On May 1, 2017, National Law Journal published its second annual issue of Divorce, Trusts & Estates Trailblazers which recognized the individuals in the legal industry who continue to make their mark on family law and trusts and estates. Among those recognized in this year’s issue are Venable partners Michele Mulrooney, making her second consecutive appearance, and Jonathan Lurie.
Discussing her recent work and practice, Mulrooney said, "This year, I was involved in a big Hollywood divorce. I add value by understanding the assets and economics of divorce." She added that about a third of her practice focuses on multigenerational planning. "I think of children's trust as the 'family bank.' When you represent a lot of investment bankers who have their own funds, you have to do vertical slices to avoid Chapter 14." Asked what the future holds for her practice, she said, "There is a lot more litigation – and a lot more psychological exams pre-death. Beneficiaries used to look at an estate plan and accept disproportionate allocations among siblings, especially if there was intent language in the will. That is no longer the case. Perhaps one reason is there are a lot more complex family situations. People don't get married forever – they remarry and have kids with different spouses."
Lurie described half of his practice as involving technical problem-solving issues. "The rest involves people and goals, dealing with kids and retirement and hopes he fears." As an example, he cited an estate with assets of about $200 million he has been working with for over 20 years involving "a very complex family situation" and the formation of a charitable lead trust and a family office. "Not one property was sold to pay taxes, and the family has actually enjoyed working on the foundation and doing good in the world," he said. Looking ahead, he added, "There will always be tax planning, but we are starting to focus more on governance and creating family structures that can keep families operating in a harmonious environment."