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Former Blank Rome Colleagues Launch Family Law Boutique

December 10, 2019 (3 min read)

The leaders of two prominent New York family law practices have reunited to start a boutique firm of their own: Krauss Shaknes Tallentire & Messeri LLP (KSTM). KSTM’s lawyers serve a clientele heavy on high-net-worth individuals and celebrities. 

The four founding partners all previously worked together at Blank Rome LLP, which has one of the largest matrimonial law groups in the country. Caroline Krauss co-chaired that practice for the past seven years, working with partner Heidi Tallentire. In their new firm they join Valentina Shaknes, most recently the co-chair of the family law group at McLaughlin & Stern LLP, and her partner, Jordan Messeri.

A lunch between Caroline and Valentina provided the spark for the new venture. “All four of us share a similar approach to our work, rooted in the fact that we genuinely care for our clients,” said Krauss. “Over lunch earlier this year, Valentina and I started talking about the possibilities of working together more closely. As the conversation progressed it seemed the only natural next step was to launch our own firm. And so, we have.”

KSTM is setting up shop in New York City’s iconic Empire State Building, with an additional office in Greenwich, Connecticut. The firm provides a full range of matrimonial and family law services, including divorces, custody, access and support issues, along with negotiation of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. It also represents clients in international custody disputes, including proceedings under the Hague Convention.

An Experienced Team Playing Off Each Member’s Strengths

The lawyers of KSTM have spent their careers working with other partners, but feel they have something special in the combination of lawyers that have come together at their boutique. “This is a firm made up of talented family law attorneys with thriving practices in their own right,” said Shaknes. “Together, we are powerful allies for our clients, standing by them through whatever junctions they come to in their family lives.”

All four of KSTM’s founding partners have been involved in high-profile family law matters. Krauss, for example, secured a landmark decision in New York’s highest court that overturned longstanding prejudicial rules toward same-sex parents in custody matters. In the case, Krauss represented a non-biological, *** mother who sought recognition as the parent of a child that she and her former same-sex partner had planned for and raised together.

Shaknes and Messeri, meanwhile, won a ground-breaking 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. Tallentire has spent 15 years handling matrimonial and family law matters in New York and Connecticut with an emphasis on high-flying individuals in hedge funds, private equity and venture capital.

Prominent Clients Following Their Lawyers to KSTM

Though the nature of KSTM’s work means their clients and matters are confidential, the new firm has already signed some prominent names. A few high-profile individuals that Krauss represented at Blank Rome have moved to KSTM, and her partners have brought clients with them as well.

For Krauss, having clients trust her as she pursues a new venture is gratifying, and also confirms her belief in how she and her partners practice. “All four of us take a highly conscientious approach to our work,” said Krauss. “It is showcased in everything we do, from our determination to practice at the highest level to providing compassionate representation to our clients. This will be the hallmark of KSTM.”

Already Expanding, With Plans for Growth

Launched in November, KSTM has already added additional staff and lawyers. The founding partners’ assistants joined them from their previous firms. Associate Justine Stringer, who was also previously at McLaughlin & Stern LLP, moved to the firm on November 11.

“We also have plans to add at least two more lawyers, either associates or of counsel, by next March,” said Krauss.