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The obscurity doesn’t bother Westport, Conn., solo Mark R. Soboslai, who’s coming off a starring, though largely unknown, role in one of the largest divorce battles in Connecticut history. “I tend to sort of be invisible,” he said, with no hint of complaint in his voice. “When I get these big cases, the other guys get the limelight. If you read all of the press about the Sosin case, you’re not going to see my name anywhere, even though Howard Sosin would tell you I’m the lead counsel in the case.” Sosin, a Southport, Conn., economist and inventor, retained two other lawyers before ending up with Soboslai as his high-profile divorce headed for trial. In the end, Bridgeport Judge Trial Referee Howard T. Owens Jr. awarded Susan Sosin 27 percent of her ex-husband’s $163 million fortune. The case amounted to the richest divorce that has gone to trial in state history. In an e-mail interview, Howard Sosin explained his reasons for hiring Soboslai: “[G]iven that divorce is ‘personal’ and not ‘business,’ I wanted if at all possible to settle this case and not involve my children. Mark’s background in family relations told me that he would be sensitive to the needs of my children. He ‘had seen it all’ [and was] a calming and not a polarizing influence.” Before studying law, Soboslai had a seven-year career as a Superior Court family relations counselor, working his way through the University of Bridgeport School of Law. That experience, and his first-in-class rank at what is now Quinnipiac University School of Law, caught the eye of then Appellate Judge David M. Borden, for whom he clerked in 1985 and 1986. Two years later, Soboslai began teaching Quinnipiac’s basic alternative dispute resolution course, which he continues to do. NOT ON HIT LIST Soboslai said he disagrees that a divorce lawyer must establish control over a client. That wasn’t Soboslai’s appeal for Vincent Camuto, former president of Nine West Inc., who now heads a Greenwich consulting business. “If you want a barracuda — that’s not Mark Soboslai,” said Camuto, who said he deeply hoped to avoid a divorce trial and credits Soboslai for engineering a settlement in the case. “A lot of lawyers try to hit hard [and] get high prices because they have that label of being rough and tough,” Camuto said. But Soboslai, his former client noted, keeps his ego in check, lacks abrasiveness and doesn’t “tear everything apart.” In Soboslai’s view, cases proceed simultaneously on two tracks: toward settlement and litigation. His preference for quiet solutions has yielded unexpected benefits. Just after Howard Sosin filed for divorce in March 2003, his wife, Susan, was advised by her child’s therapist, Diane Safran, to interview certain “dangerous” lawyers so her husband could not hire them. Owens, in his March 21 divorce decree, criticized Safran’s strategy as “a practice that this court sees all too often and finds highly questionable.” Soboslai wasn’t on Safran’s list of “dangerous” lawyers. Nor was divorce trial veteran Richard L. Albrecht, of Bridgeport’s Cohen and Wolf, who Soboslai brought in to help with the trial. Between the two, they presented to Howard Sosin options from the “velvet glove” world of mediation and the “mailed fist” consequences of litigation. As a businessman, Sosin said he appreciated having a range of options to choose from. “I am hands-on when it comes to legal work. I read and comment on briefs and actively participate in strategic decisions,” he said. “While there were some long and thoughtful discussions, in the end Mark and I saw eye-to-eye on every major strategic decision that had to be made.” In the Sosins’ divorce, more than 600 pages of steamy e-mails from Susan Sosin to a married lover came into evidence. Strategically, she was presented a “final offer” in midtrial while there was still time to keep those details under wraps. She declined. In a powerful 60-page, post-trial brief in January, the gloves came off. Susan Sosin was neither a corporate wife nor a homemaker, Soboslai argued. The marital assets, he maintained, were exclusively due to the labors of Howard Sosin. As for the marriage’s breakdown, the entire fault lay with Susan Sosin, Soboslai asserted. He listed, in harsh detail, discrepancies in the wife’s testimony, leading with her “lie to the court” about the number of times she engaged in extramarital phone sex. Ultimately, Susan Sosin got far less than the 50 percent of the marital estate she sought. TEAM PLAYER Soboslai is no stranger to teaming up with other divorce lawyers, such as Greenwich’s Gary I. Cohen. The two worked together for Bertlesmann music executive Michael Dornemann, who last year successfully fought his wife’s attempts to have Stamford Superior Court Judge Heidi G. Winslow void the couple’s 1997 prenuptial agreement. In an interview, Dornemann said he prefers the range of advice such combinations of lawyers offer. “Four eyes see more than two eyes,” he said. “I like the team concept. If you are the CEO, you are used to trying to get on the table more than one opinion, slightly different.” Soboslai, Dornemann added, “is a person who will sit down with you, get a detailed picture, writes it down, develops a story line about the marriage, about the divorce and where we want to go. I enjoyed that very much.” In Dornemann’s view, early attention to deep understanding is “one of the secrets in a good case. To correct errors is often 10 times more difficult than to do your work correctly the first time.” Soboslai, 52, said he’s been criticized by more veteran lawyers for spending too much time listening to clients. Dornemann doesn’t agree. “I think most [advisers] don’t listen too much at the beginning.” Some lawyers, Dornemann said, “have so much experience they conclude the case falls into this category or that category. While many divorces are somewhat the same, the individuals are different. [Soboslai] puts a lot of emphasis on the differences which are important.”

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