Nancy Chemtob, JD '90, Heads Largest Matrimonial Law Firm in New York


One of the nation's leading experts on family and matrimonial law, Nancy Chemtob, J.D. '90, is more than an attorney. Chemtob practices in one of the most emotionally complicated and contentious areas of the law. For her clients, she has been a therapist, financial advisor and life coach.

Founding partner of New York City law firm Chemtob Moss Forman and Talbert, LLP, she understands the significance of her role in her clients' lives. "Nobody ever wants to walk into my office," she explained. "You have to be empathetic to do this type of law."

Chemtob was actually waitlisted at Miami Law. "It was my first choice," she recalled. "I considered it to be the best school in Florida." Proving she was already skilled in the art of persuasion, she managed to get an interview with Jeannette Hausler, Dean of Students Emerita. "They didn't give interviews at that time," Chemtob explained.

Once accepted, Chemtob noticed immediately how competitive the school was. "They attracted the best and the brightest," she said. She assumed she would practice real estate law, but her soon-to-be husband Roland Chemtob, B.B.A '87, encouraged her to take a wide variety of courses anyway. Ironically, Chemtob never expected to be a litigator. She recalled a moot court experience when she was tongue-tied. "I couldn't remember my own name," she laughed.

Born and raised in New York, Chemtob decided to move back after graduation. She had a job in real estate law, but the market crashed and she found herself practicing employment law instead. In 1994, at the age of 27, Chemtob decided to do what many older, more experienced attorneys would shy away from – she hung out her shingle and opened her own firm. Chemtob has managed to shine in an extremely competitive field. With twelve attorneys in the practice, her firm is one of the largest free-standing matrimonial firms in New York. She set legal precedent when she represented a client in the first same-sex divorce in New York state. "That's making law," she said.

As if practicing law in Manhattan isn't demanding enough, Chemtob has three sons between the ages of 10 and 15. She is co-founder of Friends of Newborn Medicine, created to support the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Looking back at her career path, Chemtob is pleased with her choices. "I wanted to go into an area of law that would make a difference," she said. "I wanted to go into a practice where, at end of the day, I felt like I'd accomplished something."