The Passing of Stephen Kolodny

HLG was shocked and saddened at the passing of our friend, Stephen Kolodny, one week ago. Steve was a larger than life presence in our family law world – his offices were in Beverly Hills, but he had a statewide, national, and international presence. Paraphrasing our AAML Southern California President, Eleanor Stegmeier, he was a strong advocate for his clients and for all family law attorneys. Steve believed strongly in our right to bring our clients to trial when trial is warranted, and to advocate strongly and to be given time within the court system to present our clients’ cases.

He was a long-time Fellow of our Southern California chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers. His list of credentials, writings, programs, and other family law activities is a mile long.

As his “number two” attorney and our friend, Bill Glucksman, put it, Steve was a leader among leaders, a lawyer’s lawyer whose word was as good as gold. He had a commanding, decisive presence – confident, but not arrogant. A Los Angeles judge reported, “If I was involved in a case with Steve, I knew I had to be on my toes at all times, and that kind of challenge makes us all better participants in the legal process.”

I have worked to emulate Steve in all those ways. I will never stop.

My first encounter with him was in 2006 at a national AAML seminar in Chicago. He rose in the middle of a presentation that mentioned “Parental Alienation Syndrome” and set the panel and all 200+ attendees straight – Steve had previously helped to debunk the notion of a “syndrome” in the courts as junk science. I thought, well there’s a force! I made it a point to get to know him.

He flattered me by reciprocating in the years that followed. We exchanged ideas for family law programs and projects, we discussed all manner of family law and AAML issues, and he championed me in important ways.

I had occasion to both litigate against Steve in one of HLG’s initial barnburner cases, and with him and his law firm as “local counsel” last year in a victorious multi-week trial. All our cases were hard-fought, and it was an accomplishment to have reached that level.

As our AAML Southern California Chapter’s Immediate Past President in 2015, I considered him an obvious choice for our Family Law Person of the Year award. It makes me happy, knowing how pleased he was with it.

Steve’s passing is a reminder to appreciate all our great friendships and professional relationships. Hold these things close.