Divorce

Professor Hans von Puppet

Professor Hans von Puppet

My number one rule of lawyer advertising is to always avoid “old guy in suit in front of books,” but there are limits. And that limit falls somewhere beyond a dark Metallica tribute and somewhere around putting an ersatz Muppet in front of a camera to shill for a law firm.

Yes, this is a puppet. Promoting a law firm. Specifically, Professor Hans von Puppet.

What the holy hell?

I had to watch it a few times to convince myself I wasn’t having an acid trip. Or watching some high-concept sitcom.

With all the hubbub over cigarette companies advertising to kids, where was the outrage over a law firm making lawyering look fun?

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Michael Allen

Michael Allen

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Michael Allen is Managing Principal at Lateral Link, focusing exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

When an Am Law 50 partner filed for divorce in 2010, she had no idea she was ending not only her marriage, but also her tenure as a Biglaw partner. The career she built on three degrees and over thirty years of hard work, ended unceremoniously as a casualty of a rancorous divorce.

What went wrong? It’s no secret that Biglaw firms scarcely differ from large corporations when it comes to employees’ personal matters. They tend to take a laissez-faire approach, unless they are pressured to protect the firm’s image or assets. The managing partner of the local office explained to her that it would be important to the firm that the partner’s productivity or the office atmosphere not be impacted by the divorce, but was otherwise unconcerned with the proceedings.

Jaffe & Clemen’s ace divorce attorney, Frisco Fayer, explicates that “[m]ost modern big firms recognize the need to support their partners and they do so whenever possible. That said, the demands placed on a divorcing partner by his or her career are not going to disappear. The partner’s clients are still going to expect the same level of service and the other partners in the firm are still going to be interested in maintaining billable hours.”

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When you are starting your solo practice from scratch with no connections, clients, or money, expect to make many sacrifices in the beginning. You must sacrifice time with friends and family to attend networking events meeting people — most of them in the same position as you. You will miss many Simpsons episodes to read legal treatises and practice guides. Money will be spent to pay for office overhead — gifts, luxuries, and even student loan payments will have to wait.

Unfortunately, for one solo attorney, her pursuit of professional success required her to sacrifice one of life’s most treasured partnerships: her marriage. Over the weekend, solo practitioner Vivian Sobers announced on her blog that she and her husband of 11 years have decided to separate and eventually divorce.

Vivian’s story is not unusual. Most of us in our line of work have either experienced rocky relationships ourselves or know someone who has. What is unusual is that she is open about it, and I commend her for that. But here’s the question: is her law practice is to blame for the divorce, or did she bring this upon herself by choosing her career over family?

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* Justice Sotomayor would like to remind you that just because you’ve been to one Indian casino, that doesn’t mean all Native Americans are fantastically wealthy. [KGOU]

* Nor is every Native American cured by this news, but this is certainly a start — the Department of the Interior will sign a $554 million settlement in the breach of trust case brought by the Navajo nation. [Buckley Sandler LLP]

* A Peruvian woman has sued Disney for $250 million because she alleges that Frozen is a rip-off of her life story. Because she has magic ice powers? I guess. Actually, it looks like the only connection is that she lived in a cold place and had a sister. This reminds me of my lawsuit against Chuck Palahniuk for basing Fight Club on my life story. Not that I ran anarchic underground fight clubs, but because one-time at camp I made a bar of soap. [Bustle]

* Law professor goes after revenge porn and patent trolls because he’s trying to win the title of best person ever. [Brooklyn Paper]

* Harold Hamm, Continental Resources’ Chairman and CEO — and former energy adviser to Mitt Romney — is staring down the barrel of a massive divorce settlement. So he takes a page from Romney’s adversary. Hamm is arguing that his fortune… he didn’t build that! He was just the beneficiary of a good market rather than a contributing factor so he doesn’t have to share. [Upstream Online]

* The CAC launches a new series on the Roberts Court at 10. It’s hard to believe how long ago that was. When the Chief Justice took over we still thought the ending of Lost was going to make sense! [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Winston & Strawn lawyer turned famous LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya opened a new show in London. Sculptures made of thousands and thousands of hand-assembled bricks. Just in case you were wondering if there was a task more boring than document review. [Yahoo! Canada News]

* Paul Clement and Mike Carvin offer a SCOTUS preview. [Heritage Foundation]

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Dr. N. Robert Riordan

Dr. N. Robert Riordan is a graduate of NYU School of Law and a former U.S. securities attorney for London- and Sydney-based Herbert Smith Freehills. After 10 years of practice in New York, London and Rome, he made the switch from corporate law to private practice as a clinical psychologist. Dr. Riordan now acts as a therapist to dozens of NYC attorneys. The following is the second of a two-part interview with Dr. Riordan. (You can read the first part here.)

ATL: In addition to professionals like attorneys, whom do you see in your private practice?

The remainder of my practice focuses on couples. I work with two distinct types of couples. First, I see couples whose romantic relationships are in crisis. The goal here is to improve their bond to one another. I happen to see many couples where both parties are professionals, and, most often, each member of the couple is struggling to balance personal and professional demands.

ATL: I would imagine that couples come to treatment for a variety of reasons.

I work with many couples whose connection to one another has been strained by things like demanding careers, childrearing, or an unexpected financial hardship. These couples are looking to recapture the connection that originally brought them together and to start working as a partnership again. Also I work with a handful of couples who are facing specific challenges, like infidelity or the loss of a child.

ATL: Has your training as an attorney prepared you for the conflicts that presumably arise in couples’ therapy?

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Dan Markel

As I mentioned in my earlier story about the horrific killing of Professor Dan Markel, I knew Dan since our days working together on the Harvard Crimson. Back then, he was Dan E. Markel ’95 and I was David B. Lat ’96. We both wrote columns and would edit each other’s work. We didn’t often agree — I was even more conservative back then, and he was, well, not conservative — but we respected each other’s thinking and writing.

After graduating from Harvard College (A.B.), Cambridge University (M. Phil.), and Harvard Law School (J.D.), Dan went on to have a tremendous career in law practice and teaching. He clerked for Judge Michael Daly Hawkins on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as an associate at Kellogg Huber, the insanely elite D.C. litigation boutique. He then joined the faculty of the Florida State University College of Law, where at the time of his death he held an endowed chair as D’Alemberte Professor of Law. A prolific scholar in the areas of criminal law and punishment, he published numerous law review articles, pieces for general-interest news outlets like the New York Times and Slate, and a book, Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties (aff. link).

But Dan was much more than the sum of his résumé items. Here are some testimonials and memories, from myself and others who knew him….

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Dan Markel

Professor Dan Markel of Florida State University College of Law, a well-known legal academic and law blogger, was shot in his home on Friday. He died of his wounds on Saturday. He was 41. We noted the news in Morning Docket and followed the news over the weekend on our Twitter feed.

I was friends with Markel, whom I knew since we worked together on the college newspaper, and in a subsequent story I will review his life and career and share some personal reflections. He was a great scholar and a wonderful person, as reflected in the outpouring of grief within legal academia, the legal blogosphere, and beyond.

In this post, I will summarize and analyze what we know (and don’t know) about Dan Markel’s terrible and tragic death….

(Please note the multiple UPDATES added to the end of this post.)

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On Monday, we noted the surprising news of a young partner leaving Wachtell Lipton to start his own boutique firm. Given the rarity of partner departures from the super-lucrative Wachtell, my colleague Staci Zaretsky described the news as “basically like seeing a unicorn.”

Why did Jeremy Goldstein, a 40-year-old partner in the firm’s executive-compensation practice, leave WLRK? The American Lawyer piece about Goldstein’s move painted a happy picture of a lawyer striking out on his own to be more entrepreneurial and to run his own business.

But we wonder if there’s more to this story than meets the eye….

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Attorney Marilyn York

No doubt divorce can be a messy game. Hurt feelings, name-calling, emotional tug-of-war on impressionable children, and a pitched battle for financial security are all par for the course. Divorce attorneys are thus often the most combative of the already combative breed of lawyers. It’s how you end up with lawyers telling the other side that they plan to anally rape them.

But usually divorce attorneys steep their public persona in platitudes about “fighting for you,” saving the nasty “anal rape” stuff for behind closed doors.

But this attorney has a different approach, putting out a TV commercial that riffs on every awful stereotype of women ever, to appeal to the jilted husbands of the world….

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Fighting over the Lawyerly Lair.

Law firms are relatively secretive institutions. Since they’re not public companies — at least not here in the United States, in the year 2014 — they aren’t required to reveal that much about their internal workings. Here at Above the Law, we do what we can to shed light on how law firms work, but there’s only so much we can do.

Every now and then, public filings disclose information about law firm operations — including information about one of the most sensitive subjects, partner pay. Sometimes we learn about partner compensation when a partner files for bankruptcy. Sometimes we hear about it when a partner goes through an ugly divorce.

That’s once again the case today. A complicated divorce, complicated enough to spawn ancillary litigation in the form of contempt proceedings, sheds light on how one white-shoe law firm pays its partners….

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