Ask Stacy (May 2023, Vol. 3)
Welcome to the third installment of “Ask Stacy,” which I plan to continue as a regular monthly column by popular demand. Thank you for reading, and please keep those questions coming in. Please allow me to remind my readers that the following is not legal advice but rather some casual thoughts on questions posed to me recently.
Ask Stacy: Do you have a favorite case you’ve worked on? Is there an outcome that you still celebrate?
My Thoughts: There are many favorite cases; I like cases particularly because I love the people involved in them. I like other cases because they’re intellectually stimulating. I like other cases because I had a great time in court going head-to-head with a judge. I can’t think of one in particular, but I can think of many that fit into those categories. Each year multiple challenging cases push me in new and exciting ways and which I love in different ways. And then there are some from whom I hope I never see or hear again.
Ask Stacy: Are there any current trends you see with celebrity or high-profile divorce cases?
My Thoughts: I find that it’s similar to the average person, people are less patient and not as nice, and many people are mean and nasty, whether clients or opposing counsel. It is very hard to get into court; court dockets are jam-packed. Covid-19 has done a job on all of us in so many ways, and celebrities or the wealthy elite are no different than any of the rest of us. We all put our pants on the same way.
Ask Stacy: When and how did you develop your keen sense of fashion? And have you found style and fashion helpful in your career?
My Thoughts: Why, thank you! I’m very flattered. And absolutely, I have found fashion helpful in my career. I have been interviewed about how I dress for court and how I dress my clients for court. I have had referrals from judges to media reporters about how I dress for court. I have had judges - female judges – in their chambers tell me to pirouette to see what I was wearing. It often gives me something to talk about or to simply break the ice. My fashion and wardrobe make me feel good about myself, and it empowers me. I feel like I can take anyone on when I put myself together.
Ask Stacy: You’ve said that your first objective is to help save a couple’s marriage if it’s worth salvaging. How do you assess a prospective client’s marriage health?
My Thoughts: Yes, my first objective always is to help try to save a client’s marriage. And I generally ask in the first meeting. Often, if there is domestic violence, I will say you cannot really work on this marriage. You can try, but when there is domestic violence, the only way to save it is to get out if there is saving at all. And then the spouses need a lot of help. And I can generally tell from how they talk about their spouse. People are often surprised when I say: “Would marriage therapy help you? I’m happy to give you the names of great counselors.” Honestly, I have enough business, and if I can save a family, I would prefer to do that. And I have done that many times!
Ask Stacy: In the hit TV show “Succession,” it appears that the characters Siobhan Roy and her husband Tom are headed for divorce. Which party would you rather represent, the wealthy heiress or her husband, and why?
My Thoughts: This is a great question, but for a TV show where no one is good, it’s very hard. At times she was good, and then she’s not good, and at times her husband was good, and then he’s not good. Of course, if given a choice, I would prefer to represent the one with the money, but I don’t really like representing people if they’re not good people. And, if they’re not good people and children are involved, I will not represent them if they’re going to do something harmful to their kids or take a position that is harmful to them. I simply will not represent them. I try to have my clients wear the white hat to help them do the right thing. I counsel clients, not just advocate. And I fire clients when I don’t think they’re listening to my advice or I find them doing something that’s morally or ethically wrong.
Ask Stacy: What is your advice to a law student considering a career in matrimonial and family law?
My Thoughts: Be prepared. You will need to have thick skin, and you will work your butt off. But you have a better chance of developing a clientele if that interests you. And you will never be bored. During your summer breaks, go work for a big law firm at least once so you can keep your options open. I spent my first summer in law school as an extern for a federal judge, which had nothing to do with family law. I worked my second summer for a big law firm. I then clerked for a federal judge. In high school and college, I worked as a paralegal in two law firms. I worked for the federal government and then my city’s government. I carefully chose each of these experiences to make better-informed choices later in my career, as opposed to having those choices be made for me.
Ask Stacy: If you were ever to do a Ted Talk, what would you like to talk about on stage for 18 minutes?
My Thoughts: Great question. I strive to have a Ted Talk about a spouse dealing with an alcoholic partner. I want to take my nearly 40 years of experience from my career in family law and illustrate it with my personal experiences and key learnings from my second marriage, married to a good man who was profoundly sick with alcoholism. Ted Talks are powerful for connecting with thousands of people, but if sharing my personal story could reach and save just one life or one family, it would make everything worthwhile.
Thank you for reading, and please keep those questions coming in! Email me at AskStacy@mcgriffinmedia.com. Please also follow me on Instagram @StacyDPhillipsEsq for "Ask Stacy" videos and more content.
This article was first published by Stacy D. Phillips on LinkedIn on May 4, 2023.