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Well, they’re at it again — stereotyping the divorce lawyer as a sleazebag. They, of course, being the entertainment industry. When “L.A. Law,” the long-running TV series, first introduced Arnie Becker as the sleazy divorce attorney who won cases at any cost and slept with not only his own clients, but any female in sight, I blanched at the idea that the public might think that this character was patterned after real-life lawyers in my profession. No, I thought, this character was an aberration. The next assault came in the form of “Miss Match,” another divorce lawyer show on TV, where my colleagues came off no better, with Alicia Silverstone’s character apparently spending half her time in the department store and the other half match-making. Not a true picture of my hard-working colleagues. Also, her father’s character advised a client to visit every potential competitor in order to conflict them out of the case. Not the most ethical behavior, and not an accurate depiction of my profession — but that didn’t stop the show’s producers from using it to make an entertaining story line. Well, that show quickly disappeared from the small screen and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then came George Clooney in “Intolerable Cruelty,” and once again the divorce lawyer is the one crossing the line. Enough already, I thought, but Hollywood, in its own little rut, cannot get enough of trashing divorce lawyers and casts Pierce Brosnan as yet another divorce lawyer of questionable talent and morals in “Laws of Attraction,” released in late April. Have you seen the advertisements for this movie? Julianne Moore smirking (and gorgeous) welcoming you to the law firm of Katz Cohen & Phelp, “The Tiffany’s of New York law firms.” The advertisement’s focus is one-sided — making all divorce attorneys sharks and all female clients victims. Moore’s character says in her pseudo-law firm advertisement, “Is he cheating? Let’s nail him.” Check out the movie Web site, www.katzcohenphelps.com and see what I mean. Really! May I suggest that not all divorce lawyers are sleazy, shoddy and sexually active with their clients? And further, that there are other members of my profession, business lawyers, criminal lawyers, tax lawyers (well, maybe not tax lawyers), personal injury lawyers that might make more interesting lead characters in a movie? Of course, all of these movie clients are beautiful gold diggers and totally in control, not at all what we see on a daily basis. The reality is that divorce is the most painful emotional experience, after the death of a loved one, that an individual can experience. It’s terrifying for a dependent spouse, gut-wrenching for the one left behind and destructive for the children. We, in this field of law, are the ones trying to protect these individuals, not prey on them, despite what the movies portray. That is not to say that all divorce lawyers are perfect, any more than all doctors, all businessmen or even all presidents, but keep in mind that a divorce lawyer must be a counselor, a litigator and a mediator. We must understand the family business, the stock options, the value of the collectables and the attachment to Aunt Tillie’s vase on the fireplace. We must be able to read tax returns and understand how to distribute stock options and cross-examine psychologists. And, for many of us, this is done backwards and in high heels! Many divorce lawyers do not jump right in with a client and say, Let’s get him (or her). We do not try to start the next world war. And, most certainly, we do not try to get our clients into our bed. My office, for example, will try to refer our clients for communication counseling if we feel there is any flicker of a flame to fan in order to save a marriage. Our results from those referrals have been extremely successful. Additionally, our commitment to saving relationships goes beyond our office doors. I was actively involved with the divorce lawyers of America, through the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section, in creating PARTNERS — a high school program to teach students communication skills in order to make their lifetime relationship choices wise and permanent. Our profession takes the sobriquet “counselor” to heart. We ARE counselors, hand holders and advisers. We truly care about our clients and can make a difference in their lives. We’re the good guys. Let’s see Hollywood do a movie about that. But don’t hold your breath — it is much too boring. Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin chairs the family law practice group at Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen. Gold-Bikin is a former chairwoman of the American Bar Association’s family law section.

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