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Keeping It Civil: The Case of the Pre-nup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer Hardcover – September 24, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“With a lawyer's mind and a writer’s heart, Klaw brings a deeper understanding of the way cultural attitudes about sex, money, women and relationships influence the law--and vice versa. Keeping It Civil grants access to Klaw’s most intriguing cases, exploring today’s hot button issues through the lens of ordinary people seeking counsel." —Philadelphia Tribune

“What doesn’t happen very often is that I read a book straight through, but that’s what I did with Keeping It Civil. I just couldn’t stop myself. That’s because author and Pennsylvania 'Super Lawyer' Margaret Klaw shares her cases with excitement, energy, and compassion here.” —The Bookworm Sez

“It is both Klaw’s legal expertise and her warmheartedness that make this book so approachable--and her terrific prose doesn’t hurt, either. I especially recommend this for book groups, where discussions about these ethical and legal dilemmas will no doubt be spirited.” —Bookpage

“An excellent, non-technical crash course on how and why lawyers do what they do . . . This book accomplishes an admirable goal: to foreground the humanity in the halls of justice.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Love can be messy, and law is just as complicated. Klaw’s book reminds readers that nothing about law is impersonal. Instead, human emotion remains the glue of the legal system, societal norms, and family law.” —Foreword Reviews

“Conversational, entertaining . . . Informative and smart . . . An accessible description of an intricate field of law, examined in an open-hearted style.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Margaret Klaw’s keen observations about the law and human nature are eye-opening and jaw-dropping. This book shows how today's cultural conflicts are played out in the lives of ordinary families in true-life cases that involve love, money, sex, betrayal, and power. A must read!” —Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of the legal thrillers Save Me, Think Twice, and others

About the Author

Margaret Klaw is a founding partner of Berner Klaw & Watson, a family law firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Named by Martindale-Hubbell as a “Preeminent Woman Lawyer,” she has been recognized as a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer” for the past five years. An adjunct professor of family law at Temple University’s Law School, she speaks frequently on family law and blogs for the Huffington Post and DailyWorth.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616202394
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616202392
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margaret Klaw is a founding partner of Berner Klaw & Watson, an all-women law firm located in Center City, Philadelphia, dedicated exclusively to the practice of family law. Named by Martindale-Hubbell as a "Preeminent Woman Lawyer," she has also received the designation of Pennsylvania "Super Lawyer" in the area of family law for the past five years. Margaret has chaired both the Family Law Section and the Women's Rights Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and is currently an adjunct professor of family law at Temple University's Beasley School of Law. She speaks frequently on family law topics and writes for The Huffington Post, DailyWorth.com, and her own blog, FamilyLawUnraveled.com.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I really enjoyed reading this book for a number of reasons.
Sarah Richards
Every page of her book is interesting and conveys to the reader facts about the law in a very easy to understand manner.
Sambo Gonzales
Klaw writes an engaging, interesting and sometimes humorous account of her field of work.
SBS

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R.R. on August 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps I am an especially good audience for this book because I've spent a decent amount of time in family court. Not to mention the fun times I've had in criminal court, both thanks to being mugged at gunpoint years ago, and more recently thanks to having a particularly rascally family member. I'd say I'm pretty primed for the work of an awesome writer who also happens to be an awesome lawyer.

In reading this book, it was so comforting to "meet" Margaret Klaw, an author/lawyer with so much experience in exactly the kinds of issues I've dealt with over the years. The emotions I've experienced in courtrooms don't exactly make for easy conversation, so I don't get to process them as much as I'd like, but in reading Klaw's stories of people who have been in my shoes (as well as other shoes) there was incredible catharsis.

I also love how she concluded with the bit about working motherhood. I hope young women take note.

Klaw has done something really wonderful with this book. If you've ever spent time in a family courtroom and wondered what was going on behind the scenes, it's a must-read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kas on September 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Margaret Klaw is an accessible, warm and engaging writer. In Keeping It Civil she manages to humanize her frequently unimaginable, if not wholly maligned, profession. When I refer to her profession here I mean not only the law but family law in particular. My father was a lawyer, and he took a number of 1st degree murder cases, but never performed any work on any family matter in decades of general legal practice. He thought it was too ugly. So believe me, my default stance on practicing any kind of family law is "I would not, could not Sham I am...in a box, with a fox, etc. etc." But Klaw is nothing if not relatable, so I got a real felt sense of why she does what she does. The business and social oddities of this type of work were also interesting for me to learn about.

Since she softened this skeptic, Klaw could very well make you see lawyers as human beings who can help others and are necessary. She also lifts the curtain on a confusing system that affects many American's lives in the most fundamental ways. What's great is she never gets too technical or caught up in the legal profession thematic talk. She illustrates her points through walking the reader through the ins and outs of the matter at hand. Most importantly, her stories are engaging! You could finish this book before you know you started it. It's very light but very worthwhile career/memoir nonfiction, is what I mean by that.

To conclude, it seems like there is a lot of mystery surrounding how a lawyer behaves humanely and within the peculiar forms of American law when passions and the dearest interests of human beings are at stake. This quick but thoughtful book runs through a case to give the reader a good sense of the heart of this matter, at least in her own life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Fisher on March 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
As someone who's now been through a divorce and had to go through the court for partial custody of my child, this was a valuable resource for helping me to understand what can, or may, happen. It's a really good read as well, written for everyday, non-legal readers, it's a very entertaining mix of really interesting cases (that can say a lot about human nature) with an insider's tour of the family court system. I really enjoyed it, and have passed it along to a few friends too!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AJC on September 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's hard to believe that this book is only 250 pages; there is so much in it. In some parts, it is a behind-the-scenes look at how family law operates. As a non-lawyer who has not been divorced, I now have pretty solid grasp on the rudiments of current legal frameworks for dividing joint property, general guidelines used for custody etc. In other parts, the book is an exploration of how family law is rapidly changing in a world of gay marriage, surrogacy, female breadwinners etc. It is also a meditation on the need for professional boundaries, even in a field of law particularly fraught with intense emotion, and a discussion of when those boundaries intentionally or inadvertently break down. Additionally, the book is a memoir of Margaret Klaw's own journey--one that many women can learn from as they read about how she managed to become a successful lawyer with a fulfilling family life. And, perhaps most compellingly, it is the story of a heartbreaking but not atypical custody case that is told in segments interspersed throughout the book.

What holds this varied narrative together is Keeping it Civil's greatest asset: the author's voice. In spite of the sometimes complex legal subject matter being presented, as I read I continually felt that I was having a long talk with a good friend. An attorney friend who I had asked to explain something about a family law-related issue in that day's headlines, or who was telling me about a particularly interesting event in her work life, or who was explaining why she made some of the choices she did both personally and professionally.
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