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Zanita Ann Zacks-Gabriel

Child custody Attorney at Erie, PA

4.7   12 reviews

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About Zanita

Learn Zanita’s areas of practice.

For over 40 years I have dedicated my practice to ably and effectively representing families in conflict and/or in crisis. My goal has always been to provide effective, thorough, caring, and creative divorce and family law solutions. My primary aim is to resolve cases favorably for clients without the costly necessity for Court intervention, and thus a full range of collaborative and mediation services are provided. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods are now the wave of the future, as they provide both a respectful and dignified way to resolve emotionally charged family issues without court intervention.

The collaborative model allows the parties to advocate their needs and interests, and allows them to participate directly in the restructuring of their families. The process is extremely child centered and is a healthier more holistic method of resolving parenting issues. I am passionately committed to the collaborative process, since I believe that this ADR model best supports families and keeps children'sneeds and concerns paramount.

I also provide collaborative and mediation services in other civil areas, including labor disputes, employment disputes, estate disputes and the like.

I graduated from Brandeis University, magna cum laude, and from Temple Law School in 1975. I began practicing under rule 11 in 1974 and was the first woman to practice law in Erie. I founded the Collaborative Professionals of Northwest PA (CPNWPA) and was its President for a number of years. I am now chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Collaborative Law Committee and the chair of the subcommittee on Legislation, including the Pennsylvania Collaborative Law Act (PCLA). I have also searved for several years on the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) UCLA Advisory Panel. I am a member of the PBA Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and drafter of the Pennsylvania Collaborative Law Act. I have also been published and train widely in collaborative practice matters as well as mediation matters.

 

Photos and videos

Licensed for 47 years
State PA
Status Active
Acquired 1975
Updated 12/04/2022

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

Contact Zanita

Zanita Ann Zacks-Gabriel
402 W 6th St
Erie, PA, 16507-1216

Reviews

4.7 / 5.0
  12 customer reviews
5 Star
 
92%
4 Star
 
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1 Star
 
8%
Posted by Caitlyn | March 1, 2021
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Excellent representation in difficult custody case
Zanita was a tremendous asset during a very tumultuous time for my family. She took the time to understand my situation and she provided good practical advice, beyond just legal advice, through the entire process. In a rapid exchange with another lawyer, Zanita demonstrated knowledge of the law that clearly surpassed the other lawyer. My custody case had some unique challenges but Zanita expertly navigated the situation to the best possible resolution. It was a difficult time in my life, but I will always be glad that I had Zanita on my team.
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Posted by Sarah | June 27, 2017
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Compassionate yet tough a good combination
Zanita or Z as she likes to be called, took me through my divorce with a great deal of concern for me as well as for my children. Z didn't let my "hurry up, I just want it over" emotional responses to the divorce proceedings cost me in my sanity or in my settlement. She certainly is not the stereotypical lawyer yet with a combination of compassion for all sides (children have a side with her), toughness at the negotiation table and experience practicing law she is a lawyer I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to family and friends going through a divorce.
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Posted by Karen | June 21, 2017
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Awesome, Knowledgeable, Thoughful, Understanding expert Divorce Attorney
From my first consultation, through my many questions to the final meeting, Zanita was understanding, caring, knowledgeable and had my best interest in mind. Divorce is never an easy undertaking and Zanita was sure to listen to my specific needs and wants. She led me through areas that were difficult with understanding for how I was feeling. Navigating through all the financial paperwork, settling assets and negotiating through the opposing attorney. Zanita certainly cares for her clients and works towards an end result that suits their needs. I highly recommend her services.
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Posted by anonymous | June 21, 2017
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
The best!!!!!
Everyone who has ever needed to file for divorce knows that things usually aren't pleasant. When it came time to get matters in order it ended up being the most pleasant legal experience of my life thanks to Zanita. One of the most professional, hard working, and knowledgeable lawyers anyone could ask for.
Posted by Heather | June 21, 2017
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Divorce Attorney
I could not have been more pleased with Zanita. She was very professional and made me feel very comfortable and secure. She helped to guide me through the entire process and made a not so desirable thing to have to go through very, very manageable. She put together an absolutely fabulous collaboration team. With this set in place, the process went quickly and smoothly and most importantly gave the utmost support to our children.
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Posted by Pamela | June 20, 2017
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Five-Star Rating!
Zanita was a breath of fresh air for me. I went to the initial consultation nervous and upset, but from the moment I sat down she put me at ease and made me feel comfortable. She clearly explained the process we'd be going through; I felt that with her guidance, I was in control of the situation; and I was confident that she had the knowledge, experience, and compassion to lead me through the process of a collaborative divorce. Over the next several months, we had great communication, and Zanita would check in with me to make sure everything was going as planned. She worked diligently and put all parties involved at ease. I can't thank her enough for her compassionate, thorough work.
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Posted by anonymous | June 20, 2017
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
Respected, experienced compassionate attorney
Zanita is an experienced family attorney who cares about her clients. She seeks to be a peacemaker and to ensure that the family unit is not harmed in the divorce process. She is thorough and has a vast knowledge of family law including traditional litigation, mediation, and collaborative law.
Posted by Josh & Kim | March 24, 2017
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
What a great caring lawyer
I have never seen such a honest caring lawyer. I'm so glad that we were referred to Zanita. She actually cared about the children and the situation that we were in. She was very honest with us and didn't give it to us lightly. When your told the truth from your lawyer right from the beginning you are prepared for the results. I would recommend Zanita to anyone who is looking for a resolution to any child custody matters. Thanks again Zanita. We couldn't have done it without you.
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Posted by Michael | November 26, 2016
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Kind, Compassionate - Effective
I could not have asked for a better person to have in my corner. Zanita helped make a very difficult situation easier to navigate. She communicated every step of the way so there were no surprises. I knew exactly what to expect and was impressed as to how well prepared she always was. She made sure I was prepared as well, for any and all outcomes. In the end, she successfully represented me in both my divorce and custody cases and made sure the outcome was in my and my kids best interests. I would definitely recommend her as she always makes sure to do what is best for her clients. Not only is she knowledgeable, but she is a kind and compassionate person. This made working with Z very easy.
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Posted by anonymous | March 14, 2016
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Fantastic divorce lawyer!
Zanita handled my divorce and custody. She is tremendous! She's understanding, kind, and compassionate, yet a bulldog when need be. Her work in and out of court was nothing short of amazing. Zanita's reputation certainly precedes her.
Posted by anonymous | February 10, 2013
Excellent family lawyer
I hired Zanita to handle my divorce and custody. She was honest, dedicated and kept me thoroughly informed. Zanita is very passionate about her work and it shows.
Posted by Ann | June 13, 2017
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
Divorce attorney, Initial consultation
Unprofessional and condescending during the initial consultation. She came highly recommended however I was surprised at the lack of empathy and understanding she demonstrated. I did not feel comfortable with her. She was not a good listener. I can't recall positive things about her. She also strikes me as vindictive and someone I want to stay clear from.
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Response from Zanita Zacks-Gabriel June 21, 2017
I must say I was extraordinarily shocked to read this negative review. I am a collaborative lawyer, mediator, trainer and peacemaker. I work with families in crisis to help bring them through it in the best possible way. I quite frankly pride myself on my listening skills and the ability to guide families through crisis with a minimum of conflict. I would urge anyone reading this review to please go to my website and read the other reviews on this site. As to this particular review, I checked my “master client file list” and see that I have not represented any “Ann” since March 24, 2016. In fact, that file was closed with a very happy client who had reconciled with her partner. I have not consulted with an “Ann” since that date. I also reviewed my intake records since February 2017 and have reviewed each of my files. None of them were an “Ann”, and none of them brought in an “Ann” with them into their meeting. I have not met an “Ann” and I have not consulted with an “Ann.” I also reviewed all my AVVO contacts, and none of them have been from an “Ann.” I have read the AVVO community guidelines, and I am somewhat surprised this review remains posted. I do not represent and I have not consulted with an “Ann. All of that being said, I am terribly sorry that “Ann” had such a bad experience with my office resulting in such a negative review. I try in each and every case to satisfy my clients. Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the negative review and, again my apologies if anyone truly took umbrage with my services. I pride myself on my listening, my compassion and my ability to help people.
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Cost

Rates
  • Retainer Sometimes
Payment methods
Check, Credit Card

Resume

AVVO RATING 10.0 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Sole Practitioner
  • Zanita A. Zacks-Gabriel, Esquire - Erie, PA
  • 1977 - Present
  • Public Defender
  • Erie County Public Defenders Office - Erie, PA
  • 1976 - 1982
  • Associate
  • Silin, Eckert, Burke & Siegel - Erie, PA
  • 1976 - 1977
  • Staff Attorney
  • Legal Services of Northwestern Pennsylvania - Erie, PA
  • 1975 - 1976
  • Associate
  • Cornelius O'Brien & G. Sander Davis - Philadelphia, PA
  • 1974 - 1975
  • Associate
  • Sesler & Roseman - Erie, PA
  • 1971 - 1971
View all work experience

Education

  • Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law - Philadelphia, PA
  • Juris Doctor Degree awarded 1975 Dean’s Honor List
  • 1975
  • Brandeis University - Waltham, MA
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • 1972
  • Harborcreek High School - Harborcreek, PA
  • Valedictorian
  • 1971

Associations

  • PBA Editorial Committee
  • Committee member
  • 2019 - Present
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Submommittee and Advisory Panel on UCLA
  • Member
  • 2012 - Present
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Collaborative Lawyer, Mediator and Teacher
  • 2012 - Present
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
  • Member
  • 2010 - Present
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Collaborative Law Act (PCLA)
  • Drafter
  • 2010 - Present
  • Academy of Professional Family Mediators
  • Member
  • 2010 - Present
  • Pennsylvania Council of Mediators
  • Member
  • 2010 - Present
  • Erie County Bar Association, Solo/Small Firm Section
  • Member
  • 2006 - Present
  • Erie County Bar Association, Fee Dispute Committee
  • Member
  • 2006 - Present
  • American Bar Association
  • Member
  • 1975 - Present
  • Erie County Bar Association, Estate & Trust Section
  • Member
  • 1975 - Present
  • Erie County Bar Association, Family Law Committee
  • Member
  • 1975 - Present
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • Member
  • 1975 - Present
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Board of Directors
  • 2017 - 2020
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, State Collaborative Law Committee
  • Past Chair
  • 2016 - 2019
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Collaborative Law Committee
  • Past Chair of Legislative Subcommittee
  • 2012 - 2019
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, State Collaborative Law Committee
  • Vice Chair
  • 2010 - 2016
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English

Honors and Awards

  • PBA Special Achievement
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • 2019

Publications

  • Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly, April 2019
  • "Symposium On Alternative Dispute Resolution in Pennsylvania”, Introduction, pgs. 55-56
  • 2019
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly, April 2019
  • "Collaborative Practice In Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Collaborative Law Act”, pgs. 71-81
  • 2019
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly, April 2019
  • "Unbundled Legal Services”, pgs. 96-104
  • 2019
  • ABA Building a Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice, Forrest S. Mosten & Adam R. Cordover, ABA, ISBN #978-64105-241-2, August 2018
  • Authored Chapter 7 - “Creating Collaborative Office Space"
  • 2018
  • PBA Bar News, Vol. 27, Number 21, November 6, 2017
  • "Collaborative Law Practice Solves Legal, Emotional, Financial Problems”
  • 2017
  • IACP Collaborative Connection, Vol. 11 Issue 3, Spring 2015
  • A Road Map for States Which Have Not Yet Adopted the UCLA
  • 2015
  • The Trend, Spring 2014, A Newsletter of the PBA Collaborative Law Committee
  • Collaborative Professionals of Northwest PA
  • 2014
  • The Trend, Fall 2013, A Newsletter of the PBA Collaborative Law Committee
  • Collaborative Professionals of Northwest PA
  • 2013
  • Erie County Legal Journal, Vol. 96 No. 36, 9/6/2013
  • 96 ERIE 27'41, S.J.S. v. M.J.S.
  • 2013
  • The Trend, Spring 2013, A Newsletter of the PBA Collaborative Law Committee
  • Reflections on Chicago
  • 2013
  • The Trend, Spring 2012, A Newsletter of the PBA Collaborative Law Committee
  • Northwest Professionals High on Collaboration
  • 2012
View all publications

Speaking Engagements

  • AFCC 56th Annual Conference, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • (Hope) The Essence of Resolving Family Disputes
  • 2019
  • The Collaborative Family Law Institute, Collaborative Divorce, Miami, FL
  • Hope - The Essence of Resolving Family Disputes
  • 2018
  • PBA Collaborative Law Committee Mini-Retreat, Bedford Springs, PA
  • New IACP Standards and Ethics
  • 2018
  • Make Divorce Healthier Symposium, Blue Bell, PA
  • Hope - The Essence of Resolving Family Disputes
  • 2018
  • IACP 19th Annual Networking and Educational Forum, Seattle, WA
  • UCLA - Not Just a School in California, Part II
  • 2018
  • IACP 19th Annual Networking and Educational Forum, Seattle, WA
  • Creating & Maintaining a Successful Practice Group: Leadership Skills for Practice Group Leaders
  • 2018
  • IACP 19th Annual Networking and Educational Forum, Seattle, WA
  • Hope - The Essence of Resolving Family Disputes
  • 2018
  • CPNWPA Retreat, Erie, PA
  • Pennsylvania's Collaborative Law Act
  • 2018
  • Central Indiana Association of Collaborative Professionals Conference, Indianapolis, IN
  • Building a Profitable Peacemaking Practice
  • 2018
  • Central Indiana Association of Collaborative Professionals Conference, Indianapolis, IN
  • Hope is Possible for Your Clients and for You!
  • 2018
  • Central Indiana Association of Collaborative Professionals Conference, Indianapolis, IN
  • Addressing Collaborative Team Dysfunction
  • 2018
  • 6th Annual Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals Conference, Miami, FL
  • The Prospering Practice: Collaborative Practitioners from the U.S. and Canda Share Secrets of Success
  • 2018
  • 6th Annual Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals Conference - Flourishing Through Diversity and Access, Miami, FL
  • Hope - The Essence of Resolving Family Disputes
  • 2018
  • PBI webinar
  • Collaborative Law: Resolution with Dignity, Changing the World One Case at a Time
  • 2017
  • PBI 2017 Business Law Institute, Philadelphia, PA
  • Peacemaking in the Workplace: Mediation and Collaborative Services in the Workplace
  • 2017
  • PBI 2017 Business Law Institute, Philadelphia, PA
  • Best Practices in Diversity and Inclusion
  • 2017
  • PBA Labor & Employment Law Section 2017 Retreat, Hershey, PA
  • Hot Tips in Labor and Employment Law
  • 2017
  • IACP 18th Annual Networking and Education Pre-Forum Workshop, Washington, DC
  • Table Facilitator
  • 2017
  • IACP 18th Annual Networking and Education Forum, Washington, DC
  • Hope -- The Essence of Resolving Family Disputes
  • 2017
  • APFM 2017 Conference, Memphis, TN
  • Building a Profitable Peacemaking Practice
  • 2017
  • 2017 Dispute Resolution Center Conference, Orlando, FL
  • Hope -- The Essence of Resolving Family Disputes
  • 2017
  • PBA Collaborative Law Retreat, Bedford, PA
  • Growing Your Collaborative Practice: Management, Ethics and Image
  • 2016
  • Mercer County Collaborative Group, Hermitage, PA
  • Collaborative Groups on Interdisciplinary Teams
  • 2016
  • Mercer County Bar Association and Mercer County Collaborative Professionals, Mercer, PA
  • Collaborative Law: Settle Your Disputes Respectfully
  • 2016
  • Chicago, IL
  • Using Your Collaborative Training to Offer a Consumer Friendly Approach to Your Practice
  • 2016
  • Bucks County Collabrative Law Group, Blue Bell, PA
  • Developing Functional Collaborative Teams: Avoiding the Five Dysfunctions
  • 2016
  • ABA Section on Dispute Resolution, 18th Annual Spring Conference, New York, NY
  • Uniform Collaborative Law Act / Rules
  • 2016
  • PBA CLASP and Collaborative Retreat, Bedford Springs, Nov 1, 2015
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team II
  • 2015
  • PA Council of Mediators via conference call, July 21, 2015
  • Add Collaborative Practice to Your Toolbox
  • 2015
  • IACP 16th Annual Networking and Education Forum and Pre-Forum Workshops, Washington, DC, Oct 13-18, 2015
  • The Challenge of Teams
  • 2015
  • IACP 16th Annual Networking and Education Forum and Pre-Forum Workshops, Washington, DC, Oct 13-18, 2015
  • Fostering Trusting Relationships in Your Practice Groups
  • 2015
  • IACP 16th Annual Networking and Education Forum and Pre-Forum Workshops, Washington, DC, Oct 13-18, 2015
  • IACP 16th Annual Networking and Education Forum
  • 2015
  • Collaborative Professionals of NW PA Annual Retreat, live seminars, Erie, PA, May 29, 2015
  • Speaking Engagement
  • 2015
  • Collaborative Professionals of NW PA Annual Retreat, Erie Yacht Club, Erie, PA, May 29, 2015
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
  • 2015
  • ABA Webinar, Jun 2, 2015
  • Closing the Deal: Getting to Yes (and Evading No!)
  • 2015
  • 12th Annual Kaplan Lecture Series ACBA/CLASP live seminar, Pittsburgh, PA, May 20, 2015
  • Exploring New Client/Party Centered Models
  • 2015
  • PBA Collaborative Law Committee Retreat, Bedford Springs, PA, Nov 3, 2014
  • Presenter of PCLA
  • 2014
  • IACP DVD Series, hosted Q&A session, Erie, PA, May 21, 2014
  • The Passionate Initial Client Consultation
  • 2014
  • IACP DVD Series, hosted Q&A session, Erie, PA, Jun 11, 2014 and Aug 26, 2014
  • How to Build Your Collaborative Practice
  • 2014
  • IACP DVD Series, hosted Q&A session, Erie, PA, Jul 16, 2014
  • The Role of the Financial Professional in Collaborative Practice
  • 2014
  • Estate Planning Council, Bel-Aire Clarion Hotel, Erie, PA
  • What Every Advisor Should Know About Collaborative Divorce - Preserving Client Assets and Relationships
  • 2014
  • Estate Planning Council of Erie, Held at Bel-Aire Hotel, Erie, PA, May 7, 2014
  • Navigating the Waters of Divorce - A Practitioner's View
  • 2014
  • Erie Club, Erie, PA, April 24, 2014
  • Collaborative Practice Dispute Resolution Without Going to Court
  • 2014
  • DVD Pollock Collaborative trainings, hosted Q&A sessions, Erie, PA, Mar 12, 2014 and Apr 16, 2014
  • Financial Neutral and Clients Grapple with "Who Gets the House?"
  • 2014
  • DVD Pollock Collaborative trainings, hosted Q&A sessions, Erie, PA, Mar 12, 2014 and Apr 16, 2014
  • Innovative Problem-Solving Model Moves Clients Through Impasse
  • 2014
  • DVD Pollock Collaborative trainings, hosted Q&A sessions, Erie, PA, Mar 12, 2014 and Apr 16, 2014
  • Attorney De-Briefs with Client
  • 2014
  • DVD Pollock Collaborative trainings, hosted Q&A sessions, Erie, PA, Mar 12, 2014 and Apr 16, 2014
  • Challenging Meeting: "Wife Wants to Introduce Son to Boyfriend"
  • 2014
  • DVD Pollock Collaborative trainings, hosted Q&A sessions, Erie, PA, Jan 15, 2014
  • Coach Conducting an Initial Interview with Client
  • 2014
  • DVD Pollock Collaborative trainings, hosted Q&A sessions, Erie, PA, Jan 15, 2014
  • How to Talk with Prospective Client About Collaborative Law
  • 2014
  • DVD Pollock Collaborative trainings, hosted Q&A sessions, Erie, PA, Feb 12, 2014
  • Team De-Briefs After Initial Five-Way Meeting
  • 2014
  • DVD Pollock Collaborative trainings, hosted Q&A sessions, Erie, PA, Feb 12, 2014
  • Initial Five-Way Meeting
  • 2014
  • DVD Pollock Collaborative trainings, hosted Q&A sessions, Erie, PA, Feb 12, 2014
  • Building the Collaborative Team
  • 2014
  • Collaborative Professionals of NW PA Annual Retreat at Yacht Club, live seminars, Erie, PA, Jun 5, 2014
  • Creating Cohesive Teams
  • 2014
  • PICPA Erie Chapter Networking Mentorship Panel, Erie, PA, Nov 7, 2013
  • PICPA Erie Chapter Networking Mentorship Panel
  • 2013
  • ECBA Collaborative Law Training live w/Suzanne Brunsting, Erie, PA, Nov 8 and 9, 2013
  • ECBA Collaborative Law Training, Basic Parts 1 and 2 and Advanced Training
  • 2013
  • CPNWPA Retreat, Jan 12, 2013
  • CPNWPA Retreat
  • 2013
  • PICPA training, Bel-Aire Hotel, Erie, PA, Sept 28, 2011
  • ABC's of Networking Luncheon
  • 2011
  • "Collaborative Law: Resolving Disputes Respectfully", Erie Club, Erie, PA, Oct 5, 2011
  • Collaborative Law: Resolving Disputes Respectfully
  • 2011
View all speaking engagements

Attorney endorsements

Received (4)
Given (2)
Endorse Zanita
Family Attorney | Aug 17
Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter
"I endorse this lawyer without any reservation. Zanita is an excellent attorney. She is very thorough and always has her client's best interests at heart."
Family Attorney | Jun 20
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Zanita is an experienced family attorney who cares about her clients. She seeks to be a peacemaker and to ensure that the family unit is not harmed in the divorce process. She is thorough and has a vast knowledge of family law including traditional litigation, mediation, and collaborative law."
Mediation Attorney | Sep 07
Relationship: Worked together on matter
"I endorse this lawyer as someone well informed and passionately commitment to the mediation process"
Divorce and separation Attorney | May 24
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Zanita Is an aggressive litigator and also an excellent collaborative attorney as well. I have worked with and against her for many years."
Divorce and separation
Divorce and separation

Avvo Contributions

This attorney hasn't created any legal answers in Q&A or legal guides recently on Avvo.

Erie Child custody Lawyer Zanita Ann Zacks-Gabriel
Zanita Ann Zacks-Gabriel
Child custody Attorney
Erie, PA
Licensed for 47 years