Keeping It Civil: The Case of the Pre-nup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer

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Overview

Provocative true cases that explore the intersection of our most intimate relationships and the law—and offer a window into how we define a family today.

A woman seeking a divorce has no idea of the family finances—her husband doled out money only after she gave him requisition slips for her intended purchases. A lesbian couple wants to include their sperm donor in their child’s life—the sperm donor is the brother of one partner, so he will be...

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Keeping It Civil: The Case of the Pre-nup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer

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Overview

Provocative true cases that explore the intersection of our most intimate relationships and the law—and offer a window into how we define a family today.

A woman seeking a divorce has no idea of the family finances—her husband doled out money only after she gave him requisition slips for her intended purchases. A lesbian couple wants to include their sperm donor in their child’s life—the sperm donor is the brother of one partner, so he will be the biological father as well as the child’s uncle. These are the clients who come knocking on family lawyer Margaret Klaw’s door, hoping for resolution.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A prominent family lawyer with the Philadelphia firm Berner Klaw & Watson shines a light on the tumultuous and complex world of domestic relations law in this optimistic yet cautionary exposé. Klaw addresses the old and the new, covering everything from divorce cases to the evolving legislation on same-sex marriages. Illuminating chapters on these legal conundrums alternate with a detailed narrative of a particular divorce case as it wends its way through the Pennsylvania court system. This “Anatomy of a Trial” serves as an excellent, non-technical crash course on how and why lawyers do what they do—from planning a witness examination to devising strategies to appeal to a judge, navigating conflicts with the opposing counsel, and managing the relationship with their own client. Klaw’s candid and pragmatic commentary provides additional insight into how lawyers balance personal convictions and professional considerations, a feat made all the more complicated by the nature of Klaw’s particular kind of practice. Substantive yet accessible enough to appeal to both law students and clients alike, this book accomplishes an admirable goal: to foreground the humanity in the halls of justice. (Sept.)
Reviews

“With a lawyer's mind and a writer’s heart, Klaw brings a deeper understanding of the way cultural attitudes about sex, money, women and relationships influence the law--and vice versa. Keeping It Civil grants access to Klaw’s most intriguing cases, exploring today’s hot button issues through the lens of ordinary people seeking counsel." —Philadelphia Tribune

“What doesn’t happen very often is that I read a book straight through, but that’s what I did with Keeping It Civil. I just couldn’t stop myself. That’s because author and Pennsylvania 'Super Lawyer' Margaret Klaw shares her cases with excitement, energy, and compassion here.” —The Bookworm Sez

“It is both Klaw’s legal expertise and her warmheartedness that make this book so approachable--and her terrific prose doesn’t hurt, either. I especially recommend this for book groups, where discussions about these ethical and legal dilemmas will no doubt be spirited.” —Bookpage

“An excellent, non-technical crash course on how and why lawyers do what they do . . . This book accomplishes an admirable goal: to foreground the humanity in the halls of justice.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Love can be messy, and law is just as complicated. Klaw’s book reminds readers that nothing about law is impersonal. Instead, human emotion remains the glue of the legal system, societal norms, and family law.” —Foreword Reviews

“Conversational, entertaining . . . Informative and smart . . . An accessible description of an intricate field of law, examined in an open-hearted style.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Margaret Klaw’s keen observations about the law and human nature are eye-opening and jaw-dropping. This book shows how today's cultural conflicts are played out in the lives of ordinary families in true-life cases that involve love, money, sex, betrayal, and power. A must read!”—Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of the legal thrillers Save Me, Think Twice, and others

From the Publisher
“With a lawyer's mind and a writer’s heart, Klaw brings a deeper understanding of the way cultural attitudes about sex, money, women and relationships influence the law—and vice versa. Keeping It Civil grants access to Klaw’s most intriguing cases, exploring today’s hot button issues through the lens of ordinary people seeking counsel." —Philadelphia Tribune

“What doesn’t happen very often is that I read a book straight through, but that’s what I did with Keeping It Civil. I just couldn’t stop myself. That’s because author and Pennsylvania 'Super Lawyer' Margaret Klaw shares her cases with excitement, energy, and compassion here.” —The Bookworm Sez

“It is both Klaw’s legal expertise and her warmheartedness that make this book so approachable—and her terrific prose doesn’t hurt, either. I especially recommend this for book groups, where discussions about these ethical and legal dilemmas will no doubt be spirited.” —Bookpage

“An excellent, non-technical crash course on how and why lawyers do what they do . . . This book accomplishes an admirable goal: to foreground the humanity in the halls of justice.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Love can be messy, and law is just as complicated. Klaw’s book reminds readers that nothing about law is impersonal. Instead, human emotion remains the glue of the legal system, societal norms, and family law.” —Foreword Reviews

“Conversational, entertaining . . . Informative and smart . . . An accessible description of an intricate field of law, examined in an open-hearted style.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Margaret Klaw’s keen observations about the law and human nature are eye-opening and jaw-dropping. This book shows how today's cultural conflicts are played out in the lives of ordinary families in true-life cases that involve love, money, sex, betrayal, and power. A must read!”—Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of the legal thrillers Save Me, Think Twice, and others
Review

"Conversational, entertaining . . . informative and smart . . . An accessible description of an intricate field of law, examined in an open-hearted style." --Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A lawyer specializing in family law relates, with appropriate redactions, some unhappy war stories. Many attorneys avoid cases involving family practice because it's too emotionally demanding. Others, like Philadelphia lawyer Klaw, are less averse to the family fights, marital mayhem, late-night calls and all the high drama. The author, a wife and mother, deals professionally with such intimate, basic human concerns as love, heirlooms, money, acquisitions, money, sex, children and, of course, money. In daily practice, she may confront lying spouses, secure protection orders, counsel same-sex marriage partners or arrange for new birth certificates for transgendered clients. Family practice, it should be noted, is an evolving legal specialty. There have been titanic social and scientific changes in just a generation or two; evolving sexual mores and relations, as well as new reproductive technology, have outpaced the stately progress of the law. Klaw's tilt is manifestly feminist, but she acknowledges the camaraderie among family-law practitioners. "We're joined together through a common work life that can be difficult, emotionally intense, sometimes exhilarating, and sometimes thankless," she writes. All lawyers, of course, enjoy reprising their courtroom adventures and recounting what they think are interesting "matters" (cases); Klaw, a regular blogger, is quite adept at anecdotal exposition of legal principles. Especially effective is her analysis, running sporadically throughout the book, of a representative custody trial. The conversational, entertaining text may sometimes sound more like Judge Judy than Learned Hand or Felix Frankfurter, but it is all informative and smart. (It may also enhance her total of well-deserved billable hours). An accessible description of an intricate field of law, examined in an open-hearted style.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616202392
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 9/24/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 937,435
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Klaw is a founding partner of Berner Klaw & Watson, a family law firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Named by Martindale-Hubbell as a “Preeminent Woman Lawyer,” she has been recognized as a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer” for the past five years. An adjunct professor of family law at Temple University’s Law School, she speaks frequently on family law and blogs for the Huffington Post and DailyWorth.com.

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Read an Excerpt

There's a courthouse saying that criminal lawyers see bad people at their best and family lawyers see good people at their worst. We deal with people who are raw, who are hurting. They tell us about what happens behind closed doors, and we come to know them, fast. But there's also a flip side. There are plenty of people who, in the midst of crisis, inspire awe with their strength and sound judgment. —from the Introduction

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2013

    This book is a terrific read.  One might make the mistake of thi

    This book is a terrific read.  One might make the mistake of thinking it is targeted toward those who are in involved in family law,
    either as lawyers or clients.  That's not the case at all.  Klaw writes an engaging, interesting and sometimes humorous account
    of her field of work.  Her perspectives on what drew her into the field of family law and what keeps her there are enlightening, as
    are her insights into the often-mysterious world of lawyering and courtrooms in general.  There are lessons sprinkled throughout,
    although thankfully not in a self-helpy sort of way.  Rather, Klaw shares enough stories from others' real life experiences that we
    all can consider how to make choices that are sensible for us.  I found this book totally readable and approachable.  Highly
    recommended.  

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