| Practice Description: |
"My father was a divorce lawyer and I became very eager to work with him," Muller Davis recalls. "I am an only child and was very close to my father. It was a great and happy learning experience being in the business and practicing law with the wise lawyer that he was." Though Davis first had worked at Jenner & Block for seven years, Davis remembers his father's guidance as he was still developing his legal abilities: getting to know clients takes "sitting down with people" and listening to them.
Davis notes the dramatic changes in the law during his 50-year tenure, and understands the complexities in a uniquely authoritative way. With Jody Meyer Yazici, he has written eleven editions of The Illinois Practice of Family Law, a two-volume work taught in some Illinois law schools and used by family law attorneys throughout the State. "We practice under a no fault law that is more codified than it used to be," he notes.
He recalls that after the rise of the feminist movement, there was an assumption that women would immediately become self-sufficient following a divorce. "Then a very stark realization set in that they and their children were starving to death." Many women had been out of the marketplace for 20 years and had focused their lives caring for children. "Yet there was a ridiculous expectation that they could walk back into the workplace and compete at the same level as their former husbands." He observes that he always supported "making maintenance more adequate in the law" and thinks that this matter is better addressed today based on individual need, income and circumstances.
In Davis' view people have changed, and not always for the better. "For some today, a sense of dissatisfaction permeates their lives. The world seems angrier to me right now. . . . People go into the divorce more anxious and bitter, and they are less and less content with the result. They shift control over to a judge, who knows less about the case than anyone else in the courtroom."
Davis observes the most tense issues are usually the future of children and economics, but "all kinds of things seem to irritate people. It's harder to settle cases now. The critical thing to keep in mind is the best interests of our clients and their children. But we have to think about the interests of our opponent too if we are trying to settle a case," he adds.
"At Davis Friedman, we try to practice at a very high level, which includes a high ethical standard. We're sensitive to our clients' important issues and we are very well prepared when we go into a negotiation or a court hearing. We try to tell a client what would constitute a good outcome. We try to settle cases because that is often the best resolution for clients, particularly when the costs of litigation, emotional distress and interests of the children are considered."
Reviewing his own practice, he finds, "I like all of it. It's an ideal way to try and help people and earn a living at the same time. I'm fortunate to have been able to do so for all of the years of my practice."
U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, 1961
Hourly Rate: $501 or more
Retainer: Varies by case
Date of Birth: 1935
Law School: Harvard University Law School, J.D., 1960
Undergraduate School: Yale University, B.A, 1957
Undergraduate School Honors/Involvement: Magna cum laude; Pi Sigma Alpha
Secondary School: Phillips Exeter Academy, 1953
- Jenner & Block, associate, 1960-67
Davis Friedman, partner, 1967-present
Bar/Professional Association Involvement:
- Chicago Bar Association
- Matrimonial Committee, 1968-1983
- Committee on Civil Practice
- Illinois State Bar Association
- American Bar Foundation Fellow
- Association of Trial Lawyers of America
- American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
- Illinois Chapter
- Board of Managers, 1996-1999
- The Lawyers Club of Chicago
- Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
- Committee to Study and Recommend a Comprehensive Rules Design for the Domestic Relations Division
- Equitable Distribution Journal
- Editorial Board, 1983-2007
Awards; Honors; Distinctions:
- Best Lawyers, Lawyer of the Year, Family Law, Chicago, 2010
- The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Illinois Chapter, Samuel S. Berger Award Winner, 2009
- Scribes, The American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects
- Leading Lawyers Member selected by peers in Family Law
Legal Aid Society (chairman, 1997-99)
Infant Welfare Society of Chicago (president, 1978-82)
Published Legal Writing:
- "The Parental Couple In A Successful Divorce," (co-author), 1984
- The Illinois Practice of Family Law, (co-author), 1st through 11th editions, West, 1995-2011
- Contributing author, "Marriage, Health and the Professions," 2002
- Contributing co-author, "Strategies for Family Law in Illinois, Enforceable Civility: A Critical Part of the Judicial Process in Divorce Litigation," 2011
- Articles in Illinois Bar Journal:
- "The Davis Case Revisited," November 1982
- "Valuation of Professional Practices in Dissolution Cases," September 1985
- "Best Interest of the Child: The Case for Joint Custody Even in Contested Divorces," July 1996
Continuing legal education lectures