When my late grandmother heard I was going to law school, she recommended that I go into matrimonial law. It was her view that in a divorce, the real winner isn’t the husband, or the wife, but their attorneys: “The couple ends up with nothing, the lawyers end up with everything!”
That’s not exactly true. My grandmother — who worked as a doctor and not a lawyer, in a country that doesn’t have divorce — was hardly an expert on family law.
But there’s no denying that some divorces are very expensive for the couples — and very lucrative for the lawyers. One Biglaw partner and his (soon to be former) wife have racked up seven figures in legal bills. And they’re not even done yet….
Here’s the depressing tale from the Daily Mail:
A millionaire couple who met via an internet dating agency have risked ‘financial suicide’ fighting over a divorce, a court heard yesterday. Lawyer Aloke Ray and anaesthetist Charoo Sekhri have spent more than £860,000 on legal fees since separating two years ago.
At current exchange rates, £860,000 amounts to more than $1.3 million. The couple’s total wealth stands at around £4 million, or more than $6.1 million.
A High Court judge begged the warring couple to abandon the court battle, which has eroded almost a quarter of their combined wealth.
Mr Ray, 41, who is a partner at the international law firm White & Case, is a specialist in dispute resolution.
Oh, the irony. Physician, heal thyself?
But in fairness to Aloke Ray, the divorces of law firm partners often get ugly. See, e.g, Steven Simkin of Paul Weiss (fighting over who should get stuck with Madoff-related losses); Frederick Tanne of Kirkland & Ellis (fighting over who has herpes); Ira Schacter of Cadwalader (fighting over who attacked whom).
Back to the Ray/Sekhri divorce:
Dr Sekhri, 39, is a paediatric anaesthetist who had worked at Great Ormond Street children’s hospital and had been living in Ealing, West London.
The court’s family division heard that the ‘highly intelligent, successful’ professionals were married for less than two years, after meeting through an online dating agency in December 2008….
The couple married in December 2009, a year after they met, and had a son another year later. But within months of the birth they began having violent arguments, and separated soon afterwards.
I wonder which internet dating service they used. It sounds like this wasn’t a Match made in heaven; OkCupid’s arrow missed its mark, causing disHarmony.
What’s driving the big legal bill? It’s partly due to litigation over where to litigate:
[T]he couple, who are both of Indian origin and currently live in Singapore, have spent a fortune arguing about where their divorce should be heard, even before the proceedings have begun.
Dr Sekhri, who qualified as a doctor in India in 1996 and trained as an anaesthetist in London, issued divorce proceedings in London last April.
The city has been nicknamed the ‘divorce capital of the world’ in legal circles, because its reputation for generous pay-outs for wives mean women are eager to have their divorces heard in Britain.
Showering money on wives who divorce their husbands: add that to Mark Herrmann’s list of things the Brits do better.
Let’s hope that Aloke Ray and Charoo Sekhri heed the words of the judge presiding over their case, who has urged them to abandon their legal battle and reach a sensible resolution. Here at Above the Law, we strongly support enhanced job opportunities for attorneys — but permanent employment for divorce lawyers isn’t what we had in mind.