EK: How did you decide to become a lawyer?
FIELDS: After graduating from college in 1986, I had no interest in more school. I came across the book, “Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy, and imagined, romantically, a “Mad Men” career like his in that field. But nobody would give me a job. So I ended up getting a paralegal job at a big Wall Street firm in New York and spent a year there. The paralegals, all recent college graduates, had a great time, but the lawyers there were uniformly miserable.
In any case, I thought that with the right environment, the practice of law could be pretty interesting. So as a leap of faith, I decided to become a lawyer.
EK: What practice areas do you focus on?
FIELDS: My practice is exclusively domestic relations: about 50 percent divorce mediation and 50 percent divorce litigation, mostly for high-net-worth individuals and couples. In addition, I have served as an arbitrator on family law matters on several occasions and have a family law appellate practice.
EK: Tell me about your firm and your plans for the future.
FIELDS: We are a five-attorney boutique practice focusing on legal issues as they relate to families — divorce, estate planning and probate litigation. We envision expanding in the next year or so in the area of probate litigation.
EK: Can you talk about your professional involvement and accomplishments?
FIELDS: Chief justice of the Trial Court Paula Carey recently appointed me to the Child Support Guidelines Review Committee, a group charged with recommending revisions to the state Child Support Guidelines. I am also a fellow to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Most recently, I wrote a chapter for a new MCLE publication, “The Financial Aspects of Divorce,” on trusts and inheritances in divorce.
EK: Favorite novel?
FIELDS: “Bleak House” by Charles Dickens — particularly the plot line involving the century-long probate litigation, Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, which only ended when the estate ran out of money to pay the lawyers.
EK: Favorite film?
FIELDS: “Annie Hall”
FIELDS: Reading and movies
EK: If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?
EK: Is there anything you can share that might surprise others?
FIELDS: I lived with my family in Florence, Italy, for seven years from the age of 5 to the age of 12.
EK: What are the two biggest insights you have about the practice of family law?
FIELDS: Both of these took me quite a few years to learn. First, that the psychodynamics of the parties drive the outcomes more than the substantive law. To mistake a divorce negotiation for just another business deal not only misses the point of what the clients are experiencing, it compromises your ability as a lawyer to help the client successfully navigate the process. Second, in interviewing potential clients, it’s a two-way street. You’re interviewing them, too. The fact that they can pay the retainer isn’t the end of the inquiry. Trust your instincts.