I am often asked: “Why are you a divorce lawyer?” The answer – I get great satisfaction from seeing how well my clients are doing at the end of their case versus when we first met. Facilitating that transition and growth, while challenging, is the most gratifying part of my job. The follow-up question is often: “What prepared you most to be a Family Law attorney?” Ironically, the answer lies not in court but rather on a court – a tennis court!
Besides being a highly competitive tennis player throughout my life, I worked in various capacities as a tennis pro and in clay court maintenance. Little did I know that over thirty-five years ago, as a teenager and through college, spending my spring and summer days waking up at 5:00 a.m., rolling and sweeping har-tru tennis courts, carrying 50-pound bags of calcium chloride and clay, providing instruction to adults and children, and training for upcoming tournaments, that I would actually be learning how to become a Family Law attorney.
There are many similarities between a Family Law attorney and a competitive tennis player. First, preparation is key. Just as I endlessly practiced to hone and analyze every last minute detail of my strokes, it is necessary as a Family Law attorney to understand the details regarding my client’s wishes and desires, his/her unique situation, his/her spouse’s personality, and attitude, the strengths and weaknesses in positions, and the ramifications of the foregoing in light of the law. Second, being able to change strategies if your initial plan is faltering is the key to achieving a most favorable outcome. While preparing and counseling my client, I know that the other side is strategizing and preparing to take advantage of and expose weaknesses in my case. Accordingly, I prepare as though I represent the other side. Since I represent all different types of people, I have a tremendous advantage – as I often represent the “other side,” which provides me with a unique perspective, allowing me to effectively counsel my client best on how to proceed. Put simply, no one will outwork or outlast me.
Understanding conditions that impact a tennis match, such as weather, wind, and outside distractions, and managing to stay focused when there are other interruptions is crucial. This is why my tennis coach always made us practice in the most difficult of conditions, including on a court that was located off a busy street that shared a fence with a pool filled with children and an outdoor bar and grill. I had to stay focused and block out distractions, especially during swim meets and happy hour.
Similarly, the conditions in a courtroom can change at a moment’s notice. Notably, you often are not assigned a judge until the day of your trial. Further, there are always disruptions. People constantly coming in and out of the courtroom. Ten minutes recesses become forty minutes. Witnesses are taken out of order. Exhibits are not admitted into evidence. To be effective, you must adjust and stay disciplined, all while keeping the judge focused.
Having been involved in some of the most challenging and notable cases in Connecticut, I have learned how important it is to consult with other professionals to assist in the process. I have worked successfully with many therapists, accountants, business valuators, and attorneys in other practice areas (tax, real estate, criminal, and trust and estates) when it becomes necessary. As a Past-President of the Fairfield County Bar Association, I have had the opportunity to get to know the leading lawyers in each practice area.
Having significant experience as a trial lawyer has strengthened my belief that every divorce case should be settled. What people do not realize is that less than 5% of divorce cases go to trial. Of course, it is far more interesting to hear about the gory and gossipy details of a contested divorce in a social setting. However, that is, to great relief, the exception. The only time a case should go to trial is if the offer on the table from the other side represents something beyond the worst-case scenario. This is why it is absolutely necessary to honestly counsel my clients and cultivate their expectations based on my over twenty-five years of experience. I believe in being direct and honest with my clients. While I will always be supportive, I am not a cheerleader.
Most importantly, there is one major difference between a divorce court and a tennis court. If you are successful, you win your tennis match. There is no winning in divorce – at least not on the day of the divorce. You can judge how well you did in your divorce by looking at where you are personally, professionally, and most importantly, if relevant, how well your children are doing one to two years after the divorce is finalized. Is everyone adjusting well to the new schedule? Are you settled professionally? Have you rediscovered who you were before your marriage deteriorated? This all leads back to the most gratifying part of my job, hearing from clients a couple of years after the divorce where they share the success they have had in moving on – thanking my team and me for being there during one of the darkest, insecure and difficult periods in their lives.
Eric, The Professional
I grew up in Westchester County, New York, and attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans. It was there that I fell in love with the city’s culture, music, art, and of course, the food. It has been far too long since I graduated from college, but I make sure to visit New Orleans almost annually. I attended Temple Law School in Philadelphia, and after eating far too many cheesesteaks, I moved to New York City, where I had the opportunity to work with two highly respected and reputable trial lawyers. It was there that I was first exposed to the practice of Family Law, and when an opportunity to join Blank Rome, one of the largest and most prestigious family law firms in New York arose, I jumped on it. Ironically, I learned more about the law and being a family lawyer by eating lunch each day with the other attorneys than I did from any book. Their conversations about dealing with difficult cases, uncooperative lawyers, inconsistent judges, and the law as it evolved and changed were tremendous. The experience of working on some of the largest and most high-profile cases at the time provided me with an invaluable education.
Having been admitted to practice law in Connecticut, I often attended court and worked on the firm’s Connecticut cases. After spending a great deal of time in Fairfield County, my wife and I decided to relocate from New York City to raise our family here. We have three children and our beloved dog and play an active role in our community. I have had the opportunity to coach my children’s baseball and soccer teams and even participate in a parent/child dance recital (no video available). Further, our youngest was born prematurely. As a result, we learned about Tiny Miracles – a charitable organization developed by parents of premature babies to offer comfort, support, guidance, and hope. After serving on the Board of Directors for years, I remain an active member of the Honorary Board. In my free time, I often play tennis, golf, go on hikes with our dog, and attend live music and sporting events.
Today I am a Co-Founding Member and Partner at Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC. I have been selected as an AV Preeminent™ attorney by Martindale-Hubbell®, the highest possible rating in legal ability and ethical standards, earned through a strenuous peer and judicial review procedure. I have been designated a “Top Lawyer” in three categories: Arbitration and Mediation, Family Law, and Matrimonial Law in Westport, Greenwich, New Canaan/Darien, and Fairfield Magazines. I have been selected to the 2013-2020 Connecticut Super Lawyers® List in Family Law. Each year, no more than 5% of the lawyers in the state are selected to receive this honor; Super Lawyers Selection Process.
I was named among the Top 10 Attorneys in Family Law in Connecticut by The National Academy of Family Law Attorneys for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. NAFLA’s Board of Governors awards this distinction annually to the Top 10 Family Attorneys within the state. Criteria include client and peer reviews, length of time practicing family law, trial experience and case outcomes, published articles, and legal awards. In August 2019, I was selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers® 26th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America®. This distinction indicates legal expertise, as well as ethics and professionalism of the highest caliber.
I served on the House of Delegates for the Connecticut Bar Association as a Representative for Westport, Weston, Wilton, and Norwalk (District 3) for three years. I am also a Past President of the Fairfield County Bar Association, having served on its Nominating Committee and as a Co-Chair of the Family Law Section for six years. Additionally, I am a Past President of the Fairfield County Bar Foundation, the Fairfield County Bar Association’s charitable arm.
I have appeared as a legal commentator on NBC’s Today Show, News 12 Connecticut. I regularly speak to attorneys, accountants, financial professionals, therapists, and the general public on family and marital issues. I have lectured on numerous family law topics throughout my career to judges, other lawyers, accountants, financial professionals, therapists, physicians, and the general public. Further, I serve as a volunteer Special Master in the Family Divisions of the Stamford and Bridgeport Superior Courts and at the Regional Family Trial Docket for highly contested custody cases.
Distinctions, Honors, and Awards
- Selected for recognition in the Best Lawyers® 27th 26th and 25th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America®, 2020, 2019, 2018
- Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent rating™, since 2013
- Connecticut Super Lawyers ® as listed in New England Super Lawyers ®, since 2013
- NAFLA Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in Connecticut, since 2014
- Top Lawyer; Arbitration and Mediation, Family Law and Matrimonial Law in Westport, Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan/Darien and Fairfield Magazines
- Avvo Rating 10 out of 10
Publications and Presentations
- Thinking about Divorce? Your Top 5 FAQs Answered, The Divorce & Beyond Podcast, January 2021
- Top Ten Family Law Decisions, specifically Dan v. Dan, Maturo v. Maturo and Borkowski v. Borkowski, Guest Speaker, Connecticut Bar Association Annual Conference, June 2017
- “Establishing and Modifying Support Orders after Dan v. Dan,” Guest Speaker, Connecticut Bar Association’s 2016 Connecticut Legal Conference, June 2016
- “Family Law and Immigration: The Basics of Immigration Law for Family Law Practitioners,” January 2016
- Connecticut’s Nonadversarial Law, Connecticut News 12, October 2015. https://f1.media.brightcove.com/7/981571817/981571817_5222290378001_5222269187001.mp4?pubId=981571817&videoId=5222269187001
- “You Be the Judge,” Fairfield County Bar Association Presentation, February 2013
- “On the Record,” Connecticut Law Tribune, February 2013
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Fairfield County Bar Association, Past President
- Member of Family Law Section, 1998 – Present
- Professionalism Symposium Committee, 2010 – 2015
- Nominating Committee, 2010 – 2015
- Member of Board of Directors, 2005 – 2014
- Co-Chair of Family Law Section, 2006 – 2011
- American Inns of Court, Member, 2009 – Present
- Fairfield County Bar Foundation Past President and Member, 2007 – Present
- Connecticut Bar Association
- House of Delegates, District 3, 2015 – 2018
Pro Bono Activities
- Special Master, Middletown Superior Court, 2013 – Present
- Special Master, Stamford Superior Court, 2005 – Present
- Special Master, Bridgeport Superior Court, 2005 – Present
Past Employment Positions
- Fitzmaurice & Siegel, Stamford, CT, 2002 – 2005
- Blank Rome, LLP, New York, NY, 1998 – 2002
- Connecticut, 1996
- New York, 1996
- Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- J.D. – 1995
- Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
- B.A. – 1992
- Congregation B’nai Israel
- Board of Trustees Member, 2018 – Present
- The Tiny Miracles Foundation
- Honorary Member of Board of Directors, 2018 – Present
- Member of Development Committee, 2013 – 2018
- Member of Governance, Nominating Committee, 2013 – 2018
- Member of Board of Directors, 2012 – 2018
- Premier Travel Soccer Coach, 2014 – Present
- Member of The CEO Roundtable, 2013 – 2018
- Little League Coach, 2007 – 2015