Alumni Spotlight

Jeff Greenblatt '73

Jeff Greenblatt's reputation precedes him. Named among the top 50 divorce lawyers in the Washington, D.C. area by the Washingtonian, he's also a "Super Lawyer" in the Baltimore area, and widely recognized as a name no one wants to encounter on the other side of a domestic law case. He sees himself as a hard-working crusader.

Even with his reputation, and after 33 years at Brodsky, Greenblatt & Renehan, he still works six days a week until eight o'clock at night. His depth of knowledge covers everything from procedural details that can flummox the opposition to the proclivities of the judges who may hear his cases�if they're not settled first.

He is a dean of domestic law.

How did he reach this formidable pinnacle in his career?

"A lot of hard work," he says. But it's something more: It's also passion.

Get Greenblatt going on the injustice of a more powerful spouse taking the other for a ride during divorce proceedings, and he still grows livid. Infuriated. That passion is what's kept him in the business, since he took a clerkship while a student at WCL in 1972.

"One of the things that surprised me when I first started practicing was how some people just got beat up," he remembers. "Lawyers weren't protecting them or weren't spearheading the offense, and people just got run over. That bothered me."

It bothered him when women would come in with no knowledge of the family finances, virtually destitute because their husbands had cut off all funds. It bothered him when the wife of a respected physician came in on crutches with bruises on her face because her husband had beaten her.

Because of these personal stories and others, asserts Greenblatt, "I got on my white horse and put on my white hat and decided I was going to champion their cause." He defends the "downtrodden" against the more powerful. "I act as the shield, and the sword."

Greenblatt got his start through WCL Professor Barney Welsh, who assigned his students to local attorneys. Well-connected to the Montgomery County Bar community, Welsh sent Greenblatt to Jackson Brodsky, where he clerked one day a week for a semester.

It was a life-altering experience.

Along with the usual research and filing, Greenblatt had direct contact with clients. When Brodsky suggested he take on a small case himself, he dug in. His client was awarded 15 times what Brodsky had expected.

At the end of the semester, Greenblatt thanked his mentor, a giant in family law and in stature�he stood six feet six inches tall in size 15 shoes. Brodsky was known for an abrupt manner and brilliant success, but also for a lack of organizational prowess. "This has to be one of the greatest experiences I've ever had," Greenblatt told him. "I just want to thank you for making my law school experience so meaningful." Looking up at him from behind his desk, Brodsky considered Greenblatt quizzically and asked, "What are you talking about? Didn't I ask you to stay?"

Greenblatt did stay, joining the firm when he graduated in 1973. He became partner in 1976 and in 1978 took over as managing partner. By 1980, when Brodsky retired, he was senior partner as well.

He credits WCL for much of his success, beginning with Dean Goostree, who admitted him on the strength of his grades and extracurriculars rather than LSAT scores�low because Greenblatt does not test well. Goostree took a chance and, says Greenblatt, "I am forever grateful." He also counts himself fortunate to have learned from O'Neil Smalls, a master of procedure who could tangle opponents in the "flypaper" of detail; and Elliott Milstein, who first introduced Greenblatt to the prosecutor's office. For all of this, he contributes his own time and money to the law school, serving on the Dean's Advisory Council and maintaining membership in the John Sherman Myers Society.

"I am where I am today because of Dean Goostree," says Greenblatt. "I thank him and the law school all the time, and it is my pleasure and, I feel, my obligation, to give back."