Hollywood's Go-To Divorce Attorney Has an Online Solution so Unhappy Couples Don't Have to Pay Attorneys to Argue
Laura Wasser, noted A-list Hollywood divorce attorney, believes her career has come full circle. Married in her second year of law school, she was divorcing amicably by the time she started studying for the bar exam. On the advice of her father, storied divorce attorney Dennis Wasser, she assembled and completed the many forms the state of California requires to process the uncontested divorce of a couple with no children or assets. When everything had all the right signatures, she took it to the court clerk’s office herself, paid the fees and filed the first divorce of what she didn’t realize then would be her career.
“We didn’t have anything except some credit card debt and a dog. I got both,’’ she said.
Wasser’s long list of celebrity clients (Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian, to name three) and spouses of celebrities (Robyn Moore in her divorce from Mel Gibson; Ryan Reynolds in his divorce from Scarlett Johansson), plus countless numbers of rich-but-not-famous people eager to remain living in Beverly Hills post-divorce, have generally done better with her overseeing their breakup. Though she prospered representing the 1 percent (clients of Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles usually have a net worth of at least $10 million), Wasser, author of the 2013 book It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself, never forgot the 99 percent who need legal advice but can’t afford her.
“In the back of my mind, I have always thought if I could do [all the divorce paperwork] myself when I wasn’t even practicing family law, there must be a way of showing people how to do it themselves,’’ Wasser said.
She seems to have found the way, recently unveiling an online platform called It’s Over Easy. For as little as $750, an unhappy but still cooperative couple can access all the legal forms necessary in either New York or California to file their own divorce. While divorce laws don’t vary greatly from state to state, the required forms do. Additional large states will be added to the platform soon, but low-population states (sorry, Wyoming) will take a while. The $1,500 version of the program will file the court documents for you and includes a 30-minute phone consultation for navigating the documents. The $2,500 version has all that and 90 minutes of talk time.
To put those costs in perspective, Wasser charges $850 per hour with a $25,000 retainer. But even non-celebrity couples in a run-of-the-mill divorce far from Hollywood can spend $15,000, or much more, on combined legal costs. If the splitting couple is civil and on speaking terms, the costs are lower, but if they can only speak through lawyers, the bills mount rapidly.
“I say to people all the time, the more you argue the more money I make, and I’m doing OK, so let’s see if we can work out these problems and keep your money in your family,’’ Wasser said.
Wasser exudes a sunny, energetic confidence, which has to come in handy when explaining to her clients that they and their soon-to-be ex -- not she or the court -- will determine how expensive and unhappy their passage to an uncertain future will be. Her wealthy clients are typically seeking a below-the-radar divorce with the minimum in costly conflicts. The notable exception was Angelina Jolie in her scorched-earth divorce from Brad Pitt, which earned Wasser notoriety as a courtroom warrior.
Wasser, a single mother of two sons by separate fathers, is known for keeping professional distance from clients. If a client needs relationship advice or counseling, she refers them to a professional. It’s Over Easy is arranged along those same lines. There is a dispassionate process for briskly navigating the blizzard of legal forms. For everything non-legal needed to prepare for post-married life, the site provides ample information on where else to go. Content on the platform ranges from co-parenting and help getting health insurance to finding a therapist and, eventually, starting over.
“Believe me, It’s Over Easy doesn’t mean it’s fun,” Wasser said. “We provide other information for dealing with the heart-wrenching, soul-crushing process of boiling everything down to a couch, a futon and two lamps. We have this amazing provider directory, so you can find somebody to give you a spray tan so that you feel really comfortable and confident going on that first date.”
She seemed genuinely cheerful when she said that.