Friday, August 8, 2014
Praise for a lawyer is rare enough these days. I understand that. There is so much litigation in our world, we are sick of lawsuits and yes, many a lawyer him/herself. But like pedophile priests, the black brush of infamy from the few touches the many good. There are plenty of exceptions to this universal disdain of lawyers.
I have honorable lawyer nieces and a nephew whose professional competence and personal ethics are noteworthy. I am relatively sure that you too can point to model counselors in your own circle of friends and acquaintances. For now let's forget about the bums and bounders and highlight a positive member of the bar. His name was Paul Derounian and he left us last night.
Paul was my lawyer and far more than that. He was at my side when I was facing big professional and personal challenges. His steadiness and counsel were invaluable. Most of all I valued his belief in the goodness of others while he searched for win-win solutions. His “contact list” ranged from waiters and doormen to the high and mighty. His law practice included executives, blue chip corporations and more than a handful of major celebrities. They admired his legal know-how and trusted him, as I did.
Second marriages are fraught with challenges. Good people get hurt. Where children are involved the stakes are even higher. When I hear someone say “I had a good divorce” it comes from the mouth of a fool. There are no good divorces, only those that are less painful than some others. Paul was my best man when Joan and I married. That should give you another sense of why I held him in such high esteem. At any rate, I always called him “the best man.”
Paul was no stranger to limos, the Hamptons, Hollywood and Vegas in addition to the corporate boardrooms of Manhattan and elsewhere. But he took everything in stride just as he did in relating to the doormen and waiters I mentioned earlier. Impeccable manners, respect for others, always. People instinctively knew that he valued them individually.
Paul was married to Liz, a strikingly attractive lady of intelligence and warmth in addition to her outward beauty, which once led to a memorable moment in Atlantic City. The Derounians had invited us to a casino for the opening night of one of his show business clients. As Liz and Joan, who is attractive in her own right, were walking to our table all eyes in the room were on Mrs. Derounian. Joan turned to Liz and whispered “I just hate it when all these men stare at me!”
As is always the case, we grieve for ourselves when we lose a dear friend. It is certainly true with me. My consolation comes from recalling the 1001 good memories I have of Paul Derounian.
He was truly The Best Man.