Angelina Jolie parting ways with one of her attorneys in her child custody battle with Brad Pitt could be a positive sign for the actor’s case. Two top lawyers explain what her legal change-up might signal.
One of Angelina Jolie’s lawyers in her child custody case against Brad Pitt has withdrawn from representing the Maleficent actress in papers filed with a Los Angeles court. On Oct. 9, attorney Priya Sopori filed a “Notice of Withdrawal of Attorney of Record” with the Los Angeles Superior Court. She had been working alongside Angie’s primary attorney Samantha Bley DeJean, as Angie continues to battle Brad’s request for a 50-50 custody split with their five minor children, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and 12-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne. Two top lawyers have differing opinions on what Priya’s departure from Angie’s team means.
Top divorce attorney Raoul Felder of Stutman Stutman Lichtenstein & Felder says Priya leaving the case is good news for Brad. “It tells me if I were Mr. Pitt I’d be very happy based on these court documents because there are not many things worse than this that could happen. It’s basically saying that something bad is happening in the petitioners’ case,” Felder explains. “Either she is simply not following the lawyer’s advice or there is some reason the lawyer just wants to get off the case.”
“So, I’d be very happy if I was Brad Pitt. He can say listen she couldn’t get along with her own lawyer, look at this. It is a very reputable firm and lawyers think very carefully before they say enough is enough and they want to get out. This lawyer has said ‘enough is enough and I want to get out.’ There’s no part of this that reflects well on Angelina,” Felder continues.
“It just sends out a completely negative message, that’s why lawyers don’t do it unless it becomes impossible. I suspect there must be more to the story. But we really can’t tell anything from this document except that the lawyer is saying, ‘Hey judge I want to get out and I don’t want to defend this woman anymore,'” Felder explains, adding “Lawyers are not in the business of walking away from their clients, particularly a reputable firm like this, so there is a sub story here somewhere and it isn’t good for Angelina.”
As for why Sopori’s withdrawal could have come about, Raoul says that “It usually happens with very difficult people that don’t want to follow a lawyer’s instruction. Lawyers are in the business of representing people.” He goes on to explain, “You have a responsibility to continue until either the client discharges you or you work out a consent. But otherwise this is the last resort you have to submit this withdrawal to the judge. This is a highly reputable firm, I can’t imagine why they would want to leave a case except for everything I imagine is not a helpful thing for Angelina.”
L.A. family lawyer Kelly Chang Rickert, who has been practicing for 20 years, tells HollywoodLife.com that she interprets Sopori’s departure document as being an either incorrectly filed form, or a sign that her work on the case was finished. “This form is usually filed after the judgment has been entered, and the attorney’s job is complete and done, so they can withdraw. This is a weird thing for them to file because the judgment has not been entered, and the document even says N/A. I think probably what happened is this firm was hired to consult on a limited scope basis and has finished their job. But it’s not really the proper form to file,” she tells us of the withdrawal notice.
“It’s exclusively used when case is over and lawyer’s job is done. So it’s in my opinion, an improperly filed form and they probably consulted in a limited scope, and they should have filed a notice to withdraw after limited scope. They were co-counsel. but I still maintain it was the wrong form,” Kelly claims.
Rickert says that the form doesn’t really say anything about how the case is going and it doesn’t make Angelina look bad, as she still has her primary attorney Samantha representing her in the case. It is also different from when Angelina suddenly parted ways with top divorce attorney Laura Wasser in 2018. “It doesn’t mean anything. Samantha Bley is still the primary counsel and she didn’t quit. I think Samantha hired this firm on a limited basis, maybe co-counsel on something, and either the work was done or maybe they weren’t paid. But it’s not as if her primary counsel is withdrawing. And with Laura Wasser, a substitution of attorney was filed.”