Laura Wasser is known for her high-profile clients, including Kim Kardashian, Kevin Costner and Ariana Grande. Here's everything else to know about the divorce attorney to the stars
Her secret to being such a popular attorney? She likes to insist her clients hash things out through closed-door mediations, as opposed to trials, where every accusation and filing from each side is available to the public. Still, she's said that just because her divorces are mostly quiet, that doesn't mean they're easy.
"Divorce is difficult because it's heartbreaking," Wasser told PEOPLE in 2018. "So you're going through what is probably the most difficult time in your life — unless you've had sickness or death in your family — and it's really sad."
She added that it didn't matter if her client was a celebrity or not — the formal process of splitting up is always complicated. "Add to that the fact that you're going through a legal process that is
not easy to understand. It's adding insult to injury, if you will."
So what else is there to know about Laura Wasser? Keep reading for more on the high-powered divorce attorney to the stars.
She was born and raised in L.A.
Wasser's father is also a prominent divorce lawyer named Dennis Wasser. She grew up in L.A., and went to Beverly Hills High School with classmates like the actor Pauly Shore. After attending college at U.C. Berkeley, she received a law degree from Loyola Law School and joined her father's law firm. Now she's a partner at Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles.
She previously told PEOPLE that growing up around the Hollywood industry helped get her business off the ground.
"I went to high school with a lot of people who are in the entertainment industry behind the scenes. Business managers, agents, entertainment attorneys," she said. "If their client was getting divorced, they'd be like, 'Call Laura Wasser.' "
She was rumored to be the inspiration for Laura Dern's character in Marriage Story
Wasser herself has disputed that Laura Dern's character Nora Fanshaw, who was a well-manicured, high-powered divorce attorney representing Scarlett Johansson's character in the film, was modeled after her. Still, she admits some scenes were shot in the law office of Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles.
"[Director] Noah Baumbach asked if he could shoot some of the scenes in our office," she told Vulture, noting that the conference room scenes are indeed from her office. She also consulted with Dern over the role, but was told that the character was actually a "conglomeration of many professionals in the field."
Despite that, Dern herself noted that Fanshaw was very much like Wasser: "She's one of the great powerhouses," the actress told The Hollywood Reporter. "The business of divorce is the business of winning for your team."
She does not believe in marriage — or monogamy
Perhaps it's her years of helping couples break up, but Wasser has said she no longer believes in marriage after her 1993 divorce from her first husband. She went on to have two children with two different long-term boyfriends, and has joked that she's not great at relationships herself.
"Look I have two kids with two different dads. I was married once for about five minutes. I'm not the best person to ask about relationship advice," she told PEOPLE in 2018.
She added, "I also think, frankly, for most people, human beings were not meant to mate for life. If you've found someone and you're with that person and you guys are together until death do you part, you're blessed and that's fantastic. But a lot of people do not find that to be the case. So I think it's better for children and people in general to be in a happy house, to be in a happy relationship. If you're not in a happy relationship, don't let your kids grow up seeing two miserable people that dislike each other. Move on."
She made a name for herself by not being stuffy
Wasser said her celebrity client base grew in the beginning of her career when she was handling pre-nuptial agreements for athletes and celebrities.
"I'd help with prenups and the client would say, 'I don't want the wife to hate me. How about you draft it, and they can hate you.' And I'm like, 'Okay, they can hate me. I'm good with that!' I got a lot of referrals through that," she explained to PEOPLE.
She said it also helped that she didn't look like your average lawyer. "When I started I was 10 years younger than most of my colleagues, so they'd send me in to the celeb meetings because i was young, hip, I had a tattoo — I could speak to these athletes or musicians and actors, and they could relate to me better than they could to an old guy in a suit."
Her experience with Britney Spears' first divorce was a life lesson
"This was a time when media was really, really booming and we didn't know how to keep things quiet necessarily," Wasser said. "Also at the time, I don't believe opposing council, Mr. Federline's attorney, wanted to keep things very quiet. So things were getting blown out of control. I don't think anybody at that time could even fathom how quickly news would travel. How quickly things would get picked up and spread all around."
She added, "We're much better now at being able to keep things quiet, but it was a really big lesson for me when it came to handling clients who really wanted things to be private. Then we kind of developed some tricks of the trade to keep things from getting to you folks in the media."
She says celebrity divorces are pretty much like regular divorces
While it may seem like there are higher stakes when it comes to the divorce of say, Kim and Kanye, ( Kardashian was indeed a client), Wasser, who also handles plenty of civilian divorces, told PEOPLE she tells her clients that a divorce is a divorce, no matter who you are or what you do for a living.
"I tell this all the time to both my celebrity clients and my 'normal' clients, which is, 'You are going through the same, heartache. You have the same fear, the same frustration, the same insecurity as anyone else.' "
She added, "Everybody's worried about their kids. Everybody's worried about money. Everybody's worried about things like, 'Who am I gonna go to the office Christmas party with? Or who am I gonna go to the Oscars with?' It's still that same feeling inside of, 'Oh, god, what's everybody gonna think? How's this going to affect my kids?' All that kind of stuff."
Wasser also noted that the only difference between celeb splits and civilian splits is in the media planning, as in, when to announce to the world that you are no longer a celebrity couple. As for what she tells her A-list clients? "I say, don't ask me, talk to you publicist!"
She doesn't pretend to be a therapist — or a celebrity
The one thing Wasser said she isn't, when it comes to divorces? Someone to unload all of your problems on.
"I'm rather blunt about it," she told PEOPLE. "I tell my clients, at my hourly rate, it doesn't make sense for me to be giving you relationship advice. Look, I have two kids with two different dads. I was married once for about five minutes. I'm not the best person to ask about relationship advice. I'm also not the best person to ask about the kind of mental health support you need. There are experts for that."
Wasser noted that just because she has celebrity clients, that doesn't make her one herself.
"Paparazzi don't bother me, thank god," she said. "Maybe a few years ago there was a point where they would sometimes get me coming out of a restaurant. But I think I'm very boring, so they don't really bother with me. I'm not interesting to them."
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