For 16 years, Lori Vitale practiced family law first as an associate, and then as a partner at a well-established Raleigh law firm. But in 2011 she struck out on her own, starting a law firm that focused exclusively in the area. That firm, Vitale Family Law, has since been ranked Tier 1 in Raleigh for family law by U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” 2017, a remarkable achievement for a firm that opened its doors just five years ago.
“At my previous firm I had a number of very knowledgeable mentors, so when it came to starting my own firm, I wanted to emulate what I had learned from them,” Vitale says. “I’m very proud of how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, and the root of that growth has really been the strong mentoring I received early on in my career.”
Indeed, Vitale has long been recognized as an authority in her field. Since 2001, she has been board certified as a family law specialist by the North Carolina State Bar, and for the past 11 years she has been included in The Best Lawyers in America. Moreover, Vitale has assumed a number of prominent professional leadership positions, serving as president of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2015, and as a past Chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Family Law Section and the Wake County Bar Association’s Professionalism Committee. She has also planned and taught a number of family law continuing legal education seminars.
“What has always interested me about family law is the human component of the practice,” Vitale says. “There’s a transformation that happens from the time people come into the office to the time they leave, and one of my goals is to give clients the tools and guidance they need to transition into a new stage in their lives.”
To that end, Vitale has cultivated relationships with lawyers in areas outside of family law, as well as with experts in fields such as psychology, real estate, and finance, to gain a better understanding of all the issues that can affect a client’s case. “Family law is constantly evolving, and every case has unique factors, so as a firm we’ve worked hard to remain on the cutting edge of the law,” Vitale notes.
"Our overarching goal is to resolve disputes without damaging relationships."
Joining Vitale as a senior attorney at the firm is Kimberly Wallis, who came to Vitale Family Law after serving as a partner at another leading Raleigh family law firm. Like Vitale, Wallis has benefited from knowledgeable mentors over her career, and she is also board certified as a family law specialist. She brings to the firm her experience from practicing family law for nearly two decades as well as clerking for the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Wallis and Vitale’s combined expertise has proved invaluable for litigating complex financial and custody cases and successfully settling cases through negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.
“Our overarching goal is to resolve disputes without damaging relationships, and that often requires us to be creative with our solutions while still being mindful of the practical aspects of the case,” Vitale says. “It’s a more personal, client-focused way of practicing family law, so it helps to have that high level of experience.”
In her practice, Vitale has mentored the firm’s next generation of family lawyers—associates Ryan Tarrant and Rebecca Poole—on this approach, and she notes that their success has helped propel the firm forward: “I had very good mentors who taught me how to be a lawyer, and I’m trying to do something similar for the younger lawyers who work here. To be a great lawyer, it takes dedication to your practice, profession, and community, and I’m proud of the commitment they’ve shown to growing their skill sets.”
Already, Tarrant is board certified as a family law specialist and Poole is in the process of becoming certified as a family law specialist and a parenting coordinator. Tarrant also teaches family law continuing legal education seminars, and he was recently named to Super Lawyers’ 2017 Rising Stars list. Poole, meanwhile, has channeled her passion for family law into serving as an attorney volunteer in domestic violence custody court, and she stays abreast of changes in the law by writing case law summaries for Family Forum, a newsletter published by the NCBA’s Family Law Section.
“We are a family-oriented law firm, and our aim is ultimately to set clients up for success,” Vitale says. “What we’ve learned over the years is that taking a specialized, personal approach is the best way to make that happen.”