Samuel V. Schoonmaker, IV
Growing up, I was always exposed to the law. My father was a family lawyer who helped thousands of clients in distress. He was an excellent role model not just for me but for the entire legal community. He treated everyone with civility and respect — from waiters to financial tycoons to opposing attorneys. He would push back vigorously when appropriate, but he did not push people around simply because he could.
Athletics were very important to me as a young person, and I played almost every sport, from tennis to soccer to baseball. I enjoyed ice hockey the most, but I started too late. Town travel teams already had been skating together for years before I set foot on the ice. When I arrived at Yale, I was delighted to learn that each residential college fielded an intramural ice hockey team and played eleven “no contact” games per year. I played intercollegiate sports for three teams, one of which required extensive weight training. That training made me a faster skater, and for the first time I had a decent slap shot.
When I arrived in England to study at Cambridge University, I met the men’s varsity ice hockey captain who told me that graduate students could play for university teams and that the better skaters were, in fact, from Canada and the United States. I hadn’t played full contact ice hockey for years, but I immediately asked my family to ship over my equipment.
Although I had skated fewer than fifty hours in the previous five years, I was thirty pounds stronger than in high school and had developed into a much better player. I ended up skating on the first line and finishing second on the varsity team in points. It was my best athletic experience in a lifetime of athletic experiences. Ice hockey now reminds me that life presents unexpected opportunities and that a person needs to remain open to seeing them and be willing to act.
Sam, The Professional
After graduating from Columbia Law School, I went to work as a litigation associate for Day, Berry & Howard (now, Day Pitney). Two years later, my father and several colleagues decided to leave their large law firm to start a boutique matrimonial law firm. I joined Schoonmaker & George as a junior lawyer, and I left eleven years later as a partner. I handled custody and financial disputes for mostly high net worth individuals.
I started an appellate law firm known as the Schoonmaker Legal Group, LLC in 2007. Only a small percentage of family law cases result in appeals after a court imposes a solution after a trial. Those cases almost always are either extremely complex or involve high levels of family conflict. The challenge intrigued me. I planned to spend the next few years handling appeals, writing scholarly articles on the law, and devoting more time to my family.
I launched Appellate Preview, which is an electronic newsletter that analyzes recent appellate court decisions in family law cases. Appellate Preview also emphasized the importance of professionalism and civility. I was a frequent speaker at in-person legal education programs, and I imagined new ways to deliver legal education to the bar. I created short, online legal education programs for the Connecticut Bar Association known as “Case Flash” and “Practice Tips.” I also started teaching undergraduates as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut.
For the past fifteen years, I have worked on the same side as lawyers from dozens of different family law firms, appeared before the Connecticut Supreme Court and the Appellate Court many times, written over 500 issues of Appellate Preview, served as Chair of the CBA’s Family Law Section, and spoken at innumerable legal education programs.
Through these interactions, I came to know Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC. I have long admired their people, their professionalism, and their approach, and when an opportunity to join the firm arose in 2022, I acted. I hope to spend the next phase of my career helping people resolve their family law matters in a civilized and respectful manner.
· Schoonmaker Legal Group LLC, Stamford, Connecticut (2007-2022).
· Schoonmaker, George & Colin, Greenwich, Connecticut (1996-2007).
· Day, Berry & Howard, Stamford, Connecticut (1994-96).
· Columbia University School of Law, J.D.
· Cambridge University, England, Master of Philosophy in Criminology.
· Yale College, B.A., magna cum laude.
· Adjunct Faculty, University of Connecticut.
· Connecticut Bar Association’s Appellate Advocacy Institute.
Honors and Awards
· AV rating in Martindale Hubbell for appellate and family law (2012-present).
· SuperLawyers in appellate and family law (2016-present).
· Authored two amicus curiae briefs on behalf of the Connecticut Bar Association.
· ABA Representative to the Uniform Law Commission’s JEB on Uniform Family Laws (2013-present)
· Over 525 issues of Appellate Preview (2007-2022).
· How the Judiciary Has Driven Systemic Innovation During the Pandemic, 55 Family Law Quarterly 87 (2022).
· Withstanding Disruptive Innovation, 51 Family Law Quarterly 133 (2017).
· Two Generations of Practitioners Assess the Evolution of Family Law, co-authored by Samuel V. Schoonmaker, III, 42 Family Law Quarterly 687 (2008).
· Member, Board of Editors, Family Law Quarterly (2008-present).
· Only practicing lawyer presenting at an ABA program at the Alaska Supreme Court, along with the Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court, a Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and a Federal District Court judge.