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Personal Becomes Professional—Former Gibson Lawyer Starts Firm

Vivia Chen

December 8, 2011

Casey GreenfieldEditor's Note: Since publishing this post, we've heard from Casey Greenfield. Her comments appear toward the end of the post.

Ever wondered what what would inspire someone to jump into the emotionally wrenching world of divorce and family law after practicing in a big firm? For Yale Law School grad Casey Greenfield (at right), the jump seemed to have been prompted by her own experience in chasing child support from a TV pundit.

A former lawyer at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (and the daughter of ABC correspondent Jeff Greenfield), Greenfield just launched her own firm, Greenfield Labby, with another lawyer, Scott Labby. According to the firm's press release, Greenfield is described as a lawyer "with extensive experience representing clients in matters related to child support, child custody, spousal maintenance, equitable distribution, and family court practice."

Then the release says: "Greenfield’s unique personal experience as a parent, litigant, and lawyer in the courts gives her an invaluable insight into her clients’ goals and struggles."

If you've been reading the tabloids, you'll know what "personal experience" means here. According to the  New York Daily News and Above the Law last year, Greenfield was locked in a messy battle over child support with her former married lover, Jeffrey Toobin, the CNN contributor and New Yorker writer. Here's what the Daily News wrote:

In 2008, when Greenfield became pregnant and when she told Toobin the news, he offered her "money if she'd have an abortion," says a source. He also allegedly offered to pay for her to have another child later via a sperm donor.

"When Casey wouldn't have an abortion, Jeff told her she was going to regret it, that she shouldn't expect any help from him," claims another source.

Greenfield underwent a risky DNA test while pregnant, but Toobin didn't provide his sample and stopped talking to her, according to sources. On the day she gave birth, Greenfield e-mailed Toobin, inviting him to meet his son, Rory. A source says Toobin didn't reply.

After Toobin finally agreed to a DNA test that established his paternity, he was ordered by a Manhattan family court to pay child support. Reports the Daily News: "When he refused to pay the full amount, say sources, Greenfield's lawyer threatened to notify his employers and garnish his wages; Toobin then paid up."

Greenfield downplays her personal ordeal. She says she got interested in family law as a first-year associate when she worked on matrimonial matters pro bono. But she adds: "The significance of my own experience is that I know very precisely what it’s like to be involved in a difficult family law dispute. I’ve been in my clients’ shoes; I’ve seen it and felt it. And I have learned an enormous amount, about the practical effect of family law on the individual, along the way."

Anyway, it's an interesting career trajectory. For Greenfield, it's also been a long personal saga. We wish her luck.

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Wow, these are some pretty messed up comments.

Jane - she has a pretty low moral compass? She isn't the one who is married and made a promise to someone. Nor did she get herself pregnant on her own. It takes two people to make a baby.

Dirk - that is absurd. If a man doesn't want to have a baby, he shouldn't have unprotected sex. Then he won't ever have to worry about about paying paternity. Bottom line - keep it in your pants or man up and deal with the consequences.

Boy, nobody in this saga comes out smelling like a rose.

Toobin got taken to the cleaners by a woman with a pretty low moral compass. Maybe his wife will hire her in their divorce proceeding...if they're even still married.

Women have a fundamental constitutional right to engage in consensual sexual intercourse and not become parents if a pregnancy results. Men have no such right.

Sounds like an equal protection violation to me.

I echo the comments of c. Abortion is legal; if a woman doesn't get it, the guy shouldn't have to pay paternity unless the couple is married or he has agreed to pay, there was a rape, or some other narrow circumstance.

Reading through the lines, the single mum was about to be shown the door, even with all her connections. Hopefully she's a good negotiator.

Really have no sympathy for the bimbo other woman who got pregant. Reminds me of the Reihl Hunter,

I'm inclined to get a divorce just so I can have Ms. Greenfield represent me.

Congrats on making the top 100 blogs in the ABA Journal's annual survey!

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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