Ensuring client satisfaction in difficult circumstances is a common link among the nation’s top lawyers, regardless of the practice or industry. For Lois Liberman, that essential task is provided to individuals and families in the most sensitive and emotionally wrought times of their lives. To excel in the areas of family and matrimonial law, as Liberman does, an attorney needs to blend the roles of trial lawyer, negotiator and trusted counselor. The New York-based Blank Rome partner focuses her practice on high-net worth individuals and celebrities, where the financial stakes raise the complexity of the issues faced by her clients. As with many other facets of our lives, the Covid-19 pandemic has made even more difficult the challenges associated with divorces and child-custody arrangements.
Liberman previously chaired Blank Rome’s renowned matrimonial and family law practice for five years. She is the host of “Look Ahead with Lois Liberman,” a virtual salon for former, current and prospective clients to discuss the many emotional and legal issues associated with marriage, separations and divorces.
Lawdragon: Can you discuss some of the things you find satisfying about this type of practice?
Lois Liberman: The type of law that I practice covers some of the most essential elements of an individual’s life – love, family, home and money. My clients place their trust in me to help them move forward and embark upon a new chapter of their lives – whether it’s helping them negotiate and finalize terms of a prenuptial agreement before they get married; crafting financial and custodial terms of a postnuptial agreement after a critical life event that enables them to salvage their marriage; or helping them to protect their rights and ensuring that their children’s best interests are being served when their family is breaking up.
It brings me great satisfaction knowing that I have helped my clients navigate through a difficult, emotionally and financially taxing period of change. I am driven to zealously advocate on their behalf to ensure that they and their loved ones are properly set for the future. In particularly heartbreaking matters, I do my best to try to minimize the pain endured during the process.
LD: What are some trends you are seeing in family law?
LL: The pandemic triggered many people into re-evaluating priorities and taking stock of who they are, what they value and what they have. Now that we’re seemingly at the tail end of it, many of us in matrimonial and family law see that the fallout will continue to alter our daily lives, prompting a variety of fights and creating a cauldron of conflicts.
The pandemic brought many people together and cemented relationships, causing a marked increase in engagements – which in turn, has led to an uptick in prenuptial agreements. However, the pressures of being under the same roof and maneuvering through the ever changing Covid landscape caused existing fissures in many relationships to break wide open, thus causing a surge of divorces.
Covid has created new avenues of disputes for co-parents. Whether and when to vaccinate children, protocols to follow to keep children and families safe, where and whether and under what conditions for travel are now part of today’s negotiations in addition to the emotionally charged question of what parental access schedule best serves the interests of the child(ren).
We are definitely seeing more cases involving addictive behaviors ― alcohol, cannabis and other drugs ― which many people have relied on as coping mechanisms to deal with the stressors of daily life. Accordingly, these substance reliance/abuse issues are impacting child custody arrangements.
LD: Was there an early experience or mentor who really helped shape the course of your professional life?
LL: One of my mentors, Stan Lotwin, taught me that one could be a strong adversary and still be civilized, so I’ve developed an approach to lawyering that centers on treating people with respect, so that hopefully, they will respond in kind. While I am fiercely protective of my clients, judges and adversaries in the field know that I do not rely on a “scorched earth” approach and know that my word is my bond. Given the emotional and financial toll of litigation, I try to serve as an empathetic counselor. Rather than tell my clients what to do, I listen and try to help get them to a place where they feel well-positioned for the next phase of their lives.
Stan recently passed away. He was not only my boss and then ultimately my partner, my mentor and rabbi, but he also served the role of surrogate father. He was the consummate professional. His calm and pragmatic style achieved him the admiration and respect of both the bench and bar.
He was very supportive and pushed me, pretty early on, to play important roles in the matters which I worked – giving me opportunities to weigh in on strategy, to argue motions which I helped draft, to take depositions and to take part in settlement meetings. He was happy when a client bonded with me and unlike so many others in our matrimonial field, was delighted when those relationships turned into referrals of other clients.
LD: Tell us about the genesis of your “Look Ahead with Lois Liberman” virtual salon series. What prompted you to launch and who is the audience?
LL: I launched the series during the pandemic, last spring, for current, “graduated” and prospective clients, which I hoped would serve as a resource to address challenges that many separated, divorcing and divorced people face. I aspired to organically build a community where participants could see that they were not alone in their struggles. We’ve covered topics such as co-parenting with a narcissist, getting “unstuck” during and after divorce, taking charge of one’s financial well-being and how to tackle online dating.
Over the past year, we’ve seen “Look Ahead” grow and evolve. Initially, we featured one-to-one interviews with a subject matter expert, such as personal finance guru Jean Chatzky on ways to set yourself up for financial independence, and now we are developing programming with multiple speakers who can lend their unique perspectives on a particular topic. For instance, a recent “Look Ahead” focused on how to boost your dating savvy and freshen your look, and our panelists were Bumble Chief Branding Officer Selby Drummond, Goop Beauty Editor Jean Godfrey-June and image consultant Ashley Schafer.
LD: What’s next for the salon?
LL: It’s exciting to see how our “Look Ahead” community has grown and its robust engagement. These conversations, I believe, will continue to be relevant and refreshingly candid.
My hope is that participants will continue to support one another, and strength will be gained from the insight of those who have survived and thrived. Now that many people are returning to the office and traveling, we are aiming to make the transition from virtual webinars to hosting in-person salons, which will help forge stronger connections among attendees and build up the community we are trying to cultivate.
As the law and our culture continue to change, “Look Ahead” will serve as a resource to empower clients and help them move forward with confidence, flourish, and get past a life-changing and often painful experience.