Slowiaczek, Albers & Astley 8/8/14 08/07/14 10:50:25 PM
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John Slowiaczek listed “happy clients” as the biggest reward of Slowiaczek, Albers & Astley,
adding that he is looking forward to more successes in the future.
The Focus Is Clearly on Family Law
At Slowiaczek, Albers & Astley
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
In the early 1960s, Neal Sedaka recorded “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.” The song was a hit, and did so well that he recorded and released it twice.
The real life version often does not play out so harmoniously, which is why John Slowiaczek and his partners and associates at Slowiaczek, Albers & Astley, P.C. L.L.O. can be good people to know.
Last year Slowiaczek and his law partners, Virginia Albers, Adam Astley and T. Geoffrey “Jeff” Lieben, decided to set up a new firm.
The boutique firm handles family law issues. All four of the firm’s partners – Lieben, Slowiaczek, Albers and Astley – have achieved an AV Preeminent® peer review rating in Martindale-Hubbell’s long-standing legal directory of more than one million lawyers worldwide, indicating that other lawyers regard them as highly competent and ethical. It is the highest rating that can be awarded.
T. Geoffrey Lieben
Lieben is now “of counsel” and handles complete estate planning, tax and charitable foundation matters for a few select clients.
Lieben is a magna cum laude graduate of Creighton University and a cum laude graduate of New York University School of Law. He has 43 years of legal experience and has been listed in Best Lawyers of America for more than 30 years. He is an American Bar Foundation fellow and a fellow of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation.
John S. Slowiaczek
Slowiaczek has been practicing law for 40 years, beginning his career collecting child support and prosecuting child abuse and neglect cases.
“For the first 15 years of my private practice I had a general law practice, but for the last 25 years my practice has been exclusively family law,” he explained.
Slowiaczek is vice president and fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a diplomate of the American College of Family Law Trial Lawyers and the group’s treasurer. He is also a fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the American Bar Foundation. He has made the Best Lawyers in America list for more than a decade, and in 2009 was designated Best Lawyers’ Omaha Family Law Lawyer of the Year. He is also listed in Great Plains Superlawyers.
Slowiaczek, a graduate of Briar Cliff College, earned his law degree at Creighton University School of Law, as did law partners Virginia Albers (cum laude) and Adam Astley (magna cum laude), and associate Hannah Wooldridge.
Virginia A. Albers
Albers is a trial lawyer who was associate editor of the Creighton Law Review and was a judicial clerk to the Hon. David J. Lanphier of the Supreme Court of Nebraska. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Drake University.
Albers, who spent a decade in banking before turning to family law, is also a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She has been named Omaha Family Law Lawyer of the Year in both 2011 and 2013 in the Omaha metropolitan area by Best Lawyers.
“I enjoy family law because it is so diverse,” Albers stated. “Each case is different and we get to work with a variety of clients and other professionals.
“We can deal with custody issues, business valuations, complex financial matters, premarital agreements and other concerns in the course of one day.”
Adam E. Astley
Astley is a self-proclaimed “Air Force brat” who spent some of his growing years in the Azores and England. He currently chairs the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Family Law section. He also chairs the Association’s Ad-Hoc Committee on the Nebraska Parenting Act, which is conducting an inquiry into the current laws and practices for child custody cases on a state-wide basis.
He has conducted original research on the practical effect of Nebraska’s Child Support Guidelines on families of different economic backgrounds. He is a trial lawyer who has devoted substantially all of his practice to family law.
Family law, they say, is what brought them together and keeps the firm growing.
Astley said it wasn’t long after he graduated from law school that he felt called to do his work in the courtroom, but he wasn’t sure what his area of practice should be.
That changed after the old firm (Lieben, Whitted, Houghton, Slowiaczek & Cavanagh) split into two new firms in 2014, recruited Astley and he interviewed as a family law associate.
“Although I had not necessarily imagined myself accepting a position in family law, I felt very strongly that I would be working in good company if I took the position,” Astley recalled.
He tried it, he liked it, and began to develop his own style.
“The 10 years that have followed have literally flown by,” he said.
Slowiaczek, Albers & Astley stands out because of the quality of the family law services it provides, said Slowiaczek.
“I believe we provide the best legal services to anyone in the state when it comes to people’s problems in their marriage,” he said. “I have tried to hire very smart people who have knowledge of business planning, taxes, custody and other family law issues – and we are committed to continuing education.”
Astley likes the firm’s combination of diverse backgrounds and experiences drawn together under one roof. He cites changes in how domestic relations cases are handled as the biggest challenge.
Social and family changes, plus more paternity cases centered on out-of-wedlock births and the courts’ gravitation toward equal parenting time – even when there is no past history of the parties working together – are leading to longer and more spiteful battles that seemingly never are resolved.
Adding to the complex issues are same-sex marriages, legal just across the river in Iowa and other states. Slowiaczek said he expects some new cases from those relationships, but added that many of those couples appear to have found each other later in life and are more mature.
As society continues to evolve, Slowiaczek said he looks for even more changes in family law. “Shared custody arrangements, couples living together rather than marrying, and changes with health care, work and family dynamics,” he elaborated. “Domestic violence and mental health issues confront us.”
The firm has grown since it established itself as a separate entity on January 1, 2014.
Hannah Wooldridge joined the firm as an associate just before the new firm became official. Associate Kathryn (Domet) Putnam came onboard the end of May 2014.
Wooldridge is another Creighton Law grad, while Putnam came to the firm after doing her undergraduate work at the University of Kansas and graduating from Pepperdine University School of Law. Prior to entering the practice of law, Wooldridge was a television producer, reporter and anchor in Columbia, Mo. and Topeka, Kan.
While in law school, Wooldridge gained practical experience in litigation working as a law clerk at an Omaha-based personal injury firm for two years. She is licensed to practice law in Nebraska and Illinois and is a member of the bar associations of Nebraska, Omaha, Illinois and Chicago.
Putnam joined the firm in May 2014 and concentrates her practice in the area of family law. She recently returned to her hometown of Omaha after practicing family law in Los Angeles for seven years. In LA, she specialized in high conflict marital dissolution actions and the division of complex marital assets.
During law school, Putnam also received her Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. She is licensed to practice law in Nebraska, California and Missouri and is a member of the bar associations of Nebraska, Omaha, California and Beverly Hills.
Anticipating growth, the firm looks for people who have a strong desire to practice family law, and who are self-starters. Someone who can deal with “stressful and emotionally charged situations” is another plus, according to Slowiaczek.
“We look for individuals who are highly motivated to do family law because of the unique challenges it presents,” agreed Albers. An extremely diverse knowledge of substantive law is needed, as are good customer service skills. It’s not an easily found set of skills.
The firm is energized and moving ahead. Slowiaczek listed “happy clients” as the biggest reward, and added he is looking forward to more successes for the firm.
“The true benefit is watching clients change during the divorce process. They generally start in a confused, angry and frightened state,” Slowiaczek said. “In the end, they are self-confident, self-reliant, informed and happy. We help them get there.”