Angelina Jolie Retains Laura Wasser for Divorce: Why You've Heard of Her

Laura Wasser also represented Angelina Jolie when she divorced Billy Bob Thornton

Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty

Angelina Jolie has retained attorney Laura Wasser to shepherd her split from Brad Pitt.

That was a good move. Wasser, colloquially known as the “Disso Queen” (for dissolution … of marriage) around Hollywood, has been on one side of some of the most famous divorces in the industry (including Jolie’s from Billy Bob Thornton – she repped Jolie).

Most recently, Johnny Depp retained her in his proceedings with Amber Heard.

But that’s hardly the only split Wasser, 48, has guided: She also represented Jennifer Garner (in her divorce from Ben Affleck), Maria Shriver (in her divorce from Arnold Schwarzenegger), Denise Richards (in her divorce from Charlie Sheen), Kim Kardashian (in her divorce from Kris Humphries) and Nick Lachey (in his divorce from Jessica Simpson). Interestingly, she also helped Ashlee Simpson split from Pete Wentz, which means she’s been on different Simpson sisters’ sides of different divorces.

Wasser joined her father Dennis’ firm – Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles – in 1995, fresh from Loyola Law School. The elder Wasser has repped Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood and Jennifer Lopez, among many other members of Hollywood’s elite.

“For a minute, I worked at the Western Law Center for disability rights, writing up briefs to put safety things in public bathrooms,” she told Dame Magazine in 2012. “But then I split up with my husband, and I needed to make a living. So I told my dad, ‘I don’t think it’s going to work out.’ And he said, ‘Great, take care of it.’ That was my first case.”

That might sound like a cold way to get into the divorce game, but Wasser is actually well known for her professionalism. “She has a very cool and calm demeanor,” L.A. family law attorney Atousa Saei told PEOPLE in 2015. She operates from a grounded perspective – “I have a reputation for being a pit bull, but really, I’m results oriented,” she told Dame – and will turn down a case that gets too emotional for her liking. “I don’t feel comfortable when the desire to ruin the other person is so great.”

“You can call Laura and say, ‘I’m so angry, blah blah blah blah,’ but Laura does not operate in that space,” producer Brian Grazer told Bloomberg Businessweek. “She will be calm and logical, and she’ll tell you to think about what you’re saying.”

Wasser often employs a few tried-and-true strategies in divorces. For instance, settle the terms before filing, because a divorce filing will go public quickly. (Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith’s divorce was worked on for a year-and-a-half before it was filed.) Also, file at the same time as another one of her dozens-long list of clients – that way, press coverage will be divided among the parties instead of more tightly focused.

Finally, if you can afford it, hire a private judge to oversee a settlement outside of a public courtroom, though it’s pricey – a good judge can cost up to $1,000 an hour, on top of Wasser’s $25,000 retainer and $850 per hour fees.

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