VOL. 127 | NO. 170 | Thursday, August 30, 2012
Memphis Law Talk
Family Law Firm Home for Moskovitz
By Aisling Maki
Mitch Moskovitz, founding partner at Shea Moskovitz & McGhee PLC, who has been practicing family law in Memphis for 20 years, said he “always knew he was going to go to law school.”
After graduating from Ridgeway High School, he left his native Memphis to pursue his bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia but later returned to his hometown to enroll in the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis.
Upon graduating in 1992, Moskovitz chose family law because he thought it would be a good opportunity to handle client cases right out of law school.
“I knew it was a way to get into the courtroom pretty early on,” Moskovitz said. “And I knew it was a way to stay busy because there aren’t a lot of lawyers who choose to practice in this particular area.”
After passing the bar, Moskovitz initially worked for another Memphis law firm, but a case that pitted him against seasoned attorney Wanda Shea left her so impressed that she asked him to join her firm.
“At the time I really didn’t have an interest in leaving, but she continued to press and I joined with her,” Moskovitz said. “We formed a partnership a few years later, and we’ve been together ever since. I would say she’d definitely be one of my mentors. I have a few, but she’d certainly be one of them.”
Today, about 15 years after that partnership was forged, Shea Moskovitz & McGhee, located at 530 Oak Court Drive, is one of Tennessee’s larger law firms focused on domestic relations.
“We’ve got a good collection of people, who have integrity … managing expectations and trying to resolve things the easy way, if and when that can be accomplished, so our clients have piece of mind,” Moskovitz said.
The firm has a dozen attorneys, and while most are industry veterans, Moskovitz said he’s willing to give novice attorneys a chance, just as Shea did for him nearly two decades ago.
“I just hired somebody who was clerking for a local chancellor, who’s only been out of school a couple of years,” he said.
Moskovitz practices in the areas of divorce, child custody, parenting, parentage, alimony, child support and adoption.
“Part of being a divorce lawyer is being a de facto counselor, trying to maneuver people through problems,” Moskovitz said. “Not necessarily always being able to solve them, but certainly assisting clients in trying to figure out how to get through those problems.”
He said it’s a competitive area of practice, but it’s something he said he can’t allow to cloud his judgment.
“You have to be able to leave your work at the office. ... We’re dealing with people who are extremely emotional, who are going through what’s arguably the most difficult time in their lives.”
“It’s not a competition; it’s about getting the right result for your client,” he said.
Moskovitz also said family law, which can be quite emotionally taxing, is definitely an area of practice not suited to every attorney.
“You have to be able to leave your work at the office, which takes a unique personality,” Moskovitz said. “We’re dealing with people who are extremely emotional, who are going through what’s arguably the most difficult time in their lives. So it takes a unique personality to do what we do day in and day out. You have to give strong advice. … Certainly it’s more emotional than most other areas of the law, and that’s principally why so few lawyers choose to practice in this area.”
Moskovitz practices extensively at both the trial court and appellate court levels, and has been the prevailing attorney in high profile cases in the Tennessee Supreme Court.
“We’ve had a few cases in our Tennessee Supreme Court and it’s always a pleasure to be able to get to that level,” he said. “At our Supreme Court, in this area, they only accept cases by application, and I would presume they accept less than 10 percent. To have gone on two or three different occasions has really been an honor.”
Outside of practicing law, Moskovitz has served on a number of boards, and currently sits on the board of directors for the of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Alumni Chapter and the board of Jewish Family Service of Memphis.
He exercises five or six days a week, whether it’s lifting weights or running, including participating in marathons.
Moskovitz especially values his family time with his wife – a fellow University of Memphis law school graduate, who practices law part-time – and his two children, a college freshman daughter and a son who just entered 10th grade.
“We stay busy at our firm, but we’re firm believers in that there should be life outside of practicing law,” he said.