How do you know you've arrived in your career? When you can afford beachfront property in the Hamptons? A hot wife? Or when you've become fodder for the tabloids?
Most lawyers would be satisfied if their names graced the Am Law Daily just once during their careers.
But Ira Schacter, 51, a partner at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, is way ahead of the pack. Both the New York Post and the U.K.'s Daily Mail (not to mention Above the Law) are making hay out of the news that he refused to pay $12,000 for his teenage daughter's hearing aid, while he ponied up $215,000 for an engagement ring for his 26-year-old girlfriend. (Schacter's love interest, Lace Rose Allenius, is not your usual Am Law 100 trophy wife: She posed in Playboy's 2004 college girl issue, and even dated Matt Dillon before finding her way to Schacter's arms.)
Schacter is getting a lot of media attention--but none of it very sympathetic. No wonder, then, that Schacter now wants to tell his side of the story. (I was so excited when his P.R. firm, Rubenstein & Associates, contacted me after I e-mailed Schacter for comment, offering me an interview with Schacter or his lawyer--but alas, Schacter is choosing to tell his story through his lawyer, Ashish Josh.)
The latest media storm, says Josh, was kicked up by his former wife. "The issue is not about the hearing aid, but about [Janice] trying to litigate the divorce in public." (As you might have guessed, the spillover from Schacter's messy divorce has been going on for some time. In 2008, New York's Daily News reported on how they got into a scuffle in which she accused him of wife-beating; he was cleared of that charge.)
So what is it that his lawyer wants to make clear? The reason Schacter refused to pay for the hearing aid was that he wasn't consulted about it beforehand, as he should have been under the divorce decree. His ex-wife, says Josh, was using the hearing device as a pretext to revisit the custody arrangement (Josh says Schacter has sole custody, though the kids don't live with him): "It's hearing aid one day, but it could be about socks next week."
But what about that engagement ring for Schacter's honey? Was it really worth $215,000? Josh says yes, but adds, "[Schacter's ex-wife] has a ring of the same value. . . . He's just a generous guy."
Who's right or wrong in this? I honestly don't know, and I'm not sure I care anymore.
Any way you look at it, no one is coming off too well. I certainly can't imagine Cadwalader is too happy with all this. (The firm sent me a statement that said: "Ira is a valued partner at Cadwalder. We have no comment on personal matters." )
Let's just hope that Schacter (on left) has an esoteric expertise that makes him invaluable to the firm. (I assume he's very talented, because I found his firm bio to be incomprehensible. Cadwalader touts him as an expert in "securitization, including insurance risk, whole-company, and CDOs . . . swap receivables, repo . . . as well as a variety of other unique assets, such as franchise royalties and shipping containers.")
Sadly, though, it doesn't look like Schacter will be having intimate chats about structuring obscure financial instruments with his ladylove. Two months ago, Allenius decided not to wed Schacter. Josh confirms that she's even returned the ring.
Schacter isn't talking, but he did send me this statement through his PR firm: "I believe it is very unfortunate, hurtful, and not at all in my children's best interest that Janice has chosen to distort the facts and utilize the media when issues have not gone her way in court."
I'd agree with this much--the children are the losers. The hearing aid, the showy diamond ring, the Playboy model, the allegedly vengeful wife, the dweeby partner--it's all amusing, and rather sad.
Correction: An earlier version stated P.R. firm, Rubenstein & Associates, contacted me. That firm contacted me after I had e-mailed Schacter for comment.
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