this very difficult time of my life. At my first meeting with Deborah, I knew that she would protect my interests. It was obvious to me that she was not to be trifled with, and in fact, I would not have wanted to encounter her on the other side of my divorce.
Rachel Leff-Kiff did much of the day to day work under Deborah's supervision. Rachel was extremely competent, calm and patient. Throughout, I was kept informed, my phone calls were returned promptly, and at each stage of the proceedings I was given options and the advise necessary to make the best decisions for my benefit. Deborah and her team were always very respectful and mindful of my financial situation and handled my divorce in a cost effective and caring manner. Deborah and Rachel did everything possible, and succeeded in fostering an uncontentious, amicable environment at the least possible expense, while absolutely protecting my interests.
The staff was helpful, welcoming and uniformly kind both in person and on the phone. This made a big difference at a time when I was undergoing a lot of stress.
I feel profoundly grateful for the way I was treated and my marriage resolved. As I move forward with my new life I would wish that anyone who is going through a divorce have as good an experience as I have. I would recommend the Schoenberg Family Law Group to anyone who is going through a divorce.
If you are reading this and have the same overwhelming fears, doubts, etc as I did let me share this. As I sat, arrived early, waiting for my appointment I noticed how "Polite" the staff were and thought as I saw the look on others going thru this process, these feelings falls between Death and Taxes so much sadness to be death with. I was very, pleasantly, surprised how comfortable I felt dealing with Ms. Schoenberg. She not only was "clear and honest" yet also respectful of my needs. She at 1st asked if my situation could be handled with arbitration to save cost and then after hearing my specifics suggested and gave a few names of excellent arbitration folks. I do wish you to have the same experience in this difficult time and if you talk with Ms. Schoenberg I believe it would be the lest difficult it might be. Should my situation go down hill I will use Ms. Schoenberg to handle all the rest of the legal needs!
I found Debra during an extremely difficult time in my life. She was both sympathetic and also focused. She is efficient and some may see her mannerism as brusque, but I always felt like she was fighting for me, and continually looking out for my best interests.
I worked with both her and an associate, who was always available and extremely knowledgeable, but I could tell that Debra and her 25 years of experience were guiding the work. The paralegal I worked with was efficient and friendly. I wouldn't wish a custody battle on anyone, but I was pleased with the outcome and feel like the professional services I received were absolutely worth the high financial cost.