| Practice Description: |
"This is the highest stakes kind of litigation there is," says James Rubens, having represented individuals in divorces for more than 25 years. "I have always been for the underdog, and in a divorce everybody thinks they are the underdog." He emphasizes, "The future of a family is worth fighting for. We're dealing with the most personal relationships and there just has to be respect on both sides."
For a divorce lawyer, Rubens has an unusual background. As a defense attorney specializing in felony defense, he served in the elite homicide task force in the Cook County Public Defender's office. Cook County, he notes, also has the largest divorce division of any state in the nation.
Family law involves many areas, Rubens explains. "We have to understand business law, real estate, taxation, partnerships, personal injury, criminal and even sometimes family law. Marital relationships and divorce encompass all areas of law depending on the individual case. Combining all of these factors and dynamics in a divorce system makes it extremely difficult to navigate."
He adds, "At times it is a very slow process, even if the parties are motivated. If one spouse or attorney wants to make the case take longer, he or she can. It's very frustrating. On the other hand, every time I win a custody case, I feel that it is so important to my client. That success will bring rewards for years, even generations to come."
Rubens feels strongly about improving lawyers' skills and the quality of litigation in family law through teaching, writing and mentoring. "We have an advantage here because our firm is recognized for having the most respected family law attorneys in the Chicago area, by opposing counsel as well as the judges."
As managing partner, Rubens has been active in expanding the practice and takes great pride in maintaining Davis Friedman's trusted reputation. "Our partners become mentors for each of our associates, and associates attend regular, in-house continuing legal education seminars," he points out. "We encourage our attorneys to be involved in the community: speaking, writing and just striving to be better in all aspects of family law."
Rubens himself is working on a cooperative law model fairly new in Illinois. "Both sides approach a case with the expressed goal of avoiding litigation. It is a different approach to divorce, beginning with a contract signed by everyone involved. Either party can terminate the process at any point. The result is that no one wants the case to go to court," he explains. Thus, solutions can be more amicable and less costly.
"Cooperative law is going to catch on because it's needed," Rubens believes. "There is a huge lack of trust between parties in a divorce, so anything that improves transparency makes for fairer settlements." But this model will not work for everyone, he notes "When client or attorney biases get in the way of good judgment, everyone loses," he says. "In the vast majority of cases, a settlement is the best possible result. However, if a case should be litigated, I am prepared to do all that is necessary to prevail."
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 1979
Date of Birth: 1954
Law School: DePaul University College of Law,J.D., 1979
Undergraduate School: Kenyon College; University of Illinois, B.A., 1976
Bar/Professional Association Involvement:
- Chicago Bar Association
- Matrimonial Law Committee
- Illinois State Bar Association
- ISBA Family Law Section newsletter
- Chicago Council of Lawyers
- State Judicial Evaluation Committee
Awards; Honors; Distinctions:
- Chicago Lawyer Magazine's "Top Lawyers in Illinois"
- Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, 2012
- Listed, Who's Who among Law Professionals, 2010, 2011
- Martindale-Hubbell AV® Peer Review Rating
- Illinois Super Lawyer® 2006-present
- Leading Lawyers Member selected by peers in Family Law
- Envision Unlimited, a non-profit agency serving persons with developmental disabilities and special needs
- Board of Directors, 2012-2014
- American Jewish Committee
- Board of Directors, 2004, 2005
- Young Men's Jewish Council
Published Legal Writing:
*Mr. Rubens is the author of numerous articles on child custody and visitation, guardianships, settlements and premarital agreements published by Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), Chicago Bar Association, National Business Institute, Illinois State Bar Association, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and DePaul University College of Law, including:
- The Illinois Practice of Family Law 2012-2013 Edition, (co-author), 2 volume book
- "Guardian-Ad-Litem and Attorneys for the Child, and Child's Representatives," Child Custody Litigation Handbook and subsequent updates, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2006
- "Key Witnesses in Child Custody Proceedings," Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education
- "Expert Testimony: Real Estate and Business Valuators," IICLE
- "Getting the Financial Edge: 'Know How' That Makes the Winning Difference for Your Domestic Relations Litigation," Chicago Bar Association
- "Child Custody Trial: What You Need to Know - Trial Tactics and Discovery Tools," Chicago Bar Association
- "Drafting Marital Settlement Agreements," IICLE
- "Child Custody and Visitation in Illinois," National Business Institute
- "Family Law: Custody and Placement Issues," Lorman Business Institute
- "How to Win Your Case With Discovery," Illinois State Bar Association
- "American Psychological Association Custody Guidelines: How to Use Them to Your Advantage," American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
- "Drafting and Negotiating Premarital and Postnuptial Agreements," DePaul University College of Law
- Guest lecturer, DePaul University College of Law School
- Appeared on the Today Show television program, June 14, 1990
- Interviewed in the New York Times, May 11, 1990