The Firms

June 1, 2011 5:51 PM

The Careerist: Divorce, Paul Weiss Style

Posted by Vivia Chen

Let's count the perks that come with being a lawyer at a big firm. Don't worry, this won't take long. There's the car service that whisks you home when you work until the wee hours of the morning. And there's the occasional free legal help--like when you buy or sell your home or need to do a will. As for messy stuff like a divorce, most big firms won't touch it. Who can blame them? Divorces can be bitter and prolonged, especially when one involves a senior partner.

But Paul Weiss is brave: It's going to bat for partner Steven Simkin, who is seeking to revise the divorce agreement he reached with his former wife of 33 years in 2006. Simkin was a Bernie Madoff investor, and when news came out about the Ponzi scheme, Simkin filed papers to void the terms of the divorce.

Lawyers and legal scholars are busy debating whether Simkin has grounds for revising his divorce settlement, and how it might open a Pandora's box of legal challenges. I'll leave that up to the legal brains, but here's the part of story that grabbed my attention, from an article Tuesday in The New York Times:

Mr. Simkin's lawyers--his colleagues at Paul Weiss--described their partner in court papers as "gravely damaged" and suffering "extreme hardship" as a result of the Madoff fraud.

While I don't doubt that Simkin is traumatized by his losses, the use of the term "extreme hardship" seems, well, a bit extreme.

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Simkin IS still employed, right? So he can still make a nice living. Though much of his savings or assets probably took a tumble with Madoff.

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