June 2022 – Stacy D. Phillips moderated the panel, “Invention and Reinvention of Yourself,” and presented an award at the Los Angeles Business Journal Women’s Leadership Symposium & Awards 2022, held June 29, 2022, at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. Blank Rome is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor of the event.
June 2022 – Marilyn B. Chinitz was interviewed for the article, “Where There’s a Will,” which was published by the New Yok Post on June 17, 2022. Marilyn stressed that people should consider a medical directive. “That sets out the extent of the care for the parent or loved one, should they become ill or incapacitated,” she said. She also recommended getting a power of attorney for health care. Then, “fast and effective decisions can be made on behalf of the patient,” she said.
This edition of Attorney Spotlight highlights one of my Los Angeles colleagues—Pauline Martin. Pauline has more than two decades of litigation experience, handling all areas of family law, as well as a range of clients’ other legal needs. Her commercial litigation experience, especially in partnership dissolution and employment-related matters, adds a unique perspective to her family law practice. Please enjoy learning more about her.
Pauline M. Martin is a relentless litigator who focuses on passionate advocacy for the families she represents so they can move their lives forward with dignity, security, and grace. Pauline took a circuitous route to the practice of family law, beginning her legal career as a commercial litigator with time at national law firms as well as aggressive boutique litigation firms before taking some time away from law firm life as a new mom. She also helped develop a groundbreaking insurance program, which covers the risk of paying an adversary’s attorneys’ fees in a contract dispute. The product was hailed by the legal community as a “game changer” in contract litigation and was eventually sold to a publicly traded insurance carrier.
After her then-three-year-old son suggested she go back to work so he could stay for afternoon pre-school with his friends, Pauline found a new professional home practicing family law with Stacy Phillips. Pauline has developed a passion for resolving the intimate issues of custody cases, where her background as a general litigator has been an asset as she crafts specialized and sophisticated solutions to each client’s unique issues and family needs. Pauline acts practically to find common ground with the opposing party without resorting to the kind of knee-jerk scorched earth litigation tactics that she believes many times do more harm than good. She also uses her skill and tenacity to fight in court when necessary to advance the goals of her clients when it is clear amicable resolution is no longer an option.
I love a good wedding, and even more than that, a strong, healthy marriage where both parties feel fulfilled and share control. I am going to two weddings in August, including a COVID-delayed wedding where the couple has already gotten married and had a child but are finally able to celebrate with family and friends, and the other one a new wedding.
After two years of pent-up demand due to COVID-related cancellations, rescheduling, and waiting, 2022 is predicted to be the busiest wedding season in many years, according to The Wedding Report. A good number of these may be receptions for already married couples whose weddings were derailed in 2020 and 2021, but still signify the beginning of a lifetime commitment.
While successful wedding days take months of careful planning and coordination, many couples put surprisingly smaller effort into charting out the fundamental elements and plans for their marital relationship. Having honest pre-wedding conversations with your partner about the big subjects will not only help you gain an understanding of what the rest of your life may look like, but can help mitigate, bypass, overcome, handle, or otherwise cope with control issues that could wreck your marriage. I recommend that engaged couples have open, two-way conversations surrounding their goals and expectations for family, financials, careers, and lifestyle. Ideally, these discussions should have taken place long before the engagement.
March 2022 –Stacy D. Phillips and Kristina Royce, who also serves as co-chair of the firm’s Matrimonial and Family Law practice group, were named 2022 Top Family Lawyers by the Daily Journal. In this inaugural listing by the Daily Journal, Stacy and Kristina were two of 20 family law attorneys based in California recognized as leading attorneys on matrimonial and family law matters, including marriage, adoption, divorce proceedings, child custody arrangements, and family court proceedings and related negotiations.
March 2022 –Morgan Fraser Mouchette was interviewed for the article, “How to Have the Privacy Talk with Your Partner,” which was published in Shondaland on March 23, 2022. “People have different definitions of privacy and different expectations,” she said, “and making sure that you’re on the same page about what you expect from your partner in terms of how you’ll be treated and what you consider to be private is a conversation people usually don’t have until sometimes too late.”
This edition of Partner Spotlight highlights one of my New York colleagues and co-chair of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law group—Brett Ward. Brett concentrates his practice in all areas of matrimonial and family law, including divorce, paternity, custody, and child protective matters. He has extensive experience in negotiating prenuptial, separation, and settlement agreements. Brett has significant litigation and trial experience in New York’s Family and Supreme Courts and has also successfully appeared before the appellate courts. He also has experience with international custody and child support matters. Please enjoy learning more about him.
Brett Ward is a visionary leader who is motivated to help people navigate their way through the stormiest emotional and financial situations of their lives. He has spent his entire legal career in family law, where early on he was fascinated by how it takes not only legal analysis, but also support, sympathy, and empathy, to help clients solve difficult issues. Brett is adept at assessing a client’s situation and tailoring his approach to what they need—whether it be strength, compassion, or a calming force. He delivers results for clients by combating unreasonable positions from the opposing party through his willingness to take the case to trial where the evidence, and not rhetoric, controls the day. As co-chair of the firm’s Matrimonial & Family Law Practice group, the bedrock of Brett’s leadership philosophy is a willingness to listen and build consensus for the good of the entire group. He focuses on expanding the practice of the current partners as well as building a path for the next generation of attorney talent to ensure they have the support, opportunities, and skills to build their own successful practices for the department’s long-term success.
One of the economic aftershocks that stubbornly remains more than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began is the simultaneous spike in residential real estate prices and rents, and the plummeting inventory of available housing. In fact, between March 2020 and February 2022, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan area’s median single-family home value spiked 31.4 percent to $936,546, according to Zillow.com’s median home value and market rent reports.
Whether the immediate causes of the expensive market for single-family homes are snarled supply chains, historically low interest rates, or a higher demand for larger houses with more space for an office as a by-product of more flexible remote work arrangements, the market has had a significant impact on clients in the divorces we handle. In some instances, I have witnessed house sellers receiving between 30 and 40 bids during their first (and only) weekend on the market, while in other cases I have engaged in heated court battles over how high or (how low!) to price houses in this difficult-to-gauge market.
Valentine’s day has come and gone, and in its wake, newly engaged couples are preparing to embark on one of life’s great journeys—marriage. But having a successful marriage in 2022 involves more than falling in love and finding your soulmate. It requires familiarity with the innermost workings of your partnership, including your finances. While this may make your relationship feel more like a business arrangement, couples are wise to have their eyes wide open when it comes to money. There are tremendous financial consequences that can arise during a marriage, and establishing financial intimacy is key to a healthy relationship. Couples who are getting ready to wed will benefit from making this a priority. Keep in mind these key points if you’re looking to develop your financial intimacy.
1. Communicate Openly and Honestly
Financial intimacy requires an in-depth understanding of your unique financial circumstances as a couple. It is impossible without one relationship pillar: communication. Initiating open lines of communication early on in your relationship can help build a strong foundation of trust for the future, but it’s never too late. The more you know, the more prepared you are in marriage to handle any challenges or changes that can come down the line. Discuss your assets, expenses, financial goals and wealth-building strategies. Be aware of who has access to certain records, accounts and financial documents in the marriage, and whether that access is equal. By doing so, even if you were to wind up divorcing your spouse, you are less likely to feel blindsided by the financial implications.
“Develop Financial Intimacy in Your Relationship: Tips for Newly Engaged Couples,” by Kristina Royce, was published in Worth on February 15, 2022.
This edition of Partner Spotlights highlights the importance of making a difference in our communities. Personally, I have enjoyed serving as the Founder and Chair of the Blank Rome Adopt-A-Center Program (which was formerly the Phillips Lerner Adopt-A-Center Program) for more than two decades. I also have the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors, as Board Secretary, and Executive Committee of Public Counsel, the nation’s largest provider of pro bono legal services, utilizing an innovative legal model to promote justice, hope, and opportunity in lower-income and communities of color in Los Angeles and across the nation. If you would like to make a donation to Public Counsel, that would be greatly appreciated: justgiving.com/fundraising/stacy-d-phillips.
I also encourage each of you to find ways in 2022 to help those in need in your communities, whether it be through donating to a worthy cause, volunteering your time, raising awareness of a local need, or even making a simple gesture of kindness for a neighbor. Please enjoy learning about how my colleagues Ashley Silberfeld and Morgan Fraser Mouchette have worked this past year to make an impact in their communities.
As we head into a new year, there once again is renewed hope that we are finally ready to heal our collective wounds from this pandemic that has overstayed its time with us. For the recently separated or divorced, those newly empty seats that were seen around the table at the holidays resonated, making this time of year especially difficult. Like any other stressful experience, many have “white knuckled” their way through a divorce and have not been able to process their feelings of anger, sadness, frustration, and angst in a healthy way.
For the recently separated or divorced who have children, the holidays were an especially emotional time. We had grown accustomed to full family gatherings. Now, the children may have shuttled between two gatherings on the same night or perhaps split Christmas Eve/Day or the days of Channukah. As parents, we have our own emotions to contend with but also need to be attuned to our children who may be sad and act out because of a separation or divorce.