This edition of Attorney Spotlight highlights one of my Los Angeles colleagues in Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law Group—Erica Swensson.
Recently promoted to of counsel at the firm, Erica and I first met in 2007 when we found ourselves on opposing sides of a number of cases.
She impressed me so much that she later became my first hire at Blank Rome. It has been a delightful experience seeing my relationship with Erica transform from a worthy adversary to an amazing coworker and friend. Please enjoy learning more about her.
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.
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.
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.
September 2021 – Michelle M. Gervais was named to Tampa Style’s 2021 Attorneys of the Year list. According to the magazine, the Attorneys of the Year, who were nominated by Tampa Style’s readers, “exemplify a standard of excellence in their profession and have garnered the respect and esteem of their colleagues.” This year’s honorees were profiled in Tampa Style’s September 2021 special issue. Michelle’s Attorney of the Year profile designated her as “The Fixer.”
September 2021 – Marilyn B. Chinitz was interviewed by The New York Times on how the return to normalcy, or at least semi-normalcy, could mean that couples are finally completing divorces they were forced to delay. Defending a divorced client now “is a lot more complicated and detailed than it used to be,” Chinitz explained. “I’ve had to work through the kind of custody issues that did not exist before COVID-19 struck,” she said. “I mean, who could have ever thought back then that we would be hearing plaintiffs and defendants arguing over whether or not the nanny should be vaccinated, or a request that only people wearing masks could play with their children. And then there’s ‘I do not want my child to be educated remotely — I want him or her in school.’”
August 2021 – Jacqueline Combs served as a panelist for the University of California, Los Angeles (“UCLA”) UCLA Extension course “Women, Wealth and Wisdom: Legal Updates,” which was held on August 25, 2021. Jacqueline and her fellow panelists shared their experiences with and knowledge of important legal topics such as family law, including planning for marriage, divorce, minor children, and pets.
This edition of Partner Spotlight highlights one of my Los Angeles colleagues and co-chair of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law Group—Kristina Royce. Kristina has dedicated her practice to advising distinguished individuals involved in high-stakes, complex financial and custody matters. Her work has involved valuations, tracings and cash flow analyses, move-aways, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and mediation. She is well-known for winning difficult cases, finding solutions to complex matters, and for her steadfast discretion. Please enjoy learning more about her.
Kristina Royce is a natural leader who enjoys the challenge of putting together the pieces of tremendously complex financial puzzles as she negotiates sophisticated solutions to meet her clients’ goals. She followed in her father’s footsteps to become an attorney and fell into family law by accident, but it has been the perfect fit for her skillset. Early in her career, Kristina was mentored by attorney Glenn Buzard as she developed an acumen for complex financial settlements, learned how to question and cross examine accountants and tax experts, and honed her leadership skills. Kristina, Glenn, and three other attorneys joined Blank Rome together in 2019 from one of Los Angeles’ most prominent family law firms, Buter, Buzard, Fishbein & Royce LLP.
Now serving as co-chair of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law Practice Group, Kristina imparts to her team the important lessons and advantages of understanding the financial consequences of divorce. Her clients include high-net-worth celebrities, actors, musicians, doctors, lawyers, private equity managers, and other business owners with unique financial circumstances that require a deep understanding of royalties, residual income, and valuations. While Kristina is a fierce advocate for her clients in both settlement negotiations and in the courtroom, she has also recently become involved in serving as a mediator, bringing her strong financial background to designing unique financial solutions that meet the goals of both parties.
June 2021 – Stacy D. Phillips moderated a panel that she organized for the Los Angeles Business Journal (“LABJ”) Women’s Leadership Series & Awards 2021, which was held as a multi-part virtual event series. Stacy’s panel, “Organization Inclusion,” included the co-chair of Blank Rome’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee James D. Kelly and took place online via Zoom on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. In addition to creating and moderating her panel, Stacy was honored to serve as a judge and award presenter for the live awards event held online via Zoom on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.
June 2021 – Stacy D. Phillips was listed in the 2021 Los Angeles 500 Most Influential People by the Los Angeles Business Journal, marking her sixth consecutive year being honored in this prestigious listing of leaders and executives who are praised by the publication for having demonstrated “innovation and agility in the face of unprecedented challenges over the past year.” Stacy was recognized in the LA500’s Law category and was profiled on the significant accomplishments from her nationally recognized family law practice.
June 2021 – Michelle M. Gervais served as a panelist for the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s webinar, “Representing Professional Athletes in Divorce and Paternity Suits,” which was held online on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Michelle and her co-panelists discussed the challenges of representing professional athletes in divorce and paternity suits, including keeping a very public person’s life private, dealing with unique contract issues, and paternity/support which could involve different jurisdictions.