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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. (, 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.

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