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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / A Pasadena Law Firm’s Vow to Protect Families

A Pasadena Law Firm’s Vow to Protect Families

by Pasadena Independent
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By Staff Writer

 

There’s nothing more rewarding than discovering your purpose. In the case of Don Schweitzer, founding partner and certified family law specialist at the Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer, his purpose in life is protecting families, which is no job for the faint of heart.

Schweitzer, a former police officer turned district attorney, came face-to-face quite often with domestic violence. He saw the immediate and lasting effects this kind of violence has on families.

“During my days as a police officer in the 80s, when I would get a call to a domestic violence scene, I was trained to ask the perpetrator to cool off at a friend’s house or spend the night in a hotel,” Schweitzer recalls. “Flash forward 30 years later, and I can tell you from experience as a family law practitioner that the penalties for domestic violence these days amount to much greater than a one-night cooling off period, from loss of child custody rights to termination of your job.”

When people think of family law, the first issue that comes to mind is divorce—splitting up two people who no longer want to be legally bound to each other. But it’s more than that; it’s complex. An experienced family lawyer knows that when you’re dealing with a multi-faceted divorce that includes children, abuse and finances, you have to tread very carefully.

Many domestic violence cases happen during a divorce process and Schweitzer has seen this happen to the most unsuspecting client profiles: at all income levels, men and women, all ethnicities, age groups and religious affiliations. His portfolio of experiences is evidence that domestic violence knows no boundaries.

In fact, most family law attorneys don’t have the expertise to handle domestic violence cases, as it often requires both expertises in family law and the penal code, as the definitions of domestic violence are different in each court. People whom you would never expect crack under the emotional pressure, which leads to regrettable circumstances of becoming violent towards the soon-to-be ex-spouse. In situations like these, a family lawyer owes it to his client to be experienced in both the family and criminal courts.

Schweitzer’s unique advantage is his criminal law background. Unlike many other family law attorneys, Schweitzer doesn’t shy away from the issue of domestic violence as he has experience from every legal angle – as a policy officer, a DA and as a family law specialist. He’s written articles on the subject. He’s discussed it in his blog. He’s appeared on news programs to discuss it, such as CNN, Court TV and Nancy Grace. He’s even taught classes on the subject to other family lawyers.

It was inevitable from the very start that this kind of passion for protecting families would be too much to tackle as a sole practitioner, so Schweitzer decided to build a law firm from the ground up with handpicked associates that he would mentor to become compassionate, protective, strategic and above all, ethical family lawyers.

Once an attorney is selected to join the firm, the level of commitment is two-fold: uphold the values of the firm, and do the groundwork to become a Certified Family Law Specialist.  The certification process forces the attorney to dig deeper into family law, a rigorous process that the firm supports and invests in. Once the associate achieves certification, it is proof and a benefit to the client that the attorney has adhered to higher standards of excellence, experience, and education, and has been acknowledged by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization.

Don looks for young superstars that he can mold into that unique combination of family law and criminal defense. Over the last 10 years, Schweitzer has mentored a team of attorneys right out of law school. He is not only teaching them to be top litigants, he’s teaching them how to serve and protect clients in the best and most ethical way possible. Not surprisingly, 3 out of the 5 attorneys have earned SuperLawyers Rising Star honors, including his two Partners, Casey Marticorena and Patrick Baghdaserians, who are also Certified Family Law Specialists; and Associate Attorney Nitasha Khanna.

Schweitzer and his team encounter people who are going through the worst experiences of their lives. It takes a combination of thick skin and compassion to continue to thrive in the industry of family law.

“Our clients are fragile when they come to us, and they’re looking for somebody who’s going to carry them through,” Schweitzer says. “Being the person who can help requires somebody who’s compassionate. It’s no different to me than when I was a police officer or deputy D.A. We have people’s lives in our hands, and we have an ethical duty to take care of them.”

The merits of Family Law are personal to these attorneys. The firm’s commitment to helping families brings out their best strategic and competitive spirit.

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