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Bernard E. Clair '73

Alumni, Honoree


Bernard E. Clair
 

Published:

January 21, 2014
Tagged: President's Gala
 

Bernard E. Clair '73

Alumni, Honoree


 

Mr. Clair attended Adelphi University on an athletic scholarship, receiving All American honors in lacrosse—the first freshman in the University’s history to achieve such national recognition. Upon graduating in 1973, Mr. Clair attended St. John’s Law School, receiving his J.D. in 1977, at which point he hung the proverbial shingle and waited for his career to begin. Mr. Clair’s first client wanted a divorce, and the rest is—as they say—history.

Mr. Clair is presently Co-Chairman of the Manhattan matrimonial law firm, Cohen Clair Lans Greifer & Thorpe LLP. The law firm has been recognized by both Martindale and US News and World Report as one of the “Top Ranked” and “Tier-1” law firms specializing in family law. Mr. Clair has been named a “Super Lawyer” since 2006; one of New York’s “Best Lawyers” in New York Magazine; he has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in America in the area of Family Law; and he carries the preeminent AV peer review rating. Of particular professional pride was his appointment in October 1999 as Chairman of the Editorial Board of the New York Family Law Monthly published by American Lawyers Media, a position that he continues to hold to date.

Mr. Clair’s clients through the years have included well known celebrities, equally well known high net worth individuals, and of course, their spouses. He has lectured before the Bar many times and has frequently appeared as an expert or as the profiled attorney of record on national television. Although a good number of Mr. Clair’s cases have garnered worldwide media attention, some of his most satisfying work has been successfully keeping many more of his clients out of the media’s spotlight.

Mr. Clair has been involved in precedent setting cases, including a Court of Appeals decision that created the “bright line” rule that now governs prenuptial agreements in this State. In another case, Mr. Clair obtained recognition of a wife’s legal right to sue her husband for money damages when her husband transmitted an incurable sexual disease, a matter of first impression in New York, which resulted in important protective legislation. And Mr. Clair was at the forefront of a recent case that finally clarified a party’s right to obtain critical pre-trial discovery without the need to demonstrate “special circumstances”.

In addition to his active practice, Mr. Clair has co-authored three books on the subject of family law for the general public: LOVE PACT—A Layman s Complete Guide to Legal Living  Together Agreements (Grove Press); Consultation with a Divorce Lawyer (Simon & Schuster); and The Ex-Factor (Warner Books). As part of his commitment to the next generation of lawyers, Mr. Clair actively participates in the mentoring programs of both Adelphi University and St. John’s Law School. Although Mr. Clair was named one of the country’s “10 Lawyers You Don’t Want Representing Your Spouse In A Divorce” by Business Insider, he is recognized by his colleagues and the Judiciary as the quintessential warrior who litigates with passion but who relishes the creative, hard fought settlement that avoids a trial when possible.

Mr. Clair resides in Manhattan with his wife. Michelle Ascher Dunn, a practicing psychotherapist and his two great golden retrievers, Butter and Sarafina. Finally, he wants to take this opportunity to thank his former Adelphi lacrosse coach. Paul (“Doc”) Doherty, who not only recruited him to the University, but who gave him the confidence to pursue a career in law.

 
Tagged: President's Gala
 
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