The pandemic boosts business for a top New York divorce lawyer

Robert Stephan Cohen was already having a banner 12 months as one among New York’s prime divorce attorneys.

He represented Melinda French Gates in her break up from Bill Gates, one among many planet’s wealthiest of us. He was moreover retained by the partner of John Paulson, the hedge fund supervisor who made $20bn betting in opposition to the housing market sooner than the 2008 financial catastrophe.

Then obtained right here Labor Day. The American trip in early September marks the usual end of summer time season. Many New Yorkers had anticipated this 12 months’s trip as a time to complete their pandemic-induced isolation — and, apparently, moreover their marriages. Cohen has taken on three or 4 billion-dollar break-ups since then.

“I found that Labor Day was an indication to people who had been getting out of seclusion in East Hampton or Mexico or wherever their second properties had been,” talked about Cohen. “It was type of a turning stage for plenty of married {{couples}}, and I consider they decided then to tug the plug.”

Now 82, Cohen has for a few years confirmed singularly skilful at serving to wealthy New Yorkers pull that plug. He has represented not one nonetheless two ex-wives of Donald Trump — Ivana Trump and Marla Maples — along with former New York Metropolis Mayor Michael Bloomberg, transport heiress Athina Onassis and the actor James Gandolfini, amongst totally different boldfaced names.

It’s gorgeous, then, that Cohen in no way loads wished to be a divorce lawyer. “I backed into this,” he confessed. “If anybody had talked about I was a divorce lawyer, I’d have been very unhappy on account of I didn’t assume that was like issue to do.”

It started with a cellphone title thirty-odd years prior to now, when Cohen was a litigator with a rising fame. One among New York Metropolis’s most august firm attorneys had a client, Henry Kravis, who was being sued by his ex-wife over their divorce settlement. His company, Simpson Thacher, didn’t have to include itself in such points, the lawyer outlined. Might Cohen help?

He obliged, and managed to have the swimsuit dismissed. The Wall Highway Journal wrote of his exploits. “And my cellphone started to ring and the situations started to return again in,” Cohen talked about.

Whereas he has been known as a “pit bull”, a “Doberman” and “your worst nightmare,” amongst totally different descriptors of most litigious ferocity, Cohen was easy-going and genial on a contemporary afternoon when welcoming a buyer to his Manhattan office. At this stage in his career, it seems, the lion need solely typically roar.

“I can do the strong stuff if I’ve to,” he assured.

Just a few of that toughness comes from a “terrible” childhood Cohen endured in a one-bedroom condominium on the border of Bensonhurst and Coney Island. His mother was chronically unhappy that her husband drove a taxi. She died at 37. Cohen’s father struggled and his sister, Ellen, was taken in by household. He graduated from highschool early after which labored his strategy by way of Alfred Faculty and Fordham regulation school, incomes his diploma in 1962.

“There are so many of us that obtained right here from the bowels of Brooklyn, in lower heart class households,” Cohen mirrored.

All through his army service Cohen spent a whole lot of his time at Fort Dix in New Jersey prepared for the pay cellphone so he would possibly title the office of Roy Cohn, the notorious former chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist investigation committee — and the one who would later take a youthful Donald Trump under his raptor’s wing.

Cohen didn’t primarily agree alongside together with his politics, he talked about, nonetheless he revered Cohn’s experience as a litigator. In the end Cohn granted him an interview, after which a job. “That was really the first door that was opened for me,” Cohen talked about of his introduction to a gilded world of doorman buildings and chauffeur-driven vehicles.

The fearsome Cohn moreover honed a relentlessness bordering on lunatic, berating the youthful lawyer one night time after he educated him that he couldn’t uncover a licensed decision to a particular client disadvantage.

“He started to scream at me. He talked about, ‘do you assume buyers can be found in proper right here and inform us that we’re capable of’t do one factor? There’s acquired to be a choice to do it,’” Cohen recalled. “He talked about, ‘do you see it’s darkish out? I can let you recognize it’s daytime and I’ll present it’s daytime.’”

Cohen grew to change into a affiliate, then left to start his private company. “He had a bunch of failings, personal failings,” he talked about of Cohn, who was later disbarred.

Within the meantime, the divorce panorama was altering. It was becoming easier to accumulate a divorce in states that had prolonged required proof of great fault, typically adultery. (Subsequently the unseemly divorce lawyer fame as a result of the snoop hiding throughout the motel bushes with a Polaroid digicam). 

Then in 1980 New York mandated an equitable distribution of marital property. Enterprise boomed, and it has solely grown as a result of the rich have grown richer. Ivana Trump’s reported $14m settlement in 1991, as an example, now seems like a rounding error in a Gates property that contains a $55bn philanthropic foundation or an Onassis break up that involved litigation in Belgium, Monaco and Brazil.

“It’s an unlimited enterprise. It requires of us spherical who understand tax, who understand securities, and who understand how one can value all of these different property,” talked about Cohen. His company, Cohen Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstriech, has three attorneys who’re licensed public accountants, along with a group of out of doors specialists to help value distinctive property. It’s only a matter of time, Cohen predicted, sooner than he hires a cryptocurrency adviser.

For the entire financial sophistication, divorce stays a of us enterprise — a lesson Cohen imparts to regulation school college students on the Faculty of Pennsylvania the place he has taught a class, Anatomy of a Divorce, for the ultimate 17 years. “It’s a should to be a quasi-psychologist or psychiatrist or psychological properly being expert,” he talked about. “Keep in mind, we’re dealing with of us at most certainly most likely essentially the most troublesome time of their lives.”

Cohen, who suffered two of his private divorces, has been married to Stephanie Stiefel, a managing director at Neuberger Berman, for 23 years. (He wears a Cartier trinity band with three interlaced strands). If one can avoid divorce, he strongly advises it. He even wrote a e book in 2002, Reconcilable Variations, which ensures seven keys to preserving a marriage.

“I’ve talked about this 100 situations: If of us proceed to be intimate, that’s often an obligatory stage for me in saying there may be one factor there left to keep away from losing,” he talked about, together with: “It’s a difficult enterprise.” material materials/16d2bb50-07ef-4b67-ae0f-e908c219d0df | The pandemic boosts enterprise for a major New York divorce lawyer

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