ABOUT US

JOE SCHUMAN

Education: New Trier Township High School; BA, Magna Cum Laude, Carleton College, 1969; Master of Arts in Teaching, joint Harvard-Radcliff program, 1970; Juris Doctor, University of Chicago, 1976.

Memberships: National Lawyers Guild, Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, Illinois State Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association.

I was born December 3, 1946, at the leading edge of the baby boom that followed the sudden release of hundreds of thousands of World War II veterans. Family legend has it that women were giving birth in the hallways while nurses were asking,“Why did they let all those men out at once?”

After law school I went to work at Foss, Schuman & Drake, a mid-size firm where my father Stanton was senior partner. From Stanton, I learned the importance of exercising sound judgment, of taking a practical no-nonsense approach, and of keeping the focus on the big picture. From Morton Barnard, Stanton’s partner (and eventually mine), known as “the dean of Chicago estate planners,” I learned the ins-and-outs of the Cook County Probate Division. As Morton’s protege, I was steeped in the history, details, and philosophy of the Illinois Probate Code of which he was a principal drafter. And from a third partner, Edward Levinson, I learned that, at its best, the practice of law was a healing and pastoral profession where caring, wisdom, and compassion were as important as technical expertise.

In 1989, the firm, then known as Foss, Schuman, Drake & Barnard, ended its independent existence. I started my own practice, strictly limited to estate planning, wills, trusts, and decedents’ estates. While I tried several times to associate with other attorneys, none until Kurt was willing to commit to the standards I have tried to maintain. He received his license to practice law on November 5, 2009, and we signed our partnership agreement the following day.


KURT ISELT

Education: Stratford High School in Houston TX; BA, Vanderbilt University, 1994; Juris Doctor, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 2009.

Memberships: Illinois State Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association.

Born and raised in Texas, I had an interest in estates and trust work even when I was young. I was the only child of only children. My dad was an amateur historian and kept copious mementos of the family’s lineage and treasured the prospect of passing them through me to later generations. Thus the seed of passing on one’s heritage to later generations was planted very early. At the same time, I saw a number of instances in my extended family of poorly planned estates, where family members squabbled over inheritance both in and out of court. As I was looking towards law school, I knew that I would enjoy helping others plan their estates so that they could avoid the issues I had witnessed.

Before I applied to law school, my law partner Joe was a friend at our Buddhist temple, so I went to him for advice as I applied. Joe knew about my teaching background and encouraged me to use my teaching skills instead. I didn’t listen. During my first summer after law school, my clerking jobs didn’t fill up the work week and I asked Joe if I could help out a little at his office. He agreed and, before the summer was over, he had asked me to “partner up” after my graduation. I couldn’t ask for a better legal mentor than Joe and our clients certainly can’t do better than him either.