Law firm growing with niche — men

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Cordell Cordell, a St. Louis-based domestic litigation firm, is carving out a niche in cities across the country by almost exclusively representing men in divorce and custody settlements.

The firm has grown to more than 60 offices in 22 states and recently opened its Cincinnati branch at downtown’s Scripps Center, where it is led by senior attorney Tifanie R. McMillan, a former prosecutor for the city of Cincinnati. McMillan is currently the only lawyer in that office.

The firm is benefiting by changing demographics in the work force, as well as recent efforts by some states to change how alimony is determined. Massachusetts last year enacted legislation that gives judges more flexibility in how alimony is determined and for how long. It also abolished most lifetime spousal entitlements.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, men account for more than 90 percent of alimony payers. But the number of men who receive alimony is increasing. Larry Putt, a family law professor at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law notes that women make up almost 50 percent of the nation’s work force.

“There’s less distinction between traditional roles in property dissolution. There’s more female employment. Roles are shifting,” he said. “Men are becoming the homemakers in some cases, and primary caretakers of the children, putting them in position to bargain for more.”

McMillan said that change is having an impact in how men are viewed during divorce settlements.

“It’s not complete equality,” McMillan said. “But we’ve seen a slow, gradual shift.”

Cordell Cordell says it finds many clients through their second wives, who are unhappy about their husband’s alimony and child custody arrangements.

“They’re huge fans of ours,” says Joe Cordell, who founded the firm along with his wife, Yvonne.

Cordell Cordell started in 1990 as a general practice law firm, but soon found most of his clients needed domestic relations help. Joe Cordell said he enjoyed the challenge of representing men in those cases.

“Representing men is more challenging, but it’s also gratifying,” he said. “I’ve seen progress. People are becoming more conscious of stereotyping, but it varies state to state, county to county, judge to judge.”

He’s since worked to establish himself as a national brand. Cordell founded the website DadsDivorce.com, which offers articles, videos and other divorce resources.

He’s also the books “Your Civil War: A Father’s Guide to Winning Child Custody,” and “The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce.”

The efforts have given the firm a national profile, but Cordell says they also help cement relationships with existing clients.

“It’s the toughest time they’ll go through in life, and they’re spending a lot of money to do it,” Cordell said. “We promote clients as appreciated customers. We’ve invested a lot in establishing goodwill.”

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