Schulte Roth & Zabel Assists Survivors in Critical Real Estate Matters

At this year’s Above & Beyond, Sanctuary will honor Gregory Pressman of Schulte Roth & Zabel for his invaluable assistance in multiple cases involving real estate matters.

At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary for Families is pleased to honor its go-to real estate counsel, Gregory Pressman of Schulte Roth & Zabel, LLP, with an Above & Beyond Award for his invaluable assistance to Sanctuary’s clients in multiple cases involving real estate matters.

Greg Pressman is a well-known and extremely accomplished real estate lawyer who has generously shared his expertise and decades of experience to help Sanctuary’s clients navigate complex and critical real estate matters that arise as part of the client’s domestic violence or matrimonial cases. In the cases that Greg has worked on, abusers often attempt to use ownership and financing of real estate, including the family’s home, as a means of control and intimidation against Sanctuary’s clients. The Sanctuary team, with Greg’s help, has worked on several cases where the team has been able to educate clients as to their rights with respect to real estate matters, work with clients to come up with innovative strategies in unusual and particularly complex cases, and help clients fight for their rights with respect to their homes and real estate assets (which are often used by abusers to jeopardize a client’s sense of security, sense of stability, and financial independence). For example, Greg was instrumental in helping a client and her children recover their rightful share of the proceeds of the sale of the family home through an escrow arrangement in a case where her husband had left the country and married again without the client’s knowledge.

Greg is both a trusted advisor and a critical member of several litigation teams where real estate matters are central to the outcome of cases. Greg’s thorough understanding of real estate law, real estate ownership and financing documents, and negotiation strategies has been invaluable to clients. In a case where the client’s abuser is using the foreclosure of the family home and associated debt to exert coercive control over the client, Greg has offered invaluable insight into the complex foreclosure matters, employed strategic negotiations, and worked on innovative settlement solutions to obtain the best outcome for our client.

Greg is always willing to assist the Sanctuary lawyers in any way they need him to, from reviewing mortgage documents, answering questions about sales of client’s homes and real estate foreclosure issues to leading negotiations and coming up with novel and creative litigation strategies that involve thinking out of box. Greg is very responsive and has spent countless hours advising clients, the Sanctuary lawyers and other pro bono counsel in spite of his busy schedule. He will even call the Sanctuary team on weekends to answer questions. He always goes above and beyond in his representation of Sanctuary’s clients, such as visiting the client’s property to better understand why the house is in foreclosure and assess its potential value better and personally contacting and staying in touch with a referee appointed to oversee the foreclosure of a house so as to keep the client updated and informed in order to obtain the best possible outcome in a difficult situation.

While Greg’s dedication in generously volunteering his time and skills in real estate matters has made him an invaluable resource to Sanctuary, what really stands out is that Greg treats every client with respect, dignity, and compassion as he empowers clients with respect to their rights. Greg also has a great appreciation for the dedication, skills, and stress level that Sanctuary’s lawyers work under and therefore wants to share his time and knowledge with them and be a part of the team. Greg’s involvement with Sanctuary started many years ago when he successfully advised Sanctuary on a critical mortgage matter involving Sanctuary’s Sarah Burke House shelter, which led to Sanctuary inviting Greg to join the Sanctuary Board in 2007. Greg served on Sanctuary’s Board from 2007 to 2016 and during his board tenure worked closely with Sanctuary on real estate matters involving Sanctuary’s office space. In the past few years, Greg has become involved with direct client pro bono work (even connecting clients to Sanctuary), which he has done with great energy and dedication for the last several years. Sanctuary is pleased to honor Greg for his countless contributions towards helping and empowering Sanctuary’s clients.

Join us at our Above & Beyond Awards Ceremony on November 2, 2022, as we honor Greg Pressman’s outstanding pro bono work.


If you can’t join us, but would like to support Sanctuary’s work, please consider making an Above & Beyond donation here.

Tushna Gamadia is an of counsel in the Real Estate Group at Morrison & Foerster LLP, works with Sanctuary for Families’ clients on pro bono cases and is a member of Sanctuary for Families Pro Bono Council.

Schulte Roth & Zabel team successfully advocates for domestic violence survivor against abuser and aggressive opposing counsel

At this year’s Above & Beyond Pro Bono Achievement Awards and Benefit, Sanctuary for Families is honoring a team from Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (SRZ) for their incredible and tireless efforts on behalf of “Nancy”, a woman who fled her abusive spouse and faced numerous obstacles in Family Court as she fought for custody of her eight-year-old son.

Jaclyn Neely is an litigation associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  She works on a number of pro bono matters with Sanctuary, including the Human Trafficking Intervention Court Pro Bono Project, and is a member of Sanctuary’s Pro Bono Council.

At this year’s Above & Beyond Pro Bono Achievement Awards and Benefit, Sanctuary for Families is honoring Taleah E. Jennings, Mari S. Dopp, and Carly J. Halpin of leading law firm Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (SRZ). They are being recognized for their incredible and tireless efforts on behalf of “Nancy”, a woman who fled her abusive spouse and faced numerous obstacles in Family Court as she fought for custody of her eight-year-old son and navigated a Child Neglect and Abuse case brought by the Administration for Children’s Services against her child’s father.  The SRZ team addressed the ever-increasing challenges in stride, achieving successes along the way and ensuring that Nancy was not subjected to the aggressive tactics of her husband’s attorney. 

Complicating Factors

When Nancy fled her home with her eight-year-old son to relocate to a safe space away from her abusive husband, she had no idea what legal obstacles lay ahead.  Shortly after she left, Nancy sought a temporary order of protection from her husband and also filed for custody and child support in Family Court.  Mere weeks after Sanctuary for Families began working with Nancy and referred her case to the Schulte Roth & Zabel team—consisting of Taleah E. Jennings, Mari S. Dopp, and Carly J. Halpin—the Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”) filed a Child Neglect and Abuse case against Nancy’s husband.

The ACS action, otherwise known as an “Article 10” case, greatly complicated the legal tableau and was an additional stressor on Nancy, who was already going through a great deal of stress after finally escaping a long-term abusive relationship.  While the Article 10 case was filed against Nancy’s husband, not Nancy, the case was based on his abuse of Nancy and their son’s exposure to that abuse, and Nancy was thus compelled to play a central role.  The strain on Nancy was heightened when Nancy’s husband hired an unduly aggressive private attorney.

Combatting Aggressive Tactics

Instead of seeking documents and testimony from ACS, the opposing counsel sought unreasonably broad categories of documents from Nancy and tried to submit Nancy to a deposition and her son to a mental health evaluation.  Both experiences would have been extremely traumatic, and would have forced Nancy and her son to revisit the abuse she suffered in explicit detail.

Luckily, Nancy had the support of Sanctuary and the Schulte Roth team, who were able to effectively counter the opposing counsel and win over the Family Court Judge, as well as the attorney assigned to the child.  Taleah, Mari, and Carly put their strong legal writing and oral advocacy skills to use, and the team successfully opposed the motion to submit the child to a mental health evaluation.  Their tenacity led the father’s attorney to withdraw many of his previous unreasonable requests.

Thanks in large part to their strong advocacy, the opposing counsel approached Nancy’s legal team and proposed a settlement for the various other pending legal actions on very favorable terms—including full custody for Nancy and an agreement that the father would go to therapy.  The parties continue to work toward a global resolution to resolve the various outstanding legal actions.

Reflecting on the Case so Far

This experience has been both rewarding and challenging for the SRZ team.  They appeared in court on numerous occasions, drafted voluminous court filings, and negotiated with the husband’s lawyer at length.  For Mari, a mid-level associate, this case has been a great opportunity for her to appear and argue in court and establish a strong relationship with a client whom she could help on a personal level.  “Safety is something I take for granted,” Mari explained.  “To be able to use the skills I have as a lawyer to help ensure the safety of someone else has been incredibly rewarding.”

Taleah, a partner in the Litigation Group at SRZ (and also a member of the Sanctuary for Families’ Board or Directors), praised the collaboration between Sanctuary and her SRZ team, explaining that they all worked together throughout the case—from strategizing to drafting and appearing in court.  Sanctuary provided support and institutional knowledge but also allowed the SRZ team to take ownership at every stage.

Maria Zhynovitch, the Sanctuary attorney supervising Nancy’s case, applauded the work of the Taleah, Mari, and Carly, and the trust they were able to cultivate with Nancy right from the beginning.  Maria noted,

“this was uncharted territory for myself and some of my supervisors . . . a lot of the issues raised in the process were really novel for us.  There was no blueprint.  But the Schulte attorneys were completely undeterred by this.”

Maria praised both the quality of the team’s research and writing and the compassion they exhibited toward Nancy.  “The way in which they related to Nancy was quite tremendous.”

While the SRZ team continues to represent Nancy in her ongoing legal matters, the positive effects of their advocacy are already apparent.  Empowered by her legal team, Nancy is not only living a life free from abuse, but she is also enrolled in an educational program and living in a safe space with her son.  The SRZ team is committed to representing Nancy as long this fight continues.

Join us at our Above & Beyond celebration on October 17, 2017 at the Highline Ballroom as we honor the Schulte Roth & Zabel team’s outstanding pro bono work. Learn more about the event here.

If you can’t join us, but would like to support Sanctuary for Family’s work, please consider making an Above & Beyond donation here.

About Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP

Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP ( is a full-service law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C. and London. As one of the leading law firms serving the financial services industry, the firm regularly advises clients on corporate and transactional matters and provides counsel on regulatory, compliance, enforcement and investigative issues. SRZ has a long history as a leader in pro bono legal work and a firm-wide legacy of contributing to the greater good.