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Atty Bruggemann of Dimopoulos Bruggemann: Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became an Attorney

By: Eric L. Pines

As a part of my series about the “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became an Attorney” I had the pleasure of interviewing Atty Bruggemann.

New York matrimonial attorney Atty Bruggemann, Esq., a partner at Dimopoulos Bruggemann P.C. (www.dimolaw.com), specializes in navigating complex divorce cases involving high-net-worth individuals, professional athletes, and celebrities. With over fourteen years of experience, she has established herself as a trusted authority, consistently securing favorable outcomes when matters seem insurmountable. Ms. Bruggemann’s extensive knowledge and skill in child custody and support matters ensures a compassionate advocate who, when necessary, is prepared to vigorously litigate to safeguard the best interest of the children involved. Clients frequently call on her for advice when contemplating a divorce, preparing for mediation, and for second opinions on their matters.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law?

My father didn’t want me going into his business; he asked me to consider law school instead. Initially I said no, but when my dad was sick with cancer he asked me one more time. I applied and went to law school for him, and met an amazing family law professor my second year who got me a summer internship with a matrimonial judge in New York City. I saw it all that summer — things you could not make up if you tried — and knew that if I was going to be a lawyer, matrimonial law was what I was going to do.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your law career?

When you work in matrimonial law, it’s not uncommon to have many to choose from. I think the funniest story was when I, as a very young lawyer, was asked to go to the very posh and elaborate Manhattan townhome of one of the firm’s extremely wealthy clients to mediate the division of personal property. I was given a list of things my client was to take and a list the opposing party was to take. I was not prepared to be the ring master for what transpired.

The parties fought the entire time over their personal items. When the husband realized that the 14th Century Song Dynasty vase on his list was not in the home, he asked our client where it was, to which she politely replied that she had gifted it to the housekeeper. He screamed at her that it was worth over $30,000. She told him to take it up with the housekeeper, but that she had given it to her as a present for putting up with cleaning his toilet all those years. I almost passed out.

What are some of the most interesting cases you have been involved in? Without disclosing anything confidential can you share any stories?

For me, the most interesting cases in matrimonial law are the ones that encompass all the facets of life — children, finances, real estate, businesses, educational issues, psychology. Matrimonial law is interesting in that way. You are exposed to all areas of the law. There are so many stories to choose… from the salacious to the sad. I think my favorite stories center around those clients that I have kept in touch with. After a very difficult time in their lives, it’s great to see how they’ve evolved and persevered, changed and grown.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

I think the people in history who inspire me most are the ones that realized they had the ability to make real change and acted on it. So many problems seem insurmountable. It’s those that take the first step anyway — and follow through on making change — that really inspire me.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in law?

I would make sure that it’s something that they want to do for themselves, not for someone else. Law school is hard work. It’s expensive. Being a lawyer is hard work too. It never ends, there is always work to do. It is not for the weak. It can be incredibly rewarding, but also remember that clients come to you to help them solve their problems. It’s up to you to handle that stress and manage your own. I wish someone had told me as a young lawyer that they don’t give out medals for the person who stays the longest in the office or works the most weekends. Sometimes, you get a bonus for that. Other times it’s a “thank you.”

If you had the ability to make three reforms in our judicial/legal system, which three would you start with? Why?

In terms of divorce and custody, I believe the process can be streamlined significantly by removing the children from the process as much as possible. Prolonged custody battles often result in children being used as pawns. The longer a custody case goes, the more the children are affected. The second problem I would reform is the general way in which lawyers and judges treat one another. Respect, civility, and professionalism should be the main focus in day-to-day interactions between the bar and the bench. While we all have a client to represent, there is a real epidemic of lawyers treating each other poorly and thinking that this is effective advocacy. Civil and Professional Advocacy should be a mandatory class in law school. The last reform would be to ensure the equal justice, accountability, and protection of civil rights.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I do my best to give people peace of mind when they are going through a divorce. This may not affect the world as a whole, but it affects my world, their world. Divorce can be an emotionally turbulent time and those involved need a support system. Oftentimes, lawyers assume that role. It’s so important for matrimonial attorneys, especially, to be compassionate and supportive. This approach resonates with me, as I aim to guide my clients through this challenging period in their lives.

I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?

I have seen my own evolution and growth as a wife and a mother through this profession. There are times when it gets very heavy, and I always remember to give my husband grace and kindness and teach my children grace and kindness because without it, there is so much in this world that bring you down. You never know what someone is going through, and it is not hard to treat everyone with grace and kindness.

What are your “five things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?

  • Law school is hard: I was a good student, but nothing prepares you for reading 200 pages a night and outlining it for class the next day. Law school isn’t like college, it’s a completely different animal. But do the work because it’s also a fascinating time of learning and personal growth. Law school is nothing like practicing law. I always thought the third year should be an internship so that you get the practical experience, but still have the support of school to come back and discuss with your professors and peers.
  • Try different areas of the law before making a career in one: Being a matrimonial lawyer is a lot like being type cast in acting. Many people think you are a one trick pony. If you want to be a litigator, try litigation in different areas of the law before committing. My only regret is that I didn’t try different areas of the law before landing on this one. I think I would have liked medical malpractice cases or even entertainment law.
  • This profession will humble you, always over prepare: You may think you are smart, prepared, and ready to be a lawyer, but this profession has other ideas in mind. As a young lawyer, I went into a deposition thinking I was prepared, knew the case front to back, and sat across from two very seasoned lawyers. They saw the green in me and took full advantage. I was not as prepared as I thought I was. Always over prepare.
  • Get a good mentor: I had some great mentors who really cared about my development. They spoke to me about strengths and weaknesses and what type of lawyer they saw me as. These are people who will show you how things are done the right way and help you develop good legal practices that you will build off your entire career.
  • Be confident as a young lawyer, even if you are not, confidence is half the battle: Not everyone knows everything, even lawyers who have been practicing forever, but you must carry yourself with confidence — in job interviews, meeting with clients, speaking to other lawyers and the court. I had a boss tell me that the reason he put me on big cases as a young lawyer is because I won the confidence contest. He could put me in a room with clients and he could feel confident that the client would feel comfortable with me, even if I was young. He asked me where that confidence came from. I told him it was largely a façade. Confidence is key but if you don’t have it, fake it ’til you make it.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health! 

This article was published by Authority Magazine and can be viewed here.

Protecting Children of Divorce Against Weaponized Social Media, Part 1: Exploring the Harmful Effects

By: Gus Dimopoulos, Esq.

In his three-part series, Gus Dimopoulos uses recent decisions such as and ‘Kassenoff v. Kassenoff’ and Walsh v. Russell’ to discuss the detrimental effects of social media on children in divorce cases and the importance the above rulings have on protecting children of divorcing parents. Part Two in this series will look at how social media companies and the courts are falling short on providing protection. Part Three will examine what’s being done about it.

The Face of Divorce: Dimopoulos Bruggemann, P.C.

Since leaving the big-firm track and starting his own practice nearly 15 years ago, accomplished professionals and entrepreneurs (and their spouses) turn to Gus Dimopoulos to guide them through the most complicated divorces and custody matters. Dimopoulos’ reputation as a fearless trial lawyer who has handled some of the most complicated financial and custody cases keeps his clients out of the courtroom, and him on the short list of go-to attorneys. In 2018, Dimopoulos teamed with Atty Bruggemann and is proud to announce the formation of Dimopoulos Bruggemann, P.C.

Bruggemann brings a wealth of experience in representing professionals, athletes, and celebrities during her tenure with one of Manhattan’s most prominent matrimonial and family law firms. The new firm’s team maintains relationships with the best experts in finance, psychology, forensics, and other custody-related areas.

Dimopoulos Bruggemann, P.C.

73 Main Street • Tuckahoe • 914.472.4242 •  www.dimolaw.com

This article was originally published in Westchester Magazine and can be viewed here.

The New Spousal Support Law and High Net Worth Divorce

A Westchester Magazine Q&A with Gus Dimopoulos, Esq., managing partner of Dimopoulos Bruggemann P.C.

Q: What’s the most significant change in how spousal support (alimony) is calculated since the June 2015 enactment of the new Domestic Relations Law §236 (B) (5-a)?

Gus Dimopoulos, Esq. Joins Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, LLP as Of Counsel

Friends and Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce that Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, LLP has formed a matrimonial practice group, and I have joined the firm as of counsel to lead the new group. I will continue to maintain my own practice while leading Bleakley Platt’s matrimonial practice.

Divorce Is In The Air: Post-Holidays Bring Rise in Couples Who Want to Divorce

By: Gus Dimopoulos, Esq.

For many people, the holidays are a time to get together with extended family, share traditions, or perhaps even take a long-awaited vacation. At a time when most things in our lives are supposed to be happier and more joyful, some couples are facing the realization that divorce may be imminent. Instead of feeling hopeful for the new year approaching, and the possibilities for changes and improvements that a new year can bring, some couples are feeling completely disillusioned and fearful.

“Bird's Nest”: A Co-Parenting Arrangement

By: Gus Dimopoulos, Esq.

A “bird's nest” co-parenting arrangement is one that is uniquely child-centered. It may work for some families, but certainly not for others. However, done correctly—it may be the least disruptive and financial sound decision parents can make for their children.

How Your Use of Social Media Can Affect Your Divorce Proceedings

By: Gus Dimopoulos, Esq.

With the increasing use of technology and social media, now more than ever users have to be extremely mindful of the content that we share with the public. We’ve heard about the consequences of social media use can cause in our professional life, but not so much in our personal life. It is no surprise that in today’s modern times social media plays an increasing role in contributing to a break up within a marriage. What many do not realize however, is the effect that social media use can have during actual divorce proceeding.

How to Keep a Family Business Going Strong in the Face of a Divorce

By: Gus Dimopoulos, Esq.

Divorce is difficult, no matter what. When the divorce can affect the survival of a family business, it can be even more emotional. Nearly 40% of first marriages end in divorce and 60% of second marriages end in divorce. When we consider that small family businesses make up 80-90% of all businesses in America, the repercussions are enormous.

‘Gray Divorce’ – Unique Challenges Posed by Divorce After 50

By: Gus Dimopoulos, Esq.

Although divorce has always been a concern, it has become much more commonplace in the last 50 years. Divorce rates have skyrocketed in both first and second marriages. Today, nearly 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce and 60% of second marriages end in divorce.

Ten Healthy Steps to Starting the Divorce Process

By: Gus Dimopoulos, Esq.

While divorce is not a cheerful topic or a happy time in a couple’s life, it is a reality for millions of Americans who divorce or who are considering calling it quits with their spouse. The struggles are the same for everyone between who was right, who was wrong, who gets the kids on the weekend, the house or the dog. Divorce is difficult, but understanding the do’s and don’ts and how to start the divorce process is crucial for ensuring a smooth, healthy transition from marriage to divorce.