Marriage

Social acceptance of gay marriage in the United States is often compared to social acceptance of interracial marriage. However, while interracial marriage was completely legal by 1967, majority approval of interracial marriage did not take hold until the 1990s. How does popular opinion of gay marriage today compare with the current legal status of gay marriage?

The genius at xkcd demonstrates how popular approval and legal status don’t always neatly track one another…

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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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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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Ted Olson and David Boies (photo by yours truly)

We do treat [gays] the same. None of them can get married to each other. That’s called equal protection. Are you familiar with that clause?

Stephen Colbert, speaking about same-sex marriage last night while interviewing David Boies and Ted Olson, the lawyers behind the legal challenge to Proposition 8 and the authors of a new book, Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality (affiliate link).

(More about Boies and Olson and their book, plus video footage of their Colbert Report appearance, after the jump.)

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The height of wedding season is upon us, and while others are busy tying the knot, newly engaged couples are searching for venues, florists, photographers, and everything else that becomes part and parcel of a beautiful wedding day.

Planning the perfect wedding is all about the details — from the color palette and theme you choose to the number of layers in your cake. It’s so incredibly easy to get swept away in the whirlwind of wedding bells that most soon-to-be married couples forget about the most important part: the legal issues.

That’s right, brides, there’s more to think about than those blinged-out bridal shoe decals. Please stop Pinning things to your wedding Board and consider these useful legal tips for your upcoming wedding…

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Andi Dorfman

When ABC announced that Andi Dorfman, an assistant district attorney in Atlanta, would star in this season’s The Bachelorette, we all expected the media to force her Wake Forest Law degree down our throats as evidence that she’s smarter than the standard vapid Bachelorette. And in the process we’d hear more about how law is an exciting David E. Kelley-produced reality. To ABC she’s a real-life Ally McBeal. Except Jewish, which actually would better explain McBeal’s bundle of neuroses.

So it was no surprise when ABC treated us to this insultingly stupid interview where they force Dorfman to explain how she’s using “what she learned in law school” to find a fake husband the way other law grads find fake jobs.

How does a law degree help you choose a mate?

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One of Ashley Madison’s lawyers?

Would the courts also hold a hotel room accountable? A cellphone operator if his wife called her lover on it? The car she drove? I think it would be an incredibly slippery slope to attempt to espouse blame to all the technology and inanimate objects that were utilized in an affair.

– Former lawyer Noel Biderman, founder of the website Ashley Madison, commenting on a lawsuit filed by Robert Schindler, a jilted husband who blames the infidelity service for his marital breakup.

The Biglaw year has a rhythm to it. As we approach Thanksgiving, there is an opportunity for each and everyone in Biglaw to take stock. Doing so is important, especially if one falls prey to the peculiar attempts by many to imbue meaning into Thanksgiving by “giving thanks,” before stuffing themselves into a stupor (followed by a six-hour-long “nap” on a relative’s couch and a frantic post-nap drive to some big-chain parking lot for the priceless opportunity to join the unwashed masses in a frenzied dash to save ten percent on the gadget du jour — if that is how people have their holiday fun, more power to them).

If you are going to make giving thanks a holiday focal point, at least do so mindfully. If you are still employed in Biglaw, you have a lot to think about.

If the events of this past year proved anything, it is that the change in Biglaw is irrevocable. In 2008, everyone suffered, driven by economic events bigger than the industry. In contrast, this year proved definitively that there are Biglaw firms that are winners, and getting stronger. But that list of firms is short. Most Biglaw firms are being challenged, and the responses they adopt to confront those challenges continues to be varied. Whether your firm is itching to merge at all costs, or continuing to whistle along as if nothing has changed (while frantically making moves under the radar to avoid giving even a whiff of being challenged), every Biglaw firm has wittingly or unwittingly decided on a future course. At a minimum, Biglaw lawyers should do the same on a personal level, with the understanding that for the great majority of Biglaw attorneys, career changes are more likely than career stability nowadays.

Checklists are helpful for assessing performance and ensuring that important considerations are not overlooked. While everyone’s personal checklist (or questionnaire, if you prefer) may look different, there are at least three categories that should be addressed on any Biglaw attorney’s year-end self-review: financial, professional, and personal. First, the financial….

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For lawyers considering solo practice who are married or otherwise paired up, your partner can play a significant role in determining the future success — or failure — of your firm.  Yet the role of a solo’s “silent partner” is rarely acknowledged or discussed. Here are some of the ways that a spouse, domestic partner or significant other can help make or break a solo practice.

First, the positives. Most obviously, a gainfully employed spouse can provide financial support to help get your practice off the ground.   Even if your spouse’s income doesn’t cover start-up costs like fancy office space or state-of-the-art computers, not having to worry about health insurance or a place to live while starting out will spare you from the financial pressures that force many new solos into poor choices (like accepting an unsavory client or dipping into the trust account).

Still, while your spouse’s or partner’s ability to cover family living expenses can provide some breathing room for new solos, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be living on easy street. For example, if you have substantial student loans that your spouse’s income doesn’t cover, you’ll still have to hustle to earn enough to make repayment if you’ve taken a deferral.  And if you were employed prior to starting your law firm and your lifestyle reflected your dual-income status, you’ll still have to scramble for a couple of years to attain the same earnings level that you enjoyed at your earlier position….

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ThanksgivingEd. note: This is the latest post in our series of ATL infographics — visual representations of our own proprietary data, relevant third-party data, “anecdata,” or just plain jokes.

Elie here. My first “Black Friday” (that’s the Friday after Thanksgiving for those who reject consumerism in all of its forms) while working in Biglaw, I went into the office. My second Black Friday, I went to the therapist. I didn’t make it to my third one.

Thanksgiving is next week, and while you certainly shouldn’t have to work on Thursday, Friday is a different matter. So, we’ve put together this helpful decision matrix to figure out if you actually have to drag yourself into your Biglaw office on Friday… or if you can sleep off your turkey hangover surrounded by your family and/or the escort you paid to make your holiday feel less empty…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Holiday Decision Tree: Do You Have To Work The Friday After Thanksgiving?”

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