The cover story in the latest issue of Southern California Rising Stars magazine is all over the news these days. “Bleeding Dodger Blue” focuses on the work of Susman Godfrey attorney Victoria Cook, who, at the time she was called into the McCourt v. McCourt divorce case, initially thought her client was the other Frank McCourt–the author of Angela’s Ashes–rather than the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The two lead attorneys on her side of the case are both longtime legal heavyweights, Stephen Susman of Susman Godfrey and Sorrell Trope of Trope and Trope, yet it was Cook who gave the closing argument. On Jamie McCourt’s contention that, despite her J.D., she had not understood the marital property agreement she had signed, Cook said, “If a woman this highly educated, who is a lawyer, is not bound by a contract she signed, who would be?”
“When [Cook] does a cross-examination,” says Neal Manne, a partner in Susman Godfrey’s Houston office, and Cook’s mentor, “she has a natural style that doesn’t seem scripted. She’s really comfortable on her feet, which puts the witness at ease. Then she comes in for the kill.”
We also write about construction lawyer Jay Freedman and his concept of controlled risk. “I need to be in a situation where if I do everything right, I won’t get hurt,” he says of the hikes and climbs he does. It’s how he practices law, too. “You always want to push a boundary, but you don’t want to push it too much,” he says. “The only way to succeed is to risk failure, but it has to be in a managed way.”
Sara Azari, whose eponymous law firm overlooks the Sunset Strip, talks to us about leaving Khomeni-era Iran as a child, working mergers and transactions in Rio immediately after law school, how Facebook helps her during pre-trial investigations, and why she ultimately chose criminal defense law:
There’s so much more at stake in criminal defense. It’s someone’s liberty and their life. Sex registration is a lifetime requirement. It’s like the scarlet letter A on your chest. People will go on the Internet and see your picture as a sex offender. To me, that’s far more important than whether the husband or the wife gets the house, or how much money I can recover for this person, or what kind of deal I can put together. That’s all great but this is what drives me every day. You make an impact on people’s lives.
We learn what it’s like being a judge pro tem from Kelly Chang Rickert, what it’s like songwriting for “American Idol” from Perry Smith, and how being both entertainer and entertainment lawyer helps Christiane Cargill Kinney with contract negotiations.