Top-Rated National Family Law Attorney, Mediator, Collaborative Lawyer & Parenting Coordinator
Vicki L. Shemin, J.D., LICSW, ACSW, a partner at Fields and Dennis LLP, has been consistently recognized on a national and state level for showing dedication, compassion, leadership and excellence in family law and alternative dispute resolution. For the past two years, she was named a “Top Ten Attorney in Family Law in Massachusetts” and this year has again been honored as a “Top Rated Lawyer: Women Leaders in the Law.”
With her dual-degrees in law and clinical social work, Attorney Shemin is distinctively well-suited to offer clients an array of dispute resolution options including mediation, collaborative law, settlement negotiations, parenting coordination, divorce consultation and coaching, guardian ad litem evaluative opinions, premarital and postnuptial agreements – and she even has a subspecialization in handling cases for those interested in working on “agreements to stay married.”
Attorney Shemin’s combined 38 years of clinical and domestic relations expertise offers clients a “best of both worlds” approach to case resolution. With her extensive background in child development and her knowledge and understanding of the psychodynamics of divorce and the reconstitution of the nuclear family, she is exceptionally well-equipped to assist transitioning families with developing optimal co-parenting plans, telling children about divorce, and handling inevitable disagreements that parents will face long after the ink is dry on their divorce agreements. Attorney Shemin is noted for her ability to handle the most challenging high-conflict cases and to “think outside the box” (even where domestic violence has been part of the family history) by developing creative solutions uniquely crafted to each client’s particular circumstances.
Having been retained as a domestic relations practitioner in hundreds of cases involving complex financial, legal, and emotional issues, Attorney Shemin’s practice areas encompass all aspects of divorce and family law, including alimony, child support, custody and co-parenting plans, removal, division of marital assets, inheritances, trusts and estates, post-divorce modifications, same-sex partnerships, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and agreements to stay married.
Attorney Shemin is, first and foremost, devoted to alternative dispute resolution to address problem-solving and conflict resolution while also acknowledging that court involvement may sometimes be required. She relies on a 360° philosophy which recognizes that clients need a careful and experienced assessment of their family law concerns. Founded on her 38+ years of professional experience, she believes that – just as the triage process is mission critical if there is a medical concern, so too must the family law practitioner be able to guide the client in the most cost-effective, least damaging alternatives. She knows that virtually nothing can derail a case faster than opting for the wrong type of conflict resolution process or selecting an attorney whose philosophy and values are not attuned to the client’s needs. Consistent with the oft-quoted adage – “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail,” Attorney Shemin recognizes that a domestic relations firm must offer excellence in a multiplicity of legal areas as client needs are multifaceted and every client deserves tailored services.
Throughout the course of her impressive career, Attorney Shemin has established herself as a distinguished and trustworthy expert in the domestic relations field. Since 1999, she has been continuously awarded the highest achievable Peer Review “AV Preeminent” rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which represents recognition of the most stringent standards in ethical behavior and quality of legal work.
In addition to her law, mediation, collaborative law and parenting coordination practice, Attorney Shemin’s interest in “paying it forward” is evidenced both in the writing and publication of her scholarly articles. She frequently teaches introductory and advanced courses to professional colleagues and the lay public alike on topics related to ADR and family law and she literally “shows” mediators-in-training the way as she coaches them in the nuances of effective practice.
Attorney Shemin has been a guest lecturer on mediation, collaborative law, diversity, domestic violence and power imbalance issues in family law cases, post-divorce financial planning, and co-parenting topics for the American Bar Association, American Psychological Association, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council and Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. On the university level, she has been an adjunct professor teaching “Negotiation” at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business as well as an adjunct instructor in “Family Law,” “Ethics,” and “Mental Health Law” at Boston University School of Social Work.
Fields and Dennis LLP fits the ideal prototype of a dispute resolution firm that enables clients and counsel to collaborate as a team to ascertain what process best fits the client’s initial (and sometimes changing) needs. It is rare to have the breadth and depth of legal talent under one roof for multidisciplinary “one-stop shopping.” From the initial email or telephone inquiry, the prospective client will find that Fields and Dennis LLP offers its clients an expansive range of support and legal services. The firm is comprised of professionals with deep expertise spanning the full spectrum of multidisciplinary areas that may well impact the divorcing client – from every form of ADR (such alternatives to the traditional and adversarial method of dispute resolution include mediation, collaborative law, settlement negotiations, conciliation, arbitration and case evaluation), to litigation, to estate planning, real estate, business advice and psychology (recognizing that the process often causes emotional upheaval to family members). Every firm member is devoted to being circumspect about preserving precious resources for clients, recognizing that time away from work and home is taxing, that finances should be preserved for the reconstituted family and that emotional conflagrations should not be flamed by the legal process.
Awards & Certifications
2018 Association of Professional Family Mediators Certified Advanced Practitioner
2017-2018 Top Rated Lawyers: Women Leaders in the Law (Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating)
2017 Legal Leaders: New England (top 5% of family law attorneys among peers)
2016-2017 Top Ten Family Lawyers in Massachusetts (American Institute of Family Law Attorneys)
2015 Boston’s Top Rated Lawyers in three distinct categories – Alternative Dispute Resolution, Family Law and Mediation/Collaborative Law (by Martindale-Hubbell, based on peer review ratings)
2013-2014 Top Rated Lawyers: Legal Leaders in Family Law
Since 2011, continuously recognized for selection in the Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers as one of the Top Women Lawyers in the Northeast (less than 5% of female attorneys are accorded this honor)
10.0 “Superb” AVVO rating – Top Divorce Attorney
Premium Member Certified Mediator by Mediate.com (validating highest ethical standards and at least 200 hours of mediation case experience and at least 100 hours of mediation training)
Certified Family Mediator, Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation
Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator
Nationally Certified Parenting Coordinator – PACE / NCPC
Category V Parent Coordinator – Approved by Commonwealth of Massachusetts
ACSW (The Academy of Certified Social Workers was established in 1960 and remains the most widely recognized and respected social work credential obtainable)
LICSW (This designation signifies the most advanced of the social work licenses in Massachusetts; as such, it, allows the professional to function as an independent clinical social worker in private practice; to engage in counseling, treatment and diagnosis of psycho-social issues; and to provide a full range of supervisory and consultation services)
WorldWide Registry – Inclusion In Top 101 Industry Experts
Note Editor, Law Review, Boston University School of Law
American Jurisprudence Book Award in Family Law (1/110)
Best Cross Examiner, Family Law Trial Advocacy Institute (1994)
Edward F. Hennessey Distinguished Scholar (highest honors in third year of law school)
Paul J. Liacos Distinguished Scholar (highest honors in second year of law school)
G. Joseph Tauro Distinguished Scholar (highest honors in first year of law school)
The Johns Hopkins University Honors Program, Phi Beta Kappa (founded in 1776, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society)
Marital Mediation Training
“Engaging High-Conflict Clients in Positive Problem-Solving” Master Class with Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, CFLS
Attorney Shemin is not only dedicated to the practice of family law, she is also committed to advancing the field of domestic relations. In addition to her full-time practice, Attorney Shemin has devoted time to teaching colleagues, students and the public about negotiation, alternative dispute resolution and co-parenting.
Attorney Shemin is currently serving as Vice-President and Executive Board Member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. She is a member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation Annual Institute Committee, co-chair of the Joint Committee for Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation-Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council, and was central to designing and implementing the topic for Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation-Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council’s 2017 Annual Meeting entitled “Exploring the Perspective of Each Participant in the ADR Process.”
Attorney Shemin is a Founding Member of the prestigious national organization, Academy of Professional Family Mediators, and was recently honored by being asked to become a Board Member.
For well over a decade, Attorney Shemin was a Board Member of Massachusetts Association of Guardians ad Litem. In addition, she has been a national guest speaker on podcasts/radio interviews as well as a presenter for state-wide courses and seminars through Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education.
Recent Speaking Engagements
In January of 2018 Ms. Shemin was a featured panel speaker at The Massachusetts Chapter of the AFCC Winter Symposium, “Parent Coordinator-The Court’s Next Gladiator: Cutting through Standing Order 1-17”
In October of 2017, Ms. Shemin was honored to present a workshop at the International Association of Collaborative Professionals entitled: “Chasing Zebras: Collaborative Law Models of a Different Stripe”
In 2017, Attorney Shemin was asked by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (the state’s premier professional teaching organization for lawyers who have achieved recognition in their area of practice and who are committed to volunteering their time to share the benefit of that expertise with professional colleagues) to Chair a program entitled, “A Kaleidoscopic Perspective on the Impact of Divorce.” The program was based, in part, on the cutting-edge divorce research she is conducting for a forthcoming book. To participate, or for more information, please see www.surveymonkey.com/s/XC89FQ9 and below.
Attorneys Shemin and Fields were honored by having their workshop proposal – “Making the Collaborative Law Shoe Fit the Clients: Creative Options for A Better Fitting Practice Model” – accepted for presentation during Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council’s Annual Institute held at Clark University in May, 2017.
In 2015, Attorney Shemin presented a national workshop for the Academy of Professional Family Mediators entitled, “To Prenup/Postnup or Not To Prenup/Postnup: That is the Question!”
In 2016, Attorney Shemin presented to a National Summit in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the American Bar Association, General Motors and Ohio State University on the topic of “Cultural Competence and Inclusive Excellence”
For the past 2 years, Attorney Shemin has embarked on an international research venture to obtain at least 300 respondents to participate in her cutting-edge project entitled Letters To Ex-Spouses:…And I Just Wanted You To Know. To date, she has 275 participants. Attorney Shemin was invited by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education to be the Chairperson of a seminar to present the initial phases of this research. One of her goals in pursuing the research has been for individuals who have gone through the divorce process to be able to communicate – anonymously and first-hand – what they would like not only their ex-spouses to know – but also judges, attorneys, therapists, and clergy. As an added bonus, a child of divorce participated in the panel presentation to underscore the important point that, inevitably, the lives of children in families of divorce are irrevocably altered. The panel joining her was comprised of a judge, therapist, litigator, minister and child of divorce. Please view the link at www.surveymonkey.com/s/XC89FQ9
“Collaborative Divorce: Old Challenges/New Opportunities,” Co-Presenter, MCLC Practice Group, April 25, 2018
“Mediating Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements: Challenges and Opportunities,” Academy of Professional Family Mediators, Webinar, April 18, 2018 (co-presenter with Jonathan Fields)
“Prenups – Postnups – And How to Get Closure on your Divorce,” OverDivorce.com (interview with Vicki)
“Prenups, Postnups, and Letters to Exes,” Family Matters with Virginia L. Colin, Ph.D (interview with Vicki)
“Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Divorce: 5 Ways to be a Hero,” Divorce Magazine, divorcemag.com (May 2018)
“Heart-balm statutes: Can money heal heartache?” Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (March, 2018)
“Making Holidays Magical for Kids After Divorce,” Movingpastdivorce.com (December, 2017)
“Prenups & Postnups: The Dawning Of Sunrise / Sunset Clauses,” Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal, September/October, 2017
“Parenting Coordination: The Emancipation Proclamation,” (with Jonathan E. Fields), Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, April 20, 2017
“Tying The Knot, Faster Than Planned,” The Boston Globe, April 3, 2017, quoting Vicki Shemin about the “Trumped-Up Prenup”
“Divorce Lawyers: Five Little Known Things You Need to Know,” Mediate.com (April 2017) and Divorcedmoms.com (Summer 2015)
Interview with Vicki Shemin, Academy of Professional Family Mediators, apfmnet.org, January 2017
“4 Benefits of Being A Child of Divorce,” Huffington Post (April 4, 2016)
“10 Ways to Keep Your (Re)Marriage Alive and Well,” MovingPastDivorce (August 2015)
“Helping Save a Marriage Through Mediation to Stay Married,” MaritalMediation.com (2013) and MCFM Family Mediation Quarterly (Summer 2010)
“The Squid & The Whale: A Relevant Tale,” MCFM Family Mediation Quarterly (Fall 2012)
Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Helping Families Without Going to Court, by Forrest S. Mosten, Book Notes reviewed by Vicki Shemin, ABA Dispute Resolution Magazine, vol. 17, no.2 (Winter 2011)
“Health Care Proxies & Durable Powers of Attorney,” in A Practical Guide to Estate Planning in Massachusetts (Fall, 1997; updated 2011)
“The Uniform Mediation Act,” in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (July 18, 2005) (with co-author David Hoffman)
“Collaborative Divorce in the Fast Lane: Negotiating an Agreement, Start to Finish, in Ten Days” (with co-author David Hoffman)
“Section 1041 and its Estate Planning Opportunities for Clients Contemplating Divorce,” 25 Real Property, Probate and Trust Journal 535 (f/k/a Ehrlichman, Fall, 1990)
“Ménage À Trois in Antenuptial Agreements: Balancing the Interests of the Couple and the State,” 15 Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trust Journal 93 (f/k/a Ehrlichman, 1990)
Category V Parent Coordinator – Ms. Shemin has met the stringent requirements to be a Parent Coordinator pursuant to Standing Order 1-17
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts – Board of Directors Massachusetts Chapter
Massachusetts Family and Probate American Inn of Court
Academy of Professional Family Mediators – Board Member and Founding Member (2016-18)
Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation, Inc. – Vice-President/Executive Board of Directors/Annual Institute Featured Speaker/Annual Institute Committee Member
Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council – Member and Presenter
The Divorce Center – Frequent presenter to the public on topics including alimony, custody, emotional impact of divorce and property division
Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education – regularly serves as mediation coach
Mediation Works Incorporated (MWI) – volunteer mediator/trainee supervisor at Norfolk County Probate Court
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals – Member and Presenter
Massachusetts Bar Association
Boston Bar Association
Admitted to the Massachusetts Bar – 1989
J.D. (cum laude), Boston University School of Law (Note Editor Law Review – 1989)
M.S.W., The University of Maryland School of Social Work (1979)
B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, The Johns Hopkins University Honors Program (1977)
Prior Work Experience
Boston Law Collaborative, LLC
Lee, Levine & Bowser LLP
McDermott, Will & Emery
Peckham, Lobel, Casey, Prince & Tye LLP
Hale and Dorr LLP