David B. Yavitz, Attorney
- Law Office: Yavitz & Levey LLP
- Chicago Law Firms
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Business Estate Lawsuit & Dispute Civil & Human Rights Real Estate123 W Madison Street Chicago 60602 US
Accident & Injury Lawsuit & Dispute Slip & Fall Accident Car Accident Personal Injury120 W Madison St Chicago 60602 US
Estate Wills & Probate Tax Business135 South LaSalle Street Chicago 60603 US
Estate Estate Planning Trusts Wills & Probate Business135 S. LaSalle Street Chicago 60603 US
Accident & Injury Wrongful Death Car Accident Medical Malpractice Police Misconduct111 West Washington Street, Suite 1200 Chicago 60602 US
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David B. Yavitz, has often been referred to as being a " lawyer's lawyer", often being called upon by other lawyers when they have questions concerning legal issues and are looking for unique solutions or to collaborate and provide additional legal expertise in complex family law cases. Having practiced family Law for more than 40 years, Mr. Yavitz can often provide unique perspectives, experience and insights in the resolution of difficult divorce matters. Most of all, Mr. Yavitz is a trial lawyer as well as being a divorce attorney. It goes without saying that not all trial lawyers are divorce lawyers and certainly not all divorce lawyers are trial lawyers. Many of today's divorce lawyers to not have trial experience outside of a divorce courtroom. Trying a contested case in a divorce court is totally different from trying a contested case in other civil and criminal courts. For some reason the rules of evidence in divorce courts are much more relaxed than a jury trial in a criminal case. Unlike many of today's divorce practitioners who come out of law school and immediately begin practicing family law, Mr. Yavitz career started as a general practitioner at a prestigious LaSalle Street law firm and was involved in trying both civil and criminal cases before judges and juries. For the first 9 years of his practice Mr. Yavitz was able to try cases involving criminal law, personal injury, bankruptcy, tort, contracts and business litigation, real estate, partnerships, creditors rights, collection cases, and tax litigation. This diversified practice gave Mr. Yavitz unique insights in many aspects of the law which has served well as a foundation for understanding complex financial transactions, privately held businesses, accounting, asset tracing, partnerships, closely held corporations and other business related matters which appear everyday and are required in understanding and analyzing finances involved in domestic relations proceedings.
David's educational background started in Oak Park Illinois where he attended Emerson grammar school and then went on to graduate from Oak Park River Forest high school. After high school Mr. Yavitz attended Drake University in Des Moines Iowa where he was on the Dean's List and President's List and graduated with honors, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in political science and history and a minor in sociology. After graduating from Drake in 1966, Mr. Yavitz attended the University of Illinois College of Law where he graduated in 1969, with honors, with a Juris Doctorate degree. Mr. Yavitz was in the top 3% of his graduating class, having achieved a ranking of 7 of 260 graduates. Mr. Yavitz was elected to the honorary Order of the Coif.
After graduation from law school and the successful completion of the Illinois Bar examination, Mr. Yavitz was licensed by the State of Illinois, the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventy Circuit. He began his legal career with the LaSalle Street law firm of Boodell, Sears, Sugrue, Giambalvo and Crowley, as an associate attorney. This firm had its share of prominent attorneys and leaders in the legal community including partners who had been president's of the American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, American College of trial lawyers as well as other organized Bar groups. As a young associate attorney fresh out of law school Mr. Yavitz was exposed to many areas of the law and was asked to represent clients in many diverse and varied situations. He handled personal injury cases involving automobile accidents doing insurance company defense work as well as representing plaintiffs. In the area of commercial litigation Mr. Yavitz worked on bankruptcy cases, and at one point became the attorney for the court-appointed trustee in liquidating a securities brokerage firm on behalf of the Security Investor Protection Corporation (SPIC). Mr. Yavitz also worked in real estate transactions, both residential and commercial and did family law involving divorces and adoptions.
At Boodel, Sears, Mr. Yavitz's practice also involved criminal defense work. In 1971 the Federal Government was investigating various loans made by the International Barbers Union Pension Fund to certain Las Vegas hotels and others, which loans had gone into default resulting in the financial collapse of the Pension Fund. Several individuals were charged in a 36 count indictment for paying bribes and receiving kickbacks to secure these loans, including Joseph DePaola, President of the Barbers Union and chairman of the Pension Fund, Thomas A. Shaheen, Jr. the pension fund's financial advisor and Mr. Max Block, Jr, a New York attorney who worked with Shaheen. Barnabas Sears was approached by Block to represent him on this indictment.
In the late 80s in Cook County State Atty.'s police raided the Chicago headquarters of the Black Panther party, killing several prominent Black Panther party members. Mr. Barnabas Sears, one of the managing partners of Boodell, Sears, Sugrue, Giambalvo and Crowley, was appointed special prosecutor with respect to that raid. Mr. Sears prosecuted Edward Hanrahan, then States Atty. of Cook County, together with other individuals involved in the raid and death of the Black Panther party members. Because of his involvement as special prosecutor, Mr. Sears was not available to become personally involved the representation of Mr. Block. Mr. Sears he asked another partner in the firm, James N. Kosmond, to handle the defense and asked Mr. Yavitz to serve as co-counsel and assist as second chair. This was a huge assignment for the young Mr. Yavitz who was only two years out of law school and had only worked on one previous felony and several minor misdemeanor criminal cases. Mr. Yavitz and Mr. Kosmond and spent months going over documents in preparing for the defense of Mr. Block. As is customary in most criminal cases the defense attorneys and the prosecutors, in this case a specially assigned strike force from the US Atty.'s office in Washington DC, entered into discussions concerning a possible plea deal. The government indicated that if Mr. Block did not change his plea from not guilty to guilty, the government intended to indict Mr. Block after he was convicted for what the government deemed was perjured statements before the grand jury. Much to his credit, Mr. Block refused to be intimidated by the Government's threats and demanded the case proceed to trial. There were a lot of heavy hitters when the trial opened in 1972. The president of the Barbara's Union was represented by Edward Bennett Williams, a prominent Washington DC attorney who also served as chief counsel for the Democratic National Party. The attorney representing the financial consultant, Thomas Shaheen, was noted criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey. At the opening of the trial, the president of the Barbara's Union changed his plea to guilty and became a witness for the prosecution F. Lee Bailey then read a lengthy telegram from his client who had fled to Lebanon, and had no intention of returning to stand trial. Despite the fact that of the 3 major defendants in the case, one pled guilty and the other was a fugitive, the government proceeded to try the case against Mr. Block, who faced a possible 56 years in prison if convicted. During the three-week jury trial, as second chair, Mr. Yavitz had the opportunity to participate in a high stakes criminal prosecution including the questioning of witnesses before the jury on both direct and cross examination. At the conclusion of trial the jury returned a verdict finding Mr. Block not guilty on all charges. The experience that Mr. Yavitz received in this criminal defense case greatly contributed to his ability as a trial lawyer and his ability to handle himself during adverse court proceedings.
During the nine years Mr. Yavitz was an associate at Boodell, Sears, he handled most of the firm's divorce practice. This was an area of the law that greatly interested him and an area of practice he wanted to specialize in, so, in 1978, when an opportunity arose to concentrate full time in a family law practice, he joined Schiller and Schiller, a small three person firm headed by Donald Schiller. Throughout the years this firm added partners and grew into Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck, becoming the largest matrimonial law firm in Illinois. During his tenure at SD&F Mr. Yavitz represented clients from all walks of life, housewives, business executives, professional athletes, musicians, stock brokers and traders and other high net worth clients. As his family law practice grew, his reputation as one of the leading family law attorneys developed. Mr. Yavitz was appointed to the Illinois State Bar Association Family Law Section Counsel where he became the newsletter editor in 1980 and served on the Counsel in excess of 17 years. In 1982 he became a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and for several years served on its Admissions Committee and on the Illinois Chapter's Board of Directors. In 1985 Mr. Yavitz was appointed as the Chairman of the Family Law Section Counsel. During his tenure as Chairman he was instrumental in the passage of the Spousal Health Insurance Rights Act (SHIRA) which allowed persons covered on their spouses health insurance to be able to continue health insurance coverage upon being divorced. Mr. Yavitz worked with the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and other groups in advocating the passage of this law and actively worked in the Illinois General Assembly lobbying for this legislation. Mr. Yavitz took a great deal of pride during a signing ceremony when Gov. James Thompson signed the legislation into law and presented Mr. Yavitz with the ceremonial pen. The passage of SHIRA became the forerunner for the federal COBRA legislation which allowed citizens throughout the United States to continue health insurance coverage after a divorce loss of employment. Mr. Yavitz was also instrumental, as Chairman of the Family Law Section Counsel, in lobbying the Illinois General Assembly with respect to the enactment of a modification of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to allow joint custody for parents who had the ability to effectively and consistently cooperate with each other concerning their children. In 1986 Mr. Yavitz became the Chairman of the Matrimonial Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, where he again worked with legislators in passage of family law legislation.
In the late 1980s technology was such that law offices were using word processors but not desktop computers. Mr. Yavitz started using Apple Macintosh computers initially to do word processing but soon discovered what a valuable tool this was in other aspects of the practice of law. Mr. Yavitz became a member of the Apple Computer's Apple Solutions Providers Network and was one of the first family law attorneys in Illinois to utilize computers for litigation support, asset management and divisions as well as using spreadsheets to calculate child support and maintenance. During his tenure at Schiller, DuCanto and Fleck, Mr. Yavitz was instrumental in bringing that firm into the computer age and helped design and install the computer networking for the entire office, introducing desktop computers for all of the attorneys and staff.
Mr. Yavitz's reputation in computer technology continued to grow and he began to do computer consulting by helping other attorneys use computers in their practice. Mr. Yavitz was appointed to the Illinois State Bar Association's Standing Committee on Legal Technology, where he has twice served as its Chairman. Mr. Yavitz has written several relational databases, which his firm uses for client management and document assembly, utilizing entering information once and using that data in many different areas and documents. After the General assembly revised the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, Mr. Yavitz was called upon to utilize his computer skills to design the court forms for a Petition for Order of Protection, Emergency Order of Protection and Plenary Order of Protection, which were adopted and used by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
After being a partner at Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck for 16 years, in 1994, Mr. Yavitz seized on an opportunity to go off in a different direction and he joined two other prominent Chicago area family law attorneys to form Lake, Toback & Yavitz. As a named partner, he was able have more of a voice in the dynamics of his practice.
Mr. Yavitz authored two chapters of the Illinois State Bar Association's Family Law Handbook 1995 Edition, a treatise for divorce attorneys in Illinois, Chapter 19 Distinctions Between Marital and Nonmarital Property and Chapter21 Marital Property Valuation. Through out his legal career, Mr. Yavitz has taught family law to members of his profession as part of the programs for continuing legal education, often lecturing for the Illinois State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Illinois CPA Society, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, American Medical Association, the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education and other professional groups.
Mr. Yavitz has been recognized as an expert witness in cases involving legal malpractice. He has been retained by both legal malpractice insurance companies in the defense of malpractice claims and by plaintiff's attorneys in the prosecution of such actions. Mr. Yavitz has testified before juries as well as judges in bench trials and an expert witness in the area of family law.
In 2004 Mr. Yavitz joined with Ross S. Levey to form Yavitz & Levey, LLP., with offices at 20 S. Clark, Street, Suite 2200, Chicago, Illinois 60603. The firm handles contested and uncontested divorces including matters dealing with custody, visitation, children's issues, paternity, extended family practice, domestic violence, post-divorce modification and enforcement, and pre-and post-nuptial agreements. The firm represents clients from all economic levels including high net worth families. Yavitz & Levey, LLP., has an extensive network of experts to assist in custody evaluations, valuation of the marital estate, determination of support levels required to maintain the family at the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, financial planning and asset management, parentage determination and other areas were outside expertise is required. Yavitz & Levey, LLP., is a law firm dedicated to serving the best interests of the family. The firms attorneys have extensive experience in matrimonial and family law with an individualized approach with emphasis on protecting the client's children, home, finances, businesses and future.
Mr. Yavitz has been certified and is on the approved list of attorneys in Cook County and Lake County for appointment as a Child's Representative, Guardian ad Litem and Child's Attorney. This is one of the more rewarding areas of practice in being able to help children go through a most difficult time in their lives involving their parents' divorce.
During over 40 years in the practice of family law, Mr. Yavitz has represented many high end clients including athletes or their spouses, individuals in the entertainment industry, CEO's of public and private corporations, stock, bonds and commodities traders, entrepreneurs, automobile dealers, doctors and lawyers. An example of some of his clients includes the first round draft pick and starting tackle for the Washington Redskins, wife of a starting defenseman of the Chicago Blackhawks, several jazz musicians, leader of a popular rock band, an heir of one of Chicago most wealthy families and the CEO of a Nasdaq billion dollar corporation. He has also represented persons of more modest income including police, firefighters, factory workers, airline pilots, flight attendants and housewives. Many of Mr. Yavitz's clients come directly from referrals from other attorneys who recognize him as a family law expert and from satisfied former clients. Mr. Yavitz has also received the ultimate complement when he receives a referral from the ex-spouses of his former clients who believed Mr. Yavitz was preferred over their own attorney.
Mr. Yavitz is a forceful advocate for his clients. His philosophy is to first attempt to resolve a conflict through meaningful negotiations, but if that proves impossible, he is willing to take the fight all the way to achieve a just resolution for his client. He does not like to take no for an answer. As an example, in 2005 a client's husband stopped paying her the unallocated maintenance and child support that had been ordered. A Petition for Rule To Show Cause was filed seeking the husband be held in contempt of court for his non-compliance with the court ordered support. On the day of the hearing on the petition, the husband paid the $30,000.00 support owed and thus avoided a finding of contempt. Mr. Yavitz asked the court to award him attorneys' fees and also asked for interest on the support arrearage. The trial judge refused to order the fees or the interest. The court's rationale was that since he paid up and was not found in contempt of court, the court lacked the authority to award fees. The judge also ruled that since the wife was receiving unallocated maintenance and child support, a combination of maintenance (alimony) and child support, the Illinois law mandating interest on past due child support did not apply. An appeal of this ruling was taken to the Illinois Appellate Court who reversed the trial court on the fee issue, holding a finding of contempt is not a prerequisite to awarding fees for non-payment of support. The Appellate Court however upheld the lower court in the interest issue. This ruling did not appear fair, why should a person who fails to pay child support be required to pay interest while a person paying maintenance or unallocated support not be required to pay interest.
After all, the recipient of the support, whether it be child support, maintenance or a combination of both, has bills to pay and is counting on those periodic support payments for household living expenses. Something had to be done to correct this inequity. In 2006, with the sponsorship of Illinois state Senator Susan Garrett, Mr. Yavitz authored Senate Bill 95, which granted automatic judgments and raised maintenance and unallocated support to the same level child support enjoyed in mandating 9% interest on all support arrearages.
Mr. Yavitz was selected by the Leading Lawyers Network in the area of family law. This organization surveys lawyers and selects those attorneys recognized by their peers to be experts in their field of practice. The selection criteria asks If a family member of friend needed legal help and you couldn't take the case, to whom would you refer them? Only lawyers who are most often recommended by their peers, in a statewide survey, are eligible for membership in the Leading Lawyers Network. Mr. Yavitz has also been selected as a member of Illinois Super Lawyers for family law. He also has constantly maintained the coveted AV rating by Martindale Hubbell. An AV certification mark is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence. A lawyer must be admitted to the bar for 10 years or more to receive an AV rating.
Outside the office, Mr. Yavitz is an accomplished off-shore sailor, having sailed on over 30 Chicago to Mackinac Island Races and is a member of the Chicago Yacht Club and the Island Goat Sailing Society. He also enjoys skiing, scuba diving, swimming and tennis. He is the past Chairman of his homeowner's association. David continues to be active in the technology field and annually attends the MacWorld Conference in San Francisco and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mr. Yavitz has been married for over 25 years with two grown children and a teenage granddaughter. He is a gourmet cook and connoisseur of fine dining and wines.
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20 South Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60603
20 South Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60603