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Divorce Lawyer Makes Career of Lifelong Passion

Divorce Lawyer Makes Career of Lifelong Passion

Orange County, CA—Divorce attorneys get their start for many reasons, from enjoying client interaction to simply having a family member who already practices family law.  For David E. Wald, a principal in the Tustin based family law firm, Hughes & Hughes, LLP, a passion for trial has sustained his long and illustrious career in family law. 

“I recognized that I enjoyed the intense pressure and adrenalin rush that comes with trial work,” he told laws.com in a recent interview.  “Even after 40 years, I still am of the same opinion regarding which aspect of the practice of law appeals to me.” 

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When Wald began his legal career in the early 1970s, he says, he knew only that he wanted to be a trial lawyer.  However, after obtaining an associate position at a firm that specialized in civil and family litigation, he quickly realized that only family law really appealed to his adrenalin-loving side.  “The litigation of family matters afforded me the dual opportunity of pursuing a career in the courtroom while observing the immediate benefit to the client,” he said, in contrast to civil litigation, in which “years of discovery and law and motion delayed the ultimate outcome nearly indefinitely.”

Four decades of family law practice have taught Wald a great deal about how to interact with clients who are going through some of the greatest stresses of their lives.  “We take very seriously the mental and emotional health of a client,” he says, “and if necessary, we urge them to maintain or seek a relationship with experienced mental health professionals.”

Wald, who says he has represented approximately equal numbers of men and women throughout his family law career, says that about 95 percent of cases settle.  However, just because the case doesn't go to trial doesn't mean these divorces are easy.  “Most settlements,” Wald says, “don't occur until after extensive discovery and independent investigation.”  This may be because of Wald's client base.  “Given my level of experience, the majority of clients that I handle are executives and professionals.”

Sometimes, being a family law attorney has provided Wald access into the darker side of families' private lives.  “There can be a huge discrepancy between public perception of a family and what is actually occurring behind closed doors,” he says.  “Alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, infidelity, financial difficulties—all are ongoing problems that a family may be dealing with that are not known by family, friends, neighbors and business associates.”

While tempers and emotions can run high during dissolution proceedings, Wald insists that his clients stay honest.  If clients show a lack of integrity, Wald says, he cannot keep representing them.  “I have terminated even wealthy clients who have violated this principle.  I will not jeopardize my professional reputation nor the overall perception of my profession because of a client's lack of integrity.”

Wald's own marriage is to a woman he met through his outside hobbies.  “Throughout my career,” he says, “I never dated clients, colleagues, or anyone else related to my career.  I have not even socialized that regularly with colleagues, as I do enjoy compartmentalizing my professional and personal lives.  That has probably contributed to my long career in family law and long and happy marriage.”