The divorce lawyer who’s represented Johnny Depp, Kim K, and Angelina Jolie charges $1,000 an hour and says tough love is how she gets things done
Laura Wasser is a divorce lawyer whose shoppers have included Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.
Wasser mentioned being a lady in a male-dominated area helped her get shoppers and acquire their belief.
She’s rumored to be the inspiration for Laura Dern’s character in “Marriage Story.”
Ask one of the high-profile celebrity-divorce attorneys in Los Angeles about her profession selection, and she’s going to shrug and say it is a position she was born to fill.
“I am Laura Allison Wasser, so my initials are LAW, and each my mother and father are attorneys,” she instructed Insider. “However once they requested, ‘Are you going to be a lawyer?’ I mentioned, ‘By no means.’ However I went to clerk for my daddy for the summer season as a result of I wanted the cash, and admittedly, I fell in love with it.”
Since that fateful stint after faculty, Wasser, now 54, has been tapped by a who’s who of A-list celebrities to deal with their uncouplings through her Century Metropolis agency, Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles.
She brokered Kelly Clarkson’s contentious divorce and labored with Angelina Jolie (at the least for some time) and Johnny Depp in instances towards Brad Pitt and Amber Heard, respectively. Wasser additionally helped Kim Kardashian reduce ties with a husband not as soon as however twice: first Kris Humphries after which Ye, previously often known as Kanye West.
Different previous shoppers embody Christina Aguilera, Patricia Arquette, Maria Shriver, and Dr. Dre. She mentioned her shopper base was about 50% male and 50% feminine however that she often represented the monetary engine of any uncoupling — it is no marvel TMZ dubbed her “the disso queen” for her deft dissolution of headline-grabbing marriages.
Her hourly charge is $1,000. Many celebrity-adjacent suppliers will provide reductions to boldface names to land their enterprise — however not Wasser.
“I get it. I perceive. However it does not actually assist my model to have represented a star,” she mentioned.
She nonetheless lives in LA, the place she grew up, along with her two sons — from separate former boyfriends, neither of whom she married. She was married as soon as, although.
“Very briefly, once I was 25 and in my second 12 months of legislation faculty,” she mentioned. “I be in contact extra along with his household than I do with him. It lasted about 14 months, and once we cut up up, we did not have something besides debt and a pit bull named Raul.”
She shared how she received began and what it is like working for sad A-listers.
She was the best divorce lawyer, even when she did not understand it at first
Wasser was introduced up in Beverly Hills, California, the place she graduated from the varsity that served as inspiration for West Beverly Hills Excessive College on “90210.” Divorces amongst her elite friends’ mother and father have been commonplace, she mentioned, and infrequently dealt with by her father, Dennis (Wasser’s personal mother and father cut up amicably when she was 16; her mom died in 2019).
“You’d go to somebody’s bar mitzvah and say, ‘You are Dennis Wasser’s daughter,’ they usually’d say, ‘You are at that desk,’ based on whether or not my dad had represented the mother or the dad,” she mentioned.
She pinballed all over the world for highschool and faculty — a stint at a boarding faculty in Switzerland, a 12 months out working in Australia — earlier than returning house for the clerking gig along with her father. She’d majored in rhetoric on the College of California, Berkeley, and realized rapidly that what she’d cherished most about these research was very important in divorce instances, as was her age and gender.
“It is about listening to individuals’s issues and determining the narrative to unravel them,” she mentioned. “And I used to be 25 when not plenty of youthful individuals have been doing this sort of legislation. It was simply older males, so I received into it representing younger individuals who have been in a position to relate to a youthful feminine, not some previous man in a swimsuit.
“I’ve a tattoo. I am not going to evaluate them if they are saying, ‘I used to be out smoking my bong and the nanny caught me.'”
She added that her temperament was nicely suited to episodic authorized work, fairly than ongoing instances.
“I’ve a little bit of ADD, so I take care of shoppers for six to 18 months, after which it is, ‘Bye!'” she mentioned. “I suppose that is why I am doing this. One among my exes is an leisure lawyer, they usually’re on a fee, negotiating what number of air tickets are included in a contract. It simply sounds dreadful. I am in, out, and transfer on to assembly new individuals.”
She says her fame was solid by the rise of 24/7 celebrity-news cycles
It was two nearly simultaneous instances that propelled Wasser to the standing of A-list lawyer: a palimony case involving her shopper Stevie Marvel and, extra notably, the divorce of Kevin Federline and Britney Spears, which was filed in November 2006. Spears’ then-entertainment lawyer related Wasser along with his shopper earlier than the marriage.
“He mentioned, ‘We want somebody to go in and communicate to her nearly like a giant sister as a result of she does not suppose she wants a prenup as a result of she’s in love,'” she mentioned. “It was, ‘You are younger. You may relate. Are you able to discuss to her?'”
Naturally, when the wedding unraveled, it was Wasser to whom Spears and her staff turned (although the singer later opted to work with a distinct divorce lawyer, TMZ reported).
These two instances coincided, Wasser mentioned, with the rise of the 24-hour celebrity-news cycle: TMZ’s TV incarnation debuted in September 2007 and was an immediate hit because the highest-rated new present in syndication inside a month. In summer season that 12 months, Perez Hilton mentioned his celebrity-trolling web site hit nearly 9 million views a day.
Household instances like these are within the public area in California, she added, so that they have been catnip for traffic-chasing celeb websites — and Wasser’s fame grew within the backwash of her shoppers. Amid this torrent of curiosity, her coverage of by no means discussing the main points of any case helped shore up her fame with well-known potential shoppers.
“For the report, we on the agency have a coverage that we are going to not focus on instances or give quotes — even when the shoppers ask us to,” she mentioned, including that she would not hesitate to ditch even an A-lister in the event that they tried to embroil her within the media battle round their cut up.
Wasser additionally turns down shoppers who will not hearken to her counsel, a brand new expertise for a lot of rich celebrities.
“They’re used to being instructed, ‘Sure — sure, we are going to make that occur,'” she mentioned. “That is as a result of they’re feeding plenty of mouths: Their agent will get 10%, their supervisor 15%, their attorneys 5% of what they earn. I invoice by the hour, so I’m completely satisfied to say no if I really feel like they don’t seem to be listening to the fact of their state of affairs.”
Straight-talking robust love like that’s refreshing in contentious battles, she added.
“We do not do unrealistic expectations. We do not do loopy,” she mentioned. “I need not become profitable out of people who find themselves bananas, simply get out and in with reasonableness.”
Her enterprise has a barely completely different rhythm to that of many divorce legal professionals, whose peak season is usually January and February, usually on account of sad vacation seasons.
“After we are getting close to Oscar season, we might have shoppers or their reps say, ‘Let’s maintain on to this till after we stroll the purple carpet,'” she mentioned.
Medication was the worst accusation leveled towards a soon-to-be ex-spouse. Now there is a new tactic.
Wasser mentioned celebrities might keep away from publicity round their splits, ought to they so select. There is a discreet entrance at Los Angeles Superior Courtroom, for instance, the place they will keep away from paparazzi stampedes — an issue, she mentioned, “every time there is a Kardashian.” The COVID-19-era follow of distant hearings has helped, too, since celebrities need not seem in-person.
Wasser is especially happy with the splits she’s dealt with that grew to become public solely once they concluded. It is simpler to be discreet, she mentioned, if the events are actually amicable or if they’ve a way of life that features bases past California’s boundaries.
“So long as you meet residency necessities, you may get divorced there, and plenty of it goes beneath the radar,” she mentioned, citing states like Montana and Wyoming, which have extra stringent privateness legal guidelines round such splits.
Generally a case may be resolved solely in court docket, and it falls to Wasser to prep performers for his or her time on the stand. Maybe surprisingly, it is not actors who stand out on this discussion board.
“A few of my finest shoppers are athletes as a result of they take path the perfect — they are saying, ‘OK, coach,’ and do precisely what they’re presupposed to do,” she mentioned. “And essentially the most emotional and everywhere? That is the musicians, particularly the male ones, who will at all times be in tears on the stands. That rock ‘n’ roll man who will go off on a 10-minute guitar riff, on the stand, he’ll undergo a whole field of Kleenex.”
Medication was the nuclear possibility wielded towards a well known determine by a dissatisfied partner — a risk to disclose photos or tales involving them might emerge in contentious instances.
“Now if it is authorized, like marijuana, and she or he is smoking, and the youngsters aren’t with them, most judicial officers do not actually care,” she mentioned. “An image of a rolled joint? It is OK, no matter.”
As a substitute, allegations of abuse have change into essentially the most poisonous tactic by way of damaging reputations.
“That is an enormous supply of extortion,” she mentioned. “If you happen to’re representing the well-known, or the extra well-known, individual, and the opposite is accusing you of home violence, you must get on prime of that within the court docket of public opinion. They will attempt you lengthy earlier than a judicial officer ever does.”
Wasser added: “It was proper round 2016, the primary well-known case of that. Now you get plenty of different copycats.” (Notably, Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt that 12 months, and her claims included abusive habits on his half.)
Wasser’s completely satisfied to stay out of the highlight, regardless of her fame
Wasser’s A-list clientele has turned her right into a minor superstar herself. She’s a spokesperson for Divorce.com, the do-it-yourself cut up web site, as its chief of divorce evolution and has hosted a number of podcasts, together with “All’s Honest with Laura Wasser” and “Divorce Sucks! With Laura Wasser,” the place one visitor was the Kardashian momager and matriarch Kris Jenner.
Rumor has it that Wasser additionally offered the real-life inspiration for Laura Dern’s character within the 2019 Netflix film “Marriage Story,” and the watertight “Massey prenup” in “Insupportable Cruelty,” the Coen brothers’ 2003 rom-com, was apparently primarily based on one drafted by Wasser on shoppers’ behalf, The New Yorker reported.
However she’s glad her profile is way decrease than these of lots of the individuals she represents.
“I do not socialize with most of my shoppers. I am with them going into and leaving court docket,” she mentioned. “I am not loopy in regards to the superstar as a result of I grew up right here in LA. If I had wished to be well-known, I might have taken a distinct path.”
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