Blank Rome Matrimonial Recognitions Roundup

Below is a roundup of the recent awards, recognitions, and other important accomplishments of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law attorneys from around the country.


Stacy D. Phillips and Kristina Royce Named 2022 Top Family Lawyers by Daily Journal

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.

Morgan Fraser Mouchette Interviewed by Shondaland on Discussing Privacy with Your Partner

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.”

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Partner Spotlight: New York

Stacy D. Phillips

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 S. Ward
New York

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.

Partner Spotlights: Giving Back to Our Communities

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.

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Blank Rome Matrimonial Recognitions Roundup

Stacy D. Phillips

An ongoing feature here is a roundup of the recent awards, recognitions, and other important accomplishments of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law attorneys from around the country.

Michelle M. Gervais Named to Tampa Style’s 2021 Attorneys of the Year

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.”

Marilyn B. Chinitz Interviewed by The New York Times on the Recent Rise in Divorce Filings

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.’”

Jacqueline Combs Speaks on UCLA Extension Course Panel

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.

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Partner Spotlight: Los Angeles

Stacy D. Phillips

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, Los Angeles

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.

Blank Rome Matrimonial Recognitions Roundup

Stacy D. Phillips

An ongoing feature here is a roundup of the recent awards, recognitions, and other important accomplishments of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law attorneys from around the country.

Los Angeles Business Journal Women’s Leadership Series & Awards 2021

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.

Stacy D. Phillips Named a 2021 “Most Influential Person” by Los Angeles Business Journal

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.

Michelle M. Gervais Featured as Panelist for American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Webinar

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.

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Partner Spotlight: New York

Stacy D. Phillips

This edition of Partner Spotlight highlights one of my New York Matrimonial & Family Law colleagues and friends and a rising star at Blank Rome—Morgan Fraser Mouchette. Morgan has quickly built a reputation for her dedication to civic work, serving as co-chair of our BR United affinity group and as a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Women’s Bar Association. She has experience representing high-net-worth clients in all aspects of family law, including divorce, child custody, property distribution, spousal support, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements, paternity agreements, and international child abduction. Please enjoy learning more about her.

Morgan Fraser Mouchette, New York
“A Rising Star”

Morgan Fraser Mouchette is a fiercely protective yet exceedingly practical attorney who is adept at listening to the needs and circumstances of each family and providing tailored support for each unique situation. Morgan joined Blank Rome after twice serving as a Summer Associate at the firm during law school. While she had no expectation of practicing matrimonial & family law, Morgan was drawn to the group because she enjoys making a positive difference in the lives of real people and helping them navigate and move on from the worst moments of their lives. After directly seeing the difficult circumstances that led to messy and drawn-out divorces, Morgan has focused her efforts on demystifying the stigmas surrounding prenuptial agreements, which are often perceived as horribly diabolical and unromantic. Her goal is to educate young professionals as to the benefits of prenuptial agreements and the importance of having one as part of a comprehensive financial plan if both partners are not on equal financial footing. She helps couples consider them as a protective measure and understand their practical purpose of helping avoid potential issues down the line in what is ultimately a legal union and merger.

To learn about Morgan’s tips for young professionals on protecting earnings and assets, watch the new on-demand webinar, “Protecting Your Assets 101: The Benefits of Wealth Management Strategies,” that she co-hosted with Blank Rome Trusts & Estates partner Sean R. Weissbart, along with Kristin O’Keeffe Merrick, Financial Advisor at O’Keeffe Financial Partners.

Blank Rome Matrimonial Recognitions Roundup

Stacy D. Phillips

Another new feature here is a roundup of the recent awards, recognitions, and other important accomplishments of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law attorneys from around the country.

Lois Liberman on New York State Bar Association Panel

March 2021 – Lois J. Liberman spoke at the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) webinar A Day in the Life: Personal Perspectives from General Counsels and Partners, held Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Lois and her co-panelists provided their personal perspectives on what it takes to excel in the GC and Partner roles, the paths one can follow, and the challenges that may come along.

Stacy Phillips Panel Moderator for Margaret J. Weber Distinguished Lecture Series 

March 2021 – Stacy D. Phillips was selected to serve as panel moderator for Women in Leadership: Navigating through Power Structures, Personal Challenges, and a Pandemic, part of the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology Margaret J. Weber Distinguished Lecture Series. The program was held online via Zoom on Thursday, March 11, 2021.

The Art of Schmoozing

March 2021 – Morgan F. Mouchette served as a panelist for the New York City Bar Association New Lawyer Institute program, The Art of Schmoozing. She joined the other panelists in discussing how to develop schmoozing skills, providing tips on how to effectively and professionally speak to new contacts, colleagues, and even potential mentors in the virtual landscape as well as in person.

Podcast: Divorce During Covid

February 2021 – Stacy D. Phillips served as a guest speaker on America Connects, a podcast hosted by radio host and public relations professional Rob Dalton. In the episode, Stacy discusses the legal issues and difficulties with navigating through a divorce during the pandemic.

Ernestine Mings Selected as 2021 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Pathfinder 

February 2021 – Ernestine J. Mings, an associate in New York, has been selected to join the 2021 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (“LCLD”) Pathfinder Program. This hallmark program is designed to provide diverse, high-potential, early-career attorneys with practical tools for developing and leveraging professional networks through relationship-building skills, foundational leadership skills, and an understanding of career development strategies applicable to both in-house and law firm practice. 

Alan Feigenbaum Featured as Speaker for Celesq® AttorneysEd Center Live Webinar

February 2021 – Alan R. Feigenbaum, of counsel in New York, was a featured speaker for the Celesq® AttorneysEd Center live webinar, “Parenting Amidst Divorce in New York—Will Parenting Ever Be ‘Routine’ after 2020?” which was held on February 26, 2021. The hour-long CLE program explored the complexities of contested custody proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will the Law Firm Diversity Push Falter as Protests Fade? 

February 2021 – Morgan F. Mouchette was interviewed by Bloomberg Law on whether law firms will follow through on pledges to improve diversity and inclusion, months after the mass protests over racial justice and equity. “What has helped me to stay in this industry and at my firm has been strong relationships with advocates. They consistently look out for me and ensure that I have the things I need to succeed in this corporate environment,” Mouchette said. 

Michelle Gervais Named Among America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators 

January 2021 – Michelle M. Gervais has been named to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators, an annual directory that recognizes the nation’s most exceptional attorneys in high value, high stakes litigation matters. To be considered for selection to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®, an attorney must have litigated (for either plaintiff or defendant) a matter with the fate of a business worth at least two million dollars at stake.

Article: A Decade Later: Are We Far Afield From ‘Fields v. Fields’? 

January 2021 – Alan R. Feigenbaum authored a New York Law Journal article looking back over the ten years since the Fields v. Fields decision: “It has been just over a decade since the Court of Appeals issued its decision in Fields v. Fields, 15 N.Y.3d 158 (2010). Fields ignited a discussion about how courts would, going forward, assess separate property claims. More specifically, the decision in Fields indicated at least to some degree that perhaps some assets (namely, a marital home) are so fundamental to the concept of marriage as an economic partnership that a spouse’s separate property claim to an asset of that sort—no matter how strong—would have its limits.”

Ory Apelboim Among 13 Attorneys Elected Partner at Blank Rome 

January 2021 – Ory Apelboim, an attorney in New York, has been elected partner at Blank Rome LLP effective January 1, 2021. He concentrates his practice on complex matrimonial and family law matters for high-net-worth individuals, including divorce, property distribution, child custody, spousal and child support, and marital agreements.

Podcast: Maintaining Wealth in Divorce with Michelle Gervais, Partner at Blank Rome 

December 2020 – Michelle M. Gervais served as a guest speaker on In House Warrior, a daily podcast presented by the Corporate Counsel Business Journal. In the episode, Michelle discusses the complex nature of maintaining wealth in divorce and other setbacks with host Richard Levick of LEVICK. She also shares her wisdom to our inclination to engage the triumph of hope over experience.

Blank Rome Named a “Most Admired Law Firm” by Los Angeles Business Journal

December 2020 – Blank Rome LLP has been named a “2020 Most Admired Law Firm” by the Los Angeles Business Journal as part of a special supplement recognizing the “top law firms to work for in Los Angeles.” The annual list honors regional law firms that excel in key workplace factors, including company culture, employee compensation, benefits, programs, diversity and women’s initiatives, and work-life balance. The Firm’s Los Angeles office has grown significantly over the years and boasts a robust team of 10 Matrimonial & Family Law attorneys, including four partners.

Michelle Gervais Featured as Speaker on Hot Topics on Prenups and Postnups December 2020 – Michelle M. Gervais served as speaker for the session, “Hot Topics on Prenups and Postnups,” at the 28th Annual Nuts & Bolts of Family Law Seminar, presented by the Dade County Bar Association’s Family Courts Committee and the Dade Legal Aid / Put Something Back Program, held Friday, December 4, 2020.


On behalf of Blank Rome, I continue to wish you good health and safe surroundings. As always, my colleagues and I stand ready to assist you with all of your legal concerns.

Partner Spotlight: Tampa

Stacy D. Phillips

In honor of her city’s recent string of professional sports championships over the past year, this edition of Partner Spotlight highlights my Tampa Matrimonial & Family Law colleague and friend—Michelle M. Gervais. Michelle is a trusted adviser to high-profile individuals, athletes, and celebrities, as well as businesses and financial institutions, in the areas of sports and entertainment, matrimonial and domestic relations, commercial and business litigation, and consumer finance. Please enjoy learning more about her.

Michelle M. Gervais, Tampa
“She Likes Being Known as ‘the Fixer.’”



 

Michelle M. Gervais is a fiercely loyal and tenacious advocate for her clients with a uniquely wide range of experience across the worlds of sports and entertainment, matrimonial and domestic relations, commercial and business litigation, and consumer finance law. Growing up in rural Michigan, Michelle always knew she was destined to be a lawyer and has found fulfillment in the legal profession’s ability to help people both in business and relationships by bringing them together when they are happy and keeping them apart when it no longer works. She began her career in Miami at a boutique matrimonial law firm before moving to Carlton Fields and then Duane Morris. In 2015, Michelle joined Blank Rome’s Tampa office shortly after several of her former colleagues founded the Blank Rome’s Pittsburgh office. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Michelle has been surprised by the emotional dynamics that have led to less cost-benefit litigation decisions and more relentless fights to the finish. However, Michelle has found that the recent transition to remote video hearings has allowed her to be more effective and efficient for her clients because she no longer must travel to appear in person in court cases around the country. And because she can also more easily take pro bono cases outside her jurisdiction, she appreciates that access to justice has become stronger than ever.

To learn more about Michelle and the role football has played in her personal and professional career, read her feature article,