In your pocket or handbag, there's a piece of electronic equipment so powerful it would make George Jetson swoon. St. Louis attorneys weigh in on how smart phones—as well as email, social media and other forms of e-communication—have changed how they practice law.
From divorce to family law and courtroom litigation, local attorneys say there are a multitude of hot topics on the horizon, largely the result of an increasingly digital world, shifts in societal norms and an ever-changing economy.
To assist in the areas where legalities and finances overlap, family law firm Hais, Hais, Goldberger & Lambson has brought in a new, dual-role team member: a legal professional who also is a certified divorce financial analyst.
Getting a divorce is complicated enough, but when combined with mountainous debt, the process can become even trickier. Area attorneys discuss the connection between divorce and the likelihood of bankruptcy—and the additional problems such a situation can cause.
You wouldn’t work with a mechanic who couldn’t change your brake pads, but it may be less obvious whether a lawyer is effectively doing his or her job. How do you know when it is time to hire a new attorney?
One goal inspired Sam and Susan Hais to go to law school: justice. Decades later, that same goal remains the driving force of their law firm, Hais, Hais, Goldberger & Lambson. “What really matters to us is achieving the Holy Grail in the law field, which is justice,” Sam says. “We believe justice is a right, not a privilege.”
Susan and Sam Hais of Hais Hais Goldberger and Lambson
Originally an English major at Saint Louis University with a penchant for 19th century literature, Susan Hais remembers being drawn toward the field of law because she wanted to make a difference. “There was a book called The Women’s Room about women doing things and getting involved in fields they weren’t into at the time,” Hais says. “That’s when I decided I wanted to go to law school.”
The Champagne toasts and wedding cake may have passed, but there still is time for claiming whose is whose. Postnuptial agreements, the figurative younger sibling of the better-known prenuptial agreements, offer legal documentation of spousal understandings, should marital circumstances change in the future. But if you’re happily married, why bring attorneys into the picture?
A divorce can be one of life’s most difficult hurdles. And for men who often don’t share their emotions as openly as women, surviving the process can become overwhelming without a 'road map' for navigating the legal, financial and emotional issues that arise, says E.B. Gunn, New York Times best-selling author of The Gentleman’s Guide to the Nasty Divorce.
As Clayton celebrates its centennial anniversary, LN asked some longtime Clayton business leaders about their hopes for the city's next 100 years.
Every divorce is different, and, more often that not, difficult, lengthy and costly. So when it comes to confronting legal separation, local divorce lawyers look to give their clients options tailored to their needs.
The simple, straightforward days of the standard American family with a house, car, pension, dog and a couple of kids no longer exist. The world has become more complex, with a growing number of issues factoring into the dynamics of a family. As that complexity has in- creased, so has domestic relations law; and Sam and Susan Hais offer their decades of experience to help clients navigate the intricacies. “It’s never a one-size-fits-all approach,” Sam says. “Family law cases are often finely nuanced, and we work hard to apply our skill-sets and experience to find appropriate solutions to the problems.”
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.”
Whether it’s a move down the street or across the country, child relocation can turn into one of the most hotly contested topics in divorce cases.
A man in the middle of a divorce told his wife he was away on business. Then photos of him with his girlfriend in the Caribbean showed up on Facebook…and later, in court. This is a real example of how social media is increasingly used as evidence in court. “Social media has changed the way we practice,” says Alisse Camazine, a family law attorney with Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal. “People are stupid enough to put these things on their Facebook accounts. It comes up all the time, and it’s unbelievable.” She notes that social media postings are used in about 25 to 30 percent of her cases. Joe Lambson of Hais, Hais, Goldberger & Coyne puts the number at a whopping 75 to 80 percent in his practice.
More than a few women around town are making their mark and achieving successful careers, and these three women are no different. Representing real estate, finance and law, Donna Auld, Diane Flower and Julie Hixson-Lambson, respectively, recently spoke with LN and shared what motivates them.
Gaslight, with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, is a 1944 thriller that tells the story of husband who tries to make his wife believe she is insane as he tries to retrieve some jewels stowed away in their attic. “The only way he could get the jewels was to make her think she was crazy. As a result, she started to have a real breakdown, and that’s what some people do in real life,” says Susan Hais of Hais, Hais, Goldberger & Coyne. “Usually, it’s people who are suffering from a condition called narcissism—characterized chiefly by a person being focused entirely on his or herself and is motivated by the desire to look good at the expense of others.” She says in a marriage, the situation can play out in a number of ways. “For example, the husband gets irritated with the wife due to something called a narcissistic insult. This could be something perceived as mildly critical against him, but he takes on an attitude of incredible revenge and never gives it up.”
Technology and the economy will make big waves in the national discourse this year, local attorneys say. And if their outlook is any indication, these hotbutton topics will have everyone talking!
They’re highly regarded in the St. Louis law community, as well as by former clients who keep in touch for years with cards and family photos. She’s been practicing family law for more than three decades; he was a family court judge for 26 years before joining her law firm in 2002. Impressive longevity, indeed, but Susan and Sam Hais seem to know the secret to successful long-term partnerships: The couple just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary.
Divorce is never easy: Two people are dividing up their entire lives, with children, homes and assets involved. The process can be long and difficult, so it is imperative to choose the right attorney from the onset.
Often described as one of life’s most difficult experiences, divorce disrupts families and finances, and if the process is complicated with hostility and anger, it becomes even harder for everyone involved. Family law attorneys, familiar with the intense emotions that most often accompany the dissolution of a marriage, have advice for couples facing this challenge.
Family businesses are widespread throughout our country and around the world, and for good reason. When family ties are strong, a robust, profitable business can result. In St. Louis, we have found several families with multiple generations making their way in the field of law.
December 24, 2010 . Sam and Susan Hais
Even the most amicable of divorces can be fraught with emotion and difficulties, so it’s important that you have an attorney on your side whom you can trust. “You have to be comfortable telling them the worst, most personal things that are going on in your life,” says Susan Hais of Hais, Hais, Goldberger, & Coyne. “You don’t want someone who seems apathetic or dismissive.”