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Elaine

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Elaine Smith is a family law attorney who has devoted more than thirty five years to guiding her clients through the complexities of divorce, domestic relations, child custody and child support. She devotes approximately fifty percent of her time to litigation and has earned a reputation for taking on complex custody cases with great success. Her years of experience have not only made her a valuable asset and resource for her clients, but have also earned her a reputation within Philadelphia’s legal community as a committed advocate. Having published many oft-cited works on custody and visitation, she has also been asked to be a presenter, professor and speaker at many programs hosted by the Philadelphia Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the American Bar Association, among others.

In addition to the work she does on behalf of the firm’s clients, Elaine has also earned the respect of the legal community for the extensive amount of pro bono work that she has done throughout the years, taking on complex cases on behalf of low-income families. When interviewed about her volunteer work, she told the Philadelphia Bar Reporter, “As attorneys, we are leaders and we need to make a commitment to the law and to clients across the board.”

Elaine has served as the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Chair, Section of Family Law, as well as on the Chancellor’s Commission on Children at Risk and the Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention. She established the Smith &Leibel Annual Prize in Family Law at Temple University Law School. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania and earned her Master of Arts degree from Bryn Mawr College before going on to earn her Juris Doctor from Temple University School of Law. She has also served repeatedly as a judge for the Temple University Law School Moot Court.

Areas of Practice

  • Child Support

  • Child Custody

  • Divorce

  • Family Law

  • Domestic Relations

Litigation Percentage

  • 50% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • Pennsylvania, 1975

Education

  • Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • J.D. – 1975
    • Honors: Judge, Temple University Law School Moot Court, 1998
    • Honors: Judge, Temple University Law School Moot Court, 2002
  • Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
    • M.A. – 1970
  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • B.A. – 1965

Published Works

  • Conflicts in Custody and Visitation (Co-Author), American Orthopsychiatric Association, Toronto, Canada, American Orthopsychiatric Association, 1984
  • Barrister on Pre-Nuptial Agreements (with Shelley Leibel), Summer, 1990
  • Managing Family Loyalty Conflicts in Child Custody Disputes (with Margaret Cotroneo and Helene Moriarty), Haworth Press

Classes/Seminars

  • Course Planner of Symposium on Family Law, University of Pennsylvania, 2000
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Delaware Law School, Widner University
  • Presenter, Grandparents Custody and Visitation Rights, Family Law Section, Custody Committee, 1998
  • Speaker, Current Issues in Custody, Temple University Alumni Association, 1997
  • Presenter, Lawyers and Psychologists Working Together, Panel and Best Interest of the Child, American Bar Association, 1997
  • Presenter, Philadelphia Bar Association Family Law Section, Bench Bar Conference Program on Custody and Support Issues, Continuing Legal Education Committee of Bar Associations, Family Law Section and Philadelphia Bar Education Center, 1996
  • Course Planner and Presenter, School Evaluations in Custody Context, 1996
  • Planner and Presenter, Suggestibility of Child Witnesses, 1996
  • Panelist/Presenter, Ethical Issues in Family Law, Philadelphia Bar Association, Continuing Legal Education, 1995
  • Panelist and Course Planner, Ethical Issues in New Technology, Philadelphia Bar Association, 1994
  • Conducted Program, Memory Factors in False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse – Evidentiary Issues (with Hon. John Braxton and Dr. Robert Tanenbaum), Philadelphia Bar Association Bench Bar Conference, 1993
  • Panelist, Representing Your Client and Yourself in Hard Times, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, 1991
  • Panelist, Relocation in Custody Matters, Philadelphia Bar Association Bench Bar Conference, 1990
  • Speaker, Representing the Father in Custody or Visitation Litigation When There is an Allegation of Sexual Abuse, Philadelphia Bar Association, 1989
  • Speaker, Joint Custody, 1989
  • Workshop Presenter, Drafting Enforceable Pre-Nuptial Agreements (With Shelley Leibel, Esquire), Pennsylvania Bar Association, 1989
  • Speaker, VIP Training, Philadelphia Bar Association, 1989
  • Speaker, Temple University Law School, 1992
  • Speaker, Temple University Law School, 1989
  • Speaker, Temple University Law School, 1987
  • Speaker, Philadelphia Community College, Continuing Education for Accountants, 1987
  • Speaker, Family Court Training, 1986 – 1987
  • Conflicts in Custody and Visitation – Who’s the Client Here? How an Attorney and Therapist Resolve Ethical Issues in a Custody and Visitation Dispute (with Gail Davidoff, M.S.W.), American Orthopsychiatric Association, 1984
  • Conflicts in Custody and Visitation – Who’s the Client Here? How an Attorney and Therapist Resolve Ethical Issues in a Custody and Visitation Dispute (with Gail Davidoff, M.S.W.), American Orthopsychiatric Association, 1984
  • Bench Bar Conference, Philadelphia Bar Association, 1983
  • Speaker, Child Guidance Clinic, 1982
  • Speaker, Child Guidance Clinic, 1985
  • Speaker, Temple University Department of Psychology, 1982
  • Speaker, Family Institute of Philadelphia, 1981
  • Speaker, Pennsylvania Psychology Association, 1981

Honors and Awards

  • Established Smith & Leibel Annual Prize in Family Law, Temple University Law School

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member, Executive Committee, 1982 – 1986
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member, Executive Committee, 1991
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member, Executive Committee, 1994
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member, Executive Committee, 2001
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member, Executive Committee, 2002
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Section Chair, 1989
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Chair, Custody Committee, 1999 – 2002
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Chair, Custody Committee, 1984
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Chair, Custody Committee, 1984
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Section Vice Chair, 1988
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Treasurer, 1987
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Secretary, 1985
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Co-Chair, Committee on Cultural Diversity, 1995 – 1999
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Task Force on Domestic Relations Legislative Reform Equitable Distribution Committee, Chairman, 1986 – 1988
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Chair, Long Range Planning Committee, 1991
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Chair, Task Force, One Judge, One Family, Consolidated Case Management, 1988 – 1994
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Co-Chair, Committee on Diversity, 2002
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member, Chancellor’s Commission on Children At Risk, 1994
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member, Legislative Liaison Committee, 1995 – 2002
  • Computer Lawyers Users Group, Member, 1993 – 1996
  • Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, Member, 1988
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member, City Policy Committee, 1998
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member, Fee Dispute Committee, 1995 – 2002
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Family Law Section, MemberAmerican Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member
  • American Bar Association, Family Law Section, Member
  • Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Member, Planning Committee
  • Smith & Leibel Annual Prize in Family Law, Temple Law School, Sponsor

Past Employment Positions

  • Smith & Leibel, Senior Partner, 1981 – 1987
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Chair, Section of Family Law, 1989
  • Chancellor’s Commission on Children At Risk, 1994
  • Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, 1989
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Section of Family Law, Chair, 1989
  • Private Practice, 1975 – 1998