Distinguished Counsel, Uncompromising Ethics

Fellows of the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) are recognized by judges, other attorneys and clients as the gold standard for family law. In addition to their individual practice, Fellows conduct legal education programs, lead community outreach and support philanthropic initiatives. They also lead the charge in shaping family law legislation and enacting legal reform.

Of the several thousand family law attorneys in the State of Illinois, 110 are Academy Fellows. To earn the distinction of Fellow, these remarkable lawyers, most with decades of experience in family law, have sustained the highest principles in their practice and passed a rigorous review process.

Renowned for providing outstanding service to their clients, Illinois Fellows raise the bar for the practice of family law. Not only do they advance the profession with their exceptional advocacy and uncompromising ethics, they also benefit their clients through expert guidance and protection.

AAML Fellows address myriad issues to achieve the best outcome for their clients, including

  • Divorce
    • Alimony
  • Children
    • Custody
    • Visitation
    • Support
  • Agreements
    • Prenuptial
    • Postnuptial
  • Valuation and division
    • Business
    • Property
  • Alternative Dispute Resolutions
    • Mediation
    • Arbitration
    • Collaboration

Get to know. . .

Vanessa L HammerWhat area of family law do you find most interesting?

I focus on custody matters in particular. I’m a child of divorce, and I’m also a divorced parent who is actively and amicably co-parenting with my ex-spouse. So I bring a certain perspective to these cases, especially where children are concerned.

Why did you apply to become an AAML member?

I worked with two highly regarded Fellows, Howard Rosenfeld and Kathy Farmer, who helped me build the skills I needed to apply to the AAML, and encouraged me to do so. But I also hoped that if I was accepted, I could likewise encourage other women of color to apply, because I think sometimes there’s a perception that it’s unattainable—like you’re not part of the club. I want to bring some diversity to the AAML, first as a Fellow and then as a mentor to others.

What do you find most rewarding about the AAML?

I think it’s the confidence that people have with Academy members, not just for our skills but also in knowing that we navigated a rigorous vetting process. For me, there’s an element of enhanced trust in Fellows—perhaps because we’re part a big think tank, in a way, with Fellows across the country.

What are you most eagerly anticipating in the coming year?

My two partners and I co-founded our firm in November 2020; I got my license in 2006, so this step was a long time coming. I’m really looking forward to our continued success for our clients and our firm, providing good legal services to the people who trust us with that responsibility.

Vanessa L. Hammer, co-founder of Hammer Serna & Quinn, LLC in Chicago, can be reached at vhammer@hsqlawfirm.com and 312-372-6058.

William Boyd Scholarship for African American Law Students

Now in its second year, the AAML Illinois Chapter William Stewart Boyd Scholarship for African American Law Students is sponsored by the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. This scholarship is a one-time award of $5,000 to a first-year law student attending Illinois Law Schools during the 2022-2023 academic year.  Deadline extended to September 21, 2022!

Matthew Locke

Jasmine Guerrier