|Attorney Profiles - Child:James Rubens|
James L. Rubens
"This is the most high-stakes kind of litigation there is," says James Rubens. Having represented individuals in divorces for more than 25 years, he says, "I have always been for the underdog, and in a divorce everybody thinks they are the underdog." He emphasizes, "The future of a family is worth fighting for. We're dealing with the most personal relationships, and there just has to be respect on both sides."
Family law involves many areas, Rubens explains. "We have to understand business law, real estate, taxation, partnerships, personal injury, criminal as well as family law. Marital relationships and divorce encompass all areas of law depending on the individual case. Combining all of these factors and dynamics in a divorce system makes it extremely difficult to navigate."
He adds, "At times it is a very slow process, even if the parties are motivated. If one spouse or attorney wants to make the case take longer, he or she can. It's very frustrating. On the other hand, every time I win a custody case, that success will bring rewards for years, even generations to come."
For a divorce lawyer, Rubens has an unusual background. As a defense attorney specializing in felony defense, he served in the elite homicide task force in the Cook County Public Defender's office. Cook County, he notes, also has the largest divorce division of any state in the nation.
Rubens feels strongly about improving lawyers' skills and the quality of litigation in family law through his teaching, writing and mentoring. "We have an advantage here because our firm is recognized for having the most respected family law attorneys in the Chicago area, by opposing counsel as well as the judges."
As managing partner, Rubens has been active in expanding the practice, and takes great pride in maintaining Davis Friedman's trusted reputation. "Our partners become mentors for each of our associates, and associates attend regular, in-house continuing legal education seminars," he points out. "We encourage our attorneys to be involved in the community: speaking, writing and just striving to be better in all aspects of family law."
Rubens himself is working on a cooperative law model that is fairly new in Illinois. "Both sides approach a case with the expressed goal of avoiding litigation. It is a different approach to divorce, beginning with a contract signed by everyone involved. Either party can terminate the process at any point. The result is that no one wants the case to go to court," he explains. Thus, solutions can be more amicable and less costly.
"Cooperative law is going to catch on because it's needed," Rubens believes. "There is a huge lack of trust between parties in a divorce, so anything that improves transparency makes for fairer settlements." But this model will not work for everyone, he notes. "When client or attorney biases get in the way of good judgment, everyone loses," he says. "In the vast majority of cases, a settlement is the best possible result. However, if a case should be litigated, I am prepared to do all that is necessary to prevail."
Admitted to the Bar
1979, Illinois and U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
Kenyon College, University of Illinois, B.A., 1976
Chicago Bar Association: Matrimonial Law Committee, Member
Accomplishments and Publications
Illinois Practice of Family Law, co-Author with Muller Davis and Jody Meyer Yazici, 2011-present