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.
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.
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 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.
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 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, My Winning Playbook: Fading into the Fix, in the 2021 edition of NFL THREAD’s The Playbook (Volume 3).
Blank Rome has one of the top Matrimonial & Family Law practice in the country, with 10 attorneys in Los Angeles, 20 attorneys in New York, one attorney in Tampa, and two attorneys in Philadelphia. In this new feature, I will spotlight some of my partners from across the Firm. In this edition, I wanted to highlight two of my Los Angeles Matrimonial & Family Law colleagues—Ashley Silberfeld and Kevin B. Martin. Many of you reading this know that I was very close to my father. It struck me that Ashley and Kevin are also close to their fathers, who are also ethical, learned attorneys like my father. Their fathers also created children that are similarly ethical people (mensches). Please enjoy learning more about them.
Ashley Silberfeld is an experienced civil litigator and fierce advocate with trial skills that are unique among family lawyers. Ashley followed her father’s footsteps into the legal profession, beginning her career as a toxic tort defense attorney at Steptoe & Johnson. She later decided to transition to matrimonial & family law to help fight for the vulnerable and protect the things most important to them. As the child of a divorce herself, she knows firsthand what families are going through during difficult times. What Ashley finds most rewarding is when she gets to see her clients and their children thrive in their new lives. And as the single mother of a toddler, she also deeply understands the challenges that families with young children are experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis. Ashley even recently conducted a successful argument at a virtual hearing while her daughter sat on her lap.
Kevin B. Martin, Los Angeles “Attacks legal problems like a dog with a bone.”
Kevin B. Martin is a dynamic litigator who is also skilled at forensically analyzing balance sheets and other financial and business records. Kevin began his legal career at Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan, a boutique civil litigation firm, before following in his father’s footsteps to practice law at the Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in its enforcement division. He later left the SEC to return to Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan and then Bingham McCutchen where his practice focused on SEC defense and corporate internal investigations. Kevin then started his own, first of its kind, litigation insurance program that he eventually sold to a publicly traded insurance carrier. After Stacy Phillips represented him in his own custody battle where, together, side by side, they succeeded in obtaining 50-50 custody of Kevin’s two daughters (who are now in college), he decided to help other families in crisis by “paying it forward” and returning to practice with Stacy as a family law attorney. His unique set of professional and personal experiences allows him to see cases with a different lens that is uncommon in the family law bar. Kevin also brings insights and understanding of the financial side of divorce, while, at the same time never losing sight of the emotional toll this type of litigation has on his clients. Although he always prefers amicable resolution, where the parties retain most control over their own destinies, if the need arises due to unsurmountable legal disputes, Kevin fights tenaciously side by side with his clients, as Stacy did for him.