Family law trailblazer Gemma Allen

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AmariThis month we highlight the career of a female trailblazer of the family law practice in the state of Illinois and throughout the country – Gemma B. Allen.

Gemma B. Allen is a partner in Ladden & Allen, Chartered, a family law firm she established in 1999 to offer professional, caring and accessible representation in the areas of marriage, divorce, mediation, financial settlements, and custody matters. Prior to starting this firm, she was a partner in the notable Chicago law firms McDermott, Will & Emery, and Pretzel & Stouffer, where she was co-head of the divorce division.

Not only is Allen (maiden name Cassaretto) a prominent and respected family law attorney, she is also a visionary in the legal profession. She has conducted more than two-dozen think tanks over the years, bringing together judges, mental health practitioners, clergy, attorneys and other interdisciplinary professionals to address serious family law related matters. Because of her commitment to family law, Gemma has appeared over the years on Oprah, CNN’s “Talk Back Live,” ABC and NBC television, network radio and local Chicago broadcast outlets.

She not only represents people involved in failing or difficult marriages, custody battles and the like, as a leader in this complicated field, she is also a contributing writer and blogger for Today’s Chicago Woman magazine, and a frequent contributor to Chicago Lawyer and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Gemma has written more than 100 articles and lectured on topics that include divorce, custody, pre-marital agreements, child support, representing children in divorce, maintenance, pre-marital education, and mediation. She is the author of a book, Secrets of Successful Partners, which is a compilation of interviews she conducted with successfully married couples of all ages.

Long active in the largest of the 144 lawyers’ organizations in Illinois, the 35,000 member Illinois State Bar Association, she has served as an appointed member of its Family Law Section Council and was co-chair of the Model Mediation Act sub-committee. She was appointed a member of the Illinois Governor’s Task Force on Child Support and the Task Force on Attorneys for Children. She has served on the Advisory Council on Women of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.

As a caring and responsible domestic practitioner, as a substantial community leader and contributor, Gemma is the past president of two nonprofit organizations: The Lilac Tree, a resource for women at all stages of divorce, and the Forensic Forum, a membership organization that provides a platform for forensic experts in the family law field to share information, propose legislation, and work to improve the practice of domestic relations.

Gemma repeatedly has been selected by her peers as a member of the Leading Lawyers Network and a SuperLawyer, and was named by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of Chicago’s 100 Most Influential Women – no small accomplishment.

She received a B.S. magna cum laude from Loyola University of Chicago in 1966 and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, in Ann Arbor, in 1969. She and her husband Albert Nader, founder and president of Questar Entertainment, one of the country’s leading producers, marketers and distributors of non-fiction programming, have four adult children and several grandchildren.

Gemma (Cassaretto) Allen is third generation Italian-American. Her father’s family was from Genoa. She is on the board of the Loyola University Chicago’s John Felice Rome Center. Her parents were friends with founder John Felice who then became her dear friend and mentor. She and her two children attended school there.

Gemma was appointed to the center’s alumni board and currently chairs its mentoring committee. She is also on the Foundation’s advisory board which meets annually in Rome. She has said that “While I’m a proud, dedicated American, Italy is the country of my soul.”

Gemma, along with retired Judge Michele Lowrance and financial expert Terry Savage, has just published a book about modern love. It’s called “The New Love Deal: Everything You Must Know Before Marrying, Moving In or Moving On.”


About Leonard F. Amari

Leonard F. Amari is a founding, co-managing partner of Amari & Locallo, a law firm that focuses exclusively on real estate tax assessment issues. He is a J.D. recipient from The John Marshall Law School, with honors. Amari has been a John Marshall trustee since 2000 and was elected president of the board in 2007. He is past president of the Illinois State Bar Association, a member of the Chicago Bar Association’s State and Local Taxation Committee, and a member and past president of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. He has received numerous honors from many organizations recognizing his service.

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