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AFTER THE WORST DAY
OF THEIR LIFE
Criminal defense attorney Margaret Sind Raben
of Gurewitz & Raben shares stories of
incorrect paperwork, double jeopardy and
the legal definition of a dating relationship
INTERVIEW BY EMILY WHITE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SCOTT STEWART
Q: You have a pretty small firm. How did
it come to be?
A: I graduated from law school in 1986. I
was an older student. I went to law school
in my late 30s, and then worked for Harold
[Gurewitz, my current law partner] as
a researcher during law school. When I
graduated, he was starting a firm with
another lawyer, and they hired me. So I’ve
worked for Harold pretty much since 1984.
In 1995, we went out on our own. Once
we made the decisions, which took all of
about 10 minutes, Harold asked me if I had
$25 in my pocket. I said I did, and he said,
“Why don’t you drive up to Lansing, and file
our incorporation papers?” He and I have
been practicing ever since.
Q: Did you do criminal defense from
A: When I first started practicing, I did a
small amount of family law—primarily
divorce and some insurance defense work.
The end of my family law practice occurred
when I was representing a young man who
was in the process of divorcing his wife,
and they’d only been married a couple of
years, no kids. They were dividing up their
property, and neither one of them was
willing to give up the microwave oven.
I remember saying to my client, “This is
Q: How long was that period?
absolutely stupid. You are paying me $100
an hour to fight about a kitchen appliance
that you can buy at Kmart for $100.” And
he kept saying, “It’s the principle of the
thing,” and I kept saying, “No. There’s no
principle here. We are going to end this. I
will buy you a microwave oven.”
When we got done with it, I remember
looking out the window and thinking, “I
can’t do this anymore. I just cannot be
fighting over kitchen appliances.”
A: Oh, maybe two years. I would have been
42 then. My husband is deceased now, but
I was married then, and I had three small
children. Harold and the other attorney I
work for, Martin Baum, were just wonderful,
wonderful men. Still are. Their attitude was,
“We’re family men. You’re a family woman.
Sometimes the family takes precedence,