Profiles

What key piece of advice do you have for couples who come to you?

Stay married. The first thing I say is, “My job isn’t to tell you to get divorced.” Then I ask them if they have done everything possible to save their marriage. Counseling? Advice of clergy? Gone on retreats?

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How did you get into family law in the first place?

My father was a divorce attorney, and I went to work with him straight out of law school. He was among the first Fellows when the Academy started in Chicago in 1962. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

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Robert Segal

What brought you to family law?

I love people, and in divorce law, you’re not only a lawyer, you become a friend to your clients as they go through the most difficult time in their life.

And if that doesn’t work, my advice is: Let’s get through this as quickly and efficiently as possible. Pick your battles.

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Robert Segal

What area of family law interests you most?

Mediation. I stopped being a litigator at the end of 2020 and started my own firm to help separated families as they navigate co-parenting, which is a new space for them. I think that’s where I really shine.

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What area of family law do you find most interesting?

I’m a financial guy. I’m an attorney and a CPA, also an Accredited Senior appraiser for business valuations, and Certified Fraud Examiner. I have conducted many forensic accounting investigations and testify regularly as a financial expert in divorce cases across the country; I’m also retained as a mediator in complex financial cases.

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What area of family law do you find most interesting?

I handle mostly domestic relations cases, not for families who are super rich with $10 million houses, but for everyday people with a nice living, a nice house. We keep our fees reasonable to represent people who don’t think they can afford our quality of work. I find this more rewarding, and they are really appreciative.

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What led you to become an Academy Fellow?

I’ve been practicing divorce law since 1984, and I always wanted to be part of the Academy. When my partner and I established our own firm in 2007, one of my first actions was to apply. I already had a lot of respect for the Academy. Any time I’ve had a case against a Fellow, it was at a different level. They were more professional, more knowledgeable and better prepared, and I wanted to be part of that organization.

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What led you to become a Fellow in the Academy?

Early in my career I looked up to attorneys who were Illinois Fellows. I practiced with an attorney who brought me to Academy seminars, so I was exposed to the work of the Academy, and I had the opportunity to learn from some of them. I saw they were practicing at a higher level than others, and I wanted to be one of them.

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What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received?

When I was hired at my previous firm, my mentor, Alan Toback, said, “You get two weeks of vacation. Take it. You’ll need it.” And he was absolutely right. The practice of family law can be all-consuming; it’s important to take time to relax and recharge.

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What do you find most rewarding about being an AAML Fellow?

I’ve really enjoyed helping develop the Illinois chapter’s Continuing Legal Education programs that elevate our profession. In 2005, I chaired our first CLE Columbus Day seminar, now called the Indigenous People’s Day Seminar. It is one of the best such programs in the nation.

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Why did you join the AAML?

A judge I respected told me I should. But also, becoming a Fellow showed me that I had arrived, and that I was being recognized as one of the very fine divorce lawyers in Illinois.

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What do you find rewarding about being a Fellow of the AAML?

Studying for the admissions test made me take a deeper dive into the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. I didn’t take family law in law school; I went into general practice and then started concentrating on family law. So the test, and the subsequent CLE seminars, really gave me a whole different view of family law.

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What area of family law do you find most interesting?

I focus on divorce and parentage cases, both through mediation and litigation. Being a litigator is essential to family law. People will dispute issues, whether they are child-related or financial ones, and attorneys must be prepared to litigate these issues.

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Why did you apply to become an AAML Fellow?

My father, Sandy Kirsh, was a founding member of the Illinois chapter, and it was really important to him that I become a Fellow. The AAML was a big part of his professional and social life, and he wanted me to have the same experience.

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What do you find most rewarding about being a Fellow of the AAML?

It’s the camaraderie. When we have cases against each other, the goal is to fight as hard as you can for our client. Court is an adversarial, somewhat combative process. But once you’re no longer in front of the judge, it’s good to temper that with the social interactions that you get through the Academy. When we can see people on a more human level, it makes us better attorneys.

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