MARIE SARANTAKIS, Principal Attorney at Sarantakis Law Group, Ltd. Oak Brook, Illinois "Divorce
Marie Sarantakis, Owner of Sarantakis Law Group Ltd., mainly serving high net-worth clients in family law, made a name for herself early in her career by taking on high profile clients with intriguing cases. Her clients are usually experiencing a change in family dynamics, ranging from those getting married and amicably negotiating a prenuptial agreement to those splitting up with their former partner in the midst of a contentious divorce. Bold and tenacious, yet empathetic, Sarantakis is not afraid of a challenge. She caters to a diverse range of clients from all faiths and backgrounds, from retired professional athletes to prominent “bad guys”. Her clients include motorcycle club leaders to those with alleged ties to the Chicago syndicate. She says, “As a result of the types of cases that I was taking on, I was going head to head with the top names in my field at the inception of my career.” While some deem her crazy for working with clients with “big money and bad reputations”, Sarantakis thrives off of it, primarily building her business through referrals.
She notes, in her field, respect is not given, it is earned. Sarantakis says, “Because of the unique combination of my experience, coupled with my reputation, I was able to bypass a number of years professionally. I was deeply entrenched in the legal community. I frequently interacted with the key players in and out of the courtroom due to my active role with regional bar associations.” For instance, she currently Chairs several committees with the American Bar Association, serves on the Executive Board of a number of local volunteer legal organizations, teaches continuing education seminars to other lawyers, and authors works in legal publications across the nation.
During the course of her legal studies, she interned for the Honorable Thomas L. Kilbride of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Honorable Mary Wagner of the Kenosha County Circuit Courthouse, the Kenosha County District Attorney's Office, and the Kenosha County Public Defenders Office. Sarantakis reflects on how her most teachable moments have been in the courtroom as she has “gone against the best of the best and often learned more from opponents than professors.” But being ahead of her time is nothing new to Sarantakis, who was so driven, that she began college at the age of sixteen, by taking night school courses. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in Political Science and Philosophy at Carthage College as a Clausen Scholar. Sarantakis then attended The John Marshall Law School where she was a member of the Law Review and Chief Magistrate of the school’s Phi Delta Phi Honor Society. It was in that role she came to know the late Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court and had the opportunity to present him with an inaugural Gavel Award in a prestigious ceremony.
Sarantakis, always ahead of the curve, began her firm immediately after graduation. She loved being in the courtroom. In addition to her work as a litigator, Sarantakis is trained as a collaborative law practitioner, Guardian ad Litem representing children, parenting coach, and mediator. She has been quoted by the likes of the Pew Research Center for her specialized work in pet custody matters and has been featured as guest on Fox News Radio. Sarantakis has been recognized in Chicago Magazine as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers for the last three years. “Despite my age, my clientele and involvement in the legal community have proven that age is, in fact, just a number”, said Sarantakis..
While being active in the community and taking on prominent cases has played a role in her success, she explains that her firm is also committed to building personal relationships with clients and colleagues. She says, “We treat our clients like family. We often meet people when they are going through the most difficult transition of their lives. They are not only trying to fight to keep what they have, but trying to rebuild themselves, their entire lives, and identities, in the process.” Sarantakis understands how her clients are experiencing traumatic events, and that is why she ensures she is readily available for them. She notes that some of her busiest times include holidays, weekends, and evenings. Sarantakis states that, “divorce lawyers play a monumental role in their client’s wellbeing. Many attorneys don’t like that pressure, on the contrary, I love how impactful my work can be. I try to be patient and understanding that clients may be going through a very dark time and that they need guidance that goes beyond their basic legal needs.”
Sarantakis takes a holistic approach to handling her clients’ matters. For that reason, she is very selective as to which cases she accepts. “I need to make sure the client and my office are a good fit. There may be times when I have the foresight to recognize that despite offering certain services, the client may be better suited elsewhere. We want our clients to be discerning when selecting us and similarly we limit the cases that we take on to those we believe will lead to a positive experience and outcome for everyone involved”. She explained that once a client has retained her firm, she works one on one with the client in examining their goals and developing a strategy for the case. Her clients play an active role in the process and she encourages them to frequently make contact with her or the firm. “We pride ourselves in our responsiveness and attention to clients’ needs as they arise”.
While reflecting on her style of practice, she describes herself as having old-school and traditional values but with the foresight of how to run a contemporary practice in the modern world. At the end of the day though, Sarantakis explains how it’s the relationships you build with your clients that determine the success of a firm. She has such a great rapport with her clients that she often finds time to celebrate with them at the end of a case and generally keeps in touch with them years after their matters conclude.
Located above the renowned Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, a gemstone museum, in Oak Brook, Illinois; Sarantakis Law Group’s elegant and contemporary space focuses on handling family law matters. Sarantakis noted however, that the firm has a network of attorney contacts that specialize in wide-range of legal fields, and therefore encourages anyone in need of legal services to make contact with her office. If Sarantakis cannot herself assist, she can often quickly match them with a trusted and reputable colleague in the community equipped to handle their legal needs.
Sarantakis takes great pride in her team. She explains, “I am very particular about who we hire. The first thing I look for when adding a member to our office is their disposition. It is critical to me that my team has a positive and upbeat attitude. We are often dealing with clients who are hurt, angry, and somber. They need to see a smiling face when they walk in the door.” The firm is growing at such a fast pace that Sarantakis anticipates their staff will double in the next year. She further explained, "I am very content to see where the business is today, how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, and the trajectory of where we are heading."
When Sarantakis isn’t at the office or in the courtroom, she is usually on the road. She lives near a resort destination in Wisconsin but her offices are located in Illinois. She regularly spends well over four hours a day in her car. She primarily practices in Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane, Kendall, and Will Counties. While most would grow weary, Sarantakis would rather enjoy the ride. Her colleagues and friends know her as having an affinity for always pulling up to court in a new luxurious black sportscar. She says, “I love driving fast German cars, trying trendy restaurants, going to the shooting range, and traveling to new destinations.” Her profession takes her all over the country, traveling to cities like New York, Miami, San Francisco, Austin, Charleston, and New Orleans. But even while traveling, she doesn’t vacation like other people: as the owner of Sarantakis Law Group, she says, she is always on call: “You feel a sense of responsibility for your clients, and the firm, and you need to put their needs before your own.” As a business owner this is par for the course, and she adds, “knowing your to do list will never be done can be unsettling for others, but for me, I find it comforting.”
Despite working long hours, her passion for family law has inspired her to author a book on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (“NPD”). Sarantakis anticipates the book to be completed in the summer of 2020. She aims to raise awareness around narcissism and how it impacts victims both inside and outside of the courtroom. She explains how NPD is commonly misunderstood, especially in the divorce context. While, anyone going through divorce is naturally going to be acting in a self-interested fashion, she notes, when a spouse has NPD it takes the trauma often associated with a divorce to another level. This is why lawyers must learn to become adaptive advocates for such victims and divorcing parties need to be aware of how to handle a Narcissistic ex
There is no denying that Sarantakis Law Group became what it is today due to its owner’s drive, commitment, passion, education and strong work ethic. But it is also Sarantakis’s strong, familial Greek roots that played a pivotal role in her success. She attributes her entrepreneurial spirit to her family. She comes from a lineage of entrepreneurs, so it’s in her blood. In her childhood, her parents owned a video store and jewellery business. When asked if she always knew that she wanted to be a lawyer, Sarantakis responded, “Absolutely. I’m Greek. As kids we’re taught you have two options. You get to decide whether you are going to be a doctor or a lawyer. If you can’t decide, then you take over your family’s business. I jest, but the seed was always set that I would pursue the law. Turns out it pursued me right back.” Sarantakis really does like to do things her way, respecting tradition and family values, but forging her own path. She is contemporary practitioner with an old soul.
Lindsay Soberano-Wilson is a Teacher and Freelance Writer of over 15 years whose work has been published both in print and online. She has experience writing feature articles and interviews for community newspapers like Markham Review and magazines like Lifestyles. In addition to an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, she holds a MA in English Literature.
Marie Sarantakis, Esq. Principal of Sarantakis Law Group, Ltd. | Attorney at Law
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