When Susan Hais started her family law practice in 1979, she knew it would be both an opportunity and a challenge. With recent changes in the divorce statute, the field was encountering more litigation, and as one of the few women practicing divorce law, she relished the chance to work in an area that truly appealed to her. “Divorce work is the kind of practice where you can relate to your clients, make them feel better about their lives and really make a difference. It was the right fit for me.”
To make her mark in a traditionally male-dominated field, Hais also knew she had to be at the top of her game. “With very few female lawyers and even fewer female judges, I found I had to be more prepared for every case in order to gain credibility.”
Thirty-three years later, she is still at the top as she leads Hais, Hais, Goldberger & Coyne alongside her husband, Sam Hais. Having joined the firm in 2002 after 26 years as a judge, he has witnessed how his wife has made a lasting impression in the legal community. “There’s a network of former clients, lawyers in other practice areas and other professionals peripheral to family law who refer cases to us, because we have been told by many that Susan has such an excellent reputation for diligence, integrity and willingness to go the extra mile for her clients,” he notes.
Part of the reason for Hais’ success is her focus on getting the best possible result for every client, while doing so with empathy and kindness. “In family law, you have to be tenacious and resolute in your determination to do everything within the bounds of propriety to uphold your clients’ rights,” she explains.
In addition, she has found that family law allows her utilize her experience in multiple areas, from tax and property concerns to psychological matters. While her children are now grown, as a working mother, Hais can relate to the custody and parenting issues that her clients face. She also has discovered that both men and women often prefer to talk to a female lawyer when dealing with the sensitive topics of family law. “I think both genders appreciate that I’m very receptive to listening and getting all the information. I can understand both sides.”
Having a former judge in the practice doesn’t hurt, either. Having always thought like an advocate, Susan Hais appreciates the different perspective on cases that her husband provides. “Lots of times, it really helps me temper things, and the clients love that Sam is so even and calm,” she says.
The couple always has complemented each other, from the days spent juggling careers and family life, to the support they provide each other at the firm today. There are even two other married couples on the legal team, following in the Haises’ footsteps. “If you work well together at home, but then also have the chance to be in practice together, it really expands the relationship you have with your spouse and adds so much more to your lives,” he explains.
As for Susan Hais, while she looks forward to one day retiring somewhere in the mountains where they can enjoy biking, hiking and skiing, she remains motivated and enthusiastic about the work she does every day. “After all these years, I still really like talking to people and helping them however I can.”