Wasser, Rosenson & Carter
Law School: USC, 1967
When a celebrity marriage fails, there's a good chance that Dennis Wasser's telephone will ring. Wasser has been practicing family law since 1970, when California passed the no-fault law that made divorce litigation another form of civil law. Within just a few years, he was building a reputation as divorce lawyer to the stars.
Starting with Tony Curtis in the '70s and continuing to "Titanic" director James Cameron's recent split from Linda Hamilton, Wasser's clients represent the upper strata of Hollywood. Clint Eastwood, Jane Fonda and Steven Spielberg have entrusted Wasser to represent them in divorce court.
His services, for which he charges $500 an hour, are in such demand that it is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to quickly enlist Wasser before the other one gets a chance to do so.
While Wasser acknowledges that working on celebrity divorce cases is exciting, his client base is not restricted to Hollywood types. He also has a large number of fellow lawyers as clients. Those lawyer-clients, in turn, have referred many of their own clients to Wasser when they are in need of a divorce counsel.
Wasser says 90 percent of his cases are settled out of court. But those that do end up in the courtroom are generally among the nastiest.
One example is Maglica vs. Maglica, one of the highest-stakes palimony cases in history. Wasser represents "Mag" flashlight millionaire Anthony Maglica, who was sued for $300 million in 1994 by his 20-year companion, Claire Maglica.
The case lasted two months, with the jury awarding the plaintiff $84 million. But even that reduced amount is in jeopardy. An appeals court last September overturned the award and ordered a new trial because the judge had erred in instructing the jury.
Fellow divorce attorney Robert Kaufman said the Maglica case reflects the tenaciousness Wasser brings to the courtroom.
"What you want to see in your lawyer when you go to trial is someone who is in control of the situation and who does not let it get away. Dennis has this unique ability," Kaufman said.
Wasser attributes his success to the way he approaches cases. "I listen carefully to the client and to the other party," he said. "I attempt to resolve problems without going to war."
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