Thursday, March 31, 2011

CNBC's "Divorce Wars" is a Bomb

I've learned to expect more from CNBC than the incessantly sensationalist reporting and insipid banalities that are the norm for most broadcast media. After all, CNBC is the main broadcast source of information for business and financial leaders, with its second-by-second stock quotes and up-to-the-minute breaking business news updates.

So I eagerly tuned in to CNBC's Special Report, "Divorce Wars," on Tuesday night. The program had been widely advertised: "CNBC goes inside the confidential world of multi-million dollar divorce revealing the secrets of winning and losing on a battlefield of emotional pain and financial gain." A former AAML national president, Gerry Nissenbaum, and unbiquitous publicity hound Raoul Felder, along with two divorcee bottom-feeders who've been hawking their wares on the Internet (a "divorce insurance" broker, and a "divorce funding" broker who takes a percentage of the recovery -- how unethical is that?!!), were slated to enlighten viewers with their perspectives.

Having handled a fair number of high-asset divorces and pre-nups myself, I'm still not crazy enough to think I've got a monopoly on knowledge or insight on representing the super-rich. And I figured, even if I didn't learn anything really new or fresh from the show, at least Gerry (a first-class Boston lawyer) would share an interesting tidbit of information and Raoul would be, well, Raoul.

Wrong. Gerry didn't have much of a chance to say anything except comment on the case of a bitter, unpleasant woman whose settlement agreement he was able to bust open on fraud grounds. Raoul was more subdued than usual, and the two get-rich-off-other-people's-misery non-professionals came across as sleazy as I expected.

Then there were the wronged clients. Gerry's client, the kind of sour, angry person no one in their right mind wants to deal with unless they have the patience of Job (like Gerry). The whiny CEO who didn't heed anyone's advice to get a pre-nup and was later shocked -shocked! - when his bride not only divorced him, but now has a substantial book value that rivals the Forbes' 500. Then there was the - oh my God can you believe it? - fabricated case of child pornography planted into an unsuspecting husband's computer while he was off on a business trip, that took a team of experts, 81 trial days, and millions of dollars to disprove.

Of course, I can't omit to mention the reporter for this special program. (Each time she intoned the word, "MILL-yon," I wanted to throw something at the TV.) Her claim that no one in the world of high-end divorces of business leaders wants to talk about their experience, and how secretive that world is, is belied by the headlines. The Perelman divorce. The Mark Hurd fiasco. The "Dodger" divorce of the McCourts. Yeah, right. Need I continue?

I swear, CNBC fell mighty short on this one.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Horny and Self-Righteous Lawyers

Another great attorney-client relations story that just happened in Iowa: An Iowa attorney turned himself into the local police on charges of assume to commit sexual abuse. After his client was sentenced to probation for driving under the influence, he served her four cocktails while they met in his office. I wonder if he serves booze to all his DUI clients, or whether he reserves it for special female clients.

Anyway, he must mix a hell of a drink, because the four drinks he served her made her so woozy that she can't recall everything that happened to her afterward,but she can remember sitting on his lap on the couch in his office at some later point, and a surveillance tape at her apartment shows her getting out of his car.

And, as is so often the fate of overly self-righteous law enforcement officials (think Elliot Spitzer), a Nevada prosecutor managed to get himself arrested for buying crack from a street dealer. This guy is a chief deputy DA who's been buying crack for his own recreational use for months from "Joe" the Dealer. Meanwhile, he counts among the people he's prosecuted the likes of Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars, and he had just been put on a Federal drug task force. Looks like his career's going to be headed in a different direction now. Maybe he'll get his own talk show, or land a spot as a commentator on Fox News.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The "Legal Expert"

A lawyer posts a well-written blog article about a certain celeb's impending custody battle, and discusses potential winning strategies and the judge's possible thought-processes. The blogger calls himself an "authoritative voice" and "legal expert." Okay, fine.

Just out of curiousity, since I've never heard of the guy, I do a little digging. I go to Then to Google. Then to the links to his other blog posts. Then to LinkedIn. Then to the websites of the firm, actually firms, that his name is linked to. I'm turning up vague stuff, mostly his own bios, about his actual credentials, nothing I can confirm from an independent source. What the...? So finally, I go to the New York Office of Court Administration.

Who is this "legal expert," this "authoritative voice," pontificating on custody law?

Well, I can't confirm he actually got the Fulbright he says he got, but okay, I'll assume he did. Very impressive. And it appears on OCA that the guy went to the Ivy League law school he says he went to. But his stint at DOJ? Less than one year's duration, before he even started law school, according to his LinkedIn bio. His extensive contributions to well-known media? Mostly blog posts, from what I can tell. As for the four unexplained years between law school and NYS bar admission? Well, maybe he was a judicial clerk (most lawyers brag big-time about that, and he says nothing, so who knows) or did something non-law-related? Travel?

But this is where I get angry: The guy's experience as a lawyer that makes him an "authoritative voice" and a "legal expert?"? Ummm....admitted for all of FIVE years in NY. He's worked with at least two different firms - already - in corporate law.

In my book, this baby lawyer who bloats his creds shouldn't be posing as a legal expert in anything, let alone matrimonial law. Pay some dues, mister, before you pass yourself off to the unsuspecting public as one of the big boys.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Client From Hell

Of course I mean Charlie Sheen, Mr. Tiger's Blood, the Adonis-DNA guy who has evolved way beyond any of us mere mortals...

Who the hell would want to represent this guy? His publicist had the smarts to walk away - far far away. But he still has legal representation. You can always count on somebody willing to be treated like a servant, let the client call the shots, all for the sake of getting a higher profile and some decent legal fees.

I'll leave the corporate guy alone, since he's dealing with fancy things like CBS contracts, and focus on the hapless divorce lawyer: A Class of 1982 Florida law school grad (not an Academy Fellow, what a surprise). Does this lawyer honestly expect to get Charlie in and out of divorce court without getting fired, grievanced, sued, or blasted in the press? Does he expect not to get shafted on his fees? He's either completely spineless, or completely desperate. Or he's willing to tase his client.

In any event, it's a lose-lose for the lawyer. For everybody. Not "win-ningggg," sorry, Charlie.

Charlie just plain doesn't SHUT UP. He's ubiquitous, too. Never mind the content or the style of his presentation. Unless you want to think about how a court will respond to his benevolent public statements about the mother of his two young children. Stuff like,"She's a traitor," "She's banished," and "She's going to live under a bridge somewhere."

Great. How to show you're willing to foment a healthy relationship between the kids (poor things, doomed to be forever screwed up, I fear) and what you hope will be the noncustodial parent. (Not like she's any great shakes, but, geez, Charlie, SHUT UP if you want to WIN.) No one cares that you're being "grandiose," at least no one who's going to be deciding your matrimonial case.

Whew. If Charlie were as "evolved" as he thinks he is, he'd know to sit back and let his drug-addict wife lose the case all by her lonesome. It could be done. Sure, he'd have to show what a good guy he is, by not having a porn star and a weed model taking care of his kids while they're busy taking turns servicing him. Just for starters. And---

Cripes, I could go on and on about what he should do, what he shouldn't do, to position himself in his divorce and custody case but why bother? He's not reading this, he could give a damn anyway, since he's above it all.

And the lunatic lawyer representing him? For God's sake, if you can't/won't shut the guy down, and control his conduct, well, brace yourself for the consequences. All of them. It won't be a pretty sight.

It's so frustrating, watching this case get lost so badly, by an uncontrollable client and a lawyer who can't/won't stem the bloodshed for whatever reason. On the other hand, what a relief I don't have to deal with this crap. What nitwit would, anyway?