Leaders of two of New York’s foremost matrimonial law practices have reunited to create a boutique law firm advising clients, including celebrities and high-net-worth individuals, on all aspects of family law. The firm’s four founding partners all previously worked together at Blank Rome, which operates one of the largest family law groups in the country. Caroline Krauss co-chaired that group for the last seven years, working alongside partner Heidi Tallentire. In their new venture, they join Valentina Shaknes, most recently the co-chair of the matrimonial practice at McLaughlin & Stern LLP, and her partner, Jordan Messeri.
The new law firm is Krauss Shaknes Tallentire & Messeri LLP (KSTM).
“Helping spouses and families through legal crossroads is intimate work that demands genuine care for clients,” said Krauss. “Valentina, Heidi, Jordan, and I all share the same values and are all drawn to this work by our desire to help people through major family challenges on a very personal level. Having a tangible impact on our clients’ lives is extremely rewarding, and it is the reason we are so excited to create this firm.”
Krauss and Shaknes have been named to The National Law Journal’s exclusive list of Trailblazers in Divorce, Trusts & Estates. While many of their high-profile engagements remain discreet, all four founding partners have been involved in influential litigation. For example, Krauss secured a landmark decision in New York’s highest state court that redefined “parent” under New York law to overturn longstanding prejudicial rules toward same-sex parents in custody matters. Shaknes and Messeri achieved a groundbreaking victory in New York federal court under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in favor of a mother who refused to return her child to an abusive father outside the country.
KSTM will provide a full range of matrimonial and family law services, including divorces, paternity matters, custody, access, and support issues, as well as negotiation of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. The firm will also represent clients in international custody disputes, including proceedings under the Hague Convention. “Our clients know that we will stand by them through whatever junctions they come to in their family life,” said Shaknes. “We will be their counselors, confidants, and strongest advocates every step of the way, whether we are called on before, during, or after a marriage, and whether the engagement calls for negotiation, mediation, or trial.”
The new firm will operate from offices in New York City’s iconic Empire State Building and in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Meet the team:
- Has practiced family law almost exclusively for more than two decades
- As co-chair of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial and Family Law Group, managed 30 lawyers across six offices
- Dedicates pro bono time as a mediator in the Neutral Evaluation Program operated by the Supreme Court, Civil Branch, New York County, New York
- Named a 2017 Trailblazer by The National Law Journal and a Super Lawyer in Family Law (2010–2019), among other honors
- Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
- Educated at Ithaca College (B.S., 1986) and Brooklyn Law School (J.D., 1991)
- Former co-chair of McLaughlin & Stern’s Matrimonial and Family Law Practice
- Member of the New York City Bar Association, Matrimonial Law Committee; New York County Lawyers Association, Matrimonial Law Section; Family Law Section and the Children’s Rights Committee of the New York State Bar Association; Family Law Committee of the Women’s Bar Association
- Named a 2017 Trailblazer by The National Law Journal, an Outstanding Young Lawyer by The New York Times (2014–2019), and a Rising Star in Family Law by New York Super Lawyers (2014–2019)
- Educated at Rutgers University (B.A., 1999, summa cum laude) and Brooklyn Law School (J.D., 2007, cum laude)
- Earned first place in the Domenick L. Gabrielli National Family Law Moot Court Competition
- Has focused exclusively on matrimonial and family law matters for the past 15 years, with a particular emphasis on high-net-worth individuals in the hedge fund/private equity/venture capital space
- Serves as an adjunct professor of law in the S.I. Newhouse Center for Law and Justice at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, where she teaches courses on family law
- Board member of Sheltering Arms, a nonprofit organization which seeks to end the cycle of generational poverty by strengthening families in the New York metro region
- Recognized as a New York Super Lawyer in Family Law (2016–2019)
- Educated at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A., 2002, with distinction, and M.A., 2002) and University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D., 2005)
- Focuses exclusively on matrimonial and family law matters, but also has a background in project management and business
- Member of the New York State Bar Association, Family Law Section; New York County Lawyers Association; and the New York City Bar Association, Matrimonial Law Committee
- Educated at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (B.A., 1998) and Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (J.D., 2001)
- Recipient of the Dean’s Merit Scholarship and a member of the Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal