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All's Fair in Love and Divorce

Or it is when Sherby Scurto is one of the attorneys

Published in 2021 Illinois Super Lawyers magazine

Sherby D. Scurto served as a stenographer during Vietnam, then came to the legal profession late in life, finding that family law presented her with an opportunity to use her talents in a rewarding way. 

“The law was always something I was drawn to,” she recalls. “I thought I was going to do employment law, because I had a master’s in [industrial and organizational] psychology, but once I got into the actual practice and I did my first divorce case, I was like a fish in water.”

It was where she felt she could be of greatest use. “The parties absolutely hated each other at the beginning, and they had children,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘Being a mother, I get it. These people have to raise their children, and deal with grandchildren and the odd family occasion.’ The marriage is broken, but you have to learn to cooperate for the benefit of the children. … When I got feedback from people who hated each other when they began, and they tell me about their co-parenting skills and thank me, I said, ‘This is it.’ And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”

Even though Scurto took a circuitous route, the law was written in the stars. “I’m a Libra, and I’m always trying to balance out things,” she says. “My decisions are usually made by circumstance. I don’t like a lot of friction. I just like balance. I always thought [about] the scales of justice—the law is blind, and this is where I should be.”

The questions she asks, going into any case, are predicated on fairness—for both parties—and she articulates that at the outset. “I tell clients, ‘You’re interviewing me while I’m interviewing you, because we may not be a match,’” she says. “If you’re just vicious and want to go for the jugular, I am not that kind of attorney. If you’ve decided that you want to go through a divorce and move on with your life, then, for me, it’s all about fairness from that point on.”

Sometimes Scurto’s methods aren’t persuasive enough to a client, and they have to go to trial. She recently came off an exhausting one, from which she is currently recovering. Thinking about the years ahead, she’s considering pulling back and possibly becoming a tarot card reader. “I don’t want to be full-time forever,” she says, noting that she’s married with a son, daughter-in-law, and 8-year-old granddaughter, and wants to be around them as much as possible. 

“I want to just take cases where I feel like my type of lawyering skills would be beneficial,” she says, “and leave the jugular-type stuff to someone else.”

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